Monday, November 27, 2006

Joan Jett: Still Lovin' Rock n' Roll After All These Years

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts with Eagles of Death Metal

November 7, 2006
Henry Fonda Theater
Hollywood, CA

“I Love Rock and Roll” was one of the first 45s I owned as a kid, and Joan Jett and Pat Benatar taught me that women could rock. So, it was a thrill to see Ms. Jett and her Blackhearts live and to realize that she and I both still do love rock n' roll. I had seen her once before in a little bar called Brownie’s in NYC, sans Blackhearts, playing in a side project called Evil Stig, a band that paid tribute to The Gits’ singer Mia Zapata (Evil Stig backwards is “Gits Live”) and raised awareness about her then-unsolved murder. But this was different and better, seeing Joan with her band and hearing all her classic songs. At 46, some may say she’s pushing 50, but I would say she’s pushing back. She looks fantastic – still lean, muscular, and energetic.

Joan dedicated the show to her former Runaways’ bandmate Sandy West who had passed away from lung cancer only a few weeks previously. She brought out Runaway cohort Cherie Curry to sing “Cherry Bomb”, and that was one of the definite highlights of the show. If only Lita Ford could have joined in – where the heck are ya, Lita? Still hiding out and lighting candles to pray for the return of hair metal? Don't get too close to those candles, Lita - Aqua Net is highly flammable.

Joan’s setlist was full of crowd pleasers like “Light of Day, “Bad Reputation,” “Hate Myself for Loving You” and the aforementioned and obligatory “I Love Rock and Roll.” She also played some of her noteworthy covers like “Crimson and Clover”, “Everyday People”, and a rocking version of The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song.

The selections from her new album Sinner made me want to buy it, songs like the political “Change the World”, humorous “A.C.D.C”, and the quirky Crash Test Dummies’ cover “Androgynous.”

Eagles of Death Metal opened the show with their swaggering, sexy/stupid rock. I had seen them once before, and they guarantee a good time. Everyone sang along to their big hit “Cherry Cola”, and their more rabid fans sang along to everything else, too. Their front man Jesse Hughes really knows how to work the room, and I noted that many fans were rockin’ moustaches in tribute to him (or maybe the 80s are just truly back).

I didn’t spy Carmen Electra in the crowd, but reports say she hooked up with Joan backstage. Now that’s a true dynamic duo.

Listen to Joan’s Butterball Thanksgiving Turkey Hotline

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Ape-Authored Fiction Now Available!

For the past 10 or so years, I have labored on and off (ok...mostly off) on an as-yet-unpublished novel called Earth City. The novel follows a year in the life of heroine Astrid Lutz, who graduates from college, moves back in with her parents in St. Louis, does temp work, sings karaoke, and dates the lead singer of a Journey cover band. You can now read two chapters from this opus in print in the new issue of the Air in the Paragraph Line zine. Jon Konrath, the editor, describes the zine thusly: _______________________________________________________________

Air in the Paragraph Line is an anthology of fiction, stories, rants, and tales by up-and-coming writers who are entertaining, obscure, and cutting-edge. It's designed to be readable, enjoyable, and cheap.

Issue 11 is the "work" issue, containing 22 stories about work (or lack thereof) by Tony Byrer, Joshua Citrak, Mike Daily, Kurt Eisenlohr, Nile577, Josh Hamilton, M. David Hornbuckle, Robert W. Howington, Stephen Huffman, mj klein, Jon Konrath, Dege Legg, Sarah Katherine Lewis, Vijay Prozak, Lisbeth Riesh, j Pedersen, John Sheppard, Motel Todd, Julie Wiskirchen, and Sergeant Zeno.

Issue 11 is 238 pages with 21 stories by 19 writers and no useless filler, for only $10.99 plus shipping. To order, or for a preview, click here.


I am sure it will provide you all with very entertaining receptionist desk temp job reading, and I thank you for your support.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The KFC Bucket is Half-Empty

As cruel as it looks, my care-giver Coolia once again made me a pawn in her desire for fame and riches. She put me in yet another ridiculous high-concept, pop-referential Halloween costume this year in an effort to win the BowWowWeen contest. Nerdia was complacent in the mess. She was my dresser for the event and was highly annoying, always trying to readjust my glasses.

Hear me now. I am not responsible for this. I tried every means to disrobe during our dress rehearsal at the Culver City Petco, a contest which I won, by the way. Coolia learned from the costume malfunctions here and re-tweaked my disguise at home.

If you haven't guessed who I am by now, I don't blame you. People kept calling me a bucket of chicken. But as you can see, the head of Colonel Sanders is cut out of the KFC box. I am wearing black specs, a white coat and a bow tie. Get it now?

I didn't recognize any of the celebs at the BowWowWeen this year, except the Barbie Twins who were there when Nerdia dragged me to another competition this spring: Nutts for Mutts. I don't know what my final vote tally was for BowWowWeen but I'm sure it wasn't helped by the fact that I followed the biggest competition of the day: the eventual event winner - a little scrap of a dog dressed up like a sushi chef. His costume came complete with sushi hut, sushi tray and sushi menu. He even had a little sushi bandana on. The crowd went wild. Then the MC said, "and here comes a bucket of chicken!"

Next year, I'm going to dress up Coolia and Nerdia like Dave Thomas and Ronald McDonald and we'll see how they like it

More pictures of this year's fiasco:

Last year's melodrama:

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More Celebrity Fear

Due to a move, I’m behind on reviewing Celebrity Paranormal Project. No matter. Every episode is the same. The big-talking gal always performs the biggest histrionics in dark, shows over-involve re-enactments of crimes scenes, overactive ghost-meters and spirit writing, and the final séance is repetitive and freaks everyone and they high-tail it out of there much the same way.

Episode two cast:
Rachel Hunter: from the reality show that is Rod Stewart’s Parade of Blonde Wives.
Godfrey: from Zoolander; for a comedian showed no sense of humor.
Traci Bingham: from Baywatch; misbehaved on Surreal Life; wears too much makeup for this show.
Tony Little: “America’s Personal Trainer;” most annoying character.
Ethan Zohn: from Survivor: Africa. Seemed like a normal guy.

Location: Warson Asylum for the criminally insane.
Ghost: Pearl, had a lobotomy, is pissed off.

Here are the stats:

Screamers/Losers: Godfrey left Rachel in the dark rubber room. He gets the biggest Wuss award.
Bawling Girls: Traci Bingham whined: “I can’t do it” a lot.
Kick-ass Girl: Even when scared, Rachel kept her cool and never cried or crapped out on a challenge. She also worked hard to calm Traci. I guess if the ghost of Rod Stewart’s dead career doesn’t scare you, nothing else will.
Bad Behavior: Rachel says F**k ad naseum.

Realistic Scare: On Rachel’s recording device, you can allegedly hear the mumblings of Pearl.

Episode three cast:
Joe Piscopo: 80s comedian from Saturday Night Live.
Mariel Hemingway: Granddaughter of Ernest, bad 80s movie actress.
Picaboo Street: Olympian.
Tonya Coley: from Real World
Michael Bergin: from Baywatch. Baywatch is the most over-represented show on CPP.

Location: A Prison

This was the most boring episode of them all. I took barely any notes.

Here are the stats:

Kick-ass Girl: Mariel
Bad Behavior: All of them were annoying in the home-base banter. Realistic Scare: Mariel having to walk the upper floor of Cell Block C: truly scary.

Episode four cast:
Traci Lords: show calls her actor. Absolutely no mention of her porn past. Traci had opinionated thoughts about Kimberly going to be the scardy-cat. The reverse was the case.
Gilbert Gottfried: comedian, voice of the AFLAC duck; really funny in the first 15 minutes of the show.
Jerimiah Trotter: NFL linebacker; true gentleman; kept his cool.
Kimberley Caldwell: TV host – don’t have a clue who she is.
Evan Farmer: TV personality – don’t have a clue who he is.

Location: Warson insane asylum in New England.
Ghost: Ghost of Ray, a violent schizophrenic who committed suicide here.

This was the best cast. They all showed affectionate camaraderie from the beginning when they made horror film references walking in. Maybe a love connection was make between Evan and Kimberly. I loved how they all gave love to Ray, the tortured ghost, as they left, too.

Here are the stats:

Screamers/Losers: Kimberly screamed the loudest but it was Gilbert Gottfried who silently chickened out at the end.
Bawling Girls: Traci Lords freaked out a lot but to her credit, she kept trying and admitted at the end (the first celebrity to do so on the show) that it was probably all in her own head.
Kick-ass Girl: Kimberly got seriously freaked at the end but she never ran and she always laughed about the situations. Kimberly also told Traci “you can do it” when Traci was too scared to sit in the old wheel chair.
Realistic Scare: None

Episode five cast:
David Carradine
: from Kung Fu and Kill Bill; he didn’t meld with the group and seemed anti-social. He brought his flute to the initial meeting and said “reality is an unsubstantiated rumor,” something people smoking pot say.
Mia St. John: Pro boxer. Had opinionated thoughts that Bridget would be the biggest wimp. The inverse turned out to be the case.
Andrew Firestone: one of the Bachelors.
Coolio: Rapper; very down to earth and smart. When he arrived at the mill he said “thank God for hip-hop” or he’d of had to work in a mill like this.
Bridget Marquardt: Playboy model; admitted thrill-seaker.

Location: Mill
Ghost: John Tanner, tyrant boss hired by owner. This location actually had the best backstory. The boss terrorized the employees and had a torrid affair with the owner's wife. John mysteriously died when his arm got ripped out by a machine and he bled to death. This was days after the owner found out about the affair. Later the owner was found dead mysteriously and violently. His body was found mangled in a picker machine. His arm no where to be found. There was no power in the Mill at that time.

Here are the stats:

Screamers/Losers: Mia. Likes to point fingers but she is the biggest wuss.
Kick-ass Girl: Bridget does the scariest tasks. The other’s call her tough. Says she didn’t feel anything.
Realistic Scare: None

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Requiem for Robert Altman

"Retirement? You're talking about death, right?" -
Robert Altman

I was saddened to hear that Robert Altman passed away at 81. He was one of my favorite directors. It's amazing that he was still working and even gave us a great film this year - A Prairie Home Companion. I hope Lindsay Lohan realizes how lucky she was to get to work with him, but somehow I doubt it. Here's a few thoughts on some of his best works - add them to your netflix queue if you havent seen them.

  • The Player - this was the first Altman movie I saw, and it's still probably my favorite. I loved the commentary on Hollywood, all the celebrity cameos, plus there's a good, suspenseful story.

  • Nashville - I've seen this one a few times, most memorably at Woodstock 99. When the crowd cheered when the country-singing sweetheart was assasinated while performing, I knew we were in for a bumpy festival.

  • Short Cuts - this was a dream combination for me - one of my favorite writers, Raymond Carver, and one of my favorite directors. I loved the way the stories were interwoven, how the characters lives intersected. That is my favorite quality of Altman's films - his focus on randomness, coincidence, and connections.

  • A Prairie Home Companion - I wasn't really familiar with Garrison Keillor's work, but I enjoyed the movie, mostly for the performances of Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrellson, and John C. Reilly. It seems fitting that it's his last film, with its meditations on the afterlife through the ghostly character played by Virginia Madsen.

  • 3 Women - I caught this at a revival house this year and was blown away. Shelley Duvall should have been nominated for an oscar. Her character is annoying yet endearing. Sissy Spacek is also excellent.

  • M*A*S*H - The film that spawned one of the longest running sitcoms in TV history. Not much happens, but it's still entertaining.

  • Pret a Porter - OK, this one was a bomb, but I still enjoyed it for its all-star cast, the chance it offered for Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni to work together again, and it's fun soundtrack. Here comes the hotstepper!

    It's a shame that Altman never won the Oscar for Best Director, but at least the Academy came through with a lifetime achievement award for him this year. Altman left us a legacy of films that will continue to inspire, and there are many I have yet to see. I know I have A Wedding and McCabe and Mrs. Miller on my Tivo right now, and I'm looking forward to watching them. The consolation in losing a great artist is that the work remains.

    Read my longer review of 3 Women

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Take the Howard Stern Fan Survey

Hey Howard Stern fans, please take a moment and help out Ape Culture's friend Jeanine. She's doing a paper on Howard Stern fans for a media studies class at Queens College and needs fans to fill out this survey. If you haven't listened since he moved to Sirius, you can still participate. The survey is short and painless.

Sample "Rate the Segment" question:

5. Howard's parents are scheduled to visit the studio to tape a segment of "Meet the Sterns." The taping is cancelled and will be rescheduled, but someone forgets to tell the Sterns, and Howard's mother waits for hours for the car to pick them up on Long Island. Prolonged discussion and shifting of blame ensues.
- - - - - - - - - -
A = Can't leave the house/car till it's over / would love to catch this segment
B = Somewhat interested / somewhat entertained / take it or leave it
C = No interest / can't wait till it's over / good time to take a break

You also get to name your favorite whack packer - mine is Crazy Alice.

With questions like these, The Howard Stern Fan Survey is almost as entertaining as the Stern show itself!

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Jury Duty with the Stars

My lack of blogging this month can be directly attributed to the fact that I was on jury duty from October 31 through November 15. The trial was dramatic at times – a civil suit involving a brother suing his sister for his share of their parents' estate which he believed she had duped him out of. My fellow jurors were an interesting and largely congenial lot, but throughout the trial I kept wondering what the process would have been like if a certain member of my jury selection pool hadn't been dismissed. I was nearly on a jury with Michael Ovitz.

Although familiar with his resume, I wouldn't have recognized Ovitz in our crowd of 30 candidates if his name hadn't been called.

He was dressed very casually, and the only giveaway was his slightly battered Lakers briefcase. One of my fellow jurors mentioned later that she thought he looked almost homeless. He sat right in front of me, looking peeved, but dutifully performing his civic duty. He conscientiously turned his cell phone off.

Before interviewing anyone, the judge and attorneys read off the names of all potential witnesses in the case.
We were supposed to speak up if we knew anyone. Several art gallery representatives were mentioned, and Ovitz piped up to say he knew virtually everyone at every gallery in LA and New York. When the judge questioned him further, he admitted his curator dealt directly with the galleries, but it was possible he might have met the potential unnamed representatives. He also mentioned that he was on the Board of Trustees of MOMA. The judge wasn't impressed, and Ovitz remained on the roster.

The attorneys and judge questioned the first 12 panelists, which didn't include Ovitz or myself.
They let a couple folks go. It was then time for a lunch break, and Ovitz approached the clerk and asked if he could speak with the judge. The clerk said no. "Please," he pleaded, "If I can just have a minute with the judge…" No dice. He would have to come back after lunch with the rest of us peons.

After lunch, we milled around in the hallway waiting to be called back into the courtroom.
Ovitz was called in by himself. Now I was sure he'd get off the hook, but, surprisingly, he was sitting there looking dejected when we went back in the courtroom. More potential jurors were interviewed, including myself. They didn't question us very intensely, and I couldn't really detect a pattern to why they let some people go and kept others. An actress named Susan Egan got off the hook because she told the judge she had a concert in New York coming up, and if the trial ran a bit long, she'd miss the show. But when I mentioned I had travel plans that same weekend to visit my father who was undergoing cancer treatment, the judge only asked me if it would really matter if I went there a couple days later. I googled Susan and discovered she was the original Belle in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast. I guess it's good she didnt end up on the jury. If she'd eaten in the courthouse cafeteria with the rest of us, all the cups and forks might have started dancing and caused a disturbance.

In the end, only 2 people remained in the room who were not interviewed – one woman and Ovitz.
I became Juror #12. Ovitz and the remaining few cast-offs were sent home, and the rest of us were sworn in and began serving on a trial that was supposed to last 7 or 8 days but ended up lasting 10. Among the jurors were several self-employed people and one minimum-wage worker whose job would not pay him while he was on the jury. Off the jury was one unemployed power broker whose $38 million cash and $100 million stock Disney severance package would have made it hard for him to plead financial hardship.

A few days later, I took some friends who were visiting from New York to their first Laker game, and I bought lower level seats so they could be assured some star sightings.
It was a fairly sparse night, but we did spy Dian Cannon, Tobey Maguire, Ashton Kutcher with Demi's kids, Andy Garcia, and Matthew Perry. And we also saw Michael Ovitz, arriving late and settling into his courtside seat, which was probably a lot more comfortable than the jury box.

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