12.30.2009

So This Is the New Year

Out with the old, in with the new. This mix was a little tough to pin down. I scrapped probably four mixes before finally just deciding to start the artwork to try and figure out what kind of mix I wanted to make. So this hot mess is the responsible party if you don't end up loving this mix as much as I do:


I wanted a mix that sounded like putting the past to sleep while gettin' all Blade Runner up in this joint. Future soundz. Bleeding chrome bangin' robots and light trails across a neon skyline.

There are some jams on here, a few longer tracks, a couple weird things. It's a little spacey and silver. I had initially hoped to not reuse artists I'd used a lot on previous mixes, but the tracks from Hot Chip, the Zombies, Ganglians and the B-52's fit like astronaut gloves, so here they are. We've also got some Yeasayer, M83, Caribou, Washed Out, Stereolab, Tom Zé, Suburban Lawns, Os Mutantes, Cornelius, Akron/Family, Microphones, Beach House, Hum, Maps & Atlases, Gomez and Walkmen.

So sit back, put some headphones on and let's bury the decaying corpse of 2009. Bring on 2010. Let's make some 3/2/1 contact. Let's make this year our year.

Tracklist:

01. "Last year was a hard year, for such a long time."
02. "It’s a New Year, I’m glad to be here."
03. "Blue Christmas lights tell us stories about ourselves."
04. "Concentrate, don't make a sound. We'll psychokinetically pull one down."
05. "And when I pray it's all begun."
06. "Sold my soul to pay the rent."
07. "The music's loud in your room; turn it down."
08. "You will not catch your unknown."
09. "…"
10. "Who's gonna take it like this? No way."
11. "One chance to leave it all and swim down."
12. "I hear voices from the outside."
13. "I love computers and hot tamales."
14. "Via this paradox that space can be attained."
15. "All in the name of what we're not sure."
16. "…"
17. "And I walked aimlessly around with a flaming pumpkin head."
18. "I'd like your face gone and in its place the sun."
19. "Twenty-ten."
20. "All your worried days are gone. This will be our year."

*******

Download it here. I'm using a new service this time around. Let me know if you have problems with it. And as usual, feel free to share this with your friends, enemies, pets and house plants.

Cheers.

12.29.2009

Tune For Tuesday

Here's a jam for you.



Jon Lucien's "Would You Believe in Me," from the 1973 album, Rashida. The whole album's like this, a smooth mix of tropicalia and soul. It's worth tracking down if you're into awesome stuff.

12.22.2009

The 2009 Rundown


So a little while back, I Tweeted about how 2009 has pretty much sucked and how I was looking forward to a (hopefully better) 2010. Over on Facebook, my negative attitude sorta got called out, and for good reason. I was being a bit of a baby. 2009 wasn't so bad, right? I mean, besides some rather unfortunate events for our family, there have been some pretty awesome things this year.

For example:

In music, we got the Dirty Projectors' dizzying Bitte Orca, the stoner wail of Ganglians' Monster Head Room, the trippy and bouncy Merriweather Post Pavilion from Animal Collective and the pure pop perfection of Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. You can download my 2009 Favorites mix by clicking here.

In movies, we got the joybomb of the Bad Robot crew's Star Trek reboot, the touching and adventurous Up, the cool comedic caper flick Sparrow and the visceral and (yeah) mind-blowing Avatar. Whatever Works was Woody Allen's funniest in years, The Brothers Bloom was an indie globe-trotting con film with charm to spare and Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers' Where the Wild Things Are moved the heck out of me. But out of all that emerge my two favorite films: the gloriously grisly and giddy Inglorious Basterds and the immaculate messiness that is Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox. Both films reminded me why I love movies (and their respective directors) and left me smiling in the dark like a friggin' kid.

On the comics front, I made my way through Kirby's sprawling Fourth World opus and Grant Morrison's love letter to it, Final Crisis. I read the first three issues of Brandon Graham's King City and can't say enough good about it, hacked through Naoki Uraswawa's thrilling manga series Monster and explored the high seas with Kevin Cannon's Far Arden. David Mazzuchelli's Asterios Polyp will get some ink spilled over it's amazingness, and rightfully so. It's pretty much perfect in every way. I also read (and laughed a lot at) James Kolchaka's American Elf diaries and enjoyed the heck out of Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple's Omega the Unknown. And let's not forget that this year brought us Grant Morison and Cameron Stewart's Seaguy: Slaves Of Mickey Eye and the latest installment of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim saga: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe Oh, and Let's Be Friends Again published their first volume of strips, Under Pressure, which can be purchased here. Buy three.

Meanwhile on the internet, Ian Cognito's Zamboni Soundtracks continues to be the go-to place for amazing music. Seriously. And then there was the cosmic slop that is HOBODARKSEID, who, it turns out, was (is?) actually Matt Fraction in disguise. I also should give a shout-out to the great If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats, which is pretty much the epitome of cool.

I also read some great books: Haruki Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World was pretty much awesome, John Hodgman's Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require are hilarious and filled with facts you need to know. Richard Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling took me for-ev-errr to finish, but was definitely worth it and Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers dispels the myth of the "self-made man." I also managed to get my nerdy little paws on some Doc Savage paperbacks.

On the tube, we had the mind-blowing penultimate season of Lost, Parks & Recreation found it's legs and Glee hooked me despite the constant feeling that I really shouldn't be liking it. Community started kicking straight out the gate while 30 Rock continued to make me almost pee myself. Okay, so I peed a little. Okay, so I peed a lot. Anyway, this year also saw our family get all reTARDISed for Doctor Who, Star Wars: the Clone Wars, Marvel's Superhero Squad and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.

Creatively, 2009 saw the production of 12 Big Red Robot Montly Mixtapes plus some bonus ones (all of which are available via the Master List) as well as their covers. I did the album art for Numbers Like Pi and Time & Space's releases, the cover for the aforementioned Let's Be Friends Again collection, and had the honor of spearheading the image campaign for the 33rd Cleveland International Film Festival, all of which can be viewed at my revamped website or in my Flickr stream. I also opened my Etsy shop, Tuff Industries and we saw lots of success with Sparkle Power.

Personally, yeah, poop happened, but when you add it all up, I really don't have all that much to complain about. I have a beautiful wife, lovely girls, family and friends who love and support me my family and a half dozen Doc Savage paperbacks. I'm healthy, handsome and talented. I'm good enough, smart enough and doggonnit, people (hopefully) like me.

So yeah, I'm hoping for a better 2010, but 2009, you weren't so bad after all. You had some awesome stuff inside of you. So come on, let's hug. There we go. That's the stuff.

12.18.2009

It's the Anthem



Getcher darn hands up.

The Beginning of the End


Damon Lindelof: But it makes you understand why some people go to church every Sunday and some people are atheists. Some people need Lost to have a scientific explanation for everything, and that's why our viewership now is what it is – because the people who needed there to be a scientific explanation for everything stopped watching. They were like, "Okay – the show has now proven my theory wrong." This is another joke masking a true terror for us – we're doing the last season of the show now, and this season is where you get your answers. And we're not waiting until the last episode – the answers start coming fairly fast and furious right out of the gate. But in a lot of ways, the storytelling this year is just us telling people that they were wrong. They've built up theories for five years. When a show like this gets to a certain point and then it's "Oh, man, we were canceled," people get to bring their theories with them to the grave. With us, it's basically like, "No – you're wrong." And some people may have been right. Who knows?

From GQ's Geekdoom's Council of Elders round-table discussion with the Bad Robot team. Part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here.

As long as we're discussing the last season of Lost here, is anybody else sort of terrified by the prospect of this show ending? Or am I just too emotionally invested in this thing? Because I truly love this show and I worry that there won't be anything to satisfactorily replace it once it's gone.

12.10.2009

The Ghost of Christmas Presents, Part 3

Last, but not least, Volume 3:


So, what do you think? Are you ready for the holidays yet? Should there be a Volume 4 next year? Which track was the biggest surprise for you?

*******

Download all three:

Volume 1: I Would Never Steal From Santa Here
Volume 2: Sleigh Bells In the Air Here
Volume 3: It's the Perfect Gift Idea Here

12.08.2009

The Ghost of Christmas Presents, Part 2

Here's Round 2.


It's more subdued than Volume 1, more for cold, snowy nights when it's all quiet in the house. You can download it here. Hope you're enjoying the holiday season. Check back later this week for Volume 3.

12.04.2009

The Ghost of Christmas Presents, Part 1

So here's the first of three Christmas/holiday/winter mixes from yours truly.



Download it here and feel free to leave a comment on how great it is. Or don't. Happy holidays, y'all!

12.01.2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year


The 2009 Favorites mix. Download it here.

As with las year, I'm not sure if these are "The Best" (say it like Nacho Libre would) albums I've heard this year, but they're the ones I've listened to the most. It was a tough process to get it down to 20 albums and some sad cuts had to me made (sorry A.C. Newman's Get Guilty, Throw Me the Statue's Creaturesque and Franz Ferdinand's Tonight), but I think it's a great mix of music for you to enjoy.

Think of it like one of those meat and cheese samplers you get at the holidays; eat a little bit of everything and come back for more if you like anything you try.

*******

TRACK TITLE / BAND / ALBUM

01 / "Cannibal Resource" / Dirty Projectors / Bitte Orca
Probably my favorite album of 2010. It's a dizzying mix of indie rock, world beats and, strangely enough, R&B; sometimes all at once. It may take a listen or two to click, but once it does, it really takes over.

02 / "I Start To Run" / White Denim / Fits
Wow, here's a slammin' psychedelic album. Like Jimi Hendrix fronting Led Zeppelin, played at double speed.

03 / "Heart Sweats" / Japandroids / Post-Nothing
Hooky, hopeful and noisy, Japandroids have the post-emo, Death From Above 1979 thing locked down. It's Fist-Shaking Rock of the finest vintage.

04 / "Slap Dash For No Cash" / Art Brut / Art Brut vs. Satan
Frank Black produced it, but it's by no means a slick sell-out album. "Cool your warm jets, Brian Eno," indeed. Songs about love, rock, loving rock and an inability to grow up. In other words, an Art Brut album.

05 / "Aquarius Sabotage" / The Flaming Lips / Embryonic
Not to slight their last two albums, but this is the album I've been waiting for from these guys. Loose, weird and meandering, it feels less deliberate and polished than Yoshimi or At War With the Mystics and more in the vein of experimental work like Zaireeka or the Okie Noodling soundtrack.

06 / "Lasso" / Phoenix / Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Man, just when you think these guys have made the album of their career, they go ahead and top it. Every bit as solid as It's Never Been Like That. There isn't a bad track on here.

07 / "Little Girl (feat. Julian Casablancas)" / Sparklehorse + Danger Mouse / Dark Night of the Soul
The best album that didn't actually come out. Manages to play to the strengths of each guest vocalist (for example, the Jason Lytle tracks sound more like Grandaddy than anything off of his limp solo album, Yours Truly, the Commuter) while still sounding like a collaboration between two guys who really excel at what they do. It's an eerie, groovy record and definitely worth breaking Federal copyright law for.

08 / "Love Comes And Goes" / Lee Fields & The Expressions / My World
Daaang, this album is slick. Soulful, smooth and timeless, it's a great record for any occasion. Folding laundry? Check. Spending time with your special someone? Check. Bare-knuckle fighting a crazed mountain lion while wearing a fine Italian suit? Check and mate.

09 / "Helium Hearts" / Super Furry Animals / Dark Days, Light Years
More focused than their last couple of albums, SFA offer up another album of mutant Welsh space rock. If you're not already a fan, this one probably won't convert you, but if you like what they do, this is one to pick up.

10 / "One Machine, One Long Fight" / Lou Barlow / Goodnight Unknown
It's been four years since Barlow's last album under any name besides Dinosaur Jr. (and we all know that's pretty much J. Mascis' band), and that's a shame. Barlow's work - whether solo or with Sebadoh or the Folk Implosion - has always been really excellent and Goodnight Unknown is no exception. Lou Barlow, FTW.

11 / "Criminals" / Atlas Sound / Logos
A haunting, hypnotic waltz from Bradford Cox. It's the kind of music Ziggy Stardust would listen to if he got homesick for the cold vacuum of space.

12 / "My Girls" / Animal Collective / Merriweather Post Pavilion
I'm sure indie snobs will "like their earlier stuff before they sold out," better, but I firmly believe this is their best yet. Rich, textured and weird (while still listenable), it's an excellent little head trip and completely legal.

13 / "Courage" / The Whitest Boy Alive / Rules
Disco disco! Erlend Øye's other band (Kings of Convenience) may get all the girls a-sighin', but it's this band that gets me all lathered up. Dancey and laid-back, I dare you not to listen to this thing without catching yourself shaking something, anything whilst doing so.

Also, tell me the guy doesn't look like a slightly more hip version of Napoleon Dynamite.

14 / "Psalms 40:2" / The Mountain Goats / Life of the World to Come
More songs about desperate people facing down the inevitable. John Darnille has put together another set of moving, wry tales, this time with the Bible at the center of the stories. By no means a religious tract, it packs an emotional punch that can appeal to believers and heathens alike.

15 / "Cryin' Smoke" / Ganglians / Monster Head Room
Second favorite album of 2009. It's like some guys re-recording the Beach Boys' Smiley Smile in their shed. Druggy, smiling and goofy; real dumb angel stuff.

16 / "Lady Luck" / Richard Swift / Atlantic Ocean
A great collection of Harry Nilsson-esque singer-songwriter ditties, Richard Swift's sense of humor and solid songwriting earned him a place on the list. This track is especially good; it sounds like some lost 70's soul single.

17 / "Tender Torture" / Islands / Vapours
Last year's Arm's Way was a little too weird and inconsistent to land on my faves mix, but Vapours strips away the unnecessary in favor of hummable tunes, solid grooves and the expectedly obtuse lyrics.

18 / "If It's True" / Yo La Tengo / Popular Songs
Another set of classics from Hoboken's own Yo La Tengo. Seriously, these guys are the most consistently good band out there. I keep waiting for a dud of an album but it hasn't happened yet. If I have one complaint, it's that the requisite longer, droney songs are all sequenced at the back of the album, making it a little tiresome toward the end, but still, it's a dang good album.

19 / "More Of This" / Vetiver / Tight Knit
It was a tough call, choosing between this album and the Fruit Bats' The Ruminant Band, but in the end, this one won out. Really great mellow-ish folk from a really good band.

20 / "The Wizzzard" / Think About Life / Family
This one surprised me. It's like if TV On the Radio decided to start a Kool & the Gang cover band, which yeah, would be pretty radical. I've already used them twice this year on mixes (Warm Soundz and SMRJMZ), but here's another track because I think this album's super-dope.

*******

And that's my 2009 Favorites mix. What knocked yr socks off this year? Let me know in the comments section and as always, thanks for stopping by.

11.26.2009

11.20.2009

Quick Question

Okay, so I started work on a Holiday mix last night and ended up with a short list.

Of about 60 songs.

And this is before I broke out my Christmas CDs to put a few tracks from those on the list, and I know I have a few tracks from those that will make the list. (I mean, I have John Denver and the Muppets' A Christmas Together in there, man!) So, unless I make a lot of cuts of a lot of really good tracks, we're looking at the possibility of up to four mixes.

Is this dumb? Would you guys want a weekly Christmas music mix for the next month? Let me know in the comments section. Please help me out here. I don't want to make these if nobody wants them.

11.19.2009

Crapshoot

I swore in a Target restroom today. I said the ess-word. You know the one. S-H-I … Yeah, that one. I said it pretty loud, too. I didn't yell it, but it was definitely audible. Now, I'm not a restroom cusser. I'm not even really a cusser. So why was I standing in a handicapped stall in a Target restroom, cussing it up?

Well, mainly because it fit. It was what I was staring at: on the toilet seat and toilet, on the floor and, sadly, on my aged and comfy Converse All Stars, may they rest in peace. Oh, and it was all over my daughter, too, poor thing.

We were picking up a couple of things after dropping sister and mom off at school and the craft show (Going on all weekend! Go get some Sparkle Power merchandise! And yeah, I'm plugging a craft show while relating a poop story. You knew what I was when you picked me up.), respectively. You know, gettin' my Dad on. We looked through the electronics (Claire is not very good at the Xbox), the Christmas stuff and, finally, the toys. Every. Single. Toy.

We were playing with that Disney Princess display, the one where you spin the thingy around and push the pink flashing button and it plays a snippet of a song from each princess' movie.

So Claire's spinning the thingy, pressing the button, dancing around and all of the sudden she stops, makes a worried face, looks at me and says, "I need to go potty." Now this is a problem. See, we're potty training, so that means we're in panties and I reeeally don't want an accident, so I pick her up and run. And if you're at all familiar with the Target we frequent, you know that we're almost at the point farthest from the restroom.

Now would be a good time to cuss. But I don't. I run.

We make it to the customer service counter and I still have a basket with some items and you can't take unpaid merchandise into the restrooms so I ditch the basket at the corner and keep running. My sunglasses are in there and Claire's jacket too, but at this point, I don't care if they're stolen. I just care about getting to the restroom before something bad happens.

At this point, I think we're okay. My arm's dry. That's a good sign, right? We make it inside and into the handicapped stall. I pull down the panties and go to set her down on the seat and that's when things, well, when things go to crap. Or, you know, the other word. The word I said.

I'm a dad, so after a brief survey of the damage I roll with it, trying to clean Claire up as well as I can with the tools at hand (toilet seat covers, wet toilet paper), trying to clean it off the seat (those elaborate toilet paper shields I build before I sit down don't feel so ridiculous anymore), the floor, my shoe (so long, Converse) and I cuss.

I cuss. And in the moment, it fits.

Prison Food

Here's my one-word review of the AMC remake of The Prisoner:


Look, I knew going into this that it wasn't going to stack up, but, like I did with the US version of The Office or Beck's remake of the Velvet Underground's self-titled debut, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and accept it on its own merits.

That said, this was teh suck.

In full disclosure, I only watched the first two episodes and sort of watched the second two, so maybe it all of the sudden got to be something I'd dig, but from what I watched, I just didn't get it, "it" being "what the heck was the point of it all."

I could spend days talking about how Jim Caviezel was too wimpy to match the macho sneer of Patrick McGoohan's #6; how having a #2 who was a real person with like, a family and feelings and stuff and not a revolving set of people, each as interchangeable and soulless as the last (it's called subtext, people) was wrong-headed and small-minded; how the sense of feverish paranoia has been surgically removed from the show, replaced by messy jump-cuts, flashbacks, unnecessary interpersonal relationships and half-baked unexplained phenomenon.

I think the most telling thing about the remake is the fact that the AMC site has a map of the Village. This right here tells me that the people don't really "get" what makes the source material engaging. (This isn't to say that the original Village wasn't mapped, just that it was never important to the show that it was.) The Village isn't a real place. It's a paranoid state of mind where your dreams can be turned against you, your memories can't be trusted, your personality can be transferred to a stranger and no matter where you run, you can't escape it. Part of what makes the original feel so weird is that you never have any reference point for how big the Village is, where things fit in relation to each other, etc. It's not a place you can map, whereas The Island on Lost *is* that sort of place, it's in the Myst-ian roots of the show to explore this mysterious place full of deserted stations and strange hatches. Not so for the Village. It just is.

And speaking of Lost, this seems less like a remake of The Prisoner and more like a weak, five-years-too-late rip-off of Lost. Let's do the math: a mysterious place that you can't seem to leave + flashbacks to how Six ended up on the Islanderrr uh the Village + weird phenomena like the holes or the glimmering towers or the anchor and seagulls = yeah, you're doing Lost, not The Prisoner. And the fact that this is a post-Lost remake of The Prisoner, it starts to get a little chicken-eggy all up in here because Lost itself borrows heavily from The Prisoner. I mean, if Ben watching Sawyer and Kate in the bear cages in his room full of TVs doesn't make you think of #2 in the observation room, you're not paying attention. It's sort of like if Akira Kurosawa decided to do a samurai remake of The Magnificent Seven, itself a cowboy remake of Seven Samurai; you know what I mean? Snakes eating tails.

It's a shame, because with the NSA/CIA/Insert Yr Favorite Acronym Here looking over our phone records, intercepting our e-mails, security cameras on ever corner and the TSA making you feel like a criminal every time you walk on an airplane, the world is ripe for a paranoid thriller about the dehumanization of people in an age where you can't even trust your neighbor, or, to get all weird on you, even yourself. That's what The Prisoner is about: being confronted with a world where everybody's watching and manipulating everybody else for some invisible machine whose motives and allegiances aren't at all clear and saying, "You know what? I'm not playing this game and you can't make me. I'm a free man. I will do as I please."

[sigh]

I wanted to like it. Really I did. But the smallness of it got in its own way. I think Matt Fraction summed it up best when he Tweeted: "I made it all of 4 minutes into new PRISONER and thought, […] I could be watching old PRISONER."

Amen to that.

11.17.2009

Tunes For Tuesday

This week's track comes from Lee Fields & the Expressions' great noveau-soul album, My World. RIYL (Recommended If You Like): Al Green, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Darondo, shaking what your momma gave you.


Pretty much kicks. This track's called "Ladies," and it's pretty ballin'. No homo. Represent:



Amazon / iTunes

11.16.2009

Stars Are Neon Lights

Cover for Time & Space's album, We Can Do Whatever We Want, which can be previewed here. Is it Las Vegas, or some strange alien spaceport? Are those lights or stars? When is it? Where is it?




*******

Oh, and I guest-posted on the subject of Mixtapery last week over on Smile & Wave. Go check it out and then download the printable mix sleeve I made:


See you tomorrow.

Back In the Saddle

Hey. Sorry I've been gone for so long. I missed you. I'm going to try and post more regularly; starting today. Are you stoked? Cuz I am. So keep yr eyes peeled for more posts on all kinds of stuff.

11.01.2009

Red + Blue



November's mix. Purple Fates. I'm not sure what the central premise is here, but it's a pretty … purple mix.

Here's the tracklist:

1. "Anytime's a good time to get gone."
2. "A goodbye and a neon tan."
3. "How did you know that the river don't flow?"
4. "The parallel pavements are peaceful."
5. "I'm not a human, I'm a dove."
6. "You know you set me free."
7. "…"
8. "It's generally known, you got everything at home."
9. "And the truth is, I'm not feeling so good."
10. "We’re dreaming as we move."
11. "Get down, baby, to the funky, funky groove."
12. "Now and again, you can see misfortune, but it won't get you down in the end."
13. "We're living proof of what we can do."
14. "But what they don't realize is there's a plan."
15. "You and me, we break it down like noone else."

Download it here and there are plenty more mixes from across time and blogspace on the Master List.

10.31.2009

"I Am Not A Numbah! I Am A Free Man!"

So I went as Number Six from The Prisoner for Halloween. Which I thought was cool, even if nobody in the whole wide world had any idea who I was.


Here's me and one of my little witches. Candace has more pictures over on her blog.


I won't give you answers. But I may give you candy.

Last-Minute Treat

Okay, so I had this mix sot of almost finished for a while and figured I missed my window. But then I changed my mind. Boo!

Did I scare you that time? No? Well, here's your Halloween treat anyway, Halloweenie:


And yeah, that's Count Cool Rider on the cover. I keep it real. Download it here.

You can always download these blood-curdling compilations as well:


Ping-O-Ween and Spooky Scary.

Have a great Halloween. And also ...

BOO!

(Did I scare you that time?)

10.30.2009

Keeping Afloat

There's plenty of dumb stuff to talk about.But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about cool stuff. You know, stuff that makes you want to tell other people about. This is the kind of stuff I want to talk about. So, here goes: Cool Stuff I Want To Share With You, My Friends On the Internet:

*****
B O O K S

I've been reading Haruki Murakami's Hardboiled Wonderland And the End of the World and man, this is the business right here. It's one of those books, like Cat's Cradle or The Crying of Lot 49 or VALIS or Pattern Recognition or Seaguy, where I feel like it was written just for me to read. Which I know is totally narcissistic, but still.

It's the story of a Calcutec - a human computer - who is processing some very sensitive information for a secretive, possibly insane scientist. And it's also about a guy who lived in a strange city (which may or may not be the physical representation of the Calcutec's mind) who reads the dreams from the skulls of unicorns. So yeah, this is right up my alley.

I also checked out Betrayal, the first of the Legacy of the Force book series. Yes, that's a Star Wars book. And yes, I know this is not a good thing, that this will only end in shame and disappointment. Don't judge me.

*****
M U S I C

Man, there's been some good music this year. I'm thinking about my "Best Of" mixes* for 2009 and there are a few albums I know will make the cut for sure. Monster Head Room by Ganglians, the Flaming Lips' Embryonic, Isnalds' Vapours and the album pictured at the left, the Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca.

The first couple of listens gave me a mild sense of vertigo, but once this album hooked itself into my earholes, it hasn't let go. It's dizzying indie mutant blue-eyed R&B. Highly recommended.

*****
T V . O N . D V D

Been watching a lot of The Prisoner, which really doesn't need me to tell it it's awesome, but man, it's awesome. I seriously can't believe something this nutty and flat-out subversive ever made it on the air. It's really weird stuff and totally worth your time if you haven't seen it yet. Sure, there's gonna be the AMC remake, but I have a feeling it'll be too neat, too linear, not fever-dream enough to really capture the vibe of the original. I would be happy to be proven wrong, though.

We've also just watched the second (and final?) series of Flight of the Conchords. Dude, that show ... it's great. The "Prime Minister" episode with Art Garfunkel? Genius.

*****
C O M I C S

Just read the first volume of the Vertigo series Air. It's really good, intriguing stuff. The art's sort of rough in parts, but the story's solid and, hey, it's a Vertigo book; the art is *always* crappy in Vertigo books. Except for The Losers, but even that sort of fell apart once jock left. But anyway, Air. It's about a flight attendant who's afraid of heights. And, uh, teleportation, forgotten countries and secret societies. And Quetzalcoatl.

There's a fair comparison with Lost in that it's a big, weird thing wrapped in a somewhat standard package, so yeah, I'm on board. I was a little worried about it getting canceled before it really got enough story out of the way, but again, it's a Vertigo book. They published Lucifer for like, ever and it was never in the Top 20 or anything, so hopefully, it's safe for a while.

I'm also loving the heck out of Batman & Robin. But then again, I'm totally retarded for Grant Morrison so maybe I'm a bit biased, but it's dang good dayglo superhero comicbookery.

And now I ask all y'all comic nerds out there: what else is really good right now. And if any of you say Blackest Night, I will throat-punch you. You have been warned.

*****
T E L E V I S I O N

NBC's really got Thursday night locked down, right? Dang, that is one satisfying night of comedy. I mean, I'm sad as hell that Kath & Kim is gone (I think I was literally the only person in America who thought that show was good, but oh well), but from Community to Parks & Recreation to The Office and finally 30 Rock, it's a string of really great television.

And yeah, you can argue that The Office has jumped the shark and it hasn't been the same since Jim and Pam got together and blahblahblah, but let's be honest, The Office has always been just pretty good. I mean, I think a lot of people were just surprised that it worked, what with being based on the much funnier and impossible to replicate British version. So when like, the wedding episode sort of fell apart at the end or that episode after that one where Jim and Pam were on their honeymoon and it sort of just wandered around for a half hour, I don't get all worked up because it's not like it hasn't had a good run, you know? And even if it's not perfect, it's still way funnier than something like Three and A Half Men.

But yeah, I'm loving Community's (it's like Stripes: the College Years, isn't it?) and Parks & Rec's getting better every week and 30 Rock ... oh, 30 Rock, you had me at "chuckle hut."

And yeah, I like Glee. Why? Why does this show work? I don't know, but it does. And okay, let me just say this and hope one of the producer's is reading: The more Jane Lynch, the better the episode. That's just science. And you can't argue with science.

*****
M O V I E S

If you're looking for a good indie adventure/comedy, go and Redbox The Brothers Bloom. It's not perfect, but it's a fun little film, well-acted, well-written, well-directed. It's sort of like if Wes Anderson directed a con man movie written by the guy who wrote Harold & Maude, if that makes any sense. See it. I mean, it's Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody and Rachael Weisz. What more do you need to know?

*****

And that's what's getting me all lathered up these days, pop-culture-wise. How about you?


* How about those? Are they worth it? Should I do it the same way this year, with a Top Ten Favorites and an Honorable Mentions? Let me know.

10.27.2009

Countchoculitis


Chris Haley and I are at it again. This time, it's a Halloween-themed mix. Chris did he drawing. I did the embellishing. The astral projection of Glen Danzig presided over its reanimation in the fiery pits of deepest Transylvania.

Download it here.

10.20.2009

The Electric Version

Say "HELLO" to dylantod.com, v2.0, now live:


You can go check it out here if you'd like. I've proofed it pretty well, but if you come across any typos, let me know and I'll fix it.

Here's my slideshow of selected work:



There's an unabridged version with a lot more work over on Flickr. If anybody out there knows an art director who's looking for a designer, or if you know of anybody who is in need of some design or branding, shoot them my way.

Next stop: Jobville. Population: Me.

iCal

I made some desk calendars for the Sparkle Power Etsy shop. They're handsome and/or pretty. Go buy some.

*******



10.19.2009

Blinded By the Neon


So we're back in the city that is Sin. Vega$, baby. It's been a couple of weeks and things are starting to feel almost normal, with the exception of my not going to work every morning, which has been replaced by plopping my butt down in front of the computer and working so I can look for a place to go to work to every morning. The plan for now is to try really hard to find a design or (gulp) advertising job here and, if that doesn't work, then find something somewhere in the West. You know, within driving distance. We'll keep you posted, but for now, we're here.

But yeah, I've been photographing stuff for my portfolio, updating my resumé and revamping my website, which should unveil shortly. Probably tomorrow, maybe really late tonight. Don't worry, I'll blog about it when it's up. For now, it's sort of half-updated, so don't go there yet. I've also been working on a few items for the Sparkle Power shop, so keep an eye out for those. They're pretty awesome, to tell the truth.

But we're back in Vegas. If you want to hang out, gimme a call or something.

*******

Photo taken by one of the members of Time & Space, whose EP, We Can Do Whatever We Want, I just did the artwork for. Check them out here.

9.26.2009

I Made It Over the Great Divide & Now I'm Coming For You

I'm going to go ahead and post this early, as we'll be driving across the country on the first of October. This month's mix is titled They Try To Tear Me Down for, well, obvious reasons. I've been referring to it as my "comfort mix," and that's pretty apt. It's a veritable "who's who," of Dylan-approved rock &/or roll. If you only download one of my mixes, make it this one.

Here's the cover:


And here's the tracklist:

1. "Both of them side-by-side, so determined."
2. "What do I see? Just you comin' in, spillin' juice over me."
3. "The only thing to fear is fearlessness."
4. "Even if you wanted to, even if you could, you can't say no."
5. "It's just a lot of B.S. A whole lot of B.S."
6. "Here's my shoulder blade. Here's the sound I make. Here I am."
7. "I was a train at the point where the railroad ends."
8. "As you're folding up the shirts, you hesitate."
9. "Anyone can scratch and anyone can win."
10. "There will come a time, gigantic waves will crush the junk that I have saved."
11. "…"
12. "You're making me happier, now I am snappier, now I'm with you."
13. "I need a whole lot of sunshine to keep my sundial advancing."
14. "And it's coming up roses. Everywhere you go it's roses."
15. "There ain't much of a difference between a bridge and a wall."
16. "We'll find a way, regardless, to find a way out of this mess."
17. "Literal swine drop."
18. "Music is my girlfriend and I would do anything for her."
19. "We've gotta wait and see what comes after."
20. "It's gonna be a great day. And it won't be long…"

Download it here and check out all the mixes from BRR and the Mixtape Brigade here.

Salutations, ballerz.

9.24.2009

All Y'All

So I was running some errands yesterday and decided to flip around the FM band to see what "the kids," are listening to these days. And then I heard this song, "Big Green Tractor," by some fake hillbilly guy and I was reminded why I don't listen to the radio. I mean, listen to this crap:



And it could just be me, as I've been accused of being a bit of a perv, but do you get the feeling that he's not singing about a tractor here? I mean, look at these lyrics, this is basically an AC/DC song for inbreds:

"I can take you for a ride on my big green tractor / We can go slow or make it go faster / Down through the woods and out to the pasture / Climb up in my lap and drive if you want to / Girl, you know you got me to hold on to … Said we can fire it up and I can show you around / Sit up on the hill and watch the sun go down."

Is it just me? That was a trick question, because it isn't just me. This song is dirty.

9.19.2009

In the Meantime

So yeah, anyway, enjoy this, which is probably my favorite Kids In the Hall sketch ever:



Oh, and also, I think I may have uncovered the secret origin of HoboDarkseid, who is still, in my estimation, the best thing bouncing around the tubes of the Internetz right now. Hopefully I'll get around to scanning and posting it in the midst of the craziness.

9.18.2009

"What Was This," I Thought, "That Struck Me?"

I'm not sure if anybody else out there has been laid off before. Chances are, somebody reading this has. But man, it really sucks. Like, it's the worst.

So yeah, myself and two other co-workers were let go yesterday, which is very aggravating, depressing and is gonna necessitate some serious and crazy changes around BRRHQ, so please excuse any lack of updating that may occur. We've been discussing a change for a bit now and had planned to make some sort of move within the next year, but this sort of forces us to make that change and soon. We'll have more info as soon as we nail down our plans, but we're excited. Well, today we're excited. Yesterday was rough.

It sucks and it's unfortunate and it's a lot like being kicked in the nuts, thrown out of a window and then having someone pee in your eyes with disturbing accuracy as you fall, but we'll get through it. We know that there are beautiful people (like yourself) all over the place who love us and want us to succeed. We know that we'll land on our feet. We know that we'll be taken care of and will prosper wherever we end up.

In the meantime, I'm rocking out to The Soft Bulletin, enjoying being home with Candace and the girls, chatting with Chris Haley about comics and stressing like a mamma-jamma.

9.16.2009

Big Decision

A while back, I posted a photo of some most perplexing jeans. Today I will explain the process for determining when it would be appropriate to wear those jeans. Behold:


{click for bigness}

Hope this clears things up.

9.14.2009

Too Soon?


Okay, so Patrick Swayze died. I mean, we all knew it was coming, but it's still sad news, as you know I love the man. He really was a class act. He was a fighter, a lover and, legend has it, a heckuva bouncer. And the dude could rock him some sweatpants. Somewhere, cancer is hobbling away after the thrashing of its life.

But as the world is left Swayze-less, it does raise an interesting question? Who will take up the mantle of America's dance-fighter? Who will be the next gentle warrior, the man who can kick evil in the face, and yet still teach the ladies how to dance and I mean *really* dance? Like, dirty-like. Who has the mix of grace and savage bad@$$ery requisite to fill the dance slippers of the Swayze? Is there anyone left in this sad, sorry excuse for a world left who can gracefully, gently, and - yeah, I'll say it - sexily punch a man in the chest so hard so as to cause him instantaneous and everlasting death? Will there be another one, *can* there be another one, or must we mourn Swayze forever? Must the world remain Swayze-less?

I pray that this is not the case.

Ryan, your time is now. Ascend to the throne abdicated by your master. It is what you have trained your entire life for. Destiny demands it.

9.08.2009

5 Years


Five years. Where'd all that time go? It seems like yesterday I was sitting on a stool in a weird, thin, slippery white plastic jumpsuit as doctors rushed my beautiful, terrified bride into an operating room for an emergency c-section. Five years ago since I held that pink, warm little thing in my arms and felt like the world had stopped turning for a little moment. Five years ago since my life changed completely and totally for the better. Five years since I met my daughter, my buddy and my snuggler. Five years ago, I became a dad to a beautiful little fearless, headstrong and inspiring girl.

Happy birthday, Sadie. Thank you for changing my life. I'll love you forever and ever; no matter what. I'm glad you're in our family. I'm glad I'm your dad.

*******

BTW, Candace has pictures from the Star Wars-themed party over here.

9.04.2009

The Schedule...


But for what?

& I Guess That I Just Don't KNow

A while back, Beck debuted his Record Club, a quick re-recording of an album featuring his friends. The first album they chose to do was The Velvet Underground & Nico, which is sort of like saying you're going to, oh I dunno, do something really dumb like remake Psycho shot for shot. (Gus Van Sant, you just got served!)

So I was a little worried. I mean, I like Beck a lot, but it seemed unnecessary. Fun, but unnecessary. I listened to the first track, the cover of "Sunday Morning," and it was ... okay. It pales next to the original, with it's music box intro and the way Lou Reed wistfully sings, "Watch out, the world's behind you." But yeah, it's an interesting take on a rock and roll standard. My initial opinion stands; this isn't essential, but it's a worthy diversion. I've embedded all the tracks below so you can listen while you surf or work or whatever.

The next album up is Leonard Cohen's Songs of Leonard Cohen, which I think is even more untouchable that the VU debut, but if the first track's any indication, it'll be fun to listen to.

Anyway, enjoy. Have a great weekend. And may the Force be with you.

*******

01. Sunday Morning:


02. Waiting For My Man:


03. Femme Fatale:


04. Venus In Furs:


05. Run, Run, Run:


06. All Tomorrow's Parties:


07. Heroin:


08. There She Goes Again:


09. I'll Be Your Mirror:


10. Black Angel's Death Song:


11. European Son:

9.03.2009

Versus

This picture, combined with the one I posted yesterday, is my new inspiration:


It's like all metaphorical and stuff. But just to be clear, in this photo, I am the bearded dude and the world is the bunch of alligators. They are trying to kill me with their vicious jaws and dead eyes, but I am totally winning.

Unless I totally screw up. Then I'm toast.

Anmiotic Amnesia

The cover for the upcoming Flaming Lips double album, Embryonic. It drops October 13th. This is exciting news.


Paste Magazine has an interview with Wayne over here, so go check that out. And I've heard rumors of a few tracks floating around the internets, so if you're all sneaky like that, there you go.

9.02.2009

I, Also, Am Not Pregnant

And I too am stressed. But thankfully, my brother Bryan posted this picture of a pair of jeans he came across in a thrift store:


If you can't read the pants, they say: "I'm ballen" and "No homo!"

Wow.

These pants are the pantsyest pants that have ever been pantsed. Seriously, this picture is getting me through the labyrinthine labyrinth of this and that which my life has become as of late.

There ae three Amazing Things going on here. Can you spot them?

First off, somebody took time to do this. This is Amazing Thing #1 and should be applauded forever and ever, hallelujah.

Amazing Thing #2 is that "ballin'," the shortened form of "balling," (to play basketball; to have wealth or financial security) is misspelled.

Amazing Thing #3 is obvious, the caveat of "No homo!" With an exclamation mark, no less. Like, he wrote "I'm ballen!" and then got worried that that sounded too gay and immediately pulled out his Sharpie and puff paint and scrawled "No homo!" on the other leg. Or he'd just done "I'm ballen," and got unsolicited dude attention or something, ran home and added in his disclaimer. So many questions...

Oh man. This brings me joy. What's helping you get through the day these days? Please share.

9.01.2009

The Plan Keeps Coming Up Again

You know the drill.


1. The remedy cannot be found
2. Fall on your face in those bad shoes
3. We clambered to the edge of the sky and watched as the steam and the starlight divide
4. It should be okay
5. I never should have learned his name
6. It's my ambition of a jacket ignition in a Cadillac metal car
7. The magnetic hold that grips their souls
8. The phone just rings with bad news now and then
9. All I can hear is bass and drums
10. The bees they buzzed so loudly that I just couldn't stay
11. Trying to fill a hole in my head
12. The dollars and cents never cease to amaze
13. You give 'em your heart, and anything else that they want
14. This world is big and full of celebration
15. I went to walk along the shore; my darkness shaped it

Download it here.

More mixes on the Master List.

8.31.2009

The Inevitable

***UPDATE: The items in question have been removed. Please don't e-mail the seller. We've removed all references to her and her shop in this post but will keep it up to foster discussion. Thanks for doing the right thing.***

Hello Internet. We need your help.

Last summer we introduced some posters to our Sparkle Power shop and it's really been a blessing for our family. Our biggest seller's been the La La Love You poster. It's been featured on a ton of great blogs like ohdeedoh (Apartment Therapy's parenting blog), Babygadget, Tangled and True, Creature Comforts and c jane. We've literally sold reams of the things. Like I said, it's been a boon to our family and has gotten a lot of eyeballs directed toward our fledgling enterprise.

So I guess it was only a matter of time until we were ripped off.

We were checking the Etsy front page before bed last night and had a little déjà vu hit us in the "Recently Listed" section there. How we managed to hit the front page at the exact right time to catch it is beyond me, but we did. Seems that a seller named [redacted] has produced a series of prints that bear more than a passing resemblance to our beloved and popular posters.

But, like the man says, you don't have to take our word for it:


There's a pink one. We have a pink one.

And an aqua one. We have an aqua one.

Reeeeeally sketchy, right? I mean, imitation's the sincerest form of flattery and all, but this is just ridiculous. If you look at either of her shops her other prints aren't even close to the simple, bold and elegant design of our original. And to add insult to injury, she's got the gall to copyright her posters in their descriptions. Seriously?

Plus, she's asking more than double what we're asking for a letter-sized print. (Hers are $22 for a letter-sized print. Ours are $8 for letter-sized, $10 for tabloid ... buy yours today!)

Last night we sent a friendly but firm e-mail asking that she remove the listings. As of this evening, the listings still stand. We ask that if you believe these posters to be knock-offs of our posters that you take the few minutes it will take to set up a free Etsy account (if you don't already have one) and send an e-mail to the operator of the shop, letting her know that stuff like this just isn't cool. And if you'd like to go further, you can link to this on your blog, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr. Solidarity, people.

We really hate to do this, but at the same time, these posters represent a lot of hard work and to see them blatantly plagiarized is really heartbreaking, insulting and infuriating.

We love Etsy. We believe in Etsy. It's a culture made up of people - like us - who love to create beautiful, original things. We have made a lot of friends through our work there. Please do what you can to make sure that this kind of stuff is not tolerated.

Thanks in advance for your help,
Team Sparkle Power

Mother Boxx/The Love Below

The indomitable Chris Haley (of Let's Be Friends Again fame) and myself made another Ping mix. This one's entitled Fourth World Blues, and features the New God Orion pledging to destroy his dad, the totally evil Darkseid. Chris provided the illustration, I colored it and added the yell bubble and dialogue.

It started with me mentioning to Chris that after reading Kirby's Fourth World omnibuses (which are awesome), I really wanted to write some FW fan fiction and maybe I could work that into the cover somehow? Chris, of course did not do the right thing and condemn this behavior. He, in fact, enabled it.

So I wrote this imaginary panel from a comic that exists only in my mind. For now. I imagined that Darkseid, during a skirmish with his estranged son, Omega Sanction-ed him to some weird prison world where Orion's continually confronted with false realities that serve to remind him that at his core, he's a bloodthirsty beast whose ultimate destiny is to rule Apokalips in his fathers' stead. Sort of like The Prisoner with Orion as Number 6 and Darkseid's sadistic lackey Desaad as Number 2. Only instead of outsmarting his opposition at every turn, Number 6 just tears the Island to shreds, leaving a bloody, burning wake of destruction behind him.

Good times.

We originally wanted the mix to drop on Friday in honor of what would have been Jack Kirby's 92nd birthday, but real life got in the way of that, so you're getting it today. I dropped the ball. Anyway, here's the cover:


As usual for our Ping Pong mixes, we traded songs back and forth, trying to link these songs together with some sort of logic. Hopefully it's as fun to listen to as it was to make. But if not, well, it's free, right, so why are you complaining?

Download it here.

*******

And if you're interested you can download the rest here:
Ping 1: Ping Of Pong
Ping 2: Return Of the Ping
Ping 3: The Man Who Would Be Ping
Ping 4: & Away We Go

And check back tomorrow for September's mix, 10000 Year Increments.

8.25.2009

Big Baby

So, I hate Glenn Beck. But you knew that, right? And no, I'm not going to talk about how sponsors are pulling their advertisements from his show in response to his bigoted and wrong-headed comments about how our president is a racist. You know, our half-white president who was raised by white people? That guy?

And I'm not going to talk about how the Birthers are a bunch of (possibly racist) ding-dongs who just need to bite down and deal with it for the next few years like all us Democrats had to do during the last administration. I'm not going to link to this great Let's Be Friends Again strip where Hawkman calls out Superman for his lack of a birth certificate. I'm not going to "go there," if you will.

And I'm even not going to address the violent nutjobs at the town halls meetings who don't know their socialism from their Nazism and tote firearms while holding signs (like this one, that touches on issues that are actually important) and yelling about killing old people and stuff. The health care reform debate and the circus of partisan insanity it has become can be left in more capable hands than mine.

No, I'm going to elevate the political discourse around here ... by talking about how Glenn Beck looks like a baby. Classy, I know. I mean, we all know he's a crybaby, but it seems like whenever I point out that Beck looks like a baby in a suit, people have a hard time visualizing what I mean. Then I'm like screaming at them, going, "No, it's like if you took a baby and dressed him up in a man's clothes and gave him a microphone and he said whatever goo-goo gaa-gaa poo-poo pee-pee stuff that popped into his baby head and OH MAAAAAN! I HATE GLENN BECK! HULK SMASH!!!"

Ahem.

Well, citizens, now I have photographic proof of my theorem. Behold:


Boom. Shakka. Lakka.

*******
The image on the right is Glenn Beck. The image on left via the venerable Manbabies.com.

8.18.2009

A Little Taste of What I Do

Today, we're gonna do some show and tell:



So yeah, here's a little taste of what I do. Or at least where I do what I do when I do the dew. Anyway, I decided to take some photos of my office and workspace this morning so you can get a little peek into the nucleus of the man this is me. So let's take a walk, shall we?


Here's the exterior of our building. It's a million years old and was built as a flophouse for laborers on the nearby Carnegie-Hope bridge. That's our new exterior sign. It's cool.


Our front door and buzzer.


Our mission statement.


Heading up the stairs to our second/main floor. Film Fest season posters on the right.


Second/main floor landing.


My Film Fest poster. I work on the third floor. My work has a built-in stairmaster.


I sit here. All. Day. Long. It's the one part of this job that I've found really hard to deal with, sitting all day, staring at a computer screen for hours on end. It gets a little grueling some days.


My main, big monitor. He's the hero.


And this is his sidekick.


To my left, I have a collection of ephemera, doodles from myself and Sadie, a picture of the Flamingo Hilton that my brother Bryan sent to me a long time ago; basically just cool stuff I thought was interesting.


Big hot dog. Which, interestingly enough, was also my nickname in High School.


Robert Pollard screenprint from Aesthetic Apparatus.


My buddy Brandt gave me this weird inflatable guy. It really creeps out the lady who works at the desk next to me, so when she goes on vacation, we find places to hide him in her desk.


My Polaroid grid. I'm still really bummed that they're discontinuing their film.


My menagerie of fun friends. There's a tagged up photo of it over in my Flickr stream.

So yeah, that's where I work. It's a really cool place full of really cool people making really cool stuff.

And also me.