Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I have launched a new feature at the Screengrab called Unwatchable, the premise of which is me watching every movie on the IMDb Bottom 100 list of the worst movies ever made. The first two installments are Devil Fish and The Honeymooners, and the worst is yet to come. Why am I doing this? Well, sometimes I am at a loss for topics to post about, so this project fills a need and also my wallet. Plus I do need to follow up Hick Flicks one of these years, and this premise could form the basis of a quickie book. See, I do have a reason for everything.

This link will update with each new entry: Unwatchable

Saturday, April 12, 2008


The premise of this disc is “surprise,” in all its forms. I have stretched the definition of this word “surprise” to its breaking point out of desperation.

1. Mystery intro. You either know it or you don’t.

2. “Java,” Al Hirt. Years ago I lived in Los Angeles and had a cool convertible and a cool friend named Bebe who had a cool tape with a version of this song by, wait for it, Lawrence Welk. I still have the friend, but the car blew up and the tape is long gone. But SUPRISE I did stumble upon this worthy version many years later.

3. “American Wedding,” Gogol Bordello. From the “I heard it at poker night” files. At first I thought it was my old pals the Red Elvises, but SURPRISE, I found it at emusic and now I know the truth.

4. “Sandwich,” Size Matters. My old pal Tim Sprague is a genius songwriter, and a couple years ago I was recruited by his fellow genius songwriter Steve Lewis for a tribute CD project, as a SURPRISE for Tim. My efforts fell through, but they could have never matched this kick-ass version of the #1 hit that never was anyway.

5. “I’m At Home Getting Hammered,” Banjo & Sullivan. A fictional 70s country act who were murdered by Rob Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects. SURPRISINGLY good.

6. “Ain’t That Pretty At All,” The Pixes. Did you know the Pixies recorded this Warren Zevon song for a tribute album? No? SURPRISE!

7. “Our Love Will Still Be There,” The Troggs. Did you know there was a Troggs song besides “Wild Thing”? Neither did I until my pal John Shuffleboil included this track on a mix CD. Boy, was I SURPRISED!

8. “Tournament of Hearts,” The Weakerthans. Another one from “I heard it at poker night.” The first of several tracks on this disc from KEXP’s Song of the Day site, all of which were a SURPRISE to me. Even though it’s Canadian, and has a lot to do with curling, about which I know nothing, this song really speaks to me.

9. “Love Shop,” Jerry Goldsmith. Again courtesy of my pal John Shuffleboil, who shares my love of 70s sci-fi cheese. He sent me a bootleg of the Logan’s Run soundtrack, and boy was I SURPRISED!

10. “Bob George,” Prince. Believe it or not, younguns, at one time a new Prince album release was a bona fide event. So I was crushed when the announced Black Album was pulled at the last minute in 1987. But much to my SURPRISE, my friend Tim found a bootleg tape way back when. It has since been officially released, of course, but this is still the weirdest Prince song, which is really saying something.

11. “Livin’ in the Future,” Bruce Springsteen. Hey, speaking of guys who peaked twenty-some years ago, here is the greatest Springsteen song of 1985. Except it just came out last year. SURPRISE! Somehow it took him this long to figure out the perfect blend of good-timey rock and ambiguously apocalyptic lyrics.

12. “16 Shells From a 30-Ought-6,” Tom Waits. It was 1999 and Tom Waits was coming to Austin to play a midnight show for SXSW. I tried to get tickets and failed. At the last minute, my pal Jen called to inform me she had two seats, second row at the Paramount, and I was invited. Boy was I SURPRISED! I was also SURPRISED a few months later when my pal Dan gave me a bootleg CD of that show for Christmas. I can hear myself cheering and laughing on many of the tracks, including this one.

13. “Yer Stoned Italian Cowboy,” The Go. Another one from KEXP’s SURPRISE Song of the Day.

14. “Hangman,” Fire on Fire. As is this. SURPRISED?

15. “Holland 1945,” Neutral Milk Hotel. I can’t remember why I included this one, unless it’s because I listened to this album approximately 99999 times before learning that it was about Anne Frank. Imagine my SURPRISE!

16. “The Red Sox Are Winning,” Earth Opera. During the Sawx playoff run last year, I happened upon this track on emusic from a collection of “Bosstown Sound” tunes. It’s mighty freakin’ SURPRISINGLY weird, especially the Charlton Heston-esque KILL THE HIPPIES finale.

17. “Wave Backwards to Massachusetts,” Hallelujah the Hills. See #13 & #14. Same sort of SURPRISE.

18. “The Man Trying to Outfox Us All,” We All Have Hooks For Hands. This too. Not so much of a SURPRISE anymore.

19. “Sing It Again,” Beck. Totally out of ideas, I decided to use a randomizer on the internets to pick the last three songs. I’ve got three different CD shelf units, so I chose a random SURPRISE track from each. This is the first.

20. “Greenback Fly,” Southern Culture on the Skids. This is the second SURPRISE random track.

21. “Minneapolis,” Lucinda Williams. This is the third SURPRISE random track.

Boy, did this suck. SURPRISE!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Smart People