The Balcony is Closed… Again

“RIP At the Movies” beloved critic Roger Ebert tweeted yesterday. For the long-running series has been cancelled, with the last episode to air August 14 this year.

You may remember when I posted a similar post a couple years ago, about Roeper and Ebert leaving the show. We thought for sure that was the end for the series. And it seemed that way too, with sellouts “The Bens” taking over hosting duties, the legendary critical forum took a lengthy hiatus from quality conversation in favor of gimmicky garbage.

But things were looking up when actually knowledgeable critics Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott wrestled the reigns away from those morons. The show returned to its original form, sure there were no thumbs, and Phillips and Scott were no Ebert and Siskel, or even Roeper, but it gave us something to watch. Now we must cherish it for the few months it’s left.

There are many concerns that come with this cancellation. What will happen to Sure, maybe a weekly review show cannot compete with the likes of Rotten Tomatoes, but that web archive deserves to exist. When the show does end, we’ll still have, where we can see Roeper talk about movies and occasionally say naughty words. Additionally, Ebert says he’s working on a new show called Roger Ebert presents At the Movies, which will feature the return of thumbs. Let’s hope so.

Spring Has Sprung

Figured I’d post with the off chance that we’ll be taking a break for awhile. Spring Break has more less begun, though I’m still finishing some of my last projects. Gonna try and work on a new Morgue episode this break and it looks like Nancy’s already trying to whip the team into shape for Summer Softball. I wouldn’t imagine much going on here unless we go and see some movies like Hot Tub Time Machine, which I really hope is good but sounds like it could go either way. So were just enjoying the off and on nice weather and chillaxin’ (however that’s supposedly spelled) catch you on the flipside.

Count Me Out

Christopher Lee – Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross

Hmm, the man behind such legendary villains as Count Dracula, Count Dooku and Saruman singing symphonic metal? Not to mention he’s 87 freaking years old! You have to respect Sir Christopher Lee for still having the energy to keep busy at such a ripe old age (he’s got five movies coming out this year.) I guess that’s why he’s the last of the classic Horror movie stars still standing.

So what is “Symphonic Metal”? Maybe a metal-head would have a better idea but I can still give you my interpretation. I take it as a blending of almost operatic and classical styles mixed with overly distorted guitars, occasionally descending into a face melting solo. Sounds cool but here it just sounds like a painfully cheesy Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

I had no intention of going into this album with a serious mindset. No offense to the Count here but this whole idea is well, kind of stupid. An 80 something year old man singing about the legacy of King Charlemagne? Chances are it’s a formula for confusion and unintended laughter. Though they could of found ways to cut down on the “cheese factor” here are a few of my suggestions.

1. Got to cut back on all the other vocalists. I didn’t get this to listen to them, I want to hear an 87 year old man sing about bloodshed and war!

2. More METAL! No one wants to hear sub-par classical arrangements, so spice em up with more shredding guitar solos or heavy drum fills. Drums are a real disappointment here.

3. Too much story! If I wanted to learn about Charlemagne (which I don’t) I’d read a book or go on Wikipedia.

So it’s an amusing idea. I mean who wouldn’t want to hear a grandpa accompanied by the chug of a distorted guitar? Unfortunately, it gets old fast and is nothing more than a bizarre curiosity. Hopefully this won’t result in my execution by old man lightsaber.

Favorite Tracks: I’m amused by segments of a few songs but not enough to say I have any favorite tracks.

R.I.P. Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton


I know we’ve already had two RIP’s recently but I figured it’d be a crime not to pay homage to Alex Chilton, the leader of Big Star, one of my favorite bands of the ’70s and probably of all time. Chilton died from a heart attack earlier today, just a few hours before Big Star was about to perform at the SXSW music festival.

Chilton started his music career as the lead singer of The Box Tops, who are probably best known for their 1967 number one single, “The Letter”. After the break-up of The Box Tops, Chilton formed Big Star with Chris Bell who co-wrote most of Big Star’s debut, #1 Record with Chilton. After Bell’s departure, Chilton led Big Star through two more superb albums before breaking up in 1974. The band would reunite in 1993 and had been playing together off and on since then.
Big Star’s record sales were very modest, but their influence has been incredibly significant, as their sunny guitar-driven sound has given them a reputation as one of the key groups in the power-pop genre, and in my opinion there is no finer example of the genre than the work Chilton did with Big Star. So if you haven’t yet delved in to their precious few albums, I’d say there’s no better time to check out one of America’s great cult bands.

They Say it’s Your Birthday

Happy Birthday – Happy Birthday

I was flipping through the radio recently when I stumbled upon this band on KEXP. A station I rarely listen to, I was surprised and delighted when I heard the infectious melody of a little song called “Girls FM” by Happy Birthday. As it turned out the band’s self-title debut was out that same day, so I scooped it up and here we are.

Formed by vocalist/guitarist Kyle Thomas (aka King Tuff), drummer/vocalist Ruth Garbis and bassist/vocalist/guitarist Chris Weissman, this Vermont trio was signed to Sub Pop records after playing only five shows. Though all three members are veterans of the indie scene back east. Together they’ve formed Happy Birthday a poppy, grungy, punky trio that reminds me of The Vines and Supergrass with a little bit of retro garage rock.

Happy Birthday’s debut is a bit of a sloppy album, wavering back in forth between power pop and noisy grunge tunes but has it’s moments of brilliance. “Girls FM” and “Subliminal Message” are definite standouts soaked in melodic pop perfection. Sometimes the punk influences aren’t as compelling as the pop, but the only real deal breaker here is whether you can stand the voice of Kyle Thomas. I don’t think voices get more nasally than his so you’ll most likely either like it or hate. He sounds like Craig Nicholls of The Vines if he had a killer head cold. Though if your open minded and looking for something new than maybe it’s time to party like it’s your birthday.

Favorite Tracks: “2 Shy”, “Girls FM”, “Subliminal Message”

It’s Working, It’s Working!

Yes it’s finally here. I’ll keep it brief as I’ve already written enough posts about the complications. Paul and I fixed our big problem (it was only messing up the last sketch) which now should happen again because well… We know how to fix it. So here it is the second episode of “The Morgue” I hope this delayed release doesn’t discourage anyone from wanting to work on this stuff but I can assure you, no matter how long… We will always finish them.

Here’s a link but it’s still processing so the quality will improve. Keep checking for when it’s available in HD.
“The Morgue: Episode 2 – In the Ghetto”

R.I.P. Peter Graves

Peter Graves

I just couldn’t let time pass without this blog paying tribute to the late great Peter Graves. Known for such roles as the star of the Mission Impossible TV series, movies including Stalag 17, Night of the Hunter and of course his legendary performance as Captain Clarence Oveur in Airplane. With a career that spans almost 60 years Peter Graves built an impressive body of work in everything from dramas, to b-movies, to comedies and so on, he will be missed.