MonthOctober 2001

Popular among epileptics

     On the local music / self promotion tip, here is a list of shows that bands I am in are playing. Come one, come all.

Saturday, November 3rd
Halfway Inn in Ann Arbor
– The Sights
– The Pop Project
[I’ll be playing drums for the Pop Project. Expect a bunch of new songs and a few from their full length CD.]

Friday November 9th
Magic Stick in Detroit
– Red Shirt Brigade (CD Release show)
– Judah Johnson
– The Recital
– Windy & Carl
[Rob, the drummer in the Recital is currently working 3 jobs, therefore making it difficult for us to perform as frequently as we’d like. Because of this situation, we spent one Friday night a few weeks back setting microphones and cameras up around Rob’s drum set. We then had him play through our set, recording the audio on a digital 8 track and switching between the four cameras. This was all put on a video tape, which is going to be used as the “drummer” for this and our November 16th show. We’ve done one “test-run,” at the Lager house in Detroit which elicited some kind words from the Metro Times. If this crazy experiment sounds at all interesting to you, you should come out to one of these shows and watch us squirm. Chances are this will be the more challenging of the two “video” shows, as we’ll have to run the faux drums through the Magic Stick’s PA, whereas we will have more control over them at the November 16th show. Also, this is the release show for RSB’s full length, “Home of the Cannon Saints,” and Judah Johnson and Windy & Carl are playing. Also: It’s all ages! How can you not go?]

Friday November 17th
Halfway Inn in Ann Arbor
– Hot Paws
– The Pop Project
– The Recital
[Same story as above, except I’ll have my drums there for the Pop Project Set, so The Recital will likely play the two songs I don’t play bass on, with me on drums.]

     Dear religious people who go to the church directly behind B&N every Sunday morning and insist on coming in afterwards to drink coffee and leave gi-nourmous piles of Christian Inspiration books throughout the store: I have a message for you. Christ contacted me earlier in the week and asked that I pass it along. Here is the message:

Hey fuckwads,
     Please shelve your fucking books or I will make sure you rot in hell.
Just because I was a hippie doesn’t mean I was a slob.

yer pal,

JC

Thank you. Peace be with you.

     Some photos I took of Spiritualized @ the Majestic in Detroit, 10/30/01:




     How was it? Very good. For much of the show, there were 12 people playing on stage. Jason will probably fire them all after this tour, though, so don’t get too attached. Also: It’s a safe bet that ‘Attending Spiritualized shows’ is not a popular activity among epileptics.

     I saw Man… or Astroman again this weekend. Rather than write another boring show review that everyone will skip over, I summed up my opinions in the form of a graph. The really sad part is that I am not joking. Click here to see it. Oh wait, one thing I will talk about is how at one point, they refused to go on with their set until everyone in the Magic Stick was kneeling. That was pretty impressive.

     In case you’re keeping tabs on my T.V. watching habits, you’ll be happy to learn that I still watch way too much TV. Shows I am currently watching include
Undeclared (Which is easily my favorite show),
The Real World (Which isn’t so great lately), The Amazing Race (Which is Better than Survivor), Survivor 3 (Which is completely lame so far), The Practice (The reruns on FX have me addicted), and Dismissed (Speaking of Dismissed, has anyone else noticed that the underage contestants often end up drinking alcohol? Apparently laws don’t apply to MTV.)

Movies I really want to see:

  • Waking Life – Melding of live action and animation by Richard Linklater. You can download six movie clips form the official site:
    1,
    2,
    3,
    4,
    5,
    6.

  • Amelie – From the folks who brought you delicatessan and City of Lost Children.

     An extremely interesting tour of the remains of various Motown related buildings in Detroit is here. This comes from the Fabulous ruins of Detroit site which has been linked here numerous times.

     Brian at Bipolar conducted an interview of sorts with me via email. Click here to find out what I had to say about various things.

Alarmingly high rate of speed

     Have you ever been in a situation where your brain and mouth got in a fight and refused to communicate with each other? I don’t mean in the ‘You said something stupid and later regretted it’ sense, but more the ‘You lost physical control of your mouth during speech’ sense. Because that happened to me the other day.

     Some friends and I were in the drive-thru at Burger King, and the drive-thru worker person asked if we wanted any sauces or anything of that nature. One of the passengers in my vehicle wanted ranch dressing. So I turned to the BK person and attempted to communicate this fact. Unfortunately, it was at roughly this juncture that my brain and mouth ceased communicating.

     “We’d like some Rahhhhhhhhhh-auuuunch.” is what came out. Which, to the casual Burger King Window Person, sounds like “We’d like some raunch.” Naturally, my friends laughed their asses off, and the window person ended up giving us extra food for free. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps she considers their food raunchy.

     Fair warning for anyone I know who has not seen me in awhile, in the form of an AIM conversation:

Me: also i am pretending i am able to grow a beard so do not be alarmed.

Them: NO

Them: NO NO NO

Me: it is only an experiment to see if i can do it.

Me: ha!

Them: dude no

Them: groooosss

Me: I have to do it so I can do funny facial hair experiments.

Me: it is for the greater good of this earth, trust me

Them: rofl

Them: i just sent that to krysta cause it was too funny

Me: seriously it’s going to ruke.

Me: actually it will rule.

Me: but possibly it will ruke as well

How To Really Fuck Up Your Friday Afternoon

By Adam Kempa

     One way to really fuck up your Friday afternoon would be to be playing drums. In the course of this drum-playing, you should bring your right elbow back at an alarmingly high rate of speed. This elbow should then collide with the corner of the doorway which you stupidly set your drums up in front of. Next, you should hop around, unable to speak, and experience unbelievable pain. During this time you should consider the possibility that you’ve broken your arm. Next, the pain will start to go away. Except for now your entire right HAND will be sort of numb. This should persist for over an hour so you should decide to get doctors involved. Next you should go to the urgent care place. They will give you X-Rays and make jokes about the lead protecting your future children from having three eyes. They will tell you that nothing is broken, but that you’ve bruised a muscle of some sort, and that you have traumatized your ulnar nerve. Now you can go home! Except your hand is still numb and it’s 4 hours later! Mission accomplished!

     About a year and a half ago I did a survey thingy about mixtapes. I’ve been pretty lax about updating it so if you sent me something and it never appeared, I apologize. I just got the following submission (from one Mr. Brent Elliott), and it reminded me that it was kind of a cool idea. So feel free to send a submission (or an update) if you haven’t already.

“I ran across your site quite by accident, and I’m going to suggest some
snotty mix tape rules, if you don’t mind. Here goes:

1) Don’t use a conversation (or a web site) about mix tapes to throw in
comments proving that you know rare tracks from even rarer bands. Nobody
cares. Remember, there will always be people 1000 times cooler than you,
and if you play that game, you’re going to get burned.

2) Don’t put crap on that you don’t really like. This should be a no
brainer, but people have suggested going over your head to look cool and
diverse. That means you’re probably someone who is force feeding yourself
another Will Oldham album, desperately trying to find an angle that you can
like it from. Mix tapes can get you into someone’s pants. Treat the format
with respect.

3) Top tip! If a ends on an A minor chord, try following it with a song that
starts on the same chord. This works particularly well for a song that
fades out, trailing into a song that breaks in quickly. For a song with an
abrupt finish, going into a similarly abrupt starting, try using
complementary chords instead. Use your ears on this one, but one that
usually works is if a song ends on a major chord, have the next one start a
half step down and minor. This is where the mix CD format comes in handy.
You can use iTunes or whatever to arrange a playlist and shuffle tracks
until the CD has got more flow than Jay-Z on his period.

4) Top tip! Mix tapes are better than CDs, because you can set the recording
level from track to track. But if it’s gotta be a CD, make sure that people
don’t turn up their speakers for one track, and then get blown away on the
next track. You’re never going to get laid if you blow someone’s car stereo
speakers, okay?”

Well said.

     Ryan Allen of Red Shirt Brigade fame used AOL Instant Messenger to ambush (AIMbush?) everyone’s favorite Olympian, Calvin Johnson. He posted the resulting conversation as an ‘Interview.’ If you know even a little bit about K records and / or Washington indie rock, you will laugh.

     I drove to Toronto to see Bjork this past Monday. My friend Chris and I were the only ones to make the trek, and those of you who know us know that we are the two worst navigators in the entire world. Amazingly, we made it all the way to Toronto without screwing up the directions once. This is probably not amazing to most people but for us this was amazing. Even more amazing is the fact that once we arrived at the theatre, we were able to orient ourselves within the city (without a map!) and figure out where we wanted to go to kill time. So we walked down to HMV, thinking we’re navigational gods, and they’re closed! And so is Sam the Record Man! It turns out it was Canadian Thanksgiving, and that is a bunch of crap. I don’t understand why they have a different thanksgiving, or why columbus day is their thanksgiving, or why this should keep me from buying records, but you’re more than welcome to try explaining it to me.

     We eventually just wandered back to the theatre and waited for them to open the doors. The venue was the Hummingbird Centre, and it was absolutely ridiculous. Apparently they usually do musicals and that sort of thing there, so it was super classy. The hummingbird has a nice site here, where you can see a little animated pnoramic view of the theatre. They even had programs. The capacity is listed at 3,223 and we had pretty good main floor seats (Thank you, internet).

Some observations:

  • They ripped the tickets wrong. You know how there are two perferations on ticketmaster tickets? And one of them is the universal “rip here upon entry” perferation? Well, they ripped the other one at this show. I don’t know if this was a “Just the Hummingbird” thing or a “We’re Canadian and goddamnit we do everything different” thing.

  • Chris Murphy of Sloan and his lady were right near us waiting to get into the seating area.

     Matmos opened the show with all sorts of crazy sampling antics. They played music on a mic’d birdcage by plucking and bowing its bars. Their M.O. seems to be as follows: one of the Matmos lads fiddles around with something (ie acoustic guitar, balloon, themselves, etc.) and the other one samples it and chops it up in real time using a laptop. Very entertaining if a bit artsy in that pretentious sort of way.

     After a fifteen minute intermission, Bjork took the stage in her much celebrated swan dress, as the giant music box (as seen on her David Letterman appearance) played ‘Frosti.’ Next the orchestra played the overture from ‘Dancer in the Dark,’ and Bjork finally began the set proper with ‘All is Full of Love’ and ‘Unravel’ from Homogenic. This first set was a fairly low-key collection of songs from Homogenic, Selmasongs and her latest effort, Vespertine. She closed the first set with a contrastingly unreserved version of the older non-album track ‘Play Dead’ before leaving the stage for a brief intermission.

     For the second set, Bjork emerged in a dress made from red microscope slides and ostrich feathers. The microscope slides would clatter together making a sort of tambourine-like sound when she would move. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, it’s probably because I’m not explaining it very well. Some good photographic references are here, here and here; and you can read about the folks who make these crazy dresses here. The second set heavily featured material from Post, broken up by one song each from Vespertine (‘Pagan Poetry’), and Debut (‘Venus as a Boy’); and concluding with ‘Bachlorette’ from Homogenic. The highlight was easily ‘Hyperballad,’ which undoubtedly had much of the crowd cursing the arranged seating. The opening snare bit was provided by one of those crazy Matmos fellers, played on some sort of electronic drum pad while his counterpart pitch-shifted the output.

     Bjork came back for just one encore, which included her first single, ‘Human Behaviour,’ and an unreleased song called ‘In Our Hands.’ ‘In Our Hands’ featured some exemplary real time sampling from Matmos. The song included breaks every so often where everyone on the stage would clap together. While they were doing this, Matmos were recording the claps and speeding them up into beats that would introduce the next part of the song. Very cool.

A whole bunch of reviews of the show can be found here. Some of them are pretty funny. Example:

“Highlights (in order):

1. The large quantity of hot gay guys in attendance (and the abundance of hot people all round!). The hotter and richer, the closer to the stage. Now I know how Cher fans feel!”

     We left for Detroit after the show and at about 2:30 AM I got a speeding ticket. I had been driving for about an HOUR behind a TRUCK on a highway that was closed down to ONE LANE for NO APPARENT REASON, so when the construction ended, I passed the slowest truck ever, and sped up a little. Naturally, there was a cop waiting with all his lights off a half mile away from the end of the construction zone. I’d also like to note that the speed I got a ticket for is legal in the U.S.

     In other “I LOVE POLICE” news, you’ll all be happy to learn that the Livonia Police Department has taken up a new hobby: ticketing ONLY cars that park in front of my house. All those other cars? They’re okay, man. Cars in front of my house? Watch out. The fact that this was a blatantly retaliatory move is not lost on me and that makes me think even less of our law enforcement folk (I didn’t even think it was possible!). If you encounter any Livonia Police officers, feel free to glare at them because they deserve it.

     Two weeks ago I ventured out BY MYSELF (thanks a lot, friends) to see the one and only Tenacious D. I ended up running into a few folks I knew though, so it all worked out. The set included covers of GN’R’s ‘Mr. Brownstone,’ The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” and the entire Closing medly from “Abbey Road.” Also, it was hilarious. Visit the D at their website, www.greatestbandonearth.com.

     If this web page were an episode of The Daily Show, this would be your moment of zen: Dave Letterman holding a White Stripes CD.

Hey, I'm sympathetic to the record industry, too!

Spiritualized Ice Cubes

Hey I’m back. A few things:

  • I switched the server on basically every site I maintain.

  • I managed to delete my August 29th entry, so on the off chance that you found it so amusing you saved it, I’d love a copy….yeah I didn’t think so.
  • Chriskempa.com has been redesigned and is slowly gaining new features if you’re interested.
  • The Recital site has been updated with three (3!) upcoming shows (In Mt. Pleasant, Ann Arbor and Detroit).
  • If you want to see me take a stab at playing drums (Not with the Recital), head to the halfway inn in Ann Arbor on November 3rd.

Moving on, a few Barnes & Noble Rants:

NOSTRADAMUS.
PEOPLE.
THAT EMAIL YOU GOT?
NOT TRUE.
TRUST ME.
PROOF?

     Yeah, so everyone and their brother wants to buy books about nostradamus. Also, they get extremely testy when you try and tell them they are being had. On the days after the ‘incident’ I probably told more people that we were out of Nostradamus books than I told where the bathroom is and what time we closed COMBINED (That’s a fucking LOT). Particularly staunch believers will snidely question the bookseller’s prophetic credentials when they are told that the quotation that was BULK EMAILED to them is not, in fact, accurate. Because we ALL know how valuable BULK EMAIL is. I propose that all bookstores put up a table with a sign reading “Complete horseshit,” stock it with Nostradamus and Oprah books, sit back, and rake in the cash.

     Additionally, recent months have seen a resurgence in the patronage of the angry, less-than-bright, borderline elderly housewife with plenty of disposable income. Examples:

Me: That’ll be $34.27.

Her: Do you have any pretty packages?

Me: I’m sorry?

Her: Pretty packages…for… you know… pretty packages.

Me: Like gift wrap? or boxes?

Her: NO, PRETTY PACKAGES.

Me: ….

Her: OH FORGET IT!

     A woman wanted a Michaelangelo biography, so I took her to the ‘artists’ section and began browsing the M’s. She eyed me suspiciously for a few seconds before expressing her annoyance:

Her: I wanted a biography on Michaelangelo.

Me: Right.

Her: So why are you looking here?

Me: Um… because this is where they would be?

Her: (In a tone sympathetically suggesting her vastly superior intelligence) Shouldn’t you be looking under the A’s?

Michaelangelo. Michael Angelo. I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

     Finally, the male counterpart to these women came in demanding a book called “Flames of Fire” by Tom Brokaw. Tom Brokaw has written no such book. He insisted he couldn’t possibly have any element of the title or author wrong, the problem, you see, was with our DAMN computers. Any attempt to gather further information about the book was seen by him as an assault on his personal credibility. As a last resort I took him to the American History section, where we shelve our Tom Brokaw books. Within seconds of arriving in the section, we had found his book. It was “Flags of our Fathers” by James Bradly. Worst of all, he didn’t even acknowledge his mistake. He said “Here it is!” turned, and stalked up to the register.
Remember:

“Flames of Fire” = “Flags of our Fathers”
Tom Brokaw = James Bradley

     You’ll note that of the 6 words that comprise the correct title and author, he had ONE of the words correct, and that one word was “of.” Usually when this happens, a customer tops it off by complaining about my service (I’ve grown accustomed to it). This one did not. Perhaps he was slightly embarrassed. This may seem obvious but most of these people lack the ability to feel embarrassment, let alone consider the possibility that they may be wrong.

     A Belgian artist has constructed an installation that, when fed two meals a day, simulates the processes of the human digestive system and ultimately produces a reasonable facsimile of human waste. He has named it Cloaca. Read all about it. [via cardhouse]

     This is the special edition pacakging for the latest Spiritualized record, and if you stare at it long enough, the recessed image of the girl appears to pop out. Actually it kind of looks that way in the picture, but in reality, it is a recessed image. Also, if you were to fill it with water and put it in the freezer, you could make Spiritualized ice cubes.

     Bret Easton Ellis’ novel ‘Rules of Attraction’ is being made into a movie. I was going to say ‘Hopefully it will be better than American Psycho,’ but then I saw that James Van Der Beek is starring. Supposedly Fred ‘Wonder Years’ Savage is newly attached to the film. We can only Hope Van Der Beek bowed out of the role.

     If you’re a film dork who’s into the whole DVD thing, you may or may not have been privy to a magazine called ‘Total Movie’ that put out a few issues before ceasing publication earlier this year. Each issue contained a DVD with all sorts of fun short films, interviews, and trailers. Well, they’re back. And if you subscribe, they’re offering you 46 free DVD’s. I’m not quite sure how this works, but it seems too good to be true. If you can clarify this, by all means, get in touch.

     Some crazy folks have deemed November ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ The gist of it, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is that participants will write a complete novel in one month’s time. I am going to do this. And you should too.