Saturday, August 20, 2011

Not Lame Was Not Lame, Kool Kat Is Cool

Long time readers of this august blog will have noticed that your humble scribe has an affinity for power pop music, said obsession often accompanied by a bizarre slide into an affected writing style. *Ahem*. Anyhow, yes, I do like power pop, but figuring out what's new and what's good in a world jam packed with "stuff" is definitely a chore.

Until a year or so ago I got much of my new release info from Not Lame, a retail site/record label that offered an incredible array of interesting stuff. Not Lame finally fell prey to downloading and the other ills of the music business and no longer exists, but owner Bruce Brodeen is still sounding the power pop charge with a series of books collecting the many thousands of reviews he wrote over the years. Book 7 (!) in the series (the first to be released) is out and may still be available from

I've already rediscovered several artists reading the compilation of reviews and look forward to the entire multi-volume series! Bruce is also still involved in the annual much-anticipated "International Pop Overthrow" series, massive and cheap 3 CD compilations of great NEW pop songs from a wild and diverse group of artists. Vol. 14 of the series is just out. 67 songs (!) available from

But others continue to scour the globe for the best power pop, and I've been getting a lot of recent "fun" from Ray over at Kool-Kat ( Ray explains the new releases in a weekly e-mail and also often tosses in cool extras from the bands, like demos, unreleased tracks, live shows, etc. He's also a fast shipper and very friendly, so worth checking out!

It's great that folks are out there combing the country-side so lazy no-goods like yours truly can sit back and savor the fruits of their efforts. Or something like that...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Killing (Kubrick Edition)

Criterion's just released Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing" along with the earlier "Killer's Kiss" on a single blu-ray disc. The high-def transfer is spectacular and the movie's never looked better. The detail is amazing, and sometimes a little bizarre... at one point Sterling Hayden's character checks into a seedy hotel, and the inside of the door has chalk-marked dimensions scrawled across a panel. I can't tell if this was a mistake or meant to show how REALLY seedy the hotel was...

Always loved Sterling Hayden in this film, and he's tough as nails, but the picture has a slightly curious tone for a hardcore caper film. The gang of thieves are (mostly) surprisingly smiley and good-natured. One is joining the gang to help his sick wife. Even the one-scene loan-shark who "threatens" a guy at the beginning is soft-spoken. We're talking one polite crew of vicious robbers.

But what a cast. Elisha Cook is fantastic as the sad sack in love with hardcore floozie Marie Windsor, and it's fun to see a pre-Dr. Kildare Vince Edwards playing a real slimy bastard. Finally, Timothy Carey. Holy smokes. He's either channeling a bad impression of Burt Lancaster or recovering from a recent broken jaw, but his tooth-grinding performance is something else!

The disc includes a nice featurette on writer Jim Thompson, who was furious to discover his credit on the movie was "dialogue by" under Kubrick's "screenplay by." Despite that, he went on to work with Kubrick on several other projects, including Paths of Glory. I was impressed to learn that Thompson wrote and sold over a dozen novels in a 19 month period in the 50's, and surprised to discover that Martin Goodman, who also published Marvel Comics, created havoc for Thompson when he shut down the book line that was releasing his work. Small world...

I believe that with the exception of "Fear and Desire", this means all of Kubrick's films are now available in high def. That's a good thing!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cobra! The Blu-Ray Review!

COBRA (blu-ray): I think what I enjoy most about many of Cannon's 80's films is how they unabashedly live in surreal, alternate dimensions. At least one of the later Death Wish movies was actually shot in England, doubling for a New York where roving gangs were destroying neighborhoods at will and elderly victims kept bazookas, surplus machine guns and boxes of ammo in the front closet "just in case."

In Cobra, Sylvester Stallone plays Marion Cobretti, a tough cop on the "zombie squad" assigned to protect a sexy model (Brigitte Neilsen). Brig has run afoul of a gang of motorcycle-riding murdering psychopaths who are nonetheless social enough to gather en masse in abandoned warehouses, clank together their axes and knives and spout generalities about tearing down society. There is literally no reason for the gang to risk their lives chasing down the model (someone vaguely says "she's a witness!"), but chase they do, rolling into the cross-hairs of Stallone's big machine gun and dying by the dozens. During the cross-country chase no other police bother to check out Sly's miles-long massacre, allowing him to eventually face off with the lead killer and exchange sweaty threats in an automated steel foundry.

It's a movie where Stallone's character repeatedly manhandles/abuses his weasley cop boss (played by Andrew Robinson, the giggling killer in Dirty Harry) without any real consequences besides stern looks. Where "Cobra" gets permission to roll his witness out of town because at least then the killers will be chasing him and not causing trouble in the city (!). Where the destruction of Cobra's cool black Mercury carries more emotional weight than the wanton slaughter of innocent hostages. Remember when DC Comics would to tell a story out of continuity ("What if Bruce Wayne's parents never died?") and called them "imaginary stories?" That more or less describes the world of Cobra to a tee...

PS: Maybe it's just me, but blu-ray doesn't really enhance this thing much... it still feels fuzzy and murky. And the image quality isn't much, either.

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Steve Buscemi, Now This!

Ever wonder what celebrities would look like if they had Michelle Bachmann's eyes? Wonder no longer!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sarah Palin Says...

Sarah Palin says she can support "anyone except Obama." Is this the opening that Barney Frank's been waiting for?!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Buzz Aldrin Punches A Guy

I've never been big on violence to solve problems, but boy was this guy asking for it.