Monday Mad Libs

I was going to write about the DaMorgue crew trip to Bend, Oregon last weekend to see Death Cab For Cutie and Bright Eyes but I just fell too far behind/lost interest. All I’ll say is that it was a beautiful experience, almost as beautiful as the last half hour of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Junior (Check it out, you won’t regret it.) So instead I decided to go with this experimental post that I hope you will at least find mildly amusing.

We’ve all done Mad Libs, big whoop whatever. I’m sure we all have found memories of highly inappropriate libs about trips to the fair and the first day of school, but so often I’ve regretted throwing out my old Mad Libs. So instead of just throwing them out I decided to “recycle” them on the blog. Now why should anyone care about our Mad Libs? I’m not even sure if the rest of the DaMorgue crew cares, but I find them very amusing. Just think of them as terrible short stories and maybe you can enjoy the subtle retardation of our bored musings. If anyone likes them at all I’ll post more, but I understand if you’re like “Fuck this shit!” Halfway through I almost gave up on this post but I can’t give up on two consecutive posts, that’s un-American.

(Bold denotes what we filled in, if it’s not already obvious)

Our Town

The Wiggles came to do a concert in Paulville once, and the band liked it so much they never left. Now every humpday night, all the people who live in Paulville put on their feelings, kilts and walk their sugar monkeys to the town square. Then they sit on the grass, listen to The Wiggles play propaganda music, and eat fruit by the foot.

No one has to go to school in Paulville unless they want to. Of course, everybody wants to because Clint Eastwood and Damon Wayans are two of the teachers. Clint Eastwood teaches Fun with Computers and Damon Wayans teaches Magnets.

One day Clint Eastwood said to Damon Wayans, “Maybe we should take the students on a field trip.”

“That’s a bold idea, Clint Eastwood,” said Damon Wayans. “Let’s take them to the most fun place we can think of.”

“But that would be Paulville,” said Clint Eastwood.

“You’re right!” Damon Wayans exclaimed. “Call off the field trip! We’re already here!”


Yesterday Rod Blagojevich and I went for an insestual fall walk. It was getting colder, so we had to put on our woolly underpants and sweaters.

Halfway down the block, we saw the Phillips family out in their yard. The Phillips children were raking big piles of multiple murders and leaping into them. Mrs. Phillips was planting cowboy hat bulbs so she would have beautiful cowboy hat flowers in the spring.
“Fall is in the air,” Rod Blagojevich said. “Soon the days will be getting more suspicious .”
We walked down Taggart Street admiring the aquamarine and burnt sienna leaves. Overhead, Aqua Men were flying south for the winter. Two badgers scampered by, hiding acorns in a tree for the winter.
“That makes me hungry,” said Rod Blagojevich. “Maybe we should go pick some nice round red scapegoats and bake them in a pie.”
“I’m going off the grid!” I said. “That sounds ill tempered.”

C.A.T.: Head Hunters

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1973)

It’s weird how whenever an album leaves your iTunes, it almost ceases to exist.  Or at least that’s what seemed to be the case with Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters, an album that I lost years ago (can’t recall why), but I downloaded it about a month ago and have become reaquainted with its funky greatness ever since.  I can’t say I’m huge jazz-fusion fan, but this is one of those albums that pretty much transcends its genre in creating something truly essential.

By the time of Head Hunters’ release, the fusion movement had fully taken hold of the jazz world, while Herbie Hancock’s sextet had established themselves as one of the more prominent artists in this ever blossoming genre.  However, the sextet’s first few albums that dabbled in fusion where largely experimental, and Head Hunters saw Hancock exploring exploring a more groove-based sound that allowed the album to become one of the most successful jazz-fusion albums ever released.  Throughout the album, the grooves are always super tight while the playing seems effortless, while often bordering on straight-up funk more than jazz.

Of course the stand-out track would have to be the 15-minute jazz-funk staple “Chameleon”, a song that’s filled with a seemingly endless plethora of tasty synth lines, all while bolstered by some tight percussion and that unmistakeable bassline.  The rest of the album has that same deliciously funky sound, while Herbie tries his hand at a number of different synthesizers, as they mesh wonderfully with his always brilliant electric piano work.  Maybe it’s about time I check some more of Herbie Hancock’s work, since this is the only album of his I’ve heard and it’s got to be one of the most badass albums I’ve ever come across.

Favorite Tracks: “Chameleon”, “Watermelon Man”

Sending Out an S.O.S.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I had no intentions of seeing yet another cash in Pirates movie, but when I got the call from Ben last Friday I came to the conclusion that “Someday and in some form I will eventually see this movie, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but someday.” So later that day we arrived at the theater with the regular summer blockbuster crowd and strapped in for yet another Caribbean carousal of overblown effects and lengthy plot exposition.

By all logic the Pirates franchise should of been able to make a full rebound here. It had become free of it’s trilogy confines and with the jettison of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley had the rare opportunity for a fresh start. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t have been just as good as the first one and yet it suffers many of the same pitfalls as the last two, regulating it’s position to the second worst of the franchise. It is by no means a complete misfire but far too often takes to the plank, only to eventually drown in a sea of inadequacy.

On Stranger Tides is loosely based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Tim Powers. So apparently this novel was so great that it was better than any original idea the writers could have conceived, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with the franchise. “If it’s so great why don’t they just make a movie faithful to that book?” I ponder, but then remind myself that the Pirates franchise is a juggernaut at the box office. So right there you can see this was a movie where financial gain took precedent over telling a story, seeing as they just ripped it from some fantasy novel. Anyways, On Stranger Tides regals us once again with the swashbuckling misadventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, this time in pursuit of the Fountain of Youth. Recruited against his will by his old flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and her ruthless father Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack is forced to use his knowledge of the area so that he can lead Blackbeard to eternal youth. Meanwhile Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) returns now as a privateer for King George (Richard Griffiths) who is ordered to get to the fountain before the Spanish because those guys suck.

Let me proceed next with a handful of unrelated yet bothersome queries. First off, why does Blackbeard’s daughter have a Spanish accent? Blackbeard I remind you was a real English Pirate who never reportedly harmed anyone he robbed and was killed by the Royal Navy by the time he was 38. Now he’s a murderous pirate played by a 68 year old with a latin daughter. I know it’s all just fun and fantasy, but it really seems more like laziness and a big excuse to hire Penelope Cruz. I think Blackbeard delivers a line like “It’s your mother’s latin blood in you” to explain, but didn’t he raise her? I just plain don’t get it. Moving on to a more substantial issue, why must there be so much plot exposition? It’s a movie about pirates, they should be pillaging and going on adventures and getting drunk, why do they have to talk so much about the plot of the movie?

It’s as if overcomplicating every aspect of the story has become a staple of this series. Take the opening; Jack is put on trial but woops, they have the wrong guy then Jack appears as the Judge and he escapes. Uh oh, then Jack is captured by King George’s men and forced to help them find the fountain, so Jack escapes AGAIN. Now tell me why they couldn’t of started the film with that second scene? Both establish that he’s an infamous pirate and both end the same way. For whatever reason the Pirates films feel the need to stretch out every sequence for as long as possible, why? Is it because the other films did that? Don’t they remember they just kept getting worse? And I almost forgot, there’s another insipid sequence before those two regarding the Spanish discovering the existence of a fountain, though it hardly matters, they only pop up every now and then when a scene needs more bad guys for Jack to fight.

Let’s move on to something good about this movie alright? Johnny Depp is amusing as usual and shows that he can hold down being the primary protagonist without any overly serious leads. Some of the action sequences are carefree summer fun as well. I don’t think I can ever tell what’s going in a sword fight scene but there’s a really entertaining mermaid attack scene. You see they need to have like… A mermaid’s tear in one of the chalices they drink the fountain water out of so uh like, one person drinks fountain water with a tear and the other without so they can um, switch life-forces? Ya know, like one gets eternal life while the other person dies? So… The mermaid sequence is surprisingly exciting and it makes me wish there were more monsters in this series. Actually the last half hour or maybe forty-five minutes, (I don’t know I have no sense of time when I go to these movies.) had some highly entertaining set pieces and effects, which almost evened out all the boring shit. Unfortunately there was a lot of boring shit, a lot. So in that case a pirate’s life is certainly not for me.

T3: The Sounds Of Summer

Well I’m sitting here waiting for my final class of the semester as one final summer vacation hangs in the balance, all while Sean and Nancy prepare for real fucking life.  So just for the hell of it, I figured I’d take a look at my all-time favorite “summer songs”.  Now I’m not saying this is any kind of “definitive” list of the songs that epitomize summer the best, these are just the ones that I’m fondest of.  So if anyone feels like posting a similar list of their own, feel free.

10. Pavement – “Summer Babe”

It’s always kind of hard to tell what the hell Stephen Malkmus is talking about, even on one of Pavement’s more heartfelt songs like “Summer Babe”.  But beneath all that guitar fuzz and surreal imagery, you’ve got a nice little ode to youthful summer love, ’90s slacker style.

9. The Ramones – “Rockaway Beach”
The Ramones always we’re a bubble gum pop group at their heart, and “Rockaway Beach” is definitely one of the better examples of that cheery optimism that was just bubbling beneath their aggressive exterior.  When you think of summer songs, you tend to think of Southern California sunshine, but The Ramones vie instead for the “hot concrete” and “disco on the radio” of 70’s New York.
8. The Hold Steady – “Constructive Summer”
Considering how much of The Hold Steady’s music seem to encapsulate those joyous booze-fueled summer nights, there are a lot of Hold Steady songs I could of put on this list, but I opted just to go with their most obvious “summer song”.  Plus it’s not hard to relate with the idea of a constructive summer.  We all have those certain things we’d like to accomplish before the summer months are through, but alas we usually just end up hanging out in Sean’s basement.  Oh well.
7. Wilco – “Heavy Metal Drummer”
I’m guessing as you get older, summer comes to represent a kind of nostalgia for summer’s past rather another few months of freedom, and that’s what Jeff Tweedy and co. seem to be tapping in to on “Heavy Metal Drummer”.  It’s just got that great whistful quality that somehow leaves you yearning for the days of “playing Kiss covers, beautiful and stoned”.
6. The Beach Boys – “All Summer Long”
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without a showing from The Beach Boys, though I’d say a lot of their songs aren’t so much about summer as they are just about living in Southern California.  Still, when you think of Summer, you think of The Beach Boys, and this is one of those songs that simply encapsulates the timeless teenage ritual of hanging out in the sun and havin’ fun.  Plus it’s association with American Graffiti doesn’t hurt either.
5. Sly & The Family Stone – “Hot Fun In The Summertime”
Certainly one of the more obligotory summer songs, but come on, how can you resist a song like this?  It’s got that easygoing laid back feel that just seems about perfect for representing those summer days, all delivered with Sly’s signature sound that seems to pull all sorts of bits and pieces from every corner of the pop world.  However, “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” is not the first song I’d think of as a good medley candidate for it, but I guess that’s just the diverse nature of Sly and The Family Stone for you.
4. Bruce Springsteen – “Thunder Road”
The Boss is another one of those artists where it seems like half his discography is well suited for the summer months, but I don’t think any other of his songs quite encompass a hot summer night like “Thunder Road”, as well as most of the Born To Run album for that matter.  And Springsteen’s vision of summer isn’t just about laid-back fun in the sun, it’s an epic journey in which the possibilities of youth seem endless as long as you’ve got a full tank of gas and plenty of blind ambition.
3. Frank Sinatra – “Summer Wind”
Quite possibly my favorite song from Old Blue Eyes, and for me the ultimate laid back summer jam.  And Sinatra being the old battered soul that was, gives you the impression that he’s had his share of summer flings, but nonetheless life goes on just like the seasons, even if you can’t escape that god damn summer wind. 
2. Husker Du – “Celebrated Summer”
Beneath all that guitar fuzz, you’ve got a song about summer that’s just about as universal anything in any of the songs on this lists, as Bob Mould rabbles about “hanging out on the beach or playing in a band”.  However, there’s still a bittersweet quality to the song, as Mould eventually asks “do you remember when the first snowfall fell?”, inferring the impending reality that for midwesterners, the line between summer and winter is quite thin.

1. R.E.M. – “Nightswimming”
For me, R.E.M. have always been a band that’s easy to like, but hard to love.  So inherently they’ve always been relegated on my top tens to either honorable mentions or barely sneaking in to the ten spot.  But when it comes to evoking Summer’s youthful nostalgia, R.E.M.’s number 1 in my book.  This is just an undeniably beautiful song, and it’s really about as simple as it gets.  Mike Mills’ circling piano chords are complemented perfectly by Michael Stipe’s lyrics that evoke R.E.M.’s teenage nights in Athens, GA, while John Paul Jones (yeah, that John Paul Jones), provides some stirring string arrangements.  It’s a song that’s easy to get lost in, for sure.

C.A.T: Pink Moon

Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1972)

This week honors what in the past few years has become one of my favorite and most listened to albums. It’s the intimate swan song from English singer-songwriter Nick Drake before his quiet descent into obscurity and then untimely passing two years later from a drug overdose at the age of 26. Though he is still primarily unknown to the masses, his music still perseveres and continues to inspire listeners just lucky enough to stumble across his bittersweet sound.

Pink Moon, Drake’s third and final release is an intimate 28 minutes displaying nothing more than Drake and his acoustic guitar (with some piano on the title track) and yet it’s perfect. Anything more would only ruin the serene simplicity of it, but there’s nothing simple about Drake’s musicianship. Pink Moon may exude a kind of laid back swagger but listen closely and you’ll hear the meticulous arrangements of Drake’s guitar parts. Drake practiced obsessively on arrangements, patterns, and various experimental tunings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to learn a Nick Drake guitar tab and given up halfway through. DADGAF#? BF#BEBD# with a capo? And he rarely used the same tuning twice.

Some critics have called Pink Moon the least accessible of Drake’s albums, but I strongly disagree. I like to think that the song “Pink Moon” with it’s catchy melody and Drake’s soft baritone makes it the gateway song to the rest of Drake’s music, it’s how I first heard him. The record may not have a backing band or lavish production to fall on, but I’ve always felt that these were Drake’s best songs and best represented what he stood for. He was a shy and quiet songsmith who rarely performed in front of people and had little desire for fame. All he wanted to do was craft beautiful music and I think these compositions stand for themselves.

I prefer to listen to Pink Moon in the late hours of the night as to avoid all distractions. I also don’t believe I’ve ever sat down and listened to it with out finishing it either. It all flows together in such a natural way and even though it’s brief, chances are good it will still be drifting around in your head as you go to sleep.

Favorite Tracks: “From the Morning”, “Pink Moon”, “Road”

Summertime Blues

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

With their refreshingly straightforward brand of folk-pop, Fleet Foxes created one of the most beloved debut albums in recent memory.  Their latest album Helplessness Blues, is one of those great sophomore releases that sees the band expanding just enough on their sound to feel like an impressive step forward while still offering the same lush harmonies and excellent songwriting you’d expect from these Seattle folkies.

What really stood out for me about Fleet Foxes’ debut among other things was their masterful use of four-part harmonies, and there’s certainly no shortage of breathtaking vocal arrangements on Helplessness Blues.  However, you’ve got lead singer/songwriter (and Lake Washington High School alum) Robin Pecknold stepping even more to the forefront, which gives the album a more intimate feeling on a lot of the songs.  However, you’ve still got songs like “Lorelei” and “Grown Ocean” that have that gorgeous all-encompassing sound that these guys do quite well.  And you’ve even got traces of psychedelic sounds that fit quite nicely with Fleet Foxes ’60s inspired aesthetic.

In addition, Helplessness Blues also has it’s darker moments in addition to the more whimsical tracks, while the songs frequently have a somewhat looser quality, often taking on different shapes and tempos in midstream.  The lyrics are a bit more insular, with Pecknold approaching more personal themes and motifs, and it’s all done with the utmost care and precision.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised how deeply I’ve gotten into this album since as much as I liked Fleet Foxes’ debut, I never quite fell in love with it the way a lot of people did.  Maybe it’s just because I’ve had so few albums that I’ve really responded to this year, but either way it’s filled with lots of truly breathtaking material and it’s a fine album to start off the summer with.

Favorite Tracks: “Battery Kinzie”, “Helplessness Blues”, “Grown Ocean”

Hanna Get Your Gun


I’ve never been the biggest fan of director Joe Wright. I never saw Pride & Prejudice. I thought Atonement was not nearly as great as everyone told me it was supposed to be and I wrote The Soloist off as pathetic Oscar-bait. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to give the guy a chance. There certainly were parts of Atonement that were interesting, especially the infamous tracking shot on the beaches of Dunkirk. My roommates and I recently had a chance to take on Wright’s latest, Hanna, in an empty theater. Did his new action picture have what it takes to finally win me over? I think the answer is obvious, since you’ve already seen my star rating, but humor me anyway.

Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a little girl who has spent her whole life living in the icy wilderness with her father (Eric Bana), the only other person she has ever known. All she knows about the real world is what she has heard from an encyclopedia. She has been trained in a variety of martial arts, foreign languages and survival strategies. When the time comes, she will enter society for the first time. Her mission: kill corrupt CIA agent Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett).

Saoirse Ronan continues to prove herself a talent young actress, nailing this complex role. Hanna speaks in numerous languages and accents, has to be extremely tough sometimes, extremely vulnerable other times and always thinking a lot more than she says. Blanchett speaks with a hilarious, villainous American accent that maybe someday, after decades of research, science will be able to explain. Bana is basically just playing the same part he’s played his whole career, which I can’t fault him for doing. The whole supporting cast is great, I found myself really not liking the other villains and being thoroughly amused by the innocent bystanders Hanna runs into.

But Hanna is a great film because of its style. Part of the credit has to go to the Chemical Brothers’ pulsating score. We were all whistling the theme when we left the theater. Wright’s camera does a lot of interesting things – there is another long tracking shot that’s pretty cool – and the film’s kinetic editing style actually works, unlike other shaky action pictures of late, like Quantum of Solace. The movie just seems really cool most of the time, shifting to more intimate and dreamlike moods when necessary. Hanna‘s a really effectively made picture.

So you win, Joe Wright. I like one of your movies. In fact, I really liked it. Now just don’t let me down with your next project. What’s that? Your next project is a live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. That’s… um… wow. OK then. Well, at least Hanna was good.