Monday, March 31, 2008

Stuff to see and do

The sound cuts out a little bit at the beginning of this 1980s Magnum T.A. interview, but stick with it, the payoff is great.

Also, if you were thinking about giving some money to starving children, stop thinking that and give your money to these guys instead so they can finish their film about the ridiculously great rock and roll combo Silkworm:

"Hello everyone-
(my apologies to anyone who has already received this and/or donated)

As most of you know, we have been making this film since August of 2006. Financed out of our own pockets as well as by our family members, we have interviewed almost 60 people including Jeff Tweedy, Steve Albini, Matt Kadane, Stephen Malkmus, Tim and Andy’s parents, Jason Molina, Gerard Cosloy, and so many more friends, family, fans, and rock critics.

So you’re probably wondering why this is of any importance to you? Well, here’s the deal:

Unfortunately, this sort of independent filmmaking always ends up taking longer than expected. We were hoping to have a finished cut by August or September of this year but with the current financing, that’s a slim possibility. We were able to make the last trip to California thanks to the 30+ people who kindly donated to the cause. There are over 200 of you on our mailing list. If everyone donated five dollars that would be a huge step towards making our final trip and beginning editing.
If you can’t donate, we would appreciate it if you could post this message on your blog or website, write about it on forums, do whatever you can to get the word out to people who would like to. Everyone who donates will be credited in the film. As soon as we’re finished, we will be traveling to festivals, independent art house theaters and rock clubs to show the finished cut. Hopefully this will happen in a town near you.

If you would like to contribute to the completion of the film, please follow the PayPal link below:


Seth Pomeroy (director)
Shawn Girvan (producer)

ALSO: if you would like to see interview clips we’ve done in addition to the trailer and performance clips, check out our youtube page:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

People ten years younger than me haven't heard of anything

I'm continually surprised by the complete lack of cultural reference points (or context for available reference points) my mostly decade-younger fellow students exhibit in class discussions. The immediate present (or context-free reference to the recent past) is the only thing that seems to exist. I know I'm looking at the world with ten extra years of jackassery under my belt, and I allow a lot of concessions for that. When I was 18-21, I never rented any movies that predated the late 1960s, and I hardly ever rented any non-American films. My musical taste was narrower and rooted in the present and near-past, and I stuck to the 20th century in my choice of books. However, I spent those years slowly expanding my repertoire, and I had at least heard of a lot of stuff I hadn't yet experienced. I know it's the American way to be lazy, complacent, hostile to any kind of intellectual self-improvement, and stuck in the present, and knowing a lot of cultural references isn't really that important unless you experience the work behind these references, but sweet christ, the cultural history of the twentieth century sure seems irrelevant to today's newest adults (hereafter referred to as post-pubes) (not really). Even when they know who someone is, they know him or her from some of the most irrelevant shit he or she has ever made. Examples, overheard in my classes: "Who's that guy from As Good As It Gets? Oh yeah, Jack Nicholson." A group report about the film Red River in my Life and Lit of the Southwest class included a presentation about Howard Hawks. The girl giving the presentation mentioned some of the many actors Hawks either discovered or featured in their first important roles. James Caan was one of these actors. The girl said: "He's the guy from Elf." This makes me feel 10,000 years old, even though I'm pretty new to the planet myself.
Interestingly, the reference points of the middle school kids I'm observing and student teaching this semester are much more expansive than the 20-year-olds in my classes who've never heard of Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Parker, Gary Cooper, the L.A. riots, Henry Kissinger, H.L. Mencken, the Fat Boys, Foreigner, Liz Phair, or the Sex Pistols. The middle school kids have heard of more writers, bands, and songs than my fellow English and education majors (though they claim every book is either "stupid" or "boring.") I've heard students singing 1970s and '80s metal, pre-fame R.E.M., sixties bubblegum pop, Nirvana's non-hits, and '80s gangsta rap and new wave. When I asked them about their favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes had a place in the pantheon. (Not a good movie, but, hey! It predates their existences!) I was baffled by this for weeks until I realized a lot of the parents of these 13-year-olds aren't much older than me. If I had more muscle tone, athleticism, stupidity, street smarts, a non-fear of rejection, a fear of latex, easier access to booze, and less access to drugs, heavy metal, and/or unrequited love in high school, I could be the father of a 13-year-old right now. So, this obsession with the present only (unless referenced on Family Guy) is a temporary, generational thing is all I'm saying, and I will stop worrying about it. Thanks, middle school loudmouth brats! You have actually heard of things that aren't really important but make Dr. Mystery feel better about the state of young adulthood and the health of this country's cultural references of yesterday, tomorrow, today, tomorrow.

Louis Black still sucks! Evidence here!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Soft-rock the Vote

I wish I could say this is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen, but our culture delivers gems like this every minute.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My grandmother died this morning. It was more expected than my aunt's death, but the timing of all these recent traumatic events has definitely been a shock and my immune system has taken a long vacation from the rest of me. At the risk of sounding like those idiots who say things like, "God has another angel now," or "She always had a smile on her face," (Really? Always? And no one committed her?), I want to say that my grandmother was, and probably always will be, the best person I ever knew. She based every decision, even the tiny ones, on her moral/ethical code and never wavered from it. She had a great sense of humor and absurdity, and it always made her laugh when somebody did something foolish, including herself. She constantly read books until her eyesight got too bad a few years ago, and she was a great painter. She was my biggest fan (though she would have been extremely disappointed at all the profanity on my blog), and the last words she said to me, as I left the nursing home with my uncle and his two dogs to ride to Denver International Airport less than two weeks ago, were: "You're a good-looking man. All your female students are going to have a crush on you." Then she said she wished she was going with me. She spent the majority of her last month listening to spirituals by Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and telling us all how great we were and how lucky she was to have us. I'm glad she won't have to spend another day in the nursing home. She complained about the patronizing way the employees talked to her, even though she had more on the ball than they did.
My time alone in the cave of despair has been extended for a few more weeks. I can't wait until this blog can be about people who won't take gorilla masks off, how much I hate Louis Black, and how many nachos I can eat in one sitting again.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Return from the Great White Middle

I'm finally done blasting through the tower of babble of school work that had been piling up since everything went to hell family-style three weeks ago. After a week spent burying my 50-year-old aunt, putting my wonderful grandmother in the nursing home the day after the funeral, only to have her fall and break her hip today (which was the only reason we put her in there in the first place, so she wouldn't fall), and having my flight home delayed for several hours because of snow only to land in Austin in 30 mph winds that tossed the plane around like a ball of string slapped by a disinterested cat, I'm no longer intimidated by the middle school kids I will be teaching in a couple weeks. There are far scarier things in the world. It was an emotionally raw week back home in western Neb. (home of original member of The Eagles, Randy Meisner). A lot of ups and downs. It wasn't all misery. I went out to an abandoned ranch and shot guns with my uncles, cousin, and cousin-in-law. I hit a blue rock target dead-on the first time I've ever shot a shotgun in my life. My second shot was a complete joke, and I didn't shoot anymore after that. I went to a bonfire at my cousin's the night of the funeral and confirmed how much I like my mom's side of the family and how lucky I was to be born into such an interesting, funny, unusual group of people in such a boring, unfunny, usual town. My uncle and his late wife have a bottomless group of friends whose existence in small-town Nebraska continually surprises me. They don't seem to have regular jobs, just mysterious incomes, and can only be found at bars, weddings, funerals, my uncle's house, and isolated country roads. I never see them in town for any other reason. Most of them wear leather and/or jean jackets. I'm too lazy to give them their descriptive due, so instead I will offer a formula that helps to explain these mysterious strangers' personalities. Add the essences of the following people, fictional characters, and organizations: Charles Bukowski, Jeff Foxworthy, Timothy Leary, Jack Nicholson's character in "Easy Rider," the TV shows "Roseanne" and "The Andy Griffith Show," every member of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, the Sasquatch, and "The Muppet Show" band = my uncle's friends. They all have nicknames like Choffey, Orf, Buffalo Legs, Bones, Moo, Donkey Patrol, and Inspector UFO (I only made the last two up). These people are basically cosmic hippie redneck biker philosopher-poets and their lives make up a secret history of small-town existence. I meet a different one every time I go home for a non-holiday visit and hang around long enough. My uncle and Choffey exchange a large rock every seven years. Whoever has current possession of the rock adds a couple new lines to the poem they've been writing on it for many years. At the bonfire, one of these men regaled us with a Cormac McCarthy-worthy tale of drug deals gone bad, prison time served, and $25,000 buried in the countryside near where we were drinking. The way these people talk should be written down. Unintentional poetry. Orf started calling one of my uncles Dangerous Dan McGrew and said he rode into town with a "lion on his back for a coat and a bear for a horse." My newly widowed uncle said one of the saddest, truest things I've ever heard about loss of a family member without any maudlin wordiness. What my grandmother calls the "unvarnished truth." This is what he said about his second day without his wife: "I went to the bar. Had two beers. Went home. Fell asleep in a chair. Woke up and made myself a chicken pot pie. It wasn't any good."