Shameless self indulgence

A Heatwave Hangover at Monkey Station

The following incidents took place at Monkey Central during the past 48 hours.

  1. Wake up early Friday morning with new sense of purpose after watching Celtics handily beat Bulls in playoff game #3 the night before. Listen to fraud radio show hosts completely change their tune about Celtics from one of “they’ll be lucky to get out of this series with a win” to “they’ll have it wrapped up in five games.”
  2. Spend day at work thrilling to the discovery of several new podcasts. One called “Psychedelic Velveeta” has live concerts from two of the Monkey’s favorite bands, the Black Angels and Dead Meadow. Black Angels podcast is an excellent performance, though the mix is a little bit too vocal heavy and doesn’t quite do justice to the energy of the band.
  3. Leave work approximate 6 mins early in an attempt to get to Fenway Park in time for Red Sox game. Fail miserably, as traffic is backed up all over the place due to series of minor fender benders. Monkey suspects that many accidents are due to drivers gawking at girls dressed for unseasonably warm weather.
  4. While stuck in traffic, watch as man in silver Jeep with New Hampshire plates (you know who you are) unceremoniously dumps trash out the window of his car on to the road. A single monkey tear drops from eye as your Monkey realizes that even after all the environmental awareness campaigns of the past 10 years, there are still plenty of jerky a-holes who simply don’t care.
  5. Make it to Red Sox game in time for bottom of the first inning. End up spending far too much of the limited Monkey funds on overpriced draft beer. Picture Sox ownership lighting cigars with the Monkey’s $20 bills and laughing deliriously.
  6. Stumble home after game with warm happy feeling following come-from-behind win.
  7. Wake up next morning with cold sickly feeling as hangover kicks in. Find that sickening state of hangover leads to unprecedented mental clarity. Wonder if antidepressant medication is slowly poisoning body. Or maybe is just the alcohol talking.
  8. Hangover mercifully eases around 12 pm, but a walk in the woods during beautiful spring day leads to discovery of more trash (rusted mattressed, burned out armchairs, gatorade bottles) and more monkey tears.
  9. Day winds down without hangover ever really going away. Settle into uneasy sleep in roasting hot room. Vow to wake up early to put screens in windows.
  10. Wake up late with impression of monkey body etched in sweat on the sheets. Wonder where the morning went.
Shameless self indulgence, Work, Writing

Getting Tired of These Blog Post Serials

Your Monkey’s spirit is sagging today, my friends. His mind is weak and easily distracted, making it hard for him to concentrate and even harder for him to work.

The constant flash-flash-flashing of his feed burner as it alerts him to new blog posts is not helping him concentrate, either. Every day they come in by the dozens. Each raises alarm bells in his fragile monkey mind. My god, why aren’t more people reading you?

They come in like schools of fish, each flitting in and out of his consciousness. Each using the same trite headline tricks over and over again.

  • 5 Key Ways to Build Your Blog
  • The Five Headline Tricks Every Writer Must Know
  • Are You Making these 5 Blogging Mistakes
  • The Incredible Hulk Approach to Smashing Your Blog Competition
  • The Willy Wonka Approach To Creating a Buzz
  • The Jim Jones Approach to Consensus Building

And then there are the deals. Read my free report. Take my class. See this video. Buy this book. Ride my copy donkey. Drink this f–king Kool Aid.

And the endless tips. Write what you know. Write what you don’t know. Find out what you don’t know, learn it, and then write it. Be fresh with your writing. Find fresh ways to repost your old writing. Think creatively. Find creative ways to think.

And then the questions. Dude are you twittering? Are you on facebook? Are you twittering on facebook? Dude, are you using your blackberry to twitter on facebook?

You have to be twittering on Facebook and you have to connect your blog to your Linked In page and you have to read every blog out there and comment on it and connect those comments to your blog.

You have to be relevant and you have to be funny and you have to check in with technorati and you have to find friends who will digg and stumble your posts and you have to build momentum.

You have to have something valuable to say and you have to know how to make money and you have to be good at something. Are you good at something? Come on you have to be good at something DON’T YOU?

F–k off already.


Columbine 10 Years Later

In which your Monkey departs from his usual policy of talking movies, music, podcasts and more to wonder about our collective reaction to the ongoing problem of mass shootings.

So is it just this Monkey, or did the 10th anniversary of the Columbine shootings come and go this week without much of an impact on the social fabric?

And what’s more, the anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech, which happened just a mere two years ago last week, also came and went with what seems like hardly any remarking at all.

And what’s more, the mass shooting incident in Binghamton New York earlier this month already seems to have disappeared from the public consciousness.

Let’s recap the facts for a moment:

  • At Columbine on April 20, 1999, thirteen people (12 students and 1 teacher) were killed in a planned massacre that at the time seemed to be something so unusual and far from the norm that it still stands out in our minds today.
  • At Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007,  there were 32 students and faculty members killed. This is twice the number of Columbine and then some.
  • On April 4 of this year, 13 people were killed in a rampage in Binghamton, NY. This incident is less than a month old and yet the Monkey can hardly recall more than a murmur in the media when it occurred.

So what does this all mean?

It may be that

  • These types of massacres are becoming so commonplace that we don’t take special notice of them anymore (unless, of course, they directly affect us)
  • We have to maintain a detached distance from these crimes because they are so random and unpredictable in nature
  • Since the perpetrators of these crimes all died while committing them, there is no living person to direct our anger toward, so we don’t really know what to do with it
  • Paying a great deal of attention to these attacks is counterproductive to stopping them, because attention is what the attacker craves

Your Monkey doesn’t know what the answer is. Or if there even is a right answer.

All he knows is that he feels for the families of those affected, and it doesn’t seem to be quite right that they should be the only ones to shoulder these grim memories.

Even if we can’t do anything to change what happened, we can at least be grateful for what we have.

Music, Podcasts

Five female-fronted music groups you should be hearing — plus a link to a free Mp3

Recently, your Monkey narrator has been hearing a lot of excellent female artists that are deserving of some attention. Some of them you may know, some you may be hearing for the first time. But all of them are worth your attention.

  1. Ida Maria: Your Monkey has written about this high energy punk pop Norwegian songstress in the past, and if you haven’t checked out her American debut album “Fortress ‘Round My Heart” yet, you are in for a treat. Start with the singles “Oh My God” and “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” and see what you think. They will only cost you two bucks on itunes, which is pretty much what thi Monkey gets charged for every ATM visit.
  2. Metric: The latest album from this Toronto-based group fronted by singer Emily Haines has been getting a lot of good buzz recently. For the highly competitive price of free, you can download an acoustic version of their latest single “Help I’m Alive” from their site. Pretty good deal if you ask this Monkey. Link to site is here.
  3. P. J. Harvey and John Parish:  The latest album between the well-known Harvey and the lesser known Parish is called “Woman A Man Walked By.” Harvey first perked this Monkey’s ears last year when she released the moody, contemplative and piano-driven album “White Chalk.” Since Rhapsody does not have this album, your Monkey has not been able to listen to the whole thing yet, but the song “Black Hearted Love” was featured on a recent All Songs Considered podcast and is well worth your time. Here is a link to the podcast.
  4. Connecticut-based band Eula was recently featured as one of Christopher Laird’s artists of the week on his weekly Radio Nowhere radio show and podcast. This three-piece band has a nice low-fi  sound with a little more aggression than you might expect. Here’s a link to their website.
  5. The Birthday Massacre: This might be a product of your monkey’s abnormal brain, but there is something strangely comforting about this band’s unsettling, industrial synthpop sound. It be the mix of the melodic and the menacing. Check out a video below.
Movies, Music, Podcasts, Shameless self indulgence

The Grumpiest Monkey Lost Interview Tapes, Vol. 1

In which the Monkey shamefully employs the literary device of the self-interview, as perfected by Dave Eggers in his “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”

Q:  Monkey, what is this blog all about?

A: Thanks for asking! I genuinely appreciate your interest. This blog is all about one copywriting Monkey and his struggle to find creative outlets for his wandering mind during his dull and dreary workday. This blog is also about music, movies and podcasts and occasionally includes very self-indulgent rants about your Monkey’s long and fruitless search for a new job.

Q: So what kind of music do you like?

A: A tough question, but a fair one. Your Monkey likes all kind of music, from folk to rock to techno and rap music. The only music that really doesn’t work for him is faux angsty rock music (Nickleback), dumbed down pop country songs (I’d Like to Check You for Ticks) and dull, unspired r&B tracks that use vocal tricks as a substitute for interesting songwriting (too many to name).

Q: So what kind of movies do you like?

A: Gosh you’re a great interviewer. And a wonderful listener. Once again, your Monkey likes movies of all different types, from classics like “Casablanca, “From Here to Eternity” and “The Manchurian Candidate” to more mainstream comedies like “Airplane,” “the Naked Gun,” “Fletch”, and “Role Models.” He also likes boundary-pushing independent movies like “Requiem for A Dream.”

Q. So what to you hope to accomplish with this blog?

A. Not all that much, really. Your Monkey is hoping that this will be a place for him to talk about some of his favorite bands, movies and podcasts, and maybe give people some suggestions that they will find entertaining and creatively rewarding. He is also very grateful for all the podcasters and bloggers who keep him entertained and informed during the day, so if he can do any small part to promote their work, he will consider that a big success.

Q. Gee this interview is getting a bit long winded. What about some music?

A. Sounds good to me. “Help I’m Alive” is the new single by the Canadian band Metric, and here is a brief video documentary in which singer/songwriter Emily Haines talks about the thought process that went into creating this song.

The song itself has an upbeat, electropop feel to it, but in this version Haines plays and sings a little bit of a stripped down, piano-only version of it. Good stuff.

Music, Podcasts

Podcast Roundup –Sound Opinions

Your Monkey has mentioned the Sound Opinions podcast before as part of his podcast pantheon, but it is worth mentioning again just because it is so darned good. Each episode is like candy for music-loving Monkeys.

For those of you unfamiliar with the program, Sound Opinions is a rock and roll talk show featuring two Chicago based music critics, Jim DeRogatis from the Chicago Sun Times and Greg Kot from the Chicago Tribune. It is broadcast around the country on many public radio stations and is also available via podcast from the itunes music store.  Find a link to the officials show website here.

Your Monkey is one week behind on the podcast (mainly because he likes to save and savor them) but recently caught up with the show featuring the Portland, Oregon band Blitzen Tripper. This show sums up everything that is great about Sound Opinions.

It begins with music news, where Jim and Greg talked about the recent price increases at the itunes music store.

Then came the feature on Blitzen Trapper, in which the band played some tracks from their new album Furr.  Even if you’re familiar with the album tracks, you should check out these performances because they swap out some of the spacier sound effects for simple piano lines. It works.

After that, there were two well thought out record reviews for new albums from PJ Harvey and John Parish and a blind couple from Africa named Amadou and Mariam.

Just a lot of interesting conversation with no pretension.

Here is a Blitzen Trapper song for you. Thank you Conan O’Brien for making this available (or at least not complaining that it is)

Music, Podcasts, Shameless self indulgence

Anxiety is Rampant in Monkey Society

The following incidents have taken place at Monkey headquarters over the last four days (give or take).

  1. Drink excessive amounts of Guinness on Friday night and wake up Saturday morning not quite hungover but not quite right, either. Experience brief out-of-body sensation during racquetball and wonder briefly if white light is worth chasing after.
  2. Play uncomfortable Monkey butler during family Easter party on Sunday. Watch Celtics take a horrendous beating at hands of Cavaliers and develop immense dislike for Cleveland’s floppy haired flop artist Anderson Varejao.
  3. Try to find video of Shaq dancing with dance crew Jabberwocky on YouTube and become frustrated with postings that are purposely designed to mislead. If you have to lie to get people to watch your pointless video rants, than maybe you should shut off the f–king camera and do something else.
  4. Return to work and catch up on some long overdue podcast listening, including soothing performance of Portland band Blind Pilot broadcast as part of NPR’s Live Concert Series. Link to show is here. This is definitely worth checking out.
  5. As part of same Live Concert Series, determine that Antony and the Johnsons are best heard in small doses if one is interested in avoiding suicidal impulses. Not that the music isn’t good, but there’s something about it that worms its way inside you and can leave you feeling hollow if you listen too long. Link to show is here.
  6. Visit dentist to have broken tooth replaced. Learn that novacaine doesn’t seem to be as effective second time around. Realize that Monkey body is not constituted to handle even small amounts of pain.
  7. Stop at Newbury Comics (local record store and pop culture shop) and purchase Beirut album Gulag Orkestar. Eastern European sounds are just what the doctor ordered.
  8. Gain brief feelings of validation, rejuvenation and self-worth when same Celtics team, while being down two of its three superstar players, manages to beat Philadelphia 76ers.

Here is some Blind Pilot:

Here is some Antony and the Johnsons. Excellent voice and excellent sound, but please seriously remember to take in small doses.

And some Beruit. There will be more on this band shortly.