C.A.T: Billion Dollar Babies

Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (1973)

Colin and I usually switch off for Classic album Tuesday, but I just had to go ahead and do it again as it seems like the ideal time to review Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies (An Alice Cooper pack was recently released for Rock Band) an album I very much enjoy.

Released in 1973, Billion Dollar Babies is often considered to be Alice Cooper and his band at their commercial and creative peak. It’s catchy, fun and most importantly, it rocks your socks off with great tunes and plenty of edge. For those who say Alice Cooper is no more than some shock rocker with a few radio hits, I think you’d be surprised to see that he’s actually got a whole catalogue of strong compositions and this is album is definitely worth checking out.

Debuting at number one on the billboard charts, many songs from Billion Dollar Babies would become instant staples of Cooper’s live shows. “No More Mr. Nice Guy” has certainly gone on to be a 70s rock classic, while “Elected” is often used as an encore to Cooper’s elaborate stage shows. The title track, which is a duet by Cooper and Donovan is another highlight and Cooper’s band is in absolute tip top shape.

Now Cooper may not be the most gifted rock vocalist and I’m really not sure what his contributions to the groups song-writing entails, aside from maybe contributing lyrics, but he’s got personality and that can take a rocker far. You got to give it to Cooper’s backing band (especially guitarist Michael Bruce) as the driving force behind these catchy numbers, but it’s Cooper that takes the engaging role as ringleader and ties it all together.

It’s funny that Alice Cooper is so embraced by the metal community, as this really doesn’t sound anything like heavy metal. This is basically just good old rock and roll with some occasionally quirky lyrics. I guess it’s more of Cooper’s image and love for horror that’s made him such a metal icon, but that’s not why I like him. I’m just about his music… Well his 70s music, cause anything after that is crap.

P.S. the original record came with a huge fold-out billion dollar bill, it’s pretty sweet my dad’s still got his.

Favorite Tracks: “Billion Dollar Baby”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Raped and Freezin”

Sean’s Top 10s of 2001

Remember this? 2001 was a messy year, and I guess I didn’t get out much, because these lists are not very impressive. I guess I know what year to revisit now. I think I’m going to see how quickly I can write this post, so expect brevity!

Top 10 Films of 2001

10. Zoolander
Sure, it’s stupid. But it is also very quotable, so you can just Dere-lick my balls, capitan.

9. Monsters, Inc.
You know, I’m not even sure if I’ve seen this movie since theaters. If I remember, it’s like an Aah Real Monsters! knock-off, but with that Pixar charm. I remember liking it.

8. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
It’s just so sad. So sad. Don’t watch it. Sure, this is a damn fine film, but you’ll regret all the heartache later.

7. Donnie Darko
The film that inspired a generation of teenagers to be hella lame. This movie is kind of a trip and that song at the end is neat, but chill out people. It’s just one confusing film, all right?

6. Ocean’s Eleven
You don’t often get to see movies this cool. With an all-star cast and a great sense of style, this may not be high art, but it is fun.

5. Black Hawk Down
Why? Because it was cool. Orlando Bloom died like a bitch… Or did he die? Maybe he survived the fall, I don’t remember. Yep.

4. A Beautiful Mind
The legendary duo of Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany lead us through this incredible mind-trip of a film. I like it, even in full screen.

3. Spirited Away
That Miyazaki guy sure knows what he’s doing. I had the privelege of seeing this picture in some theater in Seattle, and the whole family enjoyed it. Doesn’t happen too often, you know.

2. The Royal Tenenbaums
Oh man, I’m such a sucker for Wes Anderson. It’s just a real treat to watch his work, I love his style. I’m so white.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Why? Well, because back then I was like “that was the coolest thing I ever saw.” But I’d be eating those words after the opening sequence of its sequel. But that was a year later, let’s just remember how much of the early 2000s was dedicated to this immortal series of films.

Top 10 Albums of 2001

10. Gorillaz – Gorillaz
Oh man, this album really brings me back. Remember “Clint Eastwood”? That song was the shit. Oddly enough, my favorite song was the bonus track “19-2000 (Soul Child Remix),” which is one of the band’s most popular tunes. Catchy stuff.

9. Daft Punk – Discovery
I would have never heard of this album if it wasn’t for Cartoon Network airing like an anime movie to a bunch of these tracks. Daft Punk remains the only house/electronic band I would go as far as to say I like, and this album is the main reason for that.

8. Tenacious D – Tenacious D
Ha, ha, ha. Funny.

7. WeezerWeezer (The Green Album)
I’m still trying my best to really get into Weezer. Maybe someday it will happen for me.

6. Death Cab for Cutie – The Photo Album
Death Cab does what they do once again and once again I enjoy it. I’m definitely a bigger fan of their later stuff, but I can’t come up with a real reason for that. Just am. Maybe I’ve just listened to that stuff more.

5. Muse – Origin of Symmetry
Muse gets out there and starts creating a real identity for itself. They are successful. There is much celebration. Nestle illegally uses the song “Feeling Good.” Muse sues them. They win. They donate the money to charity. Much celebration.

Radiohead – Amnesiac
This album is treated as Kid A‘s retarded little brother. While that isn’t fair, I do see where that criticism comes from, since I have listened to this album and thought to myself “Hey, why don’t I just listen to Kid A?” Still good though.

3. The Shins – Oh, Inverted World
Floaty, melodic good times. Especially “New Slang,” everybody loves that song.

2. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
Like many people (I assume), I came to this album after hearing the tremendous “Fell in Love with a Girl.” The good news is that the rest of the album rocks too.

1. My Morning Jacket – At Dawn
You know, I’m not sure how everyone else feels about this album, but I am all about it. It was the first My Morning Jacket album I heard, and I continue to find it one of my most played.

Top 10 Video Games of 2001

10. Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo
Now, by everybody’s standards, this game is terrible. I’d probably think so too if I went back and played it again. But at the time, I was totally blown away by the graphics and my first chance to take control of a mobile suit and fight in the One Year War.

9. Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies
This game was cool. An arcadey flight combat game. Good times on the PS2.

8. SSX Tricky
What I found to be the coolest feature of Tricky was the way the game manipulated the soundtrack, like how songs would switch to the chorus when you were doing crazy tricks and waht not.

7. Jak and Daxter
Crash Bandicoot is out, Jak and Daxter are in. But the game remains largely the same. Just a lot prettier.

6. Advance Wars
Now here was a cool game. I’m all about this franchise. The only title on this list not released on PS2.

5. Final Fantasy X
It took me over a year to beat this game. Granted, I quit it for most of that time, but still. Fuckin’ Seymour, being such a bitch.

4. Max Payne
It’s like The Matrix! Lots of slow motion diving and a really dark, noire story about a man who has lost everything. Good times.

3. Devil May Cry
This game is crazy! Guns and swords! Both of them! Together! In the same combos! Too bad the sequel is supposed to suck, and then the latter two games are pretty great.

2. Halo
The game that changed an industry. After Halo, first person shooters became the big genre on consoles. Multiplayer, of course, became bigger than ever. It was all about infinite grenades.

1. Grand Theft Auto III
So controversial. This game was so good I had to secretly install it on my computer, since my parents forbid buying it for the PS2. Some times you just gotta cause some havoc, and this legendary sandbox game was the place to do it in 2001.

Whatever Gets You Thru the Summer

My title is like a play on the title of that John Lennon song “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” I don’t want people to think I can’t spell, I can’t always be clever… Anyways there’s finally a trailer for Woody Allen’s latest comedy Whatever Works starring who else but Larry David. I love Curb and eagerly await it’s return (which I hear may be around August) and maybe this can tide me over. Looks like a more traditional Woody Allen romantic comedy with it’s New York setting and middle aged lead, so I’m gonna have to make sure to make some time to see this limited release (It’s being released June 19th, the same day as Year One.)

That reminds that there’s a lot more than just big budget blockbusters coming out this summer. Duncan Jones aka Zowie Bowie (the son of David Bowie) is making his directorial debut with the so far well recieved indie sci-fi flick Moon starring Sam Rockwell and featuring the voice of Kevin Spacey. Demetri Martin is starring in Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock which is about how the legendary event came to be, that’ll be released August 14th. Those are all the indie flicks I can think of off hand… I’m pumped for Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi film District 9 on August 14th but I can’t tell how big of budget it has. Peter Jackson is producing so it’s probably not in the same boat as these other films, I guess I just felt like mentioning it.

Here’s the trailer to Whatever Works I just posted a link cause the video was too damn big for the page.

Lookin’ Like $100

Just a quick little note, since I think some of you might care. We now know what the Beatles: Rock Band guitars and bass are going to look like. They’re real pretty, lookin’ to me like great birthday/Christmas list material. I do have some minor complaints, though.

The guitars look really sleek, but I’d like to see some more color on ’em. Maybe that’s just me. And the bass is right-handed, which probably makes sense since most people play that way, but its not the way Paul would have played it. But that’s a silly complaint and I probably would have been more upset if it was accurate.

I wonder if the drums and mic are going to look that different? Here are the pics:

Oh, and “The Gambler” is in Rock Band on July 21. Rejoice!

C.A.T: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)

Seeing as I did All Things Must Pass for my last Classic Album Tuesday I figured I’d crank out another Beatles solo work. Named after the conceptual band that John put together for such recordings as Live Peace in Toronto 1969. This followup of sorts is surprisingly sparse, featuring mostly just John, Klaus Voormann and Ringo Star along with guest spots from Billy Preston and co-producer Phil Spector. Recorded concurrently with Yoko’s debut album, which I care not to listen to because I can’t stand her voice. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is a raw, emotional album from the always compelling and introspective Lennon.

Confronting both personal and political issues Lennon’s surprisingly stripped down and passionate approach leaves for a stark yet moving listening experience. Lennon digs down into dirty blues/rock on songs like “Well Well Well” and “I Found Out” but it’s ballads that mostly make up this album. Pouring out his heart on songs like “Mother” reflecting his abandonment as a child and “God” a controversial religious piece. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band can feel gloomy or bittersweet at times but that’s really what makes it so affecting.

Lennon’s politically charged ballad for the working man “Working Class Hero” is another striking song in both it’s message and bare-bones arrangement. “Look At Me” is another highlight, written during The White Album period is a personal favorite of mine. With it’s angelic picking pattern and soft spoken vocals, it’s one of my favorite recordings of Lennon’s solo career.

Imagine would prove to be an equally excellent followup album but I still lean towards Lennon’s debut. It’s recently re-ignited my interest in Beatles’ solo work and cements Lennon as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

Favorite Tracks: “Isolation”, “Look At Me”, “Love”

This is Your Father’s Star Trek

Star Trek

One of the most interesting aspects of the marketing campaign for the latest Star Trek film is this strange push to alienate long-time fans of the series. Maybe it has something to do with the new cast, fancy special effects and edgy director, but there is some perception out there that this is the mainstream departure that the franchise has always shied away from, its Casino Royale. I’m happy to report that this new movie is the same ol’ Trek we’ve come to love, just with a new coat of paint.

Stepping into some pretty big shoes is Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, who in this film goes from troubled rebel without a cause to starfleet captain. Along the way are his loyal friends Spock, played by Zachary Quinto (from Heroes) and Bones (Karl Urban from Lord of the Rings). The face the time-traveling villain Nemo (Eric Bana) who is on a mission to destroy the Federation.

What I like about the new cast is that they distill these characters down to their most basic elements, then allow the actors to give a different take on them. Pine’s Kirk doesn’t have the same swagger as Shatner’s, Quinto’s Spock has a lot more trouble with his emotions. Ultimately this makes them a very enjoyable group to watch, and much more satisfying than a bunch of immitators.

The story itself is great from the get-go. From the exciting, heartbreaking prologue, to the starfleet academy, the movie is a lot of fun. Sadly, it kind of loses itself when Leonard Nimoy shows up and introduces a ton of exposition. As my dad points out, this comes from the problem that time travel is a real difficult plot device, and it is just not very satisfying to watch.

However, the special effects are great, the performances are strong, the action exciting. The franchise is back. I can’t wait to watch these guys on their next adventure.

Retrospecticus: Star Trek

This post has been sitting around, incomplete, for a few days now. So, instead of letting it go to waste any longer, I rushed through it and posted it now. Enjoy!

Space, the final frontier. Throughout history, only one franchise has managed to united the geeks and nerds of the world. Over 10 films and half a dozen television shows, Star Trek has had a lasting influence on society and multiple generations.

The new movie is out today and I’m quite excited to go see it. Lots of people are. In preparation for this new film, let’s take a look at everything that had led up to this latest release. That’s right, everything.

Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969)

The Original Series, or “TOS” aired from 1966-1969. There were 79 episodes produced before it was cancelled after its third season. While the show was not too successful when it first aired, it picked up a cult following in reruns, a following so massive that it started holding conventions celebrating the relatively short-lived show. In 2006, CBS remastered the show in high definition with brand new CGI; it looks awesome.

TOS follows the adventures of James T. Kirk, Spock, Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. Their’s is a mission of exploration and scientific curiosity. What makes the show so great, as my dad likes to point out, is that despite being set in the far flung future, this show focuses on relatable, human problems. That, and some really fun futuristic science helped make this show so memorable, and I heartily recommend everyone check it out.

Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974)
(Haven’t Seen It)
TAS, the Animated Series, aired from 1973-1974. It continued the story of the original Enterprise crew, but since it was animated, it allowed for more exotic storylines.

Series creator Gene Roddenberry declared that the show was not cannon, but several parts of it, like the holodeck, have made it into latter series.

Star Trek: Phase II (1978)
(Never Aired)
This attempt to start a new Star Trek live action show never made it to the airwaves. It would have featured the original cast on a new mission, except for Leonard Nimoy. In his place, there was a new vulcan written in, Xon, with the hopes that Nimoy would later guest star. Before the series was even able to take off, Star Wars happened, and it was decided to recommission the pilot into the first Star Trek motion picture.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

In 1979 the first Star Trek movie was released. It was the epic tale of a monstrous cloud, the V’ger, and the Enterprise’s attempt to stop it from destroying the earth. Kirk, now an Admiral, and the rest of the crew find their way back aboard the Enterprise in an attempt to stop this alien threat, usurping power from the Enterprise’s current crew.

The first film in the franchise definitely got too caught up with itself. “Ooh, look at me, I’m a movie, I have a big budget.” There are lots of long, slow moving shots and it seems that the whole movie was designed as a visual spectacle rather than an exciting story. Overall, this movie is fun, but not that great. I just read on Wikipedia that some fans call this The Slow Motion Picutre, that’s hilarious.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982)

I think everyone knew that the first movie dropped the ball, because these guys were not messing around when it came to its sequel. When Chekov and Clark Terrell of the USS Reliant beam down to Ceti Alpha V, they stumble across the superman Kahn. Kirk had previously marooned Kahn on the planet 15 years ago, since then Kahn’s followers and wife had died. Kahn embarks on a mission of revenge. What follows is the best Trek has to offer.

Seriously, if you don’t like Wrath of Kahn, what’s your problem? It’s one of the best sci fi films I’ve ever seen. With so many memorable scenes and dialogue, this movie is just a lot of fun. It ends with the most famous scene in all of Star Trek, the death of Spock. That’s a hell of a thing. I really cannot praise this film enough, it is exactly what I want out of a Trek movie.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

This is where the thing about odd numbered movies sucking got started. After the events of Wrath of Kahn, it was decided that the movies would follow a story arc, one that would continue until the sixth motion picture. In this feature, the distraught crew of the Enterprise learn that Spock’s essence is within McCoy, and that neither of them will be able to rest until they can bring Spock’s remains to Vulcan. So they hijack the Enterprise and go back to the Genesis planet, only to find hostile klingons.

Since he is hardly in the film, Nimoy took over as the director this time, a job he would continue in the next movie. While not terrible, there’s not too much going on here, except for Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon commander. This story is really just a means to get Spock back, instead of another grand adventure. That said, since these movies lead into each other, you will want to see this movie so that you can fully appreciate the fourth one. Plus, you want Spock to be OK, don’t you?

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

This movie is pretty zany, but pretty entertaining too. After the events Search for Spock, the exiled crew, along with the new Spock, decide they have to return to earth. But on the way back they intercept an alien signal that sounds like humpback whales. With humpback whales extinct and the earth in danger, the crew decide to slingshot around the sun to go back in time. Their plan: To steal a whale and travel back to the future to save the earth.

Yep. Time travel to the 20th Century was always great on the original series, and that doesn’t change when they finally do it in a movie. The Voyage Home was both a commercial and critical success, and it deserves to be. For the emphasis is put squarely on the actors here, and they more than rise to the challenge. This is my second favorite Trek movie.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

So it turns out people still liked Star Trek, even in the 1980s. In 1987, a new series was commissioned, set 70 years after the exploits of Kirk, Bones, and Spock. This new show was called Star Trek: The Next Generation.

TNG was set aboard the Enterprise-D and featured a diverse crew from multiple species. There was its captain, Jean-Luc Picard, his first officer, William Riker, the android Data, the Klingon Worf, the blind Geordi La Forge and more. This show would introduce several key races and conflicts for the universe, as well as create some of the most memorable characters in the franchise.

The series was one of the most successful Star Trek shows, responsible for the series’ resurgence in the 1990s on TV. It also won several awards.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

What a piece of crap.


This movie starts out with Kirk and Spock having a good time at Yosemite before decending into the schemes of Spock’s evil brother Sybock.

This was the one that Shatner decided to direct. I guess he decided that the franchise needed a comedy, because that’s the closest thing we get here.

It’s kind of campy fun, but I won’t go as far as to actually recommend this to anyone. It’s just a mess.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

This movie is supposed to be much less of a piece of crap. Sadly, I haven’t watched it since I was much younger, and I didn’t want to hold up this post any further by limited attempts to watch it. Especially after sitting through The Final Frontier.

I guess the story is about Klingons and the Federation finally making piece, which definitely makes sense, since they are good guys by the time you get to the latter TV shows. If any of you get a chance to see this movie, comment about it so that other readers can get a piece of your knowlege.

Everything that I’ve read suggests that this film was somewhat a return to form, and that it is overall an acceptable entry into the series.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)

DS9 started airing 1993, a year before TNG‘s conclusion. It was the story of Deep Space Nine, a Federation outpost near the planet Bajor and a wormhole that provides immediate access to the gamma quadrant. This heavily contested area is the target of the antagonistic cardassians, which eventually results in the first war seen in the Star Trek universe, between the Federation and the Dominion.

At the head of the cast is Avery Brooks as Captain Sisko, who sadly does not take up his signature bald, bearded look until halfway through the show. It also features the shapeshifting Odo, the passionate Kira, the immortal Dax and two former TNG crew members, Chief O’Brien and Worf. Everyone is familiar with Quark, I assume.

Unlike all the other shows, DS9 was all about plot archs and character development, making the show much more compelling and geniunely interesting than I thought it would be. Infact, I think I like this show more than any other, despite having grown up in a strict TOS household. Give it a shot.

Star Trek Generations (1994)

As TNG was coming to a close in 1994 and the OS cast was getting old, it was time for them to finally pass the torch to the next group of movie heroes. Sadly, Leonard Nimoy and DeForrest Kelley did not appear in the film, so that torch was left in the capable hands of William Shatner.

The retired Captain Kirk’s last adventure sees him hurdled into the deep future, where it is up to him and the crew of the Enterprise-D to stop Malcolm McDowell, as the evil Dr. Soran, from messing shit up. Kirk is always a fighter, never giving up even at the bitter end, but if you ask me, this film makes it perfectly clear that Picard is the superior captain. Kirk is just a lot luckier.

This movie may not be that great, but the symbolism of it pushes it over the top. If you want to see how Captain Kirk gives his final performance, you need to see this movie.

Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)

Lady Captain Janeway takes the reigns in this series. Voyager marked a return to tradition for the Star Trek franchise, with the empahsis back on exploration and science. When the new ship the USS Voyager is thrown 70,000 lightyears across the galaxy, its young crew embarks on its greatest mission: to return home.

This multi-year journey would be marked by difficulty, specifically from the newest threat to galactic piece, the Borg, who seem pretty damn hard to stop. The episodes I’ve seen of Voyager seemed pretty bland, not necessarly bad, but not that interesting either. I’m sure plenty of people like it, I just have a hard time wanting to see it.

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Those Borg bastards! In this movie they go back in time to stop the Federation from being founded by preventing the first meeting between humans and vulcans.

Thankfully, we’ve got the Enterprise-D and those guys to come save the day.

This film is the first in a series of movies with the Next Generation guys at the forefront. Like those movies, its action-packed, but not too great. It’s just OK. Just OK.

Actually, this is probably my favorite TNG movie. Not only does it have a couple great scenes, it is pretty much the climax of the Borg conflict, which is pretty sweet.

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

This movie is based around a planet where people are immortal due to some strange anomaly. This wackness has strange regenerative powers, like allowing Geordi to see. But then this Federation Admiral is being a dick and its up to Picard to stop him.

I hardly even remember what goes on for most of this movie.

This is the least interesting of TNG movies. It’s like an episode of the show, with little consequence to the overall arc for these characters.

Riker doesn’t even have a beard.

The movie’s not bad, but there’s little to gain from watching it.

Enterprise (2001-2005)
(Haven’t Seen It)
Later retitled Star Trek: Enterprise this show put Scott Bakula in the captain’s chair of the first starship Enterprise as humanity made its first steps into space diplomacy. Since humanity discovered warp drives and founded the Federation, they have started becoming the organization we all know and love from the other shows.

I think we all watched the first episode of this show, then lost interest. Which is a shame, because I guess much later on, like by the third season, this was looking alright. Oh well, this still ended up being the first show to get canceled since the original. Better luck next time.

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

This movie is kind of fucked up. The main enemy is a Picard clone. There’s an evil Data. It’s the final adventure of TNG crew. And it’s action packed.

Totally action packed.

Yeah, once again this movie is not very interesting. But I think the action is more fun this time around. That’s based on what limited memory I have from seeing this movie in theaters.

What’s more important is that this was the last movie in the franchise, and with the conclusion of Enterprise three years later, for the first time in a long time, we had to Trek.

Not for four whole years.

Star Trek (2009)
With that guy from Heroes! Seriously though, more on this in a second.