Friday, February 22The Walking Dead Friday - 'Home.'
Season 3 - Episode 10: 'Home.'
The Walking Dead Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss.
Right off the bat, I'm using my usual Intro paragraph to plug the LIVE WALKING DEAD CHAT that takes place on my Facebook wall every Sunday night at 8pm Central during The Walking Dead. This is where you, me and a bunch of CDP faithful from around the globe get together and watch The Walking Dead like a family, drinking and cracking jokes like we were all in one, giant collective Living Room (bring a dish to pass, and you can only smoke on the deck).
Everyone is welcome; last week was twice as big as the week before it, and if it gets any larger, we may have to move it off of Facebook and into an actual chat room somewhere (does America Online still exist?). All you have to do is friend me on Facebook, show up when The Walking Dead airs (I'll have a link up) and start sounding off (or just watch everyone else have all the fun). See you there.
(Michonne watches in horror as Rick begins to slow dance with a walker.)
Okay, about Sunday's episode. I really enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, it's still as pitch-bleak as ever: Rick lost his mind, the Governor murdered Axel and the actress who plays Lori got another paycheck that was more than I make in a year, but it was still fun, though. The inevitable war between Team Grimes and Team Governor has reached a fever pitch, and with only six episodes before Season 3 ends (already?!), it's already looking like it's going to be a bloody sprint to the finish.
Now, let's mock the things we love. Here comes The Thick And Meaty!
Rick, looking as sweaty and disheveled as ever, has been having a bad couple of days. He’s starting to hallucinate (more so than the average amount), and after seeing his dead wife in the rafters of the prison, he took it out on Tyreese and company, forcing them to vacate the premises (that’s why you didn’t see them this week). Who knows if they’re okay or not (or even if they left the prison), what’s important is that Rick is very, very sweaty, and he’s seeing his unfathomably pale wife wandering around the prison gates.
Rick rushes through the gate to greet Ghost Lori, and hastily leaves it open when he darts out, which is not befitting of a thoughtful leader in times of zombie crises. He begins to get all grabby with the vision of Lori, which I thought for SURE would be a walker once he snapped out of it. Wouldn’t that have been hilarious? Nonetheless, he just stands there and makes out with thin air as Michonne watches in the distance and contemplates swift decapitation.
("Andrea, those people think I can cook. I CAN'T COOK!")
In Woodbury, the Governor essentially asks Andrea to take over. He said something like, “I’m not fit to lead these people,” but what he really meant was “I’M TIRED AND MY EYE HURTS AND I DON’T WANNA PWAY ANYMORE.” Andrea, who seems to lose IQ points with each passing breath, takes his advice under consideration. Perhaps there's a slow gas leak in her apartment.
In the forest, Merle and Daryl are arguing, hick-style. Daryl is thinking about life back at the prison, but Merle assures him that once the Governor finds the place, he’s going to slaughter everyone inside. Then he says about eight racist things in under 30 seconds, a personal Dixon record. Daryl is starting to realize that he made a mistake by leaving the group for his brother, but Redneck Blood runs thick, as it is heavily fortified with moonshine. It’s a fact; Wikipedia it.
("You know what I really like about this place, Carol? The fact that my skull has exactly the right number of holes in it.")
Glen, serving as de facto leader while Rick gets his mind right, makes a decision to fortify the prison against the Governor, despite Hershel’s suggestion that they leave. Glen is starting to man up, as his (understandable) rage against the Governor is taking him over. Maggie finds this unattractive and indicative of what almost every man would do in this situation, which is to make it all about him and forget to tend to the needs of his girlfriend. I feel for Glen; I’d probably do the same thing (ie: the absolute wrong thing at the absolute wrong time).
At Woodbury, the Governor asks Milton (a poor, POOR man’s Ben Linus) if he can count on his allegiance. Milton says yes, and the Governor asks him to keep tabs on Andrea while he goes and murders all of her old friends. Later, when Andrea asks Milton of the Governor’s whereabouts, he freezes and stammers worse than Marco Rubio after the State of the Union.
(Sadly, this is one of the nicer car washes in Atlanta.)
Back at the prison, Glen has gone on a murder spree, proclaiming that the Boiler Room is once again overrun with walkers. Hershel again suggests a retreat, but Glen again ignores him and continues searching for the breach. He finds Maggie alone in her cell, forces her to talk about some stuff that she really didn’t want to talk about (ie: rapey stuff), and gets justifiably cold-shouldered. Patience, homie. She’ll come around.
Out on the catwalk, there’s a Zombie Fashion Show! Okay, not really, but every time I hear ‘catwalk,’ that’s what I imagine. Let’s reset.
Out on the catwalk, Carol and Axel engage in paltry flirting, while Axel carefully treads the line between “I like you but I’m kind of shy” and “I want to kiss the bones inside of your body.”
Axel explains to Carol that he was sent to prison for holding up a gas station with a toy gun. Hey, in L.A., that’s more than enough to get you shot by the cops. That’s the LAPD: Literally the worst people in the world. And I know that’s a generalized, inflammatory and potentially dangerous stereotype about people I know next to nothing about, but isn’t that what the LAPD does best?
Meanwhile while arguing, Merle and Daryl encounter a Mexican family of survivors (con un bebé!) under attack by walkers (how the hell did they survive this long?). What follows next is one of the greatest zombie mass-murder sprees not just in Walking Dead history, but in zombie TV/film history, as well. It was clever, creative, sickeningly violent, funny and loaded with tension. Pretty much everything you could possibly want. If you can only re-watch a minute of this episode, make it this minute. The Walking Dead is the only show on television that gets me to jump off the couch and curse about once every episode or two, and this was the scene that did it for me this week. Outstanding.
When the walkers have been killed, Merle points his gun at the family and begins looting the car. Daryl takes offense, steadies his crossbow at Merle and stomps off (the family flees). They get into an argument and Daryl’s shirt rips, causing many-a-swoon from the female viewing audience, but also revealing signs of childhood abuse at the hands of his father. Daryl’s had enough, and explains that he’s going back to the prison, with or without Merle. Merle is afraid to go back to the prison, because he fears his prosthetic arm will trip the metal detector. Merle is not a smart man.
(Merle's rebuttal argument is just an unbroken string of N-words.)
Outside the prison, Hershel tries to stop Glenn from going off on his own to kill the Governor, but he drives off anyway. Hershel then has a heart-to-heart with Rick, who confesses that, yeah, he’s been acting strange, but he’s still totally wandering off into the woods to figure some stuff out. Hershel then looks directly into the camera, shrugs and says “It’s like this every day here!” as we freeze-frame and cue up the wacky credit music. (NOTE: I may have fallen asleep at this point and dreamed an alternate ending.)
In the courtyard, Carol and Axel chat and awkwardly flirt. I think that--POW!!!
Dead. Axel’s dead and his head goop is all over Carol’s face. The Governor has showed up and fired the kill shot from beyond the fence. Somewhere, someone owes me a beer, as I predicted this from the beginning of the episode. The prison is officially under attack, and Rick’s crew is seemingly scattered all over the place.
Gunfire erupts on both sides of the fence, as a TROJAN ZOMBIE HORSE crashes through the prison gate and floods the courtyard with walkers. Bravo. The Governor and his men drive off, leaving Rick’s crew to deal with the mess he just made. Outside the fence, Rick is out of ammo and surrounded, when Daryl and Merle show up to save the day. Together they kill the remaining walkers outside of the prison, but the inside of the yard is now completely swarming with the dead.
Shit’s getting real. Smash cut, episode over. Time to Pick Your Brain!
1. As will be the case probably every week, I'm kicking things off with the ratings. 'Home' was watched by nearly 11.1 million televisions, making it once again the #1 show on all of cable television. You'll notice that this number is slightly down from the other-worldly 12.3 million they gathered last week, but it's to be expected, and they were up against the NBA All-Star Game (which only managed an 8.1). That's right, zombies are officially more popular than basketball in America.
If you're thinking to yourself, "Ruh-roh, the numbers are slipping," think again. 'Home' was still watched by more people than anything from Seasons 1 or 2. The freight train of ratings insanity continues to steamroll everything in its path.
(Nobody leaves Dave and Busters without filling out a comment card.)
2. So, a few Walking Dead cast members showed up to the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee last week for what was supposed to be a fun Q and A, and from what I can gather, Milwaukee pretty much made an ass out of itself.
Now, I wasn't there and I can only go by what I've been told by those in attendance (I also know the writer of the article), but I'm genuinely not surprised. I've been going to all types of shows in all types of cities for 20 years now, and I know better than to saddle an entire city as 'craptastic' based on a bad experience or two over the span of two decades. Problem is, the amount of 'bad show experiences' I've had in Milwaukee is disproportionately higher than anywhere else I've ever been. In fact, I can easily say that it's the epicenter of the worst concert experiences of my life, and it has everything to do with the Milwaukee audience. It's purely personal experience, but for me, it's hardly ever fun to go there for entertainment anymore.
In short, The Walking Dead cast should come to Madison next time. That is, if we haven't soured them entirely to Wisconsin as a whole.
(She's a lot like the Virgin Mary, in that she's a lying whore.)
3. In the comments section of the Onion AV Club's review of this episode, a reader asks, "Would the sound of the bullets hitting Axel's body be called the 'Axel Foley?'"
I needed to share this with you, as...well, because it's a brilliant pun is why. It's been a long week for me, so I'm more than happy to let people with better jokes sidle in for a minute.
4. I swear to God, it seems like Andrea will sleep with absolutely anyone. Expect to see a lot of Sunday's episode revolve around her, by the way (that can't be good for ratings).
Alright, we're done for the week. Thanks for reading, sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend. And don't forget to join me Sunday night for the LIVE WALKING DEAD CHAT!
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Thursday, February 21Upon My Death, Clear My DVR Queue.
Is my DVR trying to tell me something?
Look, TV. If you're planning to murder me, Ringu-style, before the day is through, how in the hell do you expect me to plow through 50 entire documentaries? You've got to give me more of a heads-up next time.
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day, because you never know when the machines (and/or Morgan Spurlock) may rise up and snatch it from you. The Walking Dead Friday arrives in less than 24 hours.
Wednesday, February 20Track-By-Track: My Bloody Valentine - 'mbv.'
So, this is pretty much where I'm at right now concerning music.
I didn't plan on it, but I sometimes lament certain gaps in my collection, which leads me to certain, unexplainable, cheeseball iTunes purchases in the middle of the night. For the record, I enjoy and regularly listen to all three of these songs.
But let's talk about My Bloody Valentine for a bit.
You know the story: MBV releases Loveless in 1991, a noisy, lush, shoegaze masterpiece of ear-splitting proportions. However, Kevin Shields and company dissolve into meltdown mode, and the group releases nearly no new material for the next two decades. Until couple of weeks ago, when mbv is dropped onto an unsuspecting public.
Nearly all of mbv was recorded prior to the band's 1997 breakup, so it's more of a 'lost' album than something that should be discussed alongside other 2013 releases, but to me, this seems like a pleasing compromise. After all, I'd much rather listen to a 1996 MBV album than a 2013 one (or any album released in 1996), as would the majority of their fans.
So, here's the thing; I haven't listened to a single second of mbv yet, which makes it the perfect album to kick off what I hope will be a recurring feature here on the CDP: Track-by-track, instant analysis, stream-of-conscious album reviews by yours truly.
I understand that My Bloody Valentine is undoubtedly a band whose legacy depends on repeated listens over many years, which is precisely why I wanted to do something in stark contrast. Furthermore, I've been waiting for this album for what seems like forever now, and I really wanted to give it the undivided attention it (potentially) deserved.
Here we go. If you want to play along, you may want to queue up your copy of mbv right about...now!
Conditions: In my office with my lights off (lava lamp optional), headphones on with a glass of Jameson whiskey. The only other acceptable condition would be in the midst of a frantic makeout session, which I was unfortunately unable to set up in time. Sometimes one must compromise for art. Oh, and mute your cell phones, kids.
Track 1 - 'She Found Now' (5:06)
Okay, here we go, and I'm instantly hit with a barrage of trademark feedback and layered vocals swimming in the background. This band definitely has a signature sound. I made the decision to not look up the lyrics beforehand, as they matter not with MBV; Shields even said it himself, it's a means to support the music and hardly anything more (although they can be solid at times).
I don't know why I expected a rocking opener; it's definitely not what I'm getting, but it's still good in a completely different way. I don't listen to much shoegaze anymore (does anyone?), but I love when a band can do it well, and nobody does it better than MBV. I feel like I'm swimming in a river of milk chocolate.
Four minutes and twenty seconds into the opening track, and I just finally hear the faintest kick drum. This was the only percussion on the whole song. Nonetheless, a solid opener that sets the mood (and it's all about mood).
Track 2 - 'Only Tomorrow' (6:22)
Immediately more upbeat here, with what sounds like layered male/female vocals. If you've never listened to this band, you may not understand why it's so hard to discern the vocals; it sounds more like a ghostly EVP than an actual human being standing in front of a studio microphone. The drums sound really clean in contrast to the buzzing guitars, which creates a nice juxtaposition.
I'm pretty sure there weren't many digital production techniques used on this album (or at least the tracks I've heard thus far), and it makes perfect sense. For a band like this, there's a warmth you're looking to capture that's far more important than the latest digital editing or auto-tuning tool. Shields knows what his band is supposed to sound like.
Still swimming in chocolate, only now I feel like I've been joined by an old friend and we're not struggling against the current so much.
I should also mention that the last 11 minutes of feedback, which could feel like a torturous eternity to some, has whizzed right by for me. They're switching things up and staying just melodic enough to keep from droning, which is a complaint I've heard by some in regards to Loveless.
Track 3 - 'Who Sees You' (6:12)
If I knew how to make these sounds come out of musical instruments, I'd probably be a slightly-insane megalomaniacal studio mastermind, too.
The vocals kicked in prominently about a minute into this track, which felt refreshing. The guitar riff here sort of reminds me of the band Hum, which I'm sure isn't the first or last time the two bands will be mentioned in the same sentence.
Word of warning: mbv is not driving music. While eclectic and interesting enough, it will probably hypnotize you to sleep if listening to it on a lengthy midnight drive. This is intercourse music, plain and simple, although I feel it could make something as benign as mailing a letter feel like a life-affirming experience (see Explosions In The Sky). You can't study to this music, you can't write a grocery list, and you definitely can't use it to get pumped up for a forthcoming event. This should be used as the soundtrack to Valentine's Day lovemaking and/or chocolate eating, and nothing more or less.
The abrupt ending of this track was jarring in contrast to the fadeout of the previous one. I dug it.
Track 4 - 'If This And Yes' (5:07)
Weird, layered keyboards to start this song. I almost want to say they sound cheesy and dated, but they all seem to make sense within this dreamworld. It's interesting how something as abrasive as a violently-electric guitar can be used for such trance-like and hypnotic window dressing. It's either genius or ridiculous; it's hard to find any middle ground.
Female-dominated vocals in this one. I should mention that while there have been vocals for nearly half the album so far, I haven't exactly recognized a single word. A single word. And I'm always, subconsciously listening for lyrics. Perhaps they're speaking the Sims language.
This track felt more like an interlude or introduction that never got off the ground, but it was beautifully orchestrated nonetheless. Those looping keyboards haven't changed since the song started five minutes ago, which adds to the hypnotic nature (which is what I assume they were going for).
Track 5 - 'If I Am' (3:54)
This track starts with a sultry female vocal and a shuffling, astro-lounge-esque beat. This is also about the time where I need to freshen up my drink. I'm tapping my hands to this one; there's an above-and-beyond sexiness to it that I really like. It sounds like the stuff on Loveless I tend to gravitate most to.
So far, this is the only thing even closely resembling a 'single' on this album (I mean, if one had to be picked). Also, at a length of 3:54, it's the second-shortest track on the album. Seriously, I cannot understand a single word.
Hum's You'd Prefer An Astronaut was an album I used to fall asleep to. Why I never did that with Loveless is beyond me, but I could definitely see myself doing it to mbv. This is a compliment, by the way.
Track 6 - 'New You' (4:59)
So far, 'New You' has the most driving beat (or any discernible beat whatsoever). And hey, I can understand the vocals! Wow, this sounds like a totally different band!
I'm digging this track; there's a vibe to it that's just on the outer reaches of Pop sensibility, and it's really towing the line between mainstream catchiness (without a chorus) and mbv-esque lushness. Whatever I said about the last song being the best single on the album has been officially usurped by 'New You.'
There's a simplicity in this song that makes me smile; that happy desperation that hopeless romantics seem to enjoy being awash in. Don't really know how else to explain it; probably the best 'gateway' song on the album.
Track 7 - 'In Another Way' (5:31)
This song starts off noisy (surprised?), with almost a jungle beat and a dominating guitar riff leading into breathy female vocals. Again, mbv is hitting me with more melodic shifts and surprises than I really expected. I mean, it's exactly what I wanted it to sound like, all while adding some elements I didn't even realize I wanted. Seven tracks in, and I'm extremely satisfied by what I'm hearing.
I'll tell you what, though. It's a good thing I don't have anything else I have to do today, because mbv is tapping me mentally. That's what this band does; it absorbs your lifeforce or something. I'm going to need a nap.
This is one of the more percussion-based tracks, with the guitar following a set beat (instead of meedlie-weedling all over the place), and the synths soaring over the carnage.
Track 8 - 'Nothing Is' (3:34)
This one is verging on Techno as it begins, which feels very 1997. Was that the year The Prodigy got huge? I can't remember.
Wow...three minutes in and the same 2-bar beat from the beginning hasn't stopped. It literally just got louder and that's it.
And it's over. Nothing happened. Yikes, that should have been an interlude to break up the first and second halves of the album. Not a great outing considering the first seven tracks. In fact, it wasn't really a song. Just a beat that perhaps they forgot to record over. Hey, they only had 20 years, perhaps they ran out of time.
Track 9 - 'Wonder 2' (5:52)
Okay, they're back. This one is phased into oblivion, which I kind of like. It literally sounds like a jet flew over their heads as they were recording this song.
A verse of female vocals leads into a barrage of distorted strings (or something) that builds tension amongst the driving jungle beat deep in the background. When the vocals finally return at 2:40, the song gets back on the rails again. Moreso than any other track on mbv, 'Wonder 2' seems to be slowly building tension, and kind of giving me a headache. The instruments aren't matching up, which had to have been done on purpose to disorient the listener, but it's not necessarily anything I could call 'enjoyable.'
For the first time in this review, I actually had to turn the volume down, which I guess means that My Bloody Valentine won. Touche', chaps. And it's over.
In conclusion, it's a My Bloody Valentine album, and if you love Loveless, you're probably going to love mbv. Believe me, it's a lot better than I thought it was going to be. Some potentially built it up to a point where it couldn't possibly satisfy their anticipation, but I was going in the opposite direction and was very pleasantly surprised. Inversely, if you never liked MBV, you're definitely not going to like mbv.
Sound off in the comments section, tell me the worst song you ever paid money for, and enjoy your day.
Tuesday, February 19We Be Yammin'.
It does not take much to get me to crack up at a supermarket.
It's usually the people watching that does it for me. It seems that every time I'm at my local grocer, I'm sharing space with at least five customers who are collectively experiencing the worst day of their entire lives in unison. They're dragging their kids by the hair. Failing miserably to keep their wobbly cart in a straight line. Screaming obscenities at overripe melons. It's a one-man tragedy that, if written for Broadway, would assuredly climax in some sort of murder/suicide.
Then I see something like the above crate of sweet potatoes, and it pushes me right over the edge. I was laughing so hard that I dropped my coffee. Well played, high-as-shit marketing team at Wayne E. Bailey Produce. Well played.
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.
Monday, February 18Aren't You Gonna Smile For Me?
I know, this picture is all kinds of grodes. It's important, though.
I snapped it a few hours before a dentist's appointment. As you can see, I've got a tooth that, ever since my adult teeth grew in, has been slightly underdeveloped. The official name is 'peg lateral,' but come on, it's a fang and everyone knows it. I've had this fang for something like 20 years now, and quite frankly, it's never been that big of a deal.
I had braces that straightened most everything else out as a teen, but I always left the fang alone, logically because fixing it would be considered cosmetic surgery, which means my insurance wouldn't cover it and I could never, ever afford to fix it ever. I had long ago accepted that this was the way it was going to be forever, and I had become okay with that. I've never judged people based on their teeth (I've always thought that Jewel was kind of hot because of her teeth), and I always hoped that people who liked me wouldn't judge me, either.
I have a relentless dentist, though. I kind of love the guy; he's a gun-toting Libertarian (at least in my estimation) who thinks my tattoos are 'gang symbols' and always takes the time to ask me how 'the book-writing business is going.' His humor is bone-dry, his handshake bone-cracking. He's what would happen if Ron Swanson became a dentist (looks like him too), and he's an absolute master at what he does for a living. This kind of no-nonsense attitude is what I look for when my health is on the line, and I made a point to make him my primary dentist for these reasons and more.
For the last couple of years now, he had been asking me when 'we' were going to fix my fang. Each time, I told him 'we' would get around to it when 'we' fell ass-backwards into an extra $10,000, because I knew it would be mind-blowingly expensive and 100% out-of-pocket. Each time I visited, he would inquire, and each time I would give the same response. It just wasn't happening; I didn't have that kind of money. This may sound a little rednecky of me, but getting your teeth all fixed and fancified always seemed like something you did when you ran out of other things to spend money on; a luxury I have not yet experienced, regardless of how the 'book-writing business' was going.
He was persistent, though; the fang was clearly bothering him more than it was bothering me. Finally, the last time I was there for a bi-annual cleaning, he had apparently seen enough.
He leaned in close and sighed.
"Okay. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to fix that peg lateral with filling composite material. This way, it'll show up as a filling and not as a cosmetic procedure, which means your insurance should cover most of it. Sound good?"
"Um...yeah. I didn't even realize that was an option."
Well, my mouth had about six different implements inside of it, so it was more like "UNG, YAA. I RIDDERNT EEREN REARIZE RAHT HAZ AN ONION."
I wiped the blood off my chin and exited the building. I was excited.
A week later, a quote from my insurance company showed up in my mailbox. The entire procedure would cost me $130. That I could handle.
The entire procedure took less than an hour. It turns out that my dentist is an artist in sculpting fake teeth on the level of a Michelangelo; I understand now why he was so eager to fix me up. By the time he handed me a mirror with which to view his handiwork, I couldn't even tell which tooth was the one he had fixed.
Here I am now, and I cannot thank him enough. Not just for saving me an assload of money (something most dentists couldn't care less about in regards to their patients), but for clearly making my teeth look better. I'm smiling more now, which means that, at least on a subconscious level, that fang bothered me a little more than I thought it did. He didn't have to do any of this, which is an important distinction to make, here. Dude just knew he could make me look better, and essentially pestered me until I allowed him to.
How cool is that?
Sound off in the comments section, smile pretty, and enjoy your day.