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by Katharine Wray

21 Sep 2009

Drums of Death does a killer remix of Franz Ferdinand’s “What She Came For”, and of Peaches “Lose You”. Makes the listener feel like they’re in a hipster basement club dancing with a gaggle of very skinny kids, holding on to the ceiling.

by Katharine Wray

21 Sep 2009

Malia James interviews Long Beach, CA band Avi Buffalo for Dirty Laundry TV.

by Bill Gibron

21 Sep 2009

Maybe Maxim readers don’t go to the movies. Perhaps horror, no matter how “hot” the monster, is still an isolated demographical given. It could be that Diablo Cody has shot her literary wad already, proving that Juno might just have been the cinematic equivalent of Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s “Come On, Eileen”. Or maybe it’s about time to admit what has been all but painfully true to anyone who thinks with their brain and not some other organ - Megan Fox is merely ordinary. She’s far from a great beauty and clearly a less than significant movie “star”. Having an F-me face and an F-you body does not an accomplished actress make, and with her exceptionally mediocre onscreen resume, why anyone celebrates said below-averageness is astonishing.

What, exactly, makes Megan Fox special? Her seven-eighths whore, one-eighth air biscuit persona clearly stirs the overindulged loins of geek/jock/middle-aged prevert nation, and a media recognizing exactly where the disposable cash lies in this limp economy, has jumped on said bandwagon like a fair-weather sports fan. But popularity is not perspective. If it was, the Pet Rock would be a PS3. Ms. Fox may have some inherent quality that fails to fully come across on a camera, an innate kindness or depth than disappears once the blaring lights of lime hit her mannequin like mug. And when gauged against dozens of other far more fetching performers, she’s nothing but an animated Real Doll.

Revoke this critic’s membership in the male gender if you must, but there’s hasn’t been this much unmitigated hoopla surrounding a subpar product since Apple announced the arrival of the horrid handheld Newton. Somewhere, in her self-imposed exile, Phoebe Cates is laughing her equally touted ‘80s tush off. Fox hasn’t proven anything by being the slightly less mechanical eye candy in the hot and cold Transformers films, was equally weak playing basically herself in the absolutely awful How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, and proved this weekend that she can’t open a modest, made to order movie like Jennifer’s Body. Indeed, despite a massive publicity campaign that had every hack website with a horror-based nomenclature declaring its brilliance, the supposedly most beautiful woman in the world could barely drum up double digit box office. Sorry, sweetie, but $6.7 million doesn’t cut it in wannabe A-list territory.

But is it really Fox’s fault? Is her blank persona and centerfold ambiguity really the reason why people failed to flock to this faux fright funny business? Reviewers have been extremely harsh on the Fempire’s CEO for her self-indulgent and conscious screenplay, many suggesting it plays like Diablo Cody parodying a Diablo Cody script. Others point to the flop sweat still streaming off director Karyn Kusama’s career. In a strange sort of cinematic synchronicity, the Girlfight helmer took a true super beauty, Charlize Theron, and almost destroyed her commercial credibility with the groan-inducing live action adaptation of MTV fave Aeon Flux. So with two seeming strikes against it Jennifer’s Body had to have a solid lead to help lift it over some possible problems. It certainly didn’t need Ms. Fox’s inert charms to further undermine the material.

This is Fox’s eighth year as a ‘professional’. She got her start, of all places, with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson in one of the twins patented direct to video cash machines, Holiday in the Sun. She then parlayed that success into a long running stint on the surreal Swedish sudser Ocean Ave. (don’t worry - we hadn’t heard of it either). Then came an uncredited turn in Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II, a couple of one shot sitcom stints, a pretty hefty part in the Linsday Lohan mess Confessions of a Teen Age Drama Queen, and 37 episodes of the ABC laugher Hope & Faith. Yet it was a bunch of battling alien robots with magical mutation powers that put her on the map, Bay remembering the carnal Cupie Doll from the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence cop rocker. The rest, as they say, is slo-mo close-up of her ruby red lips (slightly parted) history.

A billion magazines and soured cheesecake photos later and the whole planet is agog. While there is no accounting for taste (beauty remains in the eye of the beholder, no matter how much the TV and tabloids try to tell us differently), it’s clear that Fox is another in a long line of hollow honeys that’s use publicity over performance to achieve her a certain level of stardom. Hollywood does indeed have a history of such questionably attractive anomalies. People poo-poo’ed Jayne Mansfield as a sorry, second-class Marilyn Monroe (she was a decent lowbrow onscreen comedienne, however) while the ‘60s shoveled all kinds of pert pin-ups on the raging hormones of an underage audience. Some were actually incredibly talented - Rachel Welch - while others -Joey Heatherton - seemed famous just for being that - famous. 

Fox clearly falls into the latter category, a commodity constantly presold without a great deal of actual interest or purpose. If she were really this smoking too-hot-to-handle superstar, if she were everything the PR machine makes her out to be, Jennifer’s Body would have put a double barreled smackdown on its less than hefty competition (including an incomprehensibly bad Jennifer Aniston RomCom and the second week of Tyler Perry’s fire and brimstone branding). While fifth place is not last, it’s also not the spot reserved for someone who is constantly touted as something far above average. Yet it’s clear that, outside of the hoopla, she’s just about that. Even her overall Rotten Tomatoes (46%)/Metacritic (47%) suggests a C- ranking. 

Maybe decades from now, when clearer heads prevail, Fox will be viewed through the far more discerning eye that comes with temporal clarity. Her manufactured splendor and sleaze-skank-saint schizophrenia will be measured alongside her many (or nonexistent) accomplishments and a true evaluation can be made. If history is any indication, she’ll be filed away as a flash in the pan, a TMZ-style starlet statistic, a where-are-they-now trivia question, or a well-respected actress who reinvented herself to avoid the constant claims of “talentless floozy.” Granted, there’s still a lot of grandstanding and backhanded bandwagoning going on, and with the big budget comic book adaptation of Jonah Hex in the works, Fox remains poised to be a People magazine mainstay until long after John and Kate become fame whore flameouts. Still, as this weekend proves, it’s gonna take a lot more than attention to get this plasticine pariah to be anything other than a debateable dreamboat. 

by PC Muñoz

21 Sep 2009

“Better Days” - Bruce Springsteen
Written by Bruce Springsteen
From Lucky Town (Columbia, 1992)

A slightly different version of this V-C-V was originally published on pcmunoz.com on August 9, 2005

Bruce Springsteen has long dealt with intense, powerful subject matter. The characters in his songs are often trying to find their place in life while battling the burdens of fleshly weakness and spiritual frailty, attempting to make sense of the various ties that bind them to people and places.

“Better Days” is the lead-off track from 1992’s Lucky Town, one of the two discs Springsteen simultaneously released that year (the other album was called Human Touch). It was not made in collaboration with the E-Street Band. Much of the relationship-oriented material on the record deals with the idea of renewed hope, after a wrong turn in the recent past. “Better Days”, particularly, seems to be the light at the end of the dark “tunnel of love” Springsteen so thoroughly described in the album which preceded Lucky Town and Human Touch.

by Deanne Sole

21 Sep 2009

I was reading a secondhand library-sale copy of Elizabeth Jolley’s 1997 novel Lovesong when it came to me, somewhere around page 90, that this book was reminding me of a movie, something oblique, something impressionistic, a film that didn’t reveal itself but was somehow, underneath it all, full of buried … David Lynch, yes, that was it, David Lynch. Which Lynch? Inland Empire, I thought, and then: no: Blue Velvet

Lovesong was Jolley’s third-last novel before her death in 2007. “Although she did not publish a novel until she was 57, Elizabeth Jolley, who has died aged 83, quickly established herself as a laureate of the dotty,” reported the Guardian.  So she must have been 73 around the publication of Lovesong. The atmosphere of the story is a haze, its gaze is a glance; we see most of it through the brain of Dalton Foster, a man who has recently been released from prison after committing a paedophilic crime. Exactly what he did we do not know, because, as said, we are seeing this through him, and so his paedophilia is presented in the form of oblique romantic scenes: here is a beautiful soprano boy in a beam of light, here is a ragged girl who strangely compels him to follow her. He wants to give her apples. The apples are symbolic, but symbolic of what is a question without easy answers, although the key seems to be Yeats and his “Song of the Wandering Aengus”, which ends with “The silver apples of the moon, / The golden apples of the sun.”

Prison rehabilitation hasn’t reformed him.

During the years of the journey through conflict and repetitions of treatment, he came to the conclusion that the child had observed and sensed the magic and the beauty of desire and attraction, and already understood that there was a special perception of this, which he possessed …

A love of European high culture, used by thinkers like Montaigne to elevate their minds, only fuels his avoidance. Meeting a probation officer he likened him, in silence, to the old poet, Horace, whose shape had, at one time, been compared, by a friend, to that of a thick little book.

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