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Monday, June 30, 2008

Passing Torches

Thompson Hewitt threw rocks at Old Man Jace
Hair like rope with pock marks on his face
He always smiled big with jaundice stained teeth
Amidst the town, the folks, the dark earth beneath

Everyone paid heed to this man dressed in robes
Shedding like skin, his normal every day clothes
They would nod and always send pleasant day greetings
Yet, the man continued with the stick n' stone beatings

One day, the town's folks up and just disappeared
The buildings crumbled just as the young man had feared
Thompson Hewitt stood with bare feet and a rusty old shovel
In the middle of the road intent to bury the trouble

Old Man Jace appeared for his afternoon jaunt
Dressed in his Sunday's best, looking much less gaunt
He waved a tall slim hand at the confused young man
Proceeded to disappear like a castle in sand

Onto another folk, another people, another town
Old Man Hewitt found himself dressed in a robe-like gown
The passersby paid heed, giving pleasant day greetings
Hair like rope, face marked from the stick n stone beatings

-AP 06/08

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tom Waits: Glitter And Doom

It's almost been a week since I left for Phoenix to visit with an old friend and see Tom Waits perform at The Orpheum Theater and I have finally found some time to sit down and recap that experience.

My friend dropped me off on Wednesday evening in plenty of time to stand in the line that had already formed outside The Orpheum. It was an ungodly kind of heat that I was being subjected to. I can't even imagine what it's like to live there and deal with it being 115 degrees out daily. I could already tell by the crowd in line that this show was going to be awesome. A Tom Waits show brings out a variety of circus freaks, goths, bikers, and folk music fans.

When I finally got inside, I made a b-line directly to the tshirt booth. Leave it up to Mr. Waits to do things differently. The three shirts that were on sale had no mention of The Glitter And Doom Tour on them. Instead, there were three different oil stain paintings that Tom Waits created at random dates in random locations. Accompanying the image is his signature. On the backs of each, had the name of the oil stains all Untitled, where they were created, and the date. The shirt I purchased was a black one with what looked like a peg legged man shooting a gun. With that, I also purchased the chapbook containing the Tom Waits True Confessions interview conducted by Tom Waits himself.

I eventually made my way to my seat which was Section A, Row 11. I was something like 150 feet from the stage! I sat there staring at the stage which looked a bit vaudville and a bit gypsy-ish. There were a variety of old bullhorns put together in what looked like an art installation along the back of the stage. I took a few pics that came out horribly from my phone. Cameras weren't allowed in and later I found my phone in jeopardy of being confiscated.

My row became more and more crowded and I can best sum up the people I was sandwiched between as a scenario sung about in a Tom Waits song. To my left were a rotund bald white man in overalls. He looked like a biker. His friend was a stickly asian man in acid washed tight jeans, a black shirt tightly tucked into said jeans, slicked back ponytail, and a skull patch covered fanny pack that held his gin beverage disguised as vitamin water. He smelled like how I remember my dad smelling the few times I was around him. Then to my right was a group of five russians. They gave me the circus folk vibe. The girl sitting next to me had jet black hair and porcelain skin. Her friend was a 2 1/2 foot tall dwarf. The show hadn't even started and my experience so far was amazing.

I heard from the usher that on Tuesday he had played for 2 1/2 hours so I was even more excited and expecting a long night. A half hour late, and finally the lights went off. The crowd around me went fucking nuts, as did I. See...I'm always surprised when I meet a Tom Waits fan. You're either a fan or you're not. Since the man hardly performs, I was excited. Multiply that by the capacity of this venue. I can only imagine the energy is the same at every venue of his "PEHDTSCKJMBA" tour.

His band took the stage, soon followed by the man himself who waves his long fingers at the crowd. He stepped up to the elevated part of the stage where the microphone was. Immediately beginning a lovely combo of Lucinda/ Leadbelly's Ain't Goin Down to the Well

Those clips above give you the general feel of the performance. I'm curious how the person got away with taking those clips. If you still want a taste of the song live, here's his performance from Conan in 2006

I remember watching that clip on Conan and got shivers when Tom Waits came out and stomped with the dust rising. He reminded me of a preacher or carnival barker from the era of The Great Depression. By the way, a combination of his music and the tv show Carnivale is very lovely together.

From there, he proceeded to play for about 2 hours. Here's the complete setlist:

Lucinda/Ain't Going Down To The Well
Down In The Hole
Falling Down
All The World Is Green

During Misery's The River Of The World , he had the audience shouting "Everybody row" which was awesome as his band changed up the song to include a waltz as the chorus.

Day After Tomorrow

Sins Of The Father
Trampled Rose

Metropolitan Glide
Dead & Lovely
Cemetery Polka
Dirt In The Ground
Hoist That Rag
A Little Rain [on piano]

During Innocent When You Dream [on piano], he had the audience sing along much like previous live performances of this song.

Lost In The Harbour [on harmonium]
16 Shells From A Thirty Ought Six
Jesus Gonna Be Here

After which, the band left the stage. There was a brief period of stomping, cheering, and clapping from the audience followed by the band retaking the stage.

I was pleasantly surprised at the choice of the songs for the Encore. He played November off The Black Rider which is my favorite song off that CD.

He then followed that with an 8 minute version of Eyeball Kid as the closing song. During the few breaks in the song, Tom Waits took off his bowler hat, the lights went out, and then four spotlights shown on him as he put on a mirror ball bowler. The pieces of glass on the hat then reflected out in the audience as his spun around in circles.

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better experience. Sure, he played longer the night before but to keep a show fresh, I'm sure he wanted to mix things up. Afterall, he has over 30 years of material to work with. Highlights of the show was Lucinda, Down In The Hole, Cemetary Polka, Dirt In The Ground, 16 Shells From A Thirty Ought Six, and November.

I'm hoping this won't be the only time I see this man play live. But if it is, I am happy to say I was there.

NIN Live Rehearsal Footage: 1000000

Monday, June 16, 2008


With a stomp, a shiver, and a milkless shake
The man on the stage tips his hat and grins
The crowd before him sways under a red brick quake
On the tips of his feet, he howls and spins

Before him lies a cloudy sea of clear eyes
A creek bed of 'he said she saids' and sandcastle skies
A heavy lidded ocean filled with lost lovers' cries

He owns this space like the hair does his face
Arms outstretched, fingers jingling invisible bells
His voice like gravel echo the miles he's done traveled
Bellowing out songs like pagans do witch spells

Howling at the moonless sky
Yelling hello; white whisper goodbye
The spies sigh; a skyless pizza pie
Blues tramp sins are raised up on high

Knocking forth and back the whiskey glass
Sour and sweet, the near distant memories pass
Stomping bodies and shaking hands make fists
Grinning, he bellows and croons with crossed wrists

The show, my friend, is coming to an end
The piano has been drinking and he isn't a friend
Big Black Mariahs and Raindogs unite
Because we'll be putting on the dog tonight

-AP 6/16/08

The Countdown To Tom Waits 4: The Poet

Ok I think I've made my point thus far that I'm a bit fan of Tom Waits and why. But the music stems from the writing. The man is a great writer. He tells stories. But it stems from a poetic mind.

I leave for Arizona tomorrow. I will be seeing him live on Wednesday. The next Tom Waits blog entry will surely be a review of that show.

The Incredible Hulk

Yesterday I went and saw The Incredible Hulk. I already had an inclination that this time around, the movie rendition of the popular comic book/ television series would be better than Hulk directed by Ang Lee. My inclination was proved correct.

The movie was awesome. Not as awesome as Iron Man but close. As Mike put it to me yesterday, being that both movies take place in The Marvel Universe, they tend to have free reign in regards to one character from one comic book franchise interacting with another. This is done, like it was in Iron Man, in this movie as well. And it's delightful to see.

There's some cameos. But what's more refreshing is that this movie is shot and feels way more like a comic book movie than Ang Lee's. It's true to the story roots and Edward Norton was fantastic as Bruce Banner. I was a huge fan of The Incredible Hulk when I was a child. I never missed the television show, had the toys, and comic books. Ang Lee's version bored me and I never quite got why they chose to make the hulk so fucking huge in that movie.

The cast in this one is great too. I've recently discovered I have a bit of a crush on Liv Tyler. Mind you, I have a bit of a crush on Jennifer Connoly as well but I think Liv Tyler fit the part better here.

Dare I say, I am even more excited about the idea of an Avengers movie after seeing this film.

It gets 4 stars, if I had em...that is

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Countdown to Tom Waits: The Storyteller

If it's one overall thing I like most about Tom Waits' music, it's that every song tells a story. Some creepy and dark, others sorrowful, and even others paint a hopeful picture through nursery rhyme-like wonder.

He's one of my main inspirations when it comes to my own writing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I'm there.

Souljaboy in Tokyo

Ok, first let me say I am not a fan of Souljaboy's music. His songs are rather annoying. But I came across this video of him in Tokyo on a shopping spree and then spending 2000 yen in a video game arcade that seems to be the most insane video game arcade I've ever seen...judging by this video game he's playing which looks like their version of Halo.

Ryan, you might dig this. I was laughing hysterically. This boy is 17 and has too much money. But watching him play this game and hearing him yammering about had me rolling.

Countdown to Tom Waits 3: The Old School Shit

To fully appreciate the music of Tom Waits, I believe one must also appreciate Jazz and Blues music since this is where his music originated in its style. He has later said that his early music career was something that seemed a bit copied and misguided as he had yet to truly discover his own voice. I'm sure the alcohol played a part. I'm also sure meeting and marrying Kathleen Brennan also played a huge part in his growth. To appreciate the Tom Waits genius of today, I think you must also appreciate the sloppy Jazz Blues music he made in the 70s and early 80s before the Frank's Wild Years trilogy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Countdown to Tom Waits 2: Big Time

This video is an excerpt from the hard to find movie Big Time. It's accompanied by a live CD as well and contains all of Tom Waits' hits up until that point. I wish I had this movie. I'm not a big fan of live recordings but there has been exceptions and he surely does make these songs larger than the original recordings lives.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Countdown to Tom Waits

In less than seven days, I will be in Phoenix, Arizona. I am staying with an old friend. I'm looking forward to spending time with her, catching up on old times, and having a mini vacation. But on top of this, I will also be seeing Tom Waits perform at The Orpheum Theater for his Glitter and Doom tour.

This is a big deal for me as Tom Waits is one of my idols. He is a big inspiration.

So I decided to begin a countdown of sorts. Every day until Tuesday, when I leave, I will post a favorite video/song/or image of Mr. Waits.

And now, "Going Out West" from the album Bone Machine. It was his first album working with Larry Taylor where he incorporated more industrial noises. The album's overall concept is Armageddon.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Non Fiction is more entertaining than it used to be

I think this goes hand in hand with realizing I've reached an age milestone a couple years back that I never thought I would. When I was a child, my mother would listen to talk radio in the car and it was so boring. Yet, now, I listen to NPR way to much. I watch mostly news related shows on TV, and I've grown quite fond of The Food Network and Discovery Channel.

All this being said, I am now obsessed with the radio show turned tv show on Showtime called "This American Life".

Maybe it's because television sucks more and more. Maybe it's because in growing older and more conscious of the world around me, I yearn for my forms of entertainment to contain more substance that resonates the world around me. Maybe it's the concept of bridging different documentary style stories into an episode that centers around an overall theme. Maybe it's all of these things combined, but this show is just brilliant to me.

I recently added a handful of documentaries to my Netflix list. I just finished watching "When We Were Kings".

I find myself perusing History and Non Fiction books at book stores now as opposed to the horror fiction I used to indulge myself in. What has become of me? I'm officially a thirty something.

I am right now trying to get through Munich on DVD. It's the latest movie I rented and I fell asleep in the middle of it. I know, I'm a bad Jew. I am more looking forward to the other documentaries on my list, especially one called "The Power Of Nightmares". It's not even available yet on DVD but I read a review of it on Patton Oswalt's blog and it really sounds intriguing.

Seriously, with movies like the one above being released, it's hard for me to find entertainment in the fleeting piles of crap being released all over. Yet, I know there's a place for good escapist fun. I enjoyed Indy, Iron Man, and am sure to enjoy The Dark Knight. But there's a difference between brief escapism, and permanent ignorance.

Anyway, I'll be sure to post a review of this movie once I receive it...but it's quite far down on my queue and I still have to finish Munich.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Strangers

It's been quite a while since I've been excited about a horror film. During a time where it seems like films like Saw and Hostel have oversaturated the genre, I've become a bit jaded. I've always subscribed to the idea that less is more. That you don't need to overload the audience with gore and show every little detail to truly inflict fear.

With that being said, The Strangers was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed this movie a lot. It supplied enough scares and painted a truly frightening situation on screen. What's more, there was hardly any gore and the movie definitely utilized the Hitchcock style.

While watching the film, I noticed how well the director implemented sound to heighten the film's anxiety and in turn the audience's. The camera work, the sound, the lighting, and the overall sense of anticipation of what's going to happen next is something I yearn to see in horror films. When done well, it's a great ride. It was done well here. I couldn't predict really what was going to happen next and for the most part, this movie strayed from the typical formulaic bullshit you find in the run of the mill slasher horror film.

I'm not sure if I would even classify this movie as horror. It's as much a horror film as was Silence Of The Lambs. There's nothing supernatural about this simple story. It's the way the director brought it all together with the actors. As I said earlier, sound and camera work played a big part in making this movie as scary as it was. The actors too, brought a sense of realism to it where you really felt for them the whole way through.

I loved this movie. It doesn't end in a happy way and I heard a bunch of complaints from people as they were leaving the theater. One person even compared this movie with that crapsaster movie See No Evil. Well...there you have it. The demographic wanted something overloaded with gore and details. Whatever, this is probably the reason why movies like The Strangers are few and far between. It comes down to making money.

That being said, the theater was packed. I think this movie will bode well, for the most part and I would suggest anyone who likes a good scary movie to go check this out. It brought back the classic slasher scares that were experienced in the original Halloween least for me. There's even a scene that seems to be a homage to the closet scene in Halloween.

Good stuff.

If I had stars, I'd give this one 4 1/2 out of 5.