Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

Perhaps some of you are too young, but I remember as a wee girl watching Michael Jackson's "Thriller" at the home of a family friend during a party. The entire party stopped while everyone gathered around the TV, and it felt like a momentous occasion, even if you weren't seven years old with a raging crush on Michael Jackson, whose fundamental weirdness had not yet become apparent. The length of the video and the special effects were unprecedented. And even though poor MJ has since become his own horror movie villain, you gotta admit, the song and the video still totally rock.

It's no wonder, then, that in the "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" world of YouTube, there are some memorable renditions and parodies of "Thriller" that Iris and I have dug up for some Halloween fun!

The Internationally Hilarious::

Indian Thriller
One of my students alerted me to the existence of the "Bollywood" version of "Thriller." What I love about it is how the heroine in peril looks more embarrassed and appalled than frightened. And if I even contemplate this video, the song gets stuck in my head for hours.

Indian Thriller #2 Here's another Indian parody of "Thriller." This one isn't quite as well made as the first, I'm afraid, but is that Steven Tyler making a cameo at 1:22?

Dominican Thriller
Here we have the original "Thriller" dubbed in Spanish, sped up, and with a little Salsa flair. Very nice.

Filipino prisoners
This has to be the highest morale prison in the entire world. I laughed so hard when I first watched this one a couple months ago. Pay close attention to the “chick.” Don’t worry if you miss “her” the first time because you were laughing too hard; “she” makes another appearance towards the end. What may be even funnier is the behind the scenes look on how they put it all together. Mr. Maise, the police officer, doesn't think this would fly in an American prison.

Thriller in Uniform:
US Marine Thriller--Hoo ah!
Listen to the other Marines laugh and taunt until they realize this dude knows the whole routine. Not a bad guy to have around when you’re in the middle of a giant sandbox with nothing but time on your hands. I'm beginning to wonder if he was ever stationed in the Philippines.

For Nerds Only:

Harry Potter
No YouTube video collection would be complete without the Harry Potter tribute video, right? There are literally bazillions of these floating around on the Tube. Most are either crap or really creepy (but not in the good way). This one was at least nicely timed to the words of the song.

Final Fantasy
Those of you who are fans of Final Fantasy should enjoy this one. At first I thought this would be just another tribute video with clips from the movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. This should quell any doubts that video game programmers have way too much time on their hands. Check out the dancing Phantoms in the back.

Game Mascots
Further proof that game programmers have too much time. But look at Master Chief go! Go Sir, Go!

With Legos!
Good Lord, I wonder how long it took to stop animate this entire thing! They’ve got a hell of a lot more patience than I do, so I won’t even criticize them that much for it being out of focus.

Danny Angel, Pay Attention!

There are loads of these reception videos out there with the results being pretty hit or miss. But hey, it’s better than the Macarena. I’m wondering if this is currently being practiced 5 nights a week and twice on Saturdays to be performed with nothing short sheer perfection for our own Angelman’s wedding. Hmm...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Break Out the Aqua Net

I take my position here on Places Parallel very seriously, so when I heard that Slaughter, Quiet Riot, and Vince Neil were going to be playing nearby I felt it was my journalistic duty to catch the show (and that makes it tax deductible, right?). Since I had only found out about the show the day of, finding a person to go with was a bit difficult. Not sure why, I mean who wouldn’t want to go see these guys?

Slaughter was up first, but we arrived a little late so we missed most of their set, but I did manage to record “Up All Night,” where Mark Slaughter sang a good portion of the song in the audience.

Now we were a little ways back from the stage but still I have to say that Mark looked pretty damned good. Can’t say the same for Kevin DuBrow though, who was up next with Quiet Riot. I think it might be about time to hang up the leopard print pants and jacket. Or if he insists on wearing them, keep the jacket on because the sparkly scarf isn’t hiding the pot belly. Kevin did have an amusing bit of wardrobe advice for Ms. Spears though before launching into “Old Habits Die Hard.” I have to say I kind of like this song, too.

You’ll have to excuse my inebriated friend for laughing so much but there was a VERY entertaining, completely trashed, Harley Davidson-looking guy in front of us who was completely rocking out. You can hear him screaming “ROCK-N-ROLL” throughout several of the videos, and at one point, he was actually howling at the stage. I wish I could have recorded all of his head-banging and dancing antics. At the end of it all, he’d broken the bleachers, but he didn’t even break a sweat.

Come to think of it, the audience was almost as entertaining as the bands we'd come to see. It seemed most had shown up in their best "metal attire" for the occasion although I heavily suspect many just never stopped wearing it since the days it was in style. There were many women fashion disasters of the crispy bleach blond hair, lace tank tops, and stonewashed jeans variety but the men won out, hands down. There were a few there with long, long hair with 3inch thick folded bandannas (think Axl Rose but without the braids or scary face), there was at least one guy there in his high school class jacket, but the guy who takes the cake had a custom sleeveless shirt, matching wrist and head sweatbands, and a badly highlighted and spiked mullet. 100% total commitment, people. But enough of that, let's get back to the music!

Quiet Riot included “Cum on Feel the Noize” on their playlist, but it seems they were having some problems with the drum set. First it was feedback, and then some other technical difficulty that I wasn't really sure about. Then Kevin got a little cranky with the audience for not knowing the exact timing of the words. Whatevs, man. They finished out their time with the classic “Bang Your Head,” and then it was time for Vince and Co.

Vince and the boys played most of Mötley Crüe’s biggest hits--“Same Ol’ Situation,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Kickstart My Heart,” and “Wild Side.”. Vince seemed to be a little winded at times, and then other times when he seemed lost for the words, he'd just yell, "Make some fucking noise!" All together, they ended up doing three encores. During one of the encores, only Vince left the stage, and the rest of the band did covers of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”.

The drummer, Zoltan Chaney, was absolutely fucking insane! I’m not sure how much of it was standard drummer tricks, because most of the shows I’ve gone to the drummer is always hidden in smoke or behind loads of other junk, but this guy was awesome. He was juggling, twirling, and throwing his sticks, kicking the cymbals, and even jumping over the drum set after one song. I found myself watching him more than the rest of the band. If you find a minute in your day, I'd recommend checking out his somewhat crazy, albeit cute, website where you can see a couple more videos of him doing his thing.

My buddy and I had a blast, and it was a totally fun way to spend what would have otherwise been another boring evening. You can check out the pictures here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007



That acronym came to mind when I saw that The Spiral had sent me an email with the subject line "Niggy Tardust." I was checking my email on my cellphone and couldn't actually read the body of the message. I saw only that the message included "attachments." So I thought, "Hm, it says it's from the Spiral, but there's a weird racially provocative subject line and attachments...some racist must have hacked into nin.com and sent out some crazy virus!" Seriously. That's totally what I thought.

Then I checked nin.com to read what I thought would be Trent's vehement disavowal of anything to do with this so-called "Niggy Tardust" virus and Trent's threats to kick the ass of this racist motherfucker, etc. etc.

Instead, what I see is this:

Big news today!As many of you know, I've been working closely with Saul Williams on his new record. We've spent many hours together in hotel rooms, busses, backstages and studios around the world working on something we knew was great. This is the most involved I've been with any project outside NIN since Antichrist Superstar, and I've been impatiently waiting for the chance for you to hear it.

Well... guess what?

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! has arrived!After my own recent dealings with record labels we decided to release it directly to you. Head over to www.niggytardust.com for all the details. Register now and you can download the record November 1st.

Working on this project was a real pleasure. Saul was interested in breaking boundaries / crossing genres / defying expectations and we learned a great deal from one another in the process. When asked about the sound of the record, I've had to resort to "... I really don't know HOW to describe it." That's a good thing more than ever these days.

A word on the way we've chosen to release this.There are obvious similarities in how Radiohead just released their new record and the way we've chosen to. After thinking about this way too much, I feel we've improved upon their idea in a few profound ways that benefit you, the consumer. You obviously will be the judge of this in the end. One thing that IS very different in our situation is that Saul's not the household name (yet!) that Radiohead is, and that means we need your support on this more than ever. If you like what you hear, spread the word.

I hope you enjoy the music,TR
posted by Trent Reznor at 7:56 AM.

Oh, it's Saul. Okay.

Well, that's a relief, I guess.

So then if you go to...God...niggytardust.com, you can see this.

I like the background music, but um, what? There's voodoo and Trent's hand grabbing an English muffin? Can someone tell me what the fuck is going on here?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Maise's New Musical Crush...

I should either be working or sleeping now.

But I thought I'd post this dispatch from the dreary "What's a 40-hour week?" world of Maise. Because there's a new celebrity with whom I need to run away and marry in a bigamous kind of way. And his name is Dhani Harrison.

You know, the son of that Harrison. And my God, there is quite the resemblance.

And he apparently has inherited some musical talent from Pops, although it would be unfair to try to compare the two. Check out Dhani's band, thenewno2, here. It's hard to get a sense of their sound from the short clips posted under "music," but the video posted under "visual" ("Choose What You're Watching") is uber-cute, and the song is pretty catchy. Okay, so maybe the resemblance is uncanny to the point of unnerving, but that's just all part of the charm for yours truly.

But here's the thing, guys. I'm not exactly sure how well this whole "running away with Dhani Harrison thing" would work out in the long term. For one thing, I don't think I'll be able to say his first name properly. Wikipedia says that his first name is pronounced "like Danny but with an aspirated d." Wha??? Maybe I'll just make up some pet name for him and just use that all the time. "This is my new boyfriend, Schnookums. Schnookums Harrison."

In addition, there's that whole "I think you're hot because you look exactly like your father, and your father was super hot" element to my attraction for Dhani that he would most likely perceive as creepy. Not sure how to get around that other than just playing dumb. "George who?"

Feel free to post any suggestions to aid me in my plot to ensnare the heart of Dhani Harrison. Meanwhile, keep watching this space for more about him and his band!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Don't Tell the Hipsters She Wants Revenge Lives!

So I’m about to inspire the wrath of hipsters everywhere when I say this: I like She Wants Revenge. I’ve heard all the complaints lodged against Justin Warfield and Adam 12. They’re cliché and trite. Their lyrics suck. Their songs all sound alike. And worst of all, at best, they’re derivative of Joy Division; at worst, they’re straight up plagiarists.

I understand all of those arguments and, in many ways, agree with them. Their schtick is a bit overdone, to the point of annoyance. Their sound is pretty monotonous. They are too much like the 80s bands they claim to update, stealing stuff from The Great Ones, such as Joy Division/New Order, Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, and the Cure.

And worst of all? They approached their first self-titled album like they were reinventing the musical wheel with Warfield making grandiose statements: “There are plenty of bands operating within a context and genre right now, but if you take away the wardrobe, belts, and make-up, what is really being said? If it's nothing that's okay too, some music is just for dancing or wallpaper. But we are trying to speak to people as we were once spoken to, and whether that results in dancing, crying, or people wanting to f--k to our music, then so be it. We take this very serious.” Sure you do. Too bad no one else does.

But you know what? I still love them. I loved their debut album enough to drag both Maise and Mr. Maise to their concert at the rather shitty Metro during a Cubs night game (the Metro is directly across the street from Wrigley Field, making parking during such events an absolute clusterfuck). I couldn’t get enough of their infectious monotony, to the point where coworkers caught me on more than one occasion rocking out in my office. This was particularly embarrassing when I was caught rocking out to “These Things”, which if you’ve seen the video, you’ll know it’s not entirely appropriate subject matter for the office.

Their second album, This Is Forever, offers much the same as their first album: Lots of insipid lyrics. Lots of monotonous tunes. Lots of riffs plucked straight out of 80s goth-rock. And I still love it. Admittedly, this album loses some of the catchy hooks that had me bopping to their last album, but after listening to it regularly for the last few days, it’s grown on me, perhaps like a fungus. From the industrial-sounding opening instrumental, “First, Love”, to the rehash of “These Things” with the song “She Will Always Be a Broken Girl”, to the catchy close, “Rachael”, the music is fun and oddly addictive, despite its flaws.

Moreoever, if you enjoy SWR’s general kitsch (which I do), you’ll enjoy this album. Just don’t tell the hipsters.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Interpol, Live at the Aragon, Only Slightly Belatedly Reviewed...

Hi kids, it's your Maise--once again, overworked, underpaid, and guilted into a new entry by our own B.C.

BC (02:03:37 p.m.): dude
BC (02:03:40 p.m.): whats up with letting PP slide?
BC (02:03:43 p.m.): no mention of the remix ep?
tragicmaise (02:06:57 p.m.): Dude, I'm plotting an Interpol concert review, and yes, we should cover the remix ep.
BC (02:09:12 p.m.): when did you see interpol?
tragicmaise (02:09:19 p.m.): Last week?
tragicmaise (02:09:24 p.m.): Yeah, last Thursday.
BC (02:09:32 p.m.): you do realize you're writing a blog, right?
BC (02:09:39 p.m.): that immediacy is one of the key features
BC (02:09:43 p.m.): that its not a monthly magazine?
BC (02:09:47 p.m.): ...right?
tragicmaise (02:09:52 p.m.): You do realize that I have a 54-hour work week these days, right?
BC (02:10:10 p.m.): I don't think the readers care.
BC (02:10:15 p.m.): ;)
tragicmaise (02:10:33 p.m.): All right, all right, I'll get back on it!

Last Thursday, Ro and I were happy to escape our respective workplaces, had a lovely meal at a French brasserie in the city, and reported to the Aragon to see Interpol on October 11, 2007. Our lovely meal, involving coq au vin and ravioli with brie, sliced artichokes, chives and a lemon poppyseed fondue, followed by an apple tart tatin and an exquisite "plat au trois chocolats" prevented us from seeing any of the opening act(s). (How's that for journalistic committment?) But fortunately we arrived in plenty of time for Interpol's set.

Ro and I were both very excited for this show and had been looking forward to it for months. I absolutely love Interpol and really enjoyed their set at Lollapalooza, even though it was performed in a driving rain in front of annoying drunken barefoot floozies in sundresses. And I thought that perhaps a more intimate show in one of Chicago's hippest and most famous venues would be even cooler.

Oh, and by the way, this is what happens to our exclusive visuals when Iris fails to accompany us to concerts:

I dunno. Overall, I felt a little letdown by the experience. Sure, all the favorites sounded great, like "Evil," "Slow Hands," "The Heinrich Maneuver," "NARC," etc. But it felt as though very little energy was being generated by either the crowd or the band. It could just be my encroaching fuddy-duddiness, but by 10 p.m., I was so done with this show. And that was before the encore. At one point during the encore, just after "Stella Was a Diver...", Interpol proceeded to jam. Okay, a) I was already fatigued from a long work day and an even longer work week, b) I HATE it when bands jam, and c) we all know that Interpol only plays two notes per song, and while they do that *awesomely* for two to three minutes at a time, they are the last band on the planet who should be jamming. It just fueled my sense that the show was never-ending, and not in a good way.

I know I'm hating on this concert, but I feel like I've seen Interpol perform much, much better. I wasn't any more exhausted after a day at work as I was after 12 hours of Lollapalooza in the rain, so I don't think my energy level was the sole reason for my cranky state of mind.

After the show, as we ran the gauntlet of unwanted flyers and bootleg t-shirts, we were handed free cans of Monster Energy. Oh, if only these could have been distributed before the show!

So, to Interpol I say: Forget the Heinrich Maneuver, it's time for CPR, boys!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Free At Last

So if you're not one of those people who still checks in on NIN.com daily, here's the scoop from the Big Giant Head.
08 October 2007: Big News

Hello everyone. I've waited a LONG time to be able to make the following announcement: as of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label. I have been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the business radically mutate from one thing to something inherently very different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate. Look for some announcements in the near future regarding 2008. Exciting times, indeed.

posted by Trent Reznor at 10:45 AM.

EEK! Trent's totally on his own now and I couldn't be more psyched about the future. We can talk 'til the cows come home about what his new artistic direction might be but what I find myself completely fascinated with right now is how a person (or group) would be able to pull this off from a monetary standpoint. Obviously Trent's going to be saving some money because he's got his own studio that should be pretty well equipped with all the newest gadgets from the Year Zero and [With_Teeth] albums so no out of pocket expense for studio time. Hell he could probably make a bit of cash by selling out his own studio time if he felt like it. And there are still the royalty checks coming in from all the other albums. And I'm sure there's loads of other income sources that I couldn't even begin to imagine but what concerns me is how do you do the world tour and US tours when there's not a record label to shell out that kind of cash for you? What do you use as collateral? Your music catalog? Your studio/equipment/etc? Your soul? And just what is fair market value for an old industrial rocker's soul these days?

It also makes me wonder about record contracts and how much they generally cover in expenses and therefore what Trent will now be picking up on his own. I mean how far did Interscope have their hands into things like the tour merchandise verses how much Trent had to do with it this last time around (and subsequently the profits from said merchandise)? We all know the first website was found on the back of a t-shirt. Interscope wouldn't have had anything to do with that if this was prior to Trent letting them in on the ARG setup. SO how long has he been studying this to make it on his own? Was the whole ARG game just a test run to see how much pull he had with the internet fans? I guess this is kind of getting away from my original point of how Trent or any of the other bands who are starting in on this "label free" bandwagon are going to make it. And, if they're successful, how is this going to change the scene for other people/bands starting out. These are exciting times and I've just got oodles of questions!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Arms Akimbo! The Editors @ the Park West, 09.11.07

Before I talk about the concert, my apologies for posting this so long after the fact. Work’s been sucking my will to live lately. But I’ll be honest: I’ve been lazy. After all, hard work pays off after time but laziness pays off right now.

So yeah, the Editors concert. Held in Chicago’s Park West, this is one of my favorite concert venues in the city. It’s nice to get both relatively cheap tickets and to be able to actually see the performers up close and personal. And thanks to a friend who knew someone working the venue, we snagged a kick ass private booth right up in the front. Rock on!

When we arrived, one of the opening bands, Ra Ra Riot, was on stage. We were only able to catch a couple of their songs before their set ended. They seemed to maintain a good energy with a mostly nonplussed crowd. I haven’t heard a lot of their music, but they seemed fun. I wished they had played second so that I could have caught their entire set, especially after hearing what was to come.

Up next was Biffy Clyro. In a word: YUCK. Basically, the lead singer and bass player played the entire set slumped over so that they looked largely like Cousin It bookends. All they needed was a derby hat to complete the effect.

And it didn’t help that half the band was shirtless when it really would have been preferable to have their scrawny torsos covered. Plus? Their music SUCKED. As my friend pointed out, “That sounds like something my three-year-old nephew would sing.” Word. It was a lot of noise without a lot of substance. They even trotted out some annoying, whiny emo-wannabe ballads. I preferred the screaming to the whining, but really, I just wanted some silence to enjoy my martini and get my buzz on.

The Editors were a welcome relief to the noise that had come before. They did a lively set that included all of the best, most upbeat songs from The Back Room and An End Has a Start. I was concerned that they may focus too heavily on AEHAS as that album tends to be kind of depressing. Some of those songs are quite dirge-like. But they smartly avoided the more depressing numbers in favor of more up-tempo choices, such as “Racing Rats” and “Spiders”. They also included a fair amount of songs from The Back Room, including fan-favorites “Munich”, “Blood”, and “Fingers in the Factory”. All in all, the set was fun and lively though I did wish they’d played “French Disco”, which is my favorite song of theirs. But they definitely earned my money for the evening.

OK…so now for two gripes.

#1. Lead singer Tom Smith REALLY needs to eat a sandwich, or ten. I find his voice to be incredibly soothing, and he’s adorable in an Orlando Bloom sort of way. In fact, I’ve been harboring a huge crush on him for some time now. Look how cute he is!

But seriously? You could see every single bone poking through his fitted white button down. The Scott Weiland-inspired manorexia is NOT an attractive look. It makes me want to stuff him full of my mom’s lasagna and carrot cake.
#2. As much as I love Tom, he needs to tone the arm flapping thing he does way way down. His bony appendages were flailing every which way. I don’t know if he’s double jointed or what, but sometimes his arms went in directions that I didn’t think were possible. And the Arms Akimbo! was made all that much worse by the fact that his arms are skinnier than my wrists.

As someone who tends to talk with my hands, particularly when I’m nervous, I understand the unconscious flailing. But you know what? I sit on my hands so that I don’t pull a Three Stooges triple slap eye poke. I realize that’s not a practical thing for a musician to do (though that would certainly make for an interesting show!), but perhaps a Toastmasters lesson could cure him.

So overall, the show was solid, and I’d recommend seeing them should they come to town. Just make sure to sit at least and arm’s length away from Tom or he may just put your eye out.