Cabin Fever



I saw a little movie called Cabin in the Woods this weekend. 

I adored it.

This is, of course, the kind of thing I usually follow with a synopsis and digestion. Due to the nature of the film, however, I'm going to refrain from engaging in my typical activity. Instead, I strongly encourage you to see the movie as I did - in as much of a void of context as possible. While I can't explain the movie, perhaps my reasoning for the experience warrants dissection.
The less I say about the movie, the better. Here are the few facts I can divulge without spoiling the viewing experience: written, directed and produced by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, it has a fantastic pedigree. The dialogue and plot are natural despite the horrible things that happen. Characters are surprisingly believable given the circumstances that unfold. It's about some good looking young people that go to a Cabin in the Woods. Bad things happen and we are given a bit of a mystery to piece together. Saying more than that would begin to chip away at the unexpected delights in the movie.

You know what? 

I need to stop here.
I can feel a full, spoilerific rant waiting to gush out. It's hard to withhold, frankly. I'm even reticent to post any links or images to go along with all this. All I can really say at this point is that if you have any love whatsoever for horror movies, or the ritual of going to the movies or even just smart, incredibly well written and engagingly directed movies - do not hesitate. See it now, before anything gets spoiled. It worked so well in a vacuum. It was so amazing to see a movie that trusted the audience to keep it, to assume we were smart rather than play down to the base level.


Go now.

Don't read reviews, don't watch trailers. Just know that it has been incredibly well received and warrants seeing on the big screen.

Trust me - you won't be sorry.



So I read Stephen King's novel about the Kennedy assassination. 

It was surprisingly good. 

Unfortunately, the enormity of the subject makes an elegant and simplified analysis difficult, if not impossible. I was 18 when the terrorist attacks occurred in New York and DC. Considering how much that shaped my world, I can't begin to fathom how such an event like the one on 11/22/63 would shatter innocence and alter lives. To my admitted dismay and shame, it made for absolutely engrossing reading and fascinating storytelling. 

Let me explain a bit. 

11/22/63 tells the story of Jake Epping, a man who is given access to a gateway to the past by an elderly friend. This friend, being not long for this Earth, has become obsessed with using this possibility as a means to divert history and save Kennedy, hopefully setting the world on a different chain of events that would undo Vietnam and spare thousands of lives as a result. Jake, fascinated by all of this, goes along with it and travels back to 1958, into a world of heavy smoking and the red scare. After some exposition and a series of trial and error establishment of rules regarding time travel, he decides to go along with the plan and sets about changing history. What follows is an engrossing adventure into the past, aided by an impressive amount of research and historical details from King. 

While I could give my typical emphatic endorsement of the book here, I'll sidestep the process to offer a few thoughts on the idea as a whole. I've certainly made my apologist stance for King's canon clear before, so instead of making a plea for you to give in to his writing, I'll simply say that it's the best he's written in years and it feels like he moved away from his wheelhouse a bit, in a good way. Give it a chance. 


I can't imagine what it would have been like to experience an event like the one in Dallas in November of 1963. I was 18 when the attacks happened and I could most likely spend the rest of my life trying to make sense of what happened. I probably will, in some ways. Such events are so massive in effect, despite their simple human beginnings, that our instinct is to force them into some sort of comprehendible, easily digested capsule of logic. This is, of course, impossible. 

For my generation, the scale of the events on September 11th will always be too large to grasp on any human scale - they are, by matter of fact, larger than one person can easily reconcile. All the more difficult it must be, then, to fathom how one lone person can be responsible for skewing the world off on to another course of events. It is of no surprise that conspiracy theories arise when we try to explain what happened in either event. To have some shadowy cabal of power players be responsible somehow seems so much more comprehensible than the reality of the actions of a few people. The events fly in the face of our understanding of how the world works. 

This being said, King's exploration of the subject is harrowing and humanizing. His exhaustive research into what (most likely) drove Lee Harvey Oswald to do what he did grants him an exhilarating yet horrifying place from which to tell a story. In some ways it's an the ultimate example of wish fulfillment - saving Kennedy is one of the classic cases cited for the potential of time travel. Who else is better suited than the long winded and exhaustive King to delve into the specifics of time travel and life in the 60s? 

I have to admit, I was almost giddy with excitement to see little scenarios play out, like rigging sports bets like in Back to the Future, or reveling in classic cars and examining knowingly outdated world views. Every time the protagonist started to risk revealing his nature or started to change the past in any way, I was on the edge of my seat, furiously flipping pages. Granted, I'm a fairly sizable nerd and time travel is some of the nerdiest stuff in fiction, but as engrossing as it may be for someone still under the age of 30 it was fantastic. I can't imagine how interesting it would be for anyone who actually experienced that time. 

I think, though, that some of the most significant lessons of the book come from the authors closing notes. In particular, a single sentence about our current state of vitriol and political fervor - "If you want to know what political extremism can lead to, look at the Zapruder film." That single, sad sentence says more about what our actions can lead to than the preceding 800 pages of human drive and desperation. One miserable, crazy person can do terrible things. It's a fascinating, scary ride to read about what makes them tick, but the moment they take action, it can't be taken back. The past won't change for us.

It would do us well to remember that.


Endless Nameless

Naming bands is hard.

Actually, choosing a good band name is hard.

Let me back up.

I've been in a few bands in my life. Some had longer lives than others. A couple were no more than impromptu jam sessions. Others recorded EPs and built (incredibly minor) buzz in their areas. Looking back at my choices, I can say with confidence that every single one had an abysmal, face-palm inducing name. Let's delve further into the mess, shall we?

Yellow 5 - the first band I ever played in with a name. I joined as the lead guitar. A punk outfit that played a lot of Aquabats and Green Day. Broke up after a year.

Harris Avenue - the first band i started. I chose the name at random from a book I was reading. The band stuck together for a surprisingly long(ish) time. I cut my teeth here.

John's Band - joined this band, not named after me. I swear. Different John. Only one or two shows and we all went separate ways.

In Like Flint - some reoccurring faces. Name chosen when overheard in conversation. Both band and name were too toothless to take hold.

Casual Hijinx - worst name, yet most prolific. Isn't that how it always works? Name came from a repeated phrase. Played a lot of shows and still have some recordings. Not half bad, in a Get Up Kids-aping sense.

High Five - sat in on a couple sessions with these guys. I take no blame for this one, but I did have the fortune of playing alongside my younger brother, who I still consider to be the best drummer I know.

I know for certain I'm forgetting the name of two other bands that fell in between a couple there, but then again they may never have gestated proper names. A lot of bad jokes maybe, but nothing that stuck, apparently.

See how bad all of those were? Granted, I was anywhere from 15 to 19 when picking names, but man - see how your own bad ideas can betray you? I actually thought they were decent at the time. If anyone I know can recall a name I've forgotten, please let me know and I'll add it to the list.

(Special mention goes to my younger brother's first band. Their name? Grandpa's Pirate Ship. Awesome.)


Fog Light

Hey gang!

I know, it's been a while, but sometimes that's just how it goes. I feel bad about that, but hey - what can you do?

I've got some things planned, a couple larger pieces in the pipes, but they're not finished and another's just starting. I also started a tumblr, because I like to both post inane Pop Art and overextend myself. In the meantime, I'll try to drop some things here that I've really been digging. There's never a shortage of new stuff for me to paw through, it's just a matter of what stands out from the pile. 

For example! The Wombats - you guys heard of them?
They're great. I totally was not on board for this Liverpool trio. Missed the boat, if you will. However, hearing their single 'Jump Into the Fog' was enough to shake me from my moorings. It's a brilliant piece of weird pop music that shifts and slinks into your head with fantastic synthesizers. 
Released off of their album This Modern Glitch earlier this year, this single sounds both old and new. It seems to possess that unassailable British swagger that bleeds cool, yet plays it so nonchalant despite this. The single possesses these odd tones that almost feel eerie and morbid. They play so well with the bright, poppy bass running beneath the verses, though. The hook is something that calls back to the 90s alt rock scene in the most British way, like I said.
It's just such an odd song, but I can't help but love 'Jump Into the Fog'. This is just one of the things I've been tripping myself over, as of late. I'm aiming to be updating a little more often going forward, so keep an eye peeled, kids.