Saturday, February 28, 2009

Party Lines Are Destroying Politics

Warning: Political viewpoints ahead. Proceed with caution, and please don't argue on my blog.

Today, Rush Limbaugh addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference. He was given several standing ovations, calling for the Republican Party to "take back" the white house in 2012 and again hoping for Obama's failure.

Limbaugh addresses the problems of bipartisanship, and I agree with him. The stimulus bill should have been a bipartisan effort and was not. Okay, you win. However, this sort of rally does NOT help his cause. He essentially garners support AGAINST the president, and talks about "taking back" control of the white house. How are these bipartisan viewpoints?

We're in an era where we need to trust our leaders. For too long, we've seen corruption in Washington, and I think the majority of Americans want an era of recovery. Someone to fix the problems in the government for everyone, not just Democrats or Republicans. I think a majority of Americans don't vote along party lines anyway. If there is a clear cut leader who stands out above his opponent, he should get the vote. I'm not saying this because I voted for Obama. I've been trying to learn as much as I could about every policy, conservative and liberal, that can be applied to this country. I think the best thing for everyone right now is keeping an open mind and selecting the right option. When you have people like Rush Limbaugh spoon-feeding propaganda, this will never get accomplished. This goes for Michael Moore, Ann Coulter, and all the media mudslingers. This country will NOT move forward with these people invoking hatred in people for the opposing viewpoint.

We need to stop arguing and start learning from each other. We need to stop trash talking. We need to open our minds instead of closing them off to others' opinions. This election may have alienated neo-conservatives, but I think it was a turning point for liberals and libertarians. We may have different viewpoints, but I think everyone wants the best for the country. I know there are a lot of conservatives that disagree with Limbaugh, evidenced by "How Radio Wrecks The Right," a pamphlet given out during the speech.

If the Republican party wants to be relevant in the future, they need to relate to the American people. I can't name ten people that voted for McCain. Every conservative friend I have voted for Ron Paul or didn't vote. There is a problem with the current state of the Republican party, and I believe it is arrogance, refusal to cooperate, and stubbornness. I'm angered with the selection of Rush Limbaugh as a keynote speaker at a Republican convention. If this is the current leader of your party, how long is it going to be before you "take back the white house?"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2009 Movie Preview

Now that the Oscars are over, everyone starts to look forward to the movies coming out this year. No doubt, we'll have a summer full of blockbusters. I'm almost finished reading The Watchmen, slated to debut in about a week.

We also see revamped versions of Star Trek, Terminator, Harry Potter, X-Men, and Halloween.

There's also a new Woody Allen flick, a Sacha Baron Cohen film starring his alter-ego Bruno, and a Wolfman film starring Benicio Del Toro.

On top of ALL of these, there are ten films coming out this year that I'd like to address specifically. You know, the ones that are shaping up to be the powerhouses of the year. The ones that have names like Scorsese, Depp, Downey Jr., DiCaprio, Day-Lewis, Tarantino, and Pixar involved. These won't necessarily all be good movies, but I'm sure a majority of these will be around in a year for Oscar season. Let's get started:

Public Enemies

Director: Michael Mann (The Insider, Collateral, Heat)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Billy Crudup, Channing Tatum, Marion Cotillard, Giovanni Ribisi, Leelee Sobieski

Summary: A crime drama set in Chicago during the Great Depression, this centers around bank robbers John Dillinger (Depp), Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham), and Pretty Boy Floyd (Tatum). Bale portrays the FBI agent Melvin Purvis, hunting them all down and Crudup portrays J. Edgar Hoover, leading the investigation.

My Opinion: With this cast, it's hard not to think Oscars. Gangster movies are great these days, and I think this could be a bit reminiscent of Gangs of New York. Depp and Bale get to showcase their actual acting expertise, after being stuck in niche markets for the last few years. The addition of Cotillard, Ribisi, and Crudup doesn't hurt either.

Shutter Island

Director: Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer

Summary: Adapted from Dennis Lehane's (Mystic River) 2003 novel, this film centers around the psychiatric facility Ashecliffe, where the missing patient Rachel Solando (Mortimer) has committed multiple murders. U.S. Marshalls Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) are searching the island in the midst of a hurricane and deception.

My opinion: Scorsese and DiCaprio, need I say more? We have an island with a murderer on the loose, and a huge storm. Not only that, but it seems like there is a deep web of deception for our heroes to pick through. Dennis Lehane has written storylines for The Wire, not to mention spectacular films like Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. Teaming up with Scorsese could be a masterpiece.


Director: Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman

Summary: This is an adaptation from a Tony award-winning musical which is derived from an Italian play inspired by Fellini's 8 1/2. Phew. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Guido Contini, a film director facing a mid-life crisis where he must balance relationships between his wife Luisa (Cotillard), mistress Carla (Cruz), muse Claudia (Kidman), and his mother (Sophia Loren).

My Opinion: Hugh Jackman said it best: The musical is back! Here we have everyone's favorite actor Daniel Day-Lewis teaming up with a director whose last musical garnered 13 Oscar nominations. I'm not familiar with the storyline, but juggling women in a musical based on a 1950's story seems like an entertaining concept.


Director: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson (Pixar Animation: WALL-E, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles)

Starring (Voices): Ed Asner, John Ratzenberger, Christopher Plummer

Summary: Carl Frederickson (Asner) longs for adventure. He's always wanted to visit the mountains, in remembrance of his late wife. To avoid moving out of his home, he attaches balloons to his house to fly away. However, he accidentally takes 8-year old Wilderness Explorer Russel (Jordan Nagai) along for the ride.

My Opinion: I've come to the realization that every Pixar movie is phenomenal. It's captivating, fun for all ages, and heart-warming. I'm sure Up will live up to expectations.

Inglourious Basterds

Director: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Mike Myers, Diane Kruger

Summary: Two converging storylines, Tarantino style. Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Pitt) arranges for a group of vengeful Jewish soldiers known as The Basterds to scalp the leaders of the Third Reich. Simultaneously, Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) operates a cinema in German-occupied France where she plans to seek revenge on the Nazis that killed her family.

My Opinion: Did Tarantino really call this his "spaghetti-western with World War II iconography"? If so, we should see lots of guns, lots of characters, lots of flashbacks and flash-forwards, and a vengeful Brad Pitt. It would be nice to see Pitt back in form after Benjamin Button and Burn After Reading.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Director: Wes Anderson (Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic)

Starring (Voices): Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman

Summary: Based on Roald Dahl's book, this stop-action tale is about a fox (Clooney) who steals food from three farmers while constantly evading their attempts to stop him. When the farmers band together to get rid of the fox once and for all, they find that he is much more cunning than they thought. This will be in the style of Nightmare Before Christmas, but right now I can't seem to find any images from the film. Keep an eye out for this one.

My Opinion: I have a place in my heart for Wes Anderson. I love to death everything that man has touched, and I expect this childrens' stop-action to follow suit. However, I don't see any production progress, so this might not get released in 2009. Let's see how Anderson does in a different setting.

Sherlock Holmes

Director: Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams

Summary: Sherlock Holmes (Downey) and Dr. Watson (Law) apprehend Satanic cult leader Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who promises revenge.

My Opinion: Guy Ritchie has lost his luster lately and I think this may be just the film to bring him back to prominence. Robert Downey Jr. in a film noir, with Jude Law as a sidekick and Rachel McAdams as the femme fatale. I'm not sure which Holmes story they plan to adapt, if any, but it sounds like this has the potential to be pretty captivating. I'm counting on Downey to make this a worthwhile endeavor.

Taking Woodstock

Director: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon)

Starring: Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Paul Dano

Summary: True life tale of Elliot Tiber (Martin), a Greenwich Village resident whose parents held the only music festival permit in all of upstate New York. Also tells of Tiber's struggles of being a closet homosexual and his experiences with the Stonewall Riots of the 1960's.

My Opinion: Fresh off of my second viewing of Milk, I'm gung-ho for movies with social revolution and upheaval. Here we have the origins of Woodstock and a struggle for gay rights. Musical revolution? Check. Social revolution? Check. Up-and-coming comedic genius? Check. What more could this film ask for? I guess an award-winning director wouldn't hurt.

The Road

Director: John Hillcoat (The Proposition)
Writer: Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men, Blood Meridian)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron

Summary: In post-apocalyptic America, a man (Mortensen) and his son (Smit-McPhee) struggle to survive amidst starvation, cannibals, and a barren landscape of ash. Soundtrack rumored to be written by Nick Cave.

My Opinion: This book is probably the most depressing and moving tales I've ever read. Desolate, hopeless, and bleak. The story is held together solely by the father-son relationship, and their struggles are depicted perfectly on paper. I hope this will translate to the screen as well, especially with a Nick Cave soundtrack. This has potential to fail, but I really hope it doesn't.

The Informant

Director: Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Che, Oceans Movies)

Starring: Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Patton Oswalt

Summary: Based on the 2000 novel of the same name, this film is about high-ranking ADM executive Mark Whitacre (Damon) who confessed to the FBI of his companies' intentions to fix the price of the food additive Lysine. He was the highest ranking whistle-blower in U.S. history, working undercover for three years and gathering hundreds of hours of video and audio evidence. We also see his struggle with bipolar disorder, and the bizarre behavior that landed Whitacre with a much longer prison sentence than the people he helped to stop.

My Opinion: This is Matt Damon's movie. He is living the life of troubled Mark Whitacre, and he alone will make or break this movie. It's a true story, and it has an interesting protagonist. I think Damon could really showcase his abilities here. He's been overshadowed by ensemble casts lately, and this is his time to shine. Let's see what he can do with it.

As the year progresses, I'm sure there will be other contenders I haven't even thought of, and I'm sure some of these will fall flat for one reason or another. Hell, I thought Australia would definitely be up for best picture, judging by the first few images I saw last year. This just goes to show how deceiving the previews can be.

Any films I missed that you would like to add? Drop me a comment!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The 3rd Ward

It's high time I think some of the awesome places around here were recognized for being awesome. The first on the list: The 3rd Ward.

Located at 195 Morgan Avenue (above a five minute walk from my apartment!), this space has everything your creative heart desires. There are workspaces available to rent, with access to the wood shop, metal shop, photography studio, or digital media lab (complete with Final Cut Pro, Adobe Creative Suite & After Effects, and Macromedia Studio).

There are classes available in Digital Design, Photography, Professional Development, Screen Printing, Welding/Metal Work, and Woodworking. There is also a featured class: for this month it is Write A Business Plan.

You can become a member on a few different levels, and gain access to the labs, earn exhibition space, get discounts, AND GET HEALTH INSURANCE!

Also, the AMAZING Gardentone Recording Studio
is located here. I met with the head engineer and was thoroughly impressed by the setup. You should check out their website for more pictures and a list of artists and equipment. There is a possibility I may be able to record there as a freelance engineer in the future as well!

Last but not least, there are amazing events going on here. My personal favorite, Handmade Music Night:

Every 3rd Thursday, geeky DIY musicians come in to see crazy electronic devices handcrafted by other circuit-bending geeks and perhaps build their own! This past week, we saw a performance by the Electric Junkyard Gamelan , with instruments made from flower pots, rubber bands, and garbage cans. There was also a pretty sweet Arduino synth for everyone to toy around with. Did I mention there's free Pabst?

Oh, and for the artists out there, every 1st and 3rd Wednesday is Drink-N-Draw. $15 admission, $10 if you bring a friend. They supply the models, you bring your tools.

Of course, a space wouldn't be complete without a Movie House, every 2nd Sunday of the month. They just celebrated their 2nd anniversary with a 2-minute film festival.

I can't express how sweet this place is. I only first attended Handmade Music Night this past week, and I'll be sure to attend as many events in the future as possible. It's so great that such a communal space is so close to me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kleeb's Top 10 Films of 2008

Oscar night is upon us, and before we see any of the winners, I wanted to post my picks for the ten best films of 2008. Granted, I haven't seen them all but I really did try. I hope we'll see a reflection of this tonight:

10. Tropic Thunder

I expected nothing from this film. I expected a crappy Ben Stiller comedy with no intelligent plot or character development. I got a hilarious, innovative comedy mocking the war genre. Robert Downey Jr. is amazing as the overdramatic Kirk Lazarus, unable to get out of character as a blackface lieutenant. Nick Nolte and Danny McBride provide an amazing side plot. Tom Cruise is the best asshole I've ever seen. Matthew McConaughey is back in his best pot-smoking form. And Ben Stiller, as much as I loathe him and his movies, is fantastic. His post-panda attack attitude is great, and I think that scene alone makes this movie worth it. Surprise of the year. I don't think it will get any awards tonight, but it deserves some attention.

9. Waltz With Bashir

On a more serious note, war is not a joke. Even if war movies are. Waltz With Bashir is an account of the Lebanon War in the early 80's. Ari, the lead character, cannot seem to remember that part of his life. Specifically, the Beirut massacre. He talks to old friends to try to piece together the puzzle. I think this is a definite Best Foreign Language Film. Dazzling animation as well. The whole film is just artistically amazing. Think Waking Life, but a little more detailed.

8. Burn After Reading

Since we're on the subject of movies that didn't get the attention they deserved, the newest Coen Brothers film was ignored completely this year, by practically everyone. This is a great tale of stupidity, promiscuity, and blackmail. Brad Pitt and George Clooney are hysterical. John Malkovich is at the top of his game. Every character is just so utterly ridiculous and stupid that J.K. Simmons' character says it best: "What a clusterfuck!" This also won't win tonight, hell it isn't even nominated. But it's fantastic.


I love Pixar. Every movie they make is intelligent, funny, and accessible to all ages. Their latest release is one of the best they've made. It is a love story, a reflection on American consumption, and an entertaining action movie, packed with nostalgia. The score and much of the robotics are from Brazil. Even the main enemy is straight out of 2001:A Space Odyssey. The best part about this film is probably the lack of dialogue for over 50% of the film. What an entertaining film. Best Animated Feature.

6. Slumdog Millionaire

I'm probably the only person that doesn't LOVE this movie. I think it's great and very well-done. It will probably win Best Original Song for "Jai Ho" or "O Saya" and Best Original Score for A.R. Rahman. I'll give Danny Boyle Best Director because of the fantastic acting of all the mostly inexperienced cast. The story is fantastic too, so I'll also vote Best Adapted Screenplay. I think this is a fantastic film, don't get me wrong. It's a great love story, it's innovative, and the cast is relatively unknown. However, I think it's riding a pretty big wave of hype right now, and there are other films that deserve a bit more attention.

5. Frost/Nixon

Ron Howard's depiction of the battle between former President Nixon and then-trivial reporter David Frost is engaging and powerful. It is like watching a political boxing match, where Frost is getting crushed for three rounds, and somehow comes out in the fourth round and knocks out the champ. Since Nixon had been pardoned, there was no need to pry into the Watergate scandal. Frost's interview was able to pull a confession out of Nixon, get him to emotionally apologize on national television. It was considered the trial that Nixon never had, and Frost became a celebrity afterwards. Frank Langella deserves something for his emotional portrayal of Nixon, but I think he has too stiff of a competition. This film is great, and definitely worth watching, but I think it will go home empty-handed tonight.

4. The Dark Knight

The summer blockbuster is somehow getting better every year. The Batman franchise has been reinvented with the combination of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale. The Dark Knight is the best superhero film I've ever seen, with the help of Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and of course Heath Ledger. Best Supporting Actor by far, Ledger has far outdone the previous Joker performance by Jack Nicholson, one I strongly considered one of the best performances by one of the best actors of all time. Surely, they wouldn't try to outdo Nicholson? Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is sinister. There's no jack-in-the-box or whoopee cushion. The Joker is not practical jokes as much as he is just mentally unstable. The way his tongue darts around as he talks and his tone of voice just bring an air of uneasiness to the scene. It is troubling to watch the Joker, and even more so now that Ledger has passed. You could almost believe, if the rumors are true, that this character drove him over the edge. And THAT is scary. This will probably also grab Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.

3. Man On Wire

I love documentaries. The crazier the subject, the more I enjoy it. This particular tale is about a crazy French tight-rope walker who absolutely will not stop attempting to walk between the towers of the World Trade Center. He is passionate and probably slightly insane, but the film follows his struggles and practice leading up to the great feat. His two teams must wait in the towers for hours as security guards patrol, then set up their camp on the roof. To get the wire across, they shoot an arrow attached to a fishing line. By morning, he is on the wire and he walks across eight times before they catch him. It is a story of dreams and passions and someone who will stop at nothing to achieve them. Best Documentary Feature.

2. The Wrestler

Growing up, all my friends were into professional wrestling. I couldn't stand it. Once I found out everything was staged, what fun was it? It was a lame show of masculinity with a predetermined winner. Who cares? After watching Aronofsky's moving tale of a washed up wrestler played by Micky Rourke, my attitude changed. Rourke had no other life than pro wrestling, and when he got too old, there was nowhere to turn. Marisa Tomei is fantastic, playing his closest friend, a frequent stripper. Evan Rachel Wood is also great, playing his estranged daughter. We see firsthand what Rourke is going through as he tries to find emotion in his life after his passion is impossible. I am split on the Best Lead Actor category for this reason, because Sean Penn has an equally compelling performance in...

1. Milk

Best Picture by far, Milk tells the tale of San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk and his struggle to win gay rights. He starts as a small business owner and slowly builds his community until he is elected city supervisor. Penn has transformed himself for this role, becoming the strong advocate for gay rights that Harvey Milk had been. I'd be content with either Penn or Rourke taking home Best Lead Actor because they both deserve it. I am also voting for Milk to win Best Original Screenplay. The supporting cast in this film are amazing too, with Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin in captivating performances. I can't say enough about this film, it was truly my favorite of the year.

Now, I have a little bit to say about other movies I've seen. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was great. It reminded me a bit of Forrest Gump, and I could see why it's getting shunned by everyone, but I still think it was very moving. Because Pitt and Blanchett played the same characters for an entire life span (except children), I'm giving Best Makeup, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design to this film. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I think everyone should give it a shot. It's really not bad.

In Bruges was a fun action film, something I haven't seen without it being terrible. I wouldn't be upset if it took home Best Original Screenplay.

Benicio Del Toro is amazing in his depiction of Che Guavara in Che. Though the movie is two parts, and I only got to see Part 1, I can still say that he was great. This is another film that got completely shunned at the academy.

There you have it, my analysis of 2008 in film. We'll see how I fare tonight during the awards.

Friday, February 20, 2009

John Cassavetes

A few nights ago, I was introduced to the wild world of John Cassavetes. An American filmmaker from the late 50's, Cassavetes was the pioneer of independent film. He was the Jack Kerouac of film. He was the Beat director. I was in love.

We watched Shadows, his directorial debut. Shadows is about New York City in the 50's, from jazz to dating to bar fights. Here is a clip:

All the music is either jazz legend Charles Mingus or saxophonist Shafi Hadi. The film is more real than anything I've seen from this era. The relationships aren't overdramatic. The characters are believable. It doesn't hold back.

At the end of the film, a message appears on the screen:

"The film you have just seen was an improvisation."

I think that says enough. Great film, great acting, great music. I can't wait to get my hands on more of his stuff. Go check him out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's The Economy, Stupid!

At the end of my last post I said Bill is gone and Nate is back, and it wasn't more evident than last night. The tips of my fingers hurt, the soles of my feet hurt, and I feel fantastic.

Nate and Paul came into my calm day of watching free Netflix movies and reading in a whirlwind of energy and musical inspiration. It wasn't long before we were writing songs again, Nate and I on guitar and Paul on drums. We now have about 5-6 songs to flush out in the coming week.

Around 11, we needed to pick up bagels for the week, so we headed downtown. The dumpster on Bedford flowed with cinnamon raisin, poppyseed, sesame, and garlic. I had a field day again. There has never been a time where I failed to retrieve bagels, and this time we scored about a dozen. We hopped the train to Manhattan because Nate was craving Mamoun's Falafel. Paul went home, and us jobless rogues decided to go for a walk around Manhattan.

We walked around the village, Washington Square, up to 14th St. to the Trader Joe's to see if we could score some produce (1 a.m. is not the time to find free produce) down to Alphabet City, to the Lower East Side, down to the South St. Seaport, where Nate worked in the summer, and into the financial district.

Nate is a stanch Ron Paul supporter, and for most of the night we talked about the economy. We both oppose the stimulus bill. For me, it seems illogical that a massive amount of spending will "pump up" the economy. Nate was telling me about an Austrian economic belief that pulls government out of people's lives and forces everything to be very competitive private businesses. This way, quality is improved and people have the choice between different companies.

I still believe in government funded education, police force, and health care, but I could see where he's coming from. The solution to a better economy is LESS government intervention, not more. At this point, we're too deep into this economic shit to do this, because of the national debt and the unpaid mortgages, but we'll see if this stimulus package actually works.

New York is beautiful because of the independent businesses. Every place around me is run by a family owned enterprise. Granted, quality is definitely sacrificed in a lot of instances, but there are about a dozen different groceries, laundromats, coffee shops, etc. Nate's belief is that no one takes better care of you than the community, so a privately owned hospital has incentive to take better care of their patients than a government-owned universal health care plan. The problem is that HMOs are in control of most of the medical practices today and it's destroying any sort of independent medical practice. Also malpractice lawsuits make it almost impossible for an indpendent doctor to exist.

As we walked we talked about this, and I learned a great deal about economics. It was never a field that interested me, but it is very critical right now to have a good understanding of what's going on. I just watched a video on that kind of alarmed me, but it's probably true:

Yes, this election motivated many young people, but what are they doing now? Do they know what the details of the stimulus bill are? Are they going to be critical of Obama, or simply live unconcerned now that their celebrity is in office? I like Obama a lot. I think he truly does care about people and not power, and I know he did a lot of community service and worked closely with compassionate people. I don't think he will repeat the Bush disaster, but at the same time, I'm not letting him off the hook. If the people aren't critical of the government, who will be?

South Street Seaport is beautiful at 2 a.m. We stood under the Brooklyn Bridge and you could faintly see the Statue of Liberty through the night fog. A small freighter was coming in to dock, and the quiet streets of the financial district were the most desolate places I've seen in New York. We walked to Wall Street and stood in front of the Stock Exchange, with a huge American Flag across the front. We read about J.P. Morgan and all the historical facts concerning the beginnings of Wall Street. We took pictures in front of it and headed down to Ground Zero, passing French retail stores along the way that sold $300 sweaters and saddles. The observation walkway was blocked off, but we checked out a picture of what they intended the new site to look like:

Putting things into perspective, I'd rather be unemployed at this point in my life. I can get by on basically nothing, and work is going to come soon. I just have to REALLY persevere. I applied at Philip Glass's recording studio yesterday, and it was the only place to get back to me:


Thanks for getting in touch about our studios. Unfortunately, we're closing our doors for good at the end of the month. Best of luck out there...


Christian Rutledge, Studio Manager
632 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10012

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day

(Courtesy of

Valentine's Day is the most loved and most hated holiday. Everyone either celebrates the fact that they have a significant other with extravagant dinners and bottles of wine, or sulks in self loathing and cheap beer. Personally, I have always been a victim of the latter. I've always been single for Valentine's Day, but this is pretty much the first time I'm pretty happy about that. My roommate April and her boyfriend went out for a four course meal in Manhattan with a $50 wine special. That's fine and all, but if you're unemployed in New York and eating bagels out of a dumpster to stay alive, you can't really celebrate Valentine's Day. There's not much room for romance in my wallet these days.

Since Drew and Bill are in the same boat, Bill decided to stay in New York until Sunday and spend Valentine's Day with us and Logic Pro. We finished another track in addition to "The Living" called "In Your Mother's Car" which was recorded with a better quality and mixed much more meticulously. Here are both songs available to stream, if you're interested:

The Living:

In Your Mother's Car:

I always have a great time playing with Bill and Drew. For those that don't know, the three of us played music together in 2003-2005 in Kill The Lights.

We were reckless, young, and energetic. People jumped into my drumset after every show. We broke guitars, drums, bones. It was pretty great, but pretty sloppy and destructive. Here's a video compilation followed by one of our old songs:

Credits For The Common Man

I Survived The Cicada Invasion But My Dog Didn't

And here we are about a year ago at Drew's birthday:

So Bill has gone, but Nate has returned. I am still jobless, but I am on a recording kick, so we may be pumping out songs for the next week or so. Life is great.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Norm Macdonald Has Lost His Mind

I know this is an out of order entry, but I was really excited about Bill's song and you should all go listen to it.

On Tuesday, I attended the Conan O'Brien show with Drew. It was everything I always dreamed of. For those of you that missed it, here are two hilarious segments with Norm Macdonald.

And here with Gordom Ramsay:

I'm glad I got to witness in person one of the funniest things to happen on this show. Norm Macdonald truly is one of the funniest people of all time, whether he knows what he's talking about or not.

Speaking of people on late night that have lost their mind, what the hell happened to Joaquin Phoenix?

People are saying it's a gag, people are saying it's a character from an upcoming mockumentary, but in my opinion, he just wants out of the spotlight.

Phoenix's brother committed suicide. He declared his retirement from acting. I think he just wants out of the public eye and will do whatever he can to rip apart his reputation. I don't think anyone will care about Joaquin Phoenix in a few years and he will be happier for it.

Or maybe not, who knows. Who cares.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesdays With Bill

Bill came to visit us on Tuesday. We spent a typical Tuesday night at the Lazy Catfish and Matchless, drinking entirely too much and playing random games with random people in courtyards.

We woke up on Wednesday with no agenda, so we decided to record one of Bill's songs. We went all out, drums, sax, more drums, more vocals. It turned out pretty good considering the lyrics were mostly improvised and so were all the percussion parts.

Anyway, here you go. Comments appreciated.

Bill, Kleeb, and Drew - The Living


Monday, February 9, 2009

What's With The Grammys?

Last year, I gave a long rant about the Gramophone Awards and how they were not inclusive enough. How they seemed to be out of touch with the artists of today and were just masturbatory awards for the music industry to dote upon. Artists that released fantastic albums like TV on the Radio and Joanna Newsom were ignored for extremely sub-par, but popular, artists like Maroon 5 and Amy Winehouse.

This year, I still hold some of these views. Washed up artists that have long since passed their prime (Paul McCartney, the Eagles, Maroon 5) are still nominated. Many great artists from the past year were ignored, albeit a pretty large critical acclaim and popularity (Fleet Foxes, Sigur Ros, TV on the Radio). However, I feel that I am looking at the Grammys from a very narrow viewpoint, and in this post I'd like to expand that a bit.

Let's take a look at the categories. If you're an avid follower of music like myself, you would probably want to justify each of the winners being worthy of the award. However, I found myself not knowing much of the music nominated. I am currently looking into this Robert Plant/Alison Krauss project, because it seems to have swept the awards. Nothing I would listen to, by any means, but I guess it's good for what it is. Very over-produced and country-influenced, two things I despise about modern music. But hey, it's the Grammys. So it beats out Lil Wayne, an artist that I can stand in stride but feel he is somewhat of a joke. Ne-Yo I have never listened to. Coldplay's new album is alright. It's miles better than 2005's X&Y, but nowhere close to their first two releases. Plus Coldplay is just lukewarm at best. There are so many albums that were better than that. Then there's Radiohead's In Rainbows, which, in my opinion, was the groundbreaking album of 2007. Innovative, fresh, and the marketing strategy was outstanding. Just the fact that this was even nominated for record of the year is good enough for me.

Getting nominated for a Grammy these days is like winning five. If you're not Bruce Springsteen or Paul McCartney or someone ancient, you have little chance of being recognized. The Grammys seem to resurrect artists every year instead of baptizing new ones. Let's take a look at the best Solo Rock Vocal Performance: Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder, Bruce Springsteen, John Mayer. Let's skip over the fact that Sir Paul was nominated for "I Saw Her Standing There" which was released upwards of SIXTY FUCKING YEARS AGO. This group of geezers are not really relevant. Mayer gets the win because he's under 50. I can even support Mr. Vedder because this song is actually great.

So let's move away from the aspects of the Grammys that make us all cringe and try to see what is changing for the better. First off, this performance is actually amazing:

Although other performances make me want to stop playing music altogether:

I guess you can be a corporate-built band with the sole purpose of marketing to 14-year old girls and STILL win awards despite how shitty you are. And play on stage with Stevie Wonder. Despicable. Poor Stevie. Anyway, some performers still impress me, getting nominated for song of the year (with lyrics about immigration!) and performing at 8 months pregnant:

So maybe the Grammys are getting better, though at this rate it's going to take decades. Kings of Leon beat out powerhouses AC/DC, the Eagles, Radiohead, and Coldplay for best rock performance.

I have yet to explore the categories like contemporary jazz, latin jazz, tejano, mexicano, norteno, and banda music. This leads me to believe that there is still a TON of music that is prospectively amazing that I have not yet heard. Although, I'm kind of disappointed that Amadou & Mariam's Welcome to Mali was not nominated for any World Music category.

Also, with my major, I was happy to see categories for production, mixing, mastering, and composing. These people behind the music do not get recognized enough. Audio Engineers and Sound Designers are beginning to get the recognition they deserve. Even if it is the Grammys.

Maybe I WILL win a Grammy one day, even if it is the most self-indulgent and out-of-touch award you can win.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Holy Shit! Michael Phelps is Twenty-Three!

I know I'm beating a dead horse on this one, but I just want to make some comments. For those of you that live in a barn but still have the internet, somehow, 8-time Olympian gold-medalist and all-around best physical athlete of all time, Michael Phelps was caught smoking weed. With a backwards hat.

Surprise! He's fucking twenty-three. He went to a college party. I know he's supposed to be a fine upstanding example of morality and the idol for your kids, but give the guy a break. If you're the absolute best in the world, don't fucking apologize. At most, he should stand up and say "I am the absolute best athlete in the world, and smoking weed did nothing to hinder winning 8 gold medals. I'll smoke another bong and win them again."

This also goes for Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen who was caught playing beer olympics. We've all been to college. It's a place to get things out of your system. Is he showing up drunk to football games? Doubtful. Is Phelps getting high before a swim meet? I guess it's possible. But improbable. Sports figures are under way too much scrutiny, especially in the years of their lives when they're supposed to be drinking and getting high and learning from it.

So now Michael Phelps is on the chopping block, pulls out of the Super Bowl speech he was supposed to give, and loses all of his AT&T endorsements. His "public image is damaged" and his "marketing potential may take a dip, analysts say."

Even our current president has admitted to marijuana use, and he's basically worshiped across the world right now. So have the last two presidents. Maybe marijuana isn't the most productive or smart thing to do when you have responsibilities. However, it's definitely not as bad as all the anti-drug programs make it out to be. It's much less dangerous than alcohol, and really needs to be re-evaluated.

I think this Phelps issue is important for that. After all, the guy has 8 freakin gold medals. Let him smoke weed. Christ.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Super Bowl, or Another Excuse to Cook and Have People Over

Since my interest in cooking skyrocketed a few years ago, I have taken advantage of many so-called "Cooking Holidays." These include, but are not limited to, Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, Labor Day, The Super Bowl, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I am an avid professional football fan. I've followed the Green Bay Packers since I was eight years old. My interest has waned slightly as of late, especially with a new interest in Major League Baseball and the Phillies, but I never miss a season of Fantasy Football, and I never miss a Super Bowl.

That said, the Arizona Cardinals seemed like the unlikely underdog of the year. So why not throw a party? Drew, Nate, April, and I got to cooking. Alex and two of her friends showed up and we drank and yelled at the TV and ate massive amounts of food. Since I lack a camera, other than my Mac, I will post pictures of what the food would have looked like if it had been photographed before eaten:

(All images are approximate and look more delicious than actual result)

Nachos were first. We baked them in the oven with some pepperjack cheese and had a side of salsa (store bought) and guacamole (home made). They were gone in about 10 seconds. The guacamole was probably the best turnout of the day, courtesy of Mr. Carsillo. We scooped out 2 avocados, a bit of diced onion and tomato, some garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, and some spices. I don't know why I never made this before, it was delicious.

Next, my Super Bowl staple, Buffalo Tofu Strips. I used to love buffalo wings, and a vegetarian Super Bowl would not be complete without SOME sort of buffalo something. So, I cut a block of tofu into strips and fried it in oil. Then I mixed BBQ sauce, Frank's Red Hot, Butter, and Sriracha Chili Sauce (A Kleeb kitchen staple). Poured this mixture over the tofu and baked it for about 10-15 minutes.

As you can see, the above image is breaded. After the fact, I would have breaded these strips, but they turned out okay anyway. Next time I definitely will.

Last, but not least, homemade Jalapeno Poppers. I made these once before with Alex Katos and they were delicious. I think I got overzealous this time and tried to bread them with flour. Basically, we cut the peppers in half and scooped out the middle and stuffed them with pepperjack cheese. Then I rolled them in milk and flour and then breadcrumbs. However, the flour did not solidify and we ended up with powdery, spicey, cheesy nonsense.

Here's what they would have looked like if we were successful

Anyway, we got loads of PBR and yelled at the screen and got really excited for the Cardinals (despite being a Pennsylvania native), but in the end Pittsburgh prevailed. You can't really dislike the Steelers though, they're a great team. And the winning touchdown was outstanding:

Anyway, it's time to crack down on this transcription. I'm working from home, and it's grueling, but this money will take me well into March. Maybe some film crew work after that? Hoping to get in as a sound mixer soon.