Busy beyond belief

I hate when people say, "Oh, I'm so busy," but in my case, it's true.

I just finished up a freelance article for For the Record magazine on cancer registries.

I'm still covering the Michael Jackson Trial for work.

Recently I started covering American Idol.

I watched my first two episodes of AI ever this week. You can read what I thought about the boy finalists and the girl finalists.

And for the third year in a row, I'm an official ballot counter for Delaware Today's Best of Delaware issue.

Impressive stuff, I know.

Stuff that's in my to-be-reviewed pile: The Mice, Ill Ease.

Been listening to: The Damned, The Ruts, Eater, The Quick, Ambulance Ltd., High on Fire, Bloc Party.

I'm reading "Broken Summers" by Henry Rollins. It's his best writing yet. Book report soon.
Murder Can Be Fun #19: Musical Mayhem

There hasn't been a new issue of MCBF for some time, but that's OK because this issue picks up where issue #18, Sports Thrills, left off. The latest issue of this acclaimed zine focuses on the macabe side of music and chronicles murderous musician Spade Cooley and other morose musicians who embraced the darkside.

Over half the zine is devoted to the western swing and country fiddler, Spade Cooley, who beat the living hell out of his wife. In fact, he stomped her to death - in front of their daughter, no less.

The history of Cooley's musical career is chronicled in painstaking detail including how the one-time Roy Rogers protege became one of country's biggest stars in the '40s, only to fall from the public eye and become the type of desperate and angry son of a bitch who eventually would off his wife. Fortunately, justice prevailed and Cooley was found guilty of killing his wife in a trial full of his outrageous claims.

This issue is worth it alone for this insane story of a honky tonk hellboy gone completely bonkers, but let me tell you, there's even more!

You get the story behind The Band's keyboardist Richard Manuel, and how he killed himself one night after a reunion concert and some lesser-known rock and roll deaths including a fan passing at a David Cassidy concert.

This latest issue of Murder Can Be Fun is another job well done, and John Marr is one of the underground zine's best editors from the '90s who hasn't lost his touch.

You can obtain this issue of Murder Can Be Fun for $2.00 ppd in the USA (other countries add $2.00 for postage.) Just drop a line to John Marr, P.O. Box 640111, San Francisco, CA 94164, USA.

Link: Buy MCBF #19 from Quimby's
Link: murdercanbefun.com
Link: zinebook.com: Interview with MCBF's John Marr
McG's playlist for February 6, 2005

Here's what I've been listening to lately as well as what I've been reading and watching. (NOTE: Click-through for MP3s.)

Heard lately:

Confessor - Blueprint Soul EP - Much more subdued than their "Condemned" album, but rockin' nonetheless. Still, I'm glad they've reformed after a decade plus hiatus, and the vocals aren't as annoying this time around.
MP3: Confessor - "Sour Times"

The Pretty Things - Come See Me: The Very Best of - Nice collection of the Pretty Things early output from straight up mod to offbeat psychedelia.
MP3: The Pretty Things - "Mr. Evasion"

Camper Van Beethoven - New Roman Times - CVB reunites and recaptures the original magic and uses it to create a kickass record that captures the old vibe, but still sounds forward thinking.
MP3: Camper Van Beethoven - "51-7"

Howard Stern - Listening to Howie for two hours a day in the car during my commute makes the drive tolerable.

Songs I heard on Sirius that I thought were catchy:

Tegan and Sara - Walking With a Ghost - Just a great song to hear on the radio. Kind of repetitive, but still charming. Didn't like the album that much, but this song rocks.
MP3: Tegan and Sara - "Walking With a Ghost"

Rilo Kiley - Portions for Foxes - Very nice song from the new RK album, which I still haven't heard. I can't tell if I like this group or not. Well, I like this song for sure.
MP3: Rilo Kiley - "Portions for Foxes"

Jet - Look What You've Done - Very Lennon circa Plastic Ono Band with a touch of Oasis, so you know it's fan-friggin-tastic. Hated the first single from this album, but maybe I should give the whole record a chance?!
MP3: Jet - "Look What You've Done"

Read recently:

Murder Can Be Fun #19: Musical Mayhem - Out of nowhere comes a brand new issue of MCBF! Holy hell. Lots of painstaking detail about morbid and morose deaths from the world of music.

Henry Rollins - Broken Summers - An account of the tour and record Hank assembled to benefit the West Memphis Three and what it was like singing all those Flag classics after all those years.

Razorcake #24 - Came in the mail today. From some of the folks who did Flipside. I'm proud to say I have a subscription.

I saw these:

Huff - Another killer great premium cable show. On the same level of quality as "Dead Like Me." Hank Azaria is great as a stressed out psychiatrist and Paget Brewster is charming as his equally stressed out wife.

Riding Giants - Stacy Perralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys) takes a look at the origins of surfing, from primitive Hawaiian wave riders all the way up to the crazy nutso daredevils of today.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon - Read one more than review ragging this film. What for? Sean Penn carries this entire film about one man who feels like life is just one big sick hypocritical mess of chaos, cash and corruption. The solution? Fly a plane into the White House. Weird, but based on real events.

Sideways - Yes, it's as good as everyone says. Funny, dark, twisted and depressing, but still a good road trip movie about the usual stuff: booze, fighting, sex and figuring out one's role in the cosmos.
John Peel listening post

The JPLP is permanently offline.
The Narrows - "Alligator" CD (Wantage USA)

"Alligator" compiles "Days are Numbered" and "Six Ten," the first two full-length releases by Bellingham, Washington's The Narrows. That said, there are only seven tracks in all, but together they clock in at over an hour in length.

The Narrows' music is often moody, similar to a blend of slow-core and post-rock that evokes the deliberate pacing of Codeine, the eloquent dexterity of Slint and the drawn out determination of Engine Kid and Karate.

While songs such as "Stride" and "October's Problem" might lull the listener into a soothing state of relaxation, standout tracks "A Simple Turn of Page" and "Need for Progress" demonstrate that The Narrows are capable of creating amazingly loud intonations alongside dark and sinister tones.

As is the case with most releases on the Wantage USA label, the CD itself is a D.I.Y. labor of love, from the music's home-cooked recording feel to the handscreened CD packaging.

While the CD has some bombastic and beefy moments, evidence suggests The Narrows' would sound best in the live setting through a thunderous P.A. or in a sweaty, beer-drenched basement party. I believe the latter might be the better setting.

"Alligator" is recommended for fans of power trio rock, all the way from Blue Cheer and Creem to Federation X and Shellac.
Gratuitous linking

Here's a story I wrote for work on why the Super Bowl is of no consequence.

I'm covering the Michael Jackson trial for work.

I've already become somewhat of an expert on the case.

And it's hard to believe that I get paid to create things such as photo galleries of Desperate Housewives and Sundance Film Festival, but I do.