PLEASE NOTE: “As an Amazon Associate, [Need Coffee] earns from qualifying purchases." You know we make money from Amazon links,
and I know you know this, but they make us say it anyway. More info, click here.

The Curmudgeon

We are less than a month out from DragonCon 2005 and the wheels are turning all over the place. Despite another year of hassles, crowds and scheduling mishaps with The Man the DragonCon Posse will again be in full effect. We’ll be everywhere, literally. Although I’ll be doing a lot of Brit Track stuff, the powers that be and those better in the know than I will be feeling flash and hosting panels in the X-Track and Young Adults Track. So come out and say hi.

Having said that I encourage anyone coming to DC to get out and get involved by actually contributing to a panel by asking non-dumb questions and giving con staffers honest feedback about what they like and don’t like about the Con.

This year’s big draw seems to be Joss Whedon and the cast of Firefly. There also are some more Trek actors coming in like LeVar Burton who could be interesting as well. But if that doesn’t entice you enough, there will again be the usual collection of Hollywood Has-beens, Also Starred Ins and Barely Famous Cameosters to hobnob with.

One of my favorite annual memories at DragonCon is seeing Captain Marvel himself, Jackson Bostwick, sitting at his table looking completely sad and alone in that morose Bill Murray sort of way.

By this time DragonCon sort of runs itself and those who enjoy it do so because they know how to take it all in and roll with it. It’s not like they’re doing anything new.
But that’s okay because if there is one thing the folks who go to DragonCon know how to do it’s to throw a party.

If they keep adding any more damn hotels to DC we’ll end up having parts of it in Marietta.

One thing they should do though is pass a law prohibiting the truly obese from wearing corsets or skimpy clothes. They also should put a leash on Danger Woman so she can’t annoy everyone in the Western Hemisphere.

Never forget, just because you can enter the costume contest doesn’t mean that you should. Your costume idea may seem cool or funny to you, but odds are it annoys everyone else. So please, unless you are foxy, creative or have great access to fiberglass and armor don’t waste people’s time.

Beware of the dealer room. Buy nothing you don’t absolutely have to kill for and wait until after Saturday to buy stuff when the dealers need to make more money.

But really the best thing about DragonCon, at least for me anyway, is the opportunity to meet, re-meet and commiserate with other like minded freaks and geeks who share my passion for popular culture. DragonCon also offers a chance to get in some serious people watching which always makes many a nebbish feel good about his or her measly life in nerddom.

But no matter what weird SF fetish you have, check out the Needcoffee programming at DragonCon. It usually stands head and shoulders above most of the other stuff out there and is always a good time.

Speaking of conventions, I am not sure I could’ve handled dealing with the 90,000 plus freaks that traipsed around San Diego for Comic-Con.

A few notes from the front: Live 8 was a special concert where the obnoxiously famous and desperately mediocre did their best to change the world. I am sure that any increased exposure was merely a bi-product of the event. The concert going public was polite, friendly and decent. Even the U2 fans I met seemed like okay people. In short, Pink Floyd were great, Joss Stone should be hung, drawn and quartered, Sting is over and done with and it was a tragic farce though to see George Michael perform with Paul McCartney.

As for Lollapalooza, it was friggin’ too damn hot. However, The Arcade Fire, Pixies and Dinosaur Jr were all amazing. At the Cineplex I didn’t pay to see The (Not So) Fantastic Four and I still want my money back.

Here’s the stuff you all really care about…

After completing their rigorous summer touring schedule The Pixies will take a break before going into the studio for the first time since 1991 to record a new album. In the interim Frank Black has recorded a new studio album, Honeycomb in Nashville. Guitarist Joey Santiago is scoring the soundtrack to Showtime’s new series, Weeds. The Pixies reunion tour has been captured live on DVD with The Pixies Sell Out, which is coming out next month!

The Arcade Fire has reissued their 2003 self-titled debut EP on Merge Records.

Poor Lance Armstrong, he bikes his tushy off to win the Tour De France only to come home to Sheryl Crow and her mediocre music career.

Depeche Mode has nearly finished recording their new album, Playing the Angel. The band recently announced that they will mount a six week North American tour next year.

For the life of me I can’t figure out why Lucinda Williams is touring with the Allman Brothers.

Bloc Party

Bloc Party is currently on the road again. Their new album will be released very early in 2006.

Sigur Ros are pre-empting the release of Takk, their 4th studio album, with a short American tour next month.

Those pining for Scandinavian music with a groove may want to check out Royksopp. Their second album, The Understanding, has just been released.

Jennifer Lopez is torturing the kind people of Chicago by opening her own boutique in the Windy City. I guess it’s no secret that all the good stuff will be in back.

Big Star has reformed to record a new album for the first time in 27 years. Original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens recently hooked up in the studio with The Posies’ Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, who have toured with Big Star since 1993, when the band last reformed for live shows. The new album, In Space, will be released late next month by Rykodisc.

The Pet Shop Boys will release their score of Battleship Potemkin, on September 5th. This fall the duo will perform their score alongside screenings of the film throughout Germany. They are also currently recording new material with Trevor Horn.

Siouxsie & the Banshees are following in the footsteps of Echo & the Bunnymen, The Cure and The Pogues by re-releasing their entire back catalog with extra tracks, demos and live recordings. Their entire back catalog should be released by next spring.

First Comes First is the title of the debut album from The Paddingtons. This feisty and crisp British pop band will be pretty big.

The Futureheads will begin working on their second album this autumn for a mid-2006 release.

The Rolling Stones‘ new album is almost upon us. It’s called A Bigger Bang. The now embalmed Stones will hit the road with a massive tour of North America in support of the record.

The Charlatans are still puttering around. The band is set to record album #9, Oxfordshire, in the next few months.

It is really tragic and lame that the surviving members of INXS have to use a reality TV show to get their band going again.

Franz Ferdinand has emerged from near breakups, manic touring and constant recording with a new album, You Could Have It So Much Better…With Franz Ferdinand. They’ll be supporting the album’s release next month with a short US Tour.
Maestro, Josell Ramos’ documentary about DJ Larry Levan and the heyday of the Paradise Garage, is now available on DVD. Levan’s spinning skills influenced everyone from Frankie Knuckles to Felix Da’ Housecat. Levan was also hugely important in the evolution of house music. Ramos’ film offers a terrific expose behind the world of the DJ and opens the club world of the 70s in new ways.

Call me negative and pessimistic, but I can just tell that V for Vendetta is going to be really awful. I could go on a tangent here, but I don’t need to because really we are all discerning types who know that when you put a star in a crappyass movie all you really get is ‘crap with a star.’ This film is going to infuriate me so much that I just may move to the Sudan.

Art Brut

I have seen the future and they are called Art Brut. They are a UK band that makes splashy and loud pop music a la Suede, Pulp and The Futureheads. They don’t have a US deal yet but they will soon and they’ll be massive.

So will Scotland’s Sons & Daughters who will be the next Franz Ferdinand. They are currently on tour with the Decemberists and are planning a shot headlining tour after that. Their new single, “Box Me In,” is a wonderful pop record. Anyone who likes their Britpop with feisty, biting female vocals will love them.

I think that doing laundry may be more exciting than the Dukes of Hazzard movie.

Now that the Michael Jackson trial is over can someone turn their attention to the Burger King? After all he sits on a thrown of lies and wears a mask that is 10x scarier than V’s. Plus he looks really weird in his commercials with all those little kids.

Having seen one season of the new Doctor Who I must say this. They need to change the TARDIS interior and work on the pacing of the stories. As someone who liked the show’s old format, the new series is too fast, causing the stories to be rushed and stories to suffer from poor plotting and marginal character development. I hated the last episode, especially the regeneration which seemed too convenient and rushed. I really liked Eccelston and hated to see him go. I fear that Tennant may be too much of a fan boy and go to over the top. His costume is kind of annoying but I am sure I will grow into liking it.

All Sontarans are on steroids. You can totally tell by looking at their necks.

Has Bob Barker been spade or neutered?

Madonna finally has a new single coming out. “Hung Up” will be the lead single from her album, Confessions on a Dance Floor which is due out this fall. For this track Madonna has created a groovy backing hook by sampling Abba’s “Ring Ring.”

Is there a dumber name for a band than Bowling for Soup?

The repair spacewalks for the Shuttle Discovery were pretty amazing to see. In our technologically rapid age it is easy to forget the sheer danger involved with going into Space.

The Gossip will spend most of the next two months on the road supporting We Are Wolves and Sleater-Kinney.

Tender Buttons is the latest album from the greatly overlooked Broadcast. For fans of trip-hop or dreamy UK pop it is definitely worth checking out.

Somewhere there is a private hell reserved just for Maroon 5.

Just when I was happy and not thinking of the V for Vendetta monstrosity I was appalled to learn that The Simple Life is coming back yet again. Maybe this year they’ll like them both up for the season in a buffet until where they can put some meat on themselves and have wacky adventures. Who knows, maybe with some luck it could evolve into some Soylent Green/Donner Party type of thing. Then the world would be a much better place.

Reverend Run was 1/3 of Run DMC. Now he’s dropped his first solo album, Distortion, on a Sony imprint.

If there is any room at Guantanamo Bay I would love to suggest that someone lock Rob Schneider away for committing the heinous crime of insulting the intelligence of everyone.

The recent Sony payola scandal only confirms my belief that people with any taste at all are not running record labels or radio stations. I mean at least pay people to play good records.

Finally, the Fantastic Four movie was nothing but cinematic larceny and there should be a trial to prosecute those responsible for crimes against humanity. It was so putrid that I’d rather hangout at a Promise Keepers convention that suffer through that crappyass crotch rot of a film ever again.

That’s it for now kiddies. Sorry to be so grumpy. It’s probably all the heat or pent up rage over the aforementioned FF film.

But I promise it’ll be a little better next month, because there will be news about all those scary Xmas-time releases and a recap of Dragoncon. Plus I’ll throw in a bunch of curry recipes.