BRÜTAL LEGEND: REVISITING JACK BLACK’S VIDEO GAME OF HEAVY METAL MAYHEM

This piece was originally published June 18th, 2011

Jack Black video game Post TemplateThe schedule for video game releases is as fast and constant as comic book title releases.

Because of this, it becomes difficult to try each one.

Although free demo downloads or the demo discs that come with gamer mags do help you try before buying, it is still tough to keep up unless you want to devote yourself to gaming 24/7 and have mighty deep pockets.


In October of 2009 Electronic Arts (EA, famous for games such as Madden NFL, Mass Effect, Rock Band, The Sims and Medal Of Honor) released a game called Brütal Legend.
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The Budos Band: Dance Music For The Next Doomsday

This piece was originally published May 23rd, 2011.

Snake Girl Post IconIn his 2005 film Broken Flowers, Director Jim Jarmusch once again made an intriguing, talked about, little gem of an art house film.

This independent film, starring Bill Murray as an aged Don Juan who visits his many past relationships in search of the sender of a mysterious letter from a purported offspring, was critically praised and did decent international business.

Like almost all of Jarmusch’s films, it then became another part of his ongoing filmography that continues to grow a large cult following which will be studied, collected and revered.


What made one of the biggest impressions on myself and many viewers of this particular film however, was the film’s soundtrack music. Jarmusch used as the bulk of the film’s soundtrack, the then little known music of Ethiopian Jazz composer Mulatu Astatke.

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SERGE GAINSBOURG’S FANTASTIC LIFE

This piece was originally published March 15th, 2011.

Serge Gainsbourg Puppet Post IconSerge Gainsbourg is best known in the United States for his 1969 charting single, “Je t’aime…moi non plus.”

The song, which features a breathy, sexually charged duet between Serge and his then wife, the British model/actress/singer Jane Birkin, against a backing of orchestrated pop, was all over A.M. radio throughout the late sixties and early seventies.


Due to its overtly sexual, albeit still somewhat surreal lyrics, and Jane’s orgasmic moans, the song was banned over all Europe where it was deemed as going too far for a pop song.

Of course, this helped to take the song to number one in many of the same countries that refused to play it on the radio.

You’ll still find the song played on some radio stations and used in films to this day.

Though this may have been Serge’s pinnacle moment as far as hit singles go, it is so far from his complete story as to be a mere footnote to a career that has since elevated Serge Gainsbourg to that of France’s most famous, infamous, scandalous, prolific, provocative and legendary cultural icon of the late 20th century.
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MY CREEPY VALENTINE: Love Songs From Another Dimension

This piece was originally published February 14th, 2011.

Wolfman Valentine Post IconValentine’s Day is one of those holidays that really divides folks.

There seem to be few who remain neutral when asked about this February tradition.

For whatever personal reasons, some people grumble and immediately fire off a few shots exclaiming how much they despise the whole thing.

 

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Simmering with dislike, they view February 14th as nothing but a cheap ploy to force affection and spend some money needlessly—much to the delight of the nation’s retailers of course.

Meanwhile, sitting over in the effervescent land of candy, flowers and cards, are those who view it as a reminder of just how nice it is to be in love, to be loved and in general have a pleasant, however brief it may be, momentary bit of happily ever after.

So whatever money is spent, it’s still a bargain.

I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite that deal with love. Yes they deal with love, although they deal with the subject in a rather tweaked, off-beat and sometimes sinister way. Hell, a few are downright dangerously obsessive and lead to nefarious endings.

So while love has been the primary subject of pop and rock and roll for decades, there are a few noble writers who have managed to take quite a different road than the normal love song.

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Richard Gottehrer: From Strange Candy to Dum Dum Pop

This piece was originally published february 8th, 2011.

I Want Candy Post IconOnce upon a time, back in the early ’60s, there was a trio of American songwriters/producers who, working as a team, had previously scored some major pop hits such as writing the chart topping song “My Boyfriend’s Back” for The Angels.

This trio, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer (a.k.a. FGG Productions) then decided to get into the recording and performing act themselves.

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The Strangeloves sans the black sweaters

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They pretended to be three Australian brothers, Giles, Miles and Niles Strange, who hailed from a sheep farm down under, where they became wealthy via an invention for crossbreeding the long-haired “Gottehrer” sheep.

Now, having plenty of money and time on their hands, they figured it’d be fun to form a pop band, thereby naming themselves The Strangeloves.

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CAPTAIN BEEFHEART WILL LIVE FOREVER!

This piece was originally published December 21st, 2010.

Captain Beefheart Post IconThis, my last Mystery Box column for 2010, is also among my more difficult writing challenges yet.

How to encapsulate, within this forum, not only my sadness at the thought that on December 18, 2010, Don Van Vliet a.k.a. Captain Beefheart, has shuffled off this mortal coil, but attempt to also effectively communicate my love, admiration and really, a fanatical appreciation of this artist—an artist of truly awe inspiring, exceptionally innovative magnitude.



Already there have been better words written in one day, than I could possibly ever come up with in five years: incredible columns from around the world eulogizing The Captain, and some by those who not only performed with him, but were a part of his inner circle.

Yet, try I must.

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Discovering GOLD: 1968 Style…

This piece was originally published august 16th, 2010.Rob Tyner MC5 Post IconThe 1960’s was a time when the previous decade’s fledgling youth movement, which was sparked by early Rock and Roll, the hipster fringe Beatnik scene with their bebop jazz, coffeehouse poetry and reefer, and an increased post war affluence in general, was furthered along.

Not only by a growing social and political awareness, but most importantly, divided by a generational gap from the older folks, all leading to a desire for all styles of fresh ideas and changes from the “establishment.”

Created was a worldwide zeitgeist brought together through music, literature, clothing styles, sexual freedoms, breaking down racial barriers, anti war politics, the rise of the avant garde and anti art, taking recreational drugs and a mainstream pop culture that dipped into the underground “counterculture” both in order to find creative inspiration, and soon enough once “the man” was able to tap into all of it, make money off of the kids.

So much was the creativity of the 1960’s that forever has there been the trickle down of influence to this day be it via the Beatles, who formulated and popularized the idea of a musical group with its members writing and performing their own songs, or the rise of the independent film maker, raising his own finances and working outside of the established Hollywood studio’s big budget system by producing, writing, directing and often acting in their own scaled down cinematic visions.

So what 60’s counterculture films usually come to mind?

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SIRIUS RADIO: SATELLITE OF LOVE

This piece was originally published July 26th, 2010.

Sirius Radio Post IconI finally had the chance to dive into Sirius Satellite Radio this year after my girlfriend gave me one of their personal players as a birthday present.

Little did I realize just how much I would love Sirius.

I know, this thing has been around for years now, but really, I haven’t seen much written about it that pinpointed my listening tastes, so it has been on my wishlist for some time.

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MY TOP 10 ALBUM COVER CRUSHES

This piece was originally published May, 2010

Heart Shaped Vinyl LP Post IconAs a very young music aficionado, I spent countless hours holding and analyzing vinyl LP cover art and I am far from alone in this pastime.

The format was always so perfect for viewing in fact, that to this day there has been a resurgence for collecting vinyl LP’s. Record collector’s and music fans worldwide are enjoying both older records and newly pressed reissues. there is a non-stop flow of newly pressed vinyl product constantly being released. Partly due to the overall sound quality inherent in the physical medium, partly the fact that many of today’s fans were not around to experience first-hand the time when vinyl was king of the castle but are still loving the bands of the era, but primarily for most fans, it just makes sense to hold and look at a treasured work of art in your hands that has a larger scale than a CD, a cassette, or hell, even an 8 track tape ever had.

My move through vinyl started with small 45 R.P.M. records with their accompanying storybooks for kid fare such as The Little Match Girl, The Tin Soldier (incredibly dismal when I think of them now) and a variety of Marvel and D.C. comic superhero tales. Then it was on to fantastic singles by The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, Chuck Berry and The Electric Light Orchestra.

Meanwhile my LP format started with such wondrous family hand me downs as classics from Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, and a variety of other great lounge, psychedelic and British Invasion gems. Adding to the pile were bad ass James Bond soundtracks and some good old Redd Foxx “Blue Humor” comedy oddities that provided plenty of kid-time guffaws and snickers for me and my pals. We listened endlessly (and with my friend’s parents approval in fact) to Redd’s You Gotta Wash Your Ass!—still in print after all these years!

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