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The Curmudgeon for February 2006

Happy New Year and all of that!

Now that the holidays are over, we can all get back to our miserable lives and consume mass quantities of popular culture.

David Tennant as Doctor Who

It is an exciting time to be a Doctor Who fan. The small taste of the Tennant era given to us with The Christmas Invasion has whetted our appetites for even more of the new series. All signs indicate that the upcoming season will prove to be just as exciting as the last.

A few thoughts on the new season, I am excited to see K-9 and Sarah Jane coming back. However, I am cautiously optimistic about the return of the Cybermen, my all time favorite Doctor Who baddies. Obviously I want them done right. So you can imagine that I was worried when I saw the new “C” on their chest and the sort of clunky Iron Man outfits they’ve made for them. I do think though that Mr. Davies will do something interesting and develop them in an interesting way that will quickly ease my nerves.

[ad#longpost]The City of Death DVD is also pretty great. I wish there could have been a Tom or Lalla commentary, but oh well. Julian Glover’s commentary could have been better though. I also was happy to see one of my favorite Baker stories, The Horror of Fang Rock, out on DVD. The Paddy Russell retrospective was pretty interesting, although I wasn’t all too excited about the Terrance Dicks one. Although he is one of the series greatest writers, he’s just not all that dynamic. In fact there is moss growing near a tree in my yard that has more emotion.

I loved the scenes of kids playing Daleks in Breakfast on Pluto. I also loved seeing Bryan Ferry letting loose and playing a really scary pervert.

Looking ahead to later this year, I think that Superman Returns could be every bit as good as Batman Begins was. From what I’ve seen it looks like Bryan Singer has taken great pains to recreate the feeling of the comics. Although I really detest the idea of having Lois Lane be blonde. I think there are better actresses for the part than Kate Bosworth.

Bloodrayne, what were those poor people thinking? Any movie with Billy Zane is obviously not going to make any money. He may be the worst actor of our generation.

Brett Ratner is Wolverstein

I am interested to see how Brett Ratner and his team handle Angel, Jubliee and Beast for the upcoming X-Men film.

I am not at all optimistic about V For Vendetta. I think it’ll look great but disappoint die hard fans of the comic. V for Vile, V for Vituperative, and V For Vomitous may be better titles. It really is going to be a wretched piece of crap.

I think it would be great if the Golden Globes and Emmys made their own Sci-Fi category. That way some of the good sci-fi on the tube would get recognized.

The new Shaun of the Dead graphic novel is pretty swell.

I wasn’t completely happy with the start of Season 2 of Lost, but I must say the show has really kickstarted itself of late, delivering some of the best episodes so far. I am curious though as to how long they can keep it up. After a while all the nifty flashbacks and coincidences are going to run their course.

I think the idea of a new Prisoner TV series is a very, very bad idea.

DJ and electro musician Richie Hawtin, (aka Plastikman) has recorded music for the Tornio Winter Olympic opening ceremonies.

One of the most awful things in the world is the anticlimax that is New Year’s Eve. I mean it never really bowls you over and lives up to the hype. Now besides the fascist rambling of Dick Clark we get to see the scariness that is Ryan Seacrest on our TV spoon feeding the latest prepackaged musical crap for our edification. My New Years resolution is just say NO to Ryan Seacrest.

Placebo: Meds

Michael Stipe will guest star on Meds, the new album from Placebo. Stipe will sing vocals on a track called “Broken Promise.”

Eamon Hamilton loved his side project, Brakes, so much that he has left his former full time gig as keyboardist for British Sea Power.

The Wu-Tang Clan is reforming for a short US tour next month.

The members of New Order are seriously pondering a short tour as their previous band, Joy Division. The band incorporated JD songs into their set for the first time ever during their recent John Peel Day concert.

12 Songs, the 39th album from Neil Diamond ushered out 2005 by going Gold.

Despite being dead for decades now, Patsy Cline has just topped the 10 million sales mark for Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits. Cline was recently awarded a posthumous RIAA Diamond Award for the achievement.

Show Your Bones is not a hip poverty catchphrase but rather the title of the new album from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The alum, released on March 22nd, will feature the single “Gold Lion.”

Is there some kind of bird flu out there that only affects Paris Hilton?

The Editors have signed with Fader to release their debut album, The Back Room here in the States.

Lou Reed's New York

Lou Reed recently had two concurrent gallery shows in New York. His first book of photography, Lou Reed’s New York, is out next month.

It’s been awhile, but The Charlatans are retuning with a new album, Simpatico, and tour this April.

The Polyphonic Spree is readying their new album, The Fragile Army, for release later this year.

Grandaddy has called it a day. Before they go however, they will release their last album, Just Like the Fambly Cat, on V2 later this summer.

Outkast have completed filming for their debut movie, Idlewild. The movie’s soundtrack should be out late next month.

For the last time, no one cares about MTV miscarriage Jessica Simpson and her breakup with her husband. If anyone does care, they are complete morons.

In case you haven’t had enough of them, The White Stripes are set to appear on The Simpsons.

The Smashing Pumpkins will reform to play this year’s Coachella Music Festival. They will be joined by Portishead, Massive Attack, and co-headliners, Depeche Mode.

When The Jam split up in 1983 they released a compilation record, Snap! as the perfect farewell album. Unfortunately when it was released on CD it was abbreviated from its original twenty-nine tracks to just twenty-one tracks. This problem is being rectified this spring when the album is re-released in its full, original form with a special live EP of their last show tacked on for good measure.

Liverpool’s The Zutons are coming back in full force this April. The band will get a big label push and tour extensively in support of their second album, Tired of Hangin’ Around.

Pink Floyd: Pulse

Fans of Pink Floyd have been overjoyed to hear that Pulse is finally hitting DVD after being an out-of-print VHS release for some time. The release features an entire 1994 Division Bell Tour concert from Earl’s Court as well as a photo gallery and more extras.

Chosen Lords is the latest offering from The Aphex Twin. It compiles a series of previously hard to find 12″ singles into one nice collection.

Now that 4704, the Year of the Dog, is upon us, could the Chinese do something about Jackie Chan and the movies he’s chosen to star in? I am sure that with their booming economy they could find a factory job or something for him.

Massive Attack will release two albums in 2006. The first, Collected, comes out in March and features a selection of their biggest hits and remixes. The second, Weather Underground, comes out later in the year.

One of the tastiest singles to grace my ears this month is “Super Heartbeats” from The Motorettes. This dynamic record has everything needed from a great pop record. The Motorettes are loud, crunchy and bombastic enough to expect big things from.

Sing Sing has returned with a wonderful new album, Sing & I. Sing Sing features Lisa and Emma from Lush and shows the duo in a new light as songwriters.

I also have become smitten with The Feminist Third, the newest EP from Sarandon.

Tom Cavanagh from Love Monkey

Love Monkey is a show too smart and too smarmy to survive on network TV. Having worked for a major record label, I can tell you that most of the antics Tom Cavanagh endures each week really does happen in the industry. The modern major record label resembles a raptor of prehistoric times: a voracious, uncaring carnivore that eats, devours, attacks and preys upon the unsuspecting. Personally, I also think that having Eric Bogosian play a smug label exec is sheer brilliance.

Johnny Cash is hot. There’s a film out with the dead guy’s brother. There’s a musical being developed for Broadway. There’s the forthcoming DVD release of The Johnny Cash Show. There’s even an action figure. Now, just when you thought the hype was hushed comes word of Ring of Fire, a new Johnny Cash themed ballet from the Memphis Ballet.

Bob Hoskins was really great in Mrs. Henderson Presents. It is a shame that most people don’t appreciate his genius.

It was very cool to see Adrian Tomine score a cover for the New Yorker.

Happy 250th birthday Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! Everyone who loves music should find time to really appreciate his work. Mozart was a composer of profound ingenuity and depth. His symphonies, concertos and operas were nothing less than brilliant. It is tragic that a whole generation of people are walking around who don’t appreciate his breadth and depth. Everyone from the Beatles to Sigur Ros owes a nod to Mozart. It is my best hope that the recent celebrations of his birth manage to reach people and make their ears discover his genius.

The same could be said about the now 300-year-old Ben Franklin who managed to be a bigger playa, a smarter mind and a far more ingenious diplomat way before there were Kennedys. Although Franklin’s legacy has been muddled with popular folklore and myth, his status as one of America’s most prolific intellectuals is beyond dispute.

Barry Manilow has released a record filled with him singing the songs from the 1950s. Personally I’d love to hear him tackle the lonely miserablism of the Delta Blues of the 1930s. But instead I shall run in terror, knowing that he is out there somewhere shilling his awful crap to an unsuspecting public.

If you listen to late night radio you may be fortunate to hear the really ghastly new Las Vegas resort commercial with Tanya Roberts. Man oh man is it pungent. She has the voice of sandpaper scraped across melting ice! It is really terrible.

Collapse by Jared Diamond

Stuff I am reading:

CollapseJared Diamond. Diamond won a Pulitzer for his previous, Gods Germs and Steel. This book takes many of the ideas mentioned therein and expands upon them. His thesis is simple: there are reasons why great societies succeed or fail. Most times these reasons are steeped in agriculture, economics or science. But no matter what the cause, reading Diamond explain how the collapse of the Maya and the abandonment of Easter Island are related is fascinating. Plus he uses contemporary China and Montana to illustrate wonderfully where our society is headed.

Men & CartoonsJonathan Letham. This excellent collection of eleven short stories illustrates that Letham is a seriously big geek who is not afraid to expound (sometimes too much) on his personal passions and loves. No one can meld suicidal sheep and super heroes with such grace and plausibility.

Team of RivalsDoris Kearns Goodwin. This seriously deep book examines how Abraham Lincoln used cunning political acumen in assembling his Presidential cabinet. Kearns relentlessly chases Lincoln and his posse, which consisted of his fiercest political rivals and campaign opponents, through the crisis of the Civil War and through the terrible days in April of 1865 when they had to hold a nation together. This is pretty compelling stuff.

Finally, we are rapidly approaching the worst scam of a holiday ever, Valentine’s Day! Please approach this day with extreme caution. Don’t give into The Man and buy your honey loads of stupid, smushy stuff. Instead do something creative, fun and sincere to show him or her that you care.

Plus 99% of the love songs they play on Valentine’s Day are really terrible, especially the ones by Phil Collins. If that doesn’t make you hide in fear then mankind is truly lost.


  • On the Cybermen, I saw some pics from the set of the episode and the ‘C’ does make sense. I shall say no more to prevent spoilage.

    As to the blonde Lois, sometimes when people break up, they feel the change to change…. something. She could have headed for the peroxide after Superman left.