29 November 2011

Tuesday's Fortune: 29 November 2011

MEAL: 2 Roast Pork Egg Rolls + 1 small order Sweet & Sour Chicken = $7.05 + 95ยข tip

Hotcha! Hank

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27 November 2011

Something 4 THE HOLIDAY Weekend!

The Jam: Extras: "Shopping" [mp3]

I think there's a reason "Shopping" ended up on an album called Extras. It's not that this is a bad song, but it sounds unfocused compared to most songs by The Jam, and to my ears, sounds more like something Paul Weller's next band, The Style Council, might do with the sophisticated chords and jazzy guitar solo. Then again, that unfocused quality captures the meandering essence of windowshopping, the activity of the song.

This weekend of competitive shopping certainly is never casual. Like the pepper-spraying lunatic at a Walmart - that's how a true pro crosses items off a list. I myself took a drive over to the nearest Half-Priced Books at about 10 AM on Friday, armed with a tazer, but the store wasn't busy enough to warrant it's use. After a quick and futile scan of the Anime section, in search of something specific for my youngest niece, who is an Anime freak, I ended up using my 40% off coupon for Kingdom Hearts for the PS2.

Nothing serious.

I spent most of Thanksgiving day laying on the couch, nursing an unknown nausea, and catching glimpses of football games as I catnapped the afternoon away. It occurred to me during a commercial break of the Packers-Lions game that we as Americans have finally come to fully embrace Black Friday as an actual holiday in it's own right, celebrated in its way, rather than something to be endured, which I think had mostly been our nation's stance in the past. Not anymore. I think alot of us, too many of us, have come to warmly anticipate going to Target at midnight to buy small appliances with the stink of cranberry sauce still on our breath.

A nation, staggering around the brightly lit aisles like ghouls, shopping...shopping... Always shopping. So good at it that we can do it in our sleep.

Hotcha! Hank

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22 November 2011

Tuesday's Fortune: 22 November 2011

MEAL: 2 Vegetable Spring Rolls + 1 order (8) Steamed Dumplings + 1 Fried Sweet Bun = $11.20 + $1.80 tip

Hotcha! Hank

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18 November 2011

Something 4 The Weekend # 227

Wire: Red Barked Tree: "Please Take" [mp3]

Fucking Wire, man.

34 years ago, December of 1977, these guys released their first album, Pink Flag, which was pretty much Post-Punk before Punk had even happened, you know? Which leads me to wonder if this thing we call Post-Punk is actually Post-Anything? In other words, Pink Flag was a true sideways maneuver, babycakes, and in the end Post-Punk has as much to do with Punk as it does with Prog or Disco or KISS.

34 years later, and dammit if Wire didn't possibly make my very favorite Wire album with Red Barked Tree, and Wire has made quite a few very good Wire albums over the years that I know and love quite well, with three or four different Wire configurations making eight or nine different kinds of music, almost all of it called Post-Punk by whoever the fuck it is that decides these things. Robert Christgau? Some dude in a cube at Spotify? Anyways...Wire!

The music Wire is making on this album sounds like the dark side of Spoon to me, and I believe that's saying something because I believe we're all in agreement that Spoon is damn outstanding themselves, and I bet if you asked Britt Daniel, he'd tell you that Wire are a pretty important influence on his own band's sound. It's a lean, mostly clean sound, with a thick, propulsive bass, and a reliance on repetition, melodies and song structures that aren't quite as simple (or repetitive) as they might first appear, creating subtle tensions that are always lurking beneath and around the beats. Beats for head nodding, finger tapping, body swaying, or driving at slightly inappropriate speeds. And damn good sex music.

Fucking Wire and Spoon, man.

And sometimes, as with this song, the tension is lyrical, because beyond the bright guitars and pulsing bass is a truly great kiss-off song (well, a fuck-you song, really), crooned in a halting way that reveals the layers of betrayal and anger slowly. It's a song that boils, boy.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and type to you that I was hip to Wire from their start, because I wasn't. I was aware of them because I read music rags even in my youth, but it wasn't until REM covered "Strange" on 1987's Document album that I decided to actually and finally check out Wire. I started with Pink Flag because their "Strange" was tucked away in the middle of side two (yeah, still buying vinyl in 1987), and I must admit, I wasn't immediately smitten. I liked Wire, but didn't love them. I like them enough to keep following them, however (I've got A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck on cassette to prove it), and eventually I got older and wiser. Nowadays, it's as much a matter of respect as anything else. 34 years of interesting music from a band that is always exploring, evolving and refining their sound, and dammit if the stuff they've been doing the last five years isn't as good as what they were doing their first five years. Wire sounding exactly the same and nothing like Wire.

Fucking REM, man.

Hotcha! Hank

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15 November 2011

Tuesday's Fortune: 15 November 2011

MEAL: 1 Roast Pork Egg Roll + 1 small order Garlic Chicken = $5.75 + $1.25 tip

Hotcha! Hank

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11 November 2011

Something 4 The Weekend # 226

Seam: The Pace Is Glacial: "The Prizefighters" [mp3]

There was a huge story in athletics this past week that was unfortunately eclipsed by an even bigger sports story. I'm talking about the passing of Smokin' Joe Frazier, of course, one of boxing's greatest heavyweight champions, who succumbed to liver cancer on Monday at the age of 67.

And just as his death this week was eclipsed by the horrific news coming out of Penn State, so too was Frazier's career overshadowed by Muhammad Ali's. The two battled three times, with Frazier winning the first match at Madison Square Garden, losing a rematch again at MSG, and finally and famously losing their third match, the legendary "Thrilla In Manila" bout of 1973.

Boxing skills aside, Frazier was overshadowed in the popular culture by Ali's outrageous and outspoken personality. Even this blog post can't escape Cassius Clay. It didn't help that Ali called Frazier an "Uncle Tom" and "a gorilla" in the media, nevermind that Ali was more warmly embraced by the white community, and himself seemed more willing to "play to" the white community than Frazier. And all of this after Frazier had strongly supported efforts to get Ali's boxing license reinstated, and had even given Ali financial support. In short, Ali was a total dick towards Frazier.

In any event, the "Thrilla In Manila" certainly lived up to it's advanced billing, being rightfully considered one of the very best boxing matches of all time, and perhaps the greatest heavyweight bout ever. Both men took absolutely brutal poundings, but one might say Frazier was nearly beaten to death and not be exaggerating.

Rest in peace, Smokin' Joe. When you were good, you were truly one of the greats.

Hotcha! Hank

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08 November 2011

Tuesday's Fortune: 08 November 2011

MEAL: 1 order (8) Crab Rangoon + 1 small order Szechuan Chicken = $8.45 + $1.55 tip

Hotcha! Hank

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04 November 2011

Something 4 The Weekend # 225

Robyn Hitchcock: Black Snake Diamond Role: "Do Policemen Sing?" [mp3]

One of my best two or three friends (let's call him "Rocky") from 3rd grade to high school graduation ended up becoming a cop. A sheriff's deputy for the county, actually. In hindsight, I'm not surprised. His larger-than-life dad and fitter/stronger older brother were both Marines, but my friend was simply "too unfit" for the military, but nowhere near "too unfit" for the police academy. Growing up not only did he have to live in their shadows, never measuring up athletically, but he also had to listen to the both of them constantly telling him what a "fat fucking failure" he was. It was brutal.

The girls in the neighborhood called him "Porkchop". Some of the people in our circle were allowed to call him "Chunk" or "Chunks", and me or Wags dubbed him "The Sponge" at a party one night, on account of his impressive ability to consume beer, and that stuck within our circle, and expanded out into the general population at school. I can imagine he still knows one or two people who still call him "Sponge".

He had a bunch of different nicknames through the years, many of them unkind, and many of them said to initiate a kind of game = Some lame fuckstain would call Rocky "fatwad" or "enormo" or whatever, and Rocky would give chase. That was the game, and woe to those who lost, because Rocky would then beat their asses DOWN. And most people did lose that game in the end, because maybe Rocky wouldn't catch them right away, but he did have a good memory and a taste for the surprise, delayed attack. Sometimes weeks would go by, even months, and the fuckstain may have come to believe he was in the clear, that the taunts had been forgotten, and then, from around the corner, or seemingly from nowhere, there Rocky was, making life miserable for said fuckstain.

Other times me or any of Rocky's friends might simply catch the kid ourselves immediately, because really, those rotten fuckstains had it coming. GAME OVER.

Like I said, Rocky was one of my two or three closest friends, and I gave him shit the way friends do, but I never said a single word about his weight. If for no other reason than I didn't think he was fat. Sure, he was a big guy, but he was more of a barrel-chested kind of guy, you know? He was essentially a 15 year old kid stuck in the body of a 55 year old dude, and I think you get a pretty good picture of his body type.

Rocky was a decent guy, but alot of people pissed him off, and because it was so unrelenting and so cruel, especially coming from his dad and brother, I think he had an absolute right to be pissed off at these people. And so a kind of resentment built up in him. At eighteen, I would say he was already a misanthrope, and there he was, going to the Police Academy.


We were at a party at Hanson's house about a week or so after graduation. It was the beginning of our last summer before I went off to Madison and he went to Milwaukee, and everyone in our group went off in different directions, to different destinations, and I remember this conversation because it was early in the evening, and neither of us was drunk yet. There were about five of us, standing around on the driveway, passing around a joint. Rocky declined, and as I took the woolie in hand, he suddenly poked me in the chest with a bit of force behind that finger, and said "Someday I'm going to bust your ass for that shit." I started laughing, and he quickly added "I'm not joking." I continued laughing, saying "you're not serious", and he told me that yes, he was serious.

We discussed the seriousness of his statement for awhile, and suffice it to say things were never quite the same after that. What should have been a great and glorious last summer in Grafton for our group of friends wasn't all that. A slow, unsatisfying fade...Our circle losing steam... A silent collapse.

I do agree with Robyn Hitchcock - policemen do sing. In my experience, it's most likely going to be metal or country.

Hotcha! Hank

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01 November 2011

Tuesday's Fortune: 01 November 2011

MEAL: 2 Vegetable Spring Rolls + 1 small order Kung Pao Chicken = $6.70 + $1.30 tip

Hotcha! Hank

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