Shameless self indulgence, Uncategorized, Work, Writing

The Grumpiest Monkey 150th Post Anniversary Interview Spectacular Extravaganza

In which your Monkey once again shamelessly uses the concept of the self-interview, so effectively used by Dave Eggers in his book, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” so ineffectively used here.

Q. So, Monkey. You are 150 blog posts into this experiment. And it’s almost a year since you started.

A. Why, yes. That’s right. Thank you so much for noticing. Of course, my actual 1-year anniversary is later this month, so you can expect me to dig up this dead horse of the fake self-interview for that event as well.

Q. Surely by this point in your illustrious blogging career you don’t have to resort to self-interviews anymore..

A. One would think that journalists would be beating down the door to find out what makes this clockwork Monkey tick. Sure, there are lots of blogs and a boatload of bloggers out there. But how many are written by typewriting Monkeys? Just this blog and the Huffington Post, I think.

Q. OK, Monkey. Enough about you already. Let’s talk pop culture. What is your view on the Jersey Shore?

A. I think the people on the show are assholes, and the people who watch it are assholes. But the biggest assholes of all might be the faux hipsters who watch it and smugly feel superior for doing so. Everyone just go screw with that show and white tank tees and fake tans and Jersey Shore parties and the whole gay phenomenon.

Q. What about American Idol?

A. I’m so tired of seeing the same tired act played out over and over again. How many voice-breaking, note-mangling covers of Stevie Wonder songs can one nation take before anarchy breaks out? Not too many more, I would think.

Q. What else is bugging you lately?

A. I’m tied of people who seem to think that their status updates on Facebook are a suitable place to re-report the news. I don’t need you to tell me that Patriots wide reciever Wes Welker was injured or that the health care bill is in jeopardy. I’ll go to a news website for that. Stop glomming onto current events that have nothing to do with you in a sad attempt to make it seem like you lead a full life.

At least this Monkey is wiling to admit he lives an empty life.

Also, anyone who attempts to use the earthquake in Haiti to scam money or promote themselves should themselves experience an immediate and unpleasant demise.

Q. Well, this interview has certainly taken a turn for the grumpy. Maybe we should end things with a song to lighten the mood.

A. What a capital idea. Here is a snappy little song from a band called “The Love Language.”

Music, Work

OK Amazon, you win this round with your $5 albums

Since he works in direct marketing, your Monkey likes to flatter himself and believe that he is smarter than the average bear (or monkey, for that matter) when it comes to identifying and resisting the various direct marketing tricks that companies use to drive sales and boost their profits.

No, your Monkey is not impressed when he is watching a commercial that shows the price being slashed not once, not twice, but thrice. (The truth is that the final price will always represent the profit the company is hoping to make on the product, so you’re never really getting a deal. They’re just inflating the price to make it seem like a discount).

That being said, Amazon.com has won the latest round by wooing your Monkey with a campaign promising $5 Mp3 album downloads.

The price is right, the selection is good, and they managed to get the message into enough places online that your Monkey couldn’t help but notice.

And then he couldn’t help but buy.

For those of you keeping score at home, it’s:

Amazon 1

Monkey 0

Oh well. Better to spend $5 on a Bat for Lashes album (her 2007 debut “Fur and Gold”), then $15 on a Save a Blade automatic blade sharpener that doesn’t work at all (and never has).

Here is a little Bat for Lashes.

Shameless self indulgence, Work, Writing

Didn’t Post, Didn’t Die

OK, so perhaps your Monkey has already broken his relaunch promise of posting every day.

Perhaps he didn’t have anything good to post about yesterday and decided to take the day off.

Perhaps when he promised to post once a day every day, he was talking only about the M-F workweek, and not the weekends.

Perhaps he was too busy yesterday having sexy parties and romantic intrigues and simply couldn’t find time for a post.

After all, bloggers need lives, too. Right?

The truth is that your Monkey didn’t post. And he didn’t die.

It is not the end of the world.

It doesn’t matter who promised to do what and didn’t come through or who broke what New Year’s resolution.

We’re not here to name names and point fingers, are we?

This isn’t the 1950s, and your Monkey is no communist. (This isn’t Communist Russia, is it Danny?)

Music, Shameless self indulgence

Four good emusic finds

Your Monkey has been an emusic member for about six months now, and he’s had fun hunting through the stacks and stacks of music in search of diamonds in the rough.

For those of you who don’t know, emusic is an music subscription service where you get a set number of downloads per month depending on what plan you have. This monkey is on the 37 per month plan.

You pay less per song than you do on itunes, but the catch is that most of the popular music you’d want to download from itunes won’t be there.

In other words, you won’t find any Lady Gaga, Kayne West, Katy Perry or Jonas Brothers on the emusic site.

But you can find some Jimi Hendrix on there, as well as some Van Morrison, some Bob Dylan and some Simon and Garfunkle.

Oh yeah, and lots and lots of indie music, from the relatively well known (the National & My Morning Jacket) to bands you’ve never heard of (and probably should never hear of).

But if you are persistent in your searching, and willing to gamble with your downloads, you can often find good songs/artists in unexpected places.

So here goes my list so far.

1. Eilen Jewell: It seems somewhat odd that this singer-songwriter is currently based out of Boston, since her music has a country swing that is more suited to Nashville or Texas. What is best about Jewel is that she manages to blend country influences with a slightly sultry, film-noirish vibe. Check out “Sweet Rose” and “Codeine Arms.” Find her website here.

2. Dead Heart Bloom: Don’t know much about this band but decided to take a flyer on them when they came up  as an emusic suggestion and really liked what they sound like. Apparently it is a one-man project by Boris Slasky, a former member of a band called Phaser. Check out “Who Will You Love” and “Chelsea Song #2.” Also, this band is currently giving away loads of music for free on its website, which you can find here.

3. The Assemble Head in Starburst Sound: As the name suggests, this is a groovily psychedelic band that manages to be both spaced-out and drenched in sun. It’s as if someone gave the Silver Surfer a guitar and an effects pedal, and sat him in front of a classic rock radio station for 20 years. Check out the smooth waves of guitar on “A Bourbon for Rudy.” Find the band’s website here.

4. Scanners: This English band brings some much needed visceral intensity to your Monkey’s music library. They are a little bit rock, a little bit electro-pop, and a little bit industrial. Check out “Violence is Golden.” The band’s myspace site is here.

Here’s Eilen Jewell doing a cover song:

Uncategorized

Suffering from Social Media Overload

Maybe it’s this Monkey’s fault for subscribing to so many marketing and copywriting blogs, but it’s enough already with all this “let’s make money with social media business.”

Maybe you aren’t meant to be the world’s most successful internet enterpreneur. Maybe you don’t have something of value to offer people. Maybe people don’t want to pay for your opinions.

Maybe it’s time to get off the computer, go out the front door, and interact with the world in the old fashioned way.

You don’t have to be the next internet sensation. You don’t have to have people commenting on your posts and retweeting your thoughts and friending you on facebook ad nauseum.

Just a thought.

All this, of course, coming from someone who just vowed to blog every day from now on. But just because I’m trying it doesn’t mean i expect to get anything out of it 🙂

Podcasts

The Adam Carolla Podcast Gets Legit

It is year #2 for the Adam Carolla podcast, and the word from the Aceman is that the show is going forward full steam for another year. That’s good news for all us working Monkeys who need something interesting to listen to during the day.

The Carolla podcast is also a good business model for the early part of the 21st century. The long and short of the story is this: Carolla gets laid off from his LA radio gig and decides to use his newfound spare time to start a daily podcast. The podcast catches fire, becomes a consistant top pick on the itunes site, and it has broadened his audience and brought him a whole new level of visibility.

Carolla can now start to make money to support the show by selling some limited advertising spots, making some content available for a premium, and taking the podcast on the road for paid events.

This Monkey does not mind listening to a few commercials to get a huge amount of content (at least an hour per day M-F) for free, and he does not mind spreading the word about the show, either. It is worth it.  

Plus, the Carolla network is going to start expanding with other shows that share the same sensibility. Frequent Carolla collaborator Kevin Hench and former NBA player John Salley are going to be hosting their own sports show. Andy Dick was a recent guest and is planning to bring his show to the network.

All in all, it’s encouraging to see that there’s room for someone to build a new entertainment platform from scratch and without charging people up front. Build the audience first, and the funding will come.

Here is a link to the show that explains in better detail what your Monkey tried to summarize above.

Here is an intro to today’s podcast.

P.S. This Money might have a crush on Teresa the News Girl.

Music, Shameless self indulgence

Five Memorable Songs of 2009

OK, so just about everyone with a blog or a podcast or a coffee can telephone to yell into has weighed in on their picks for album of the year.

For your standard latte-sipping, NPR totebag-carrying music geek (like me), the consensus picks usually include Animal Collective, the Avett Brothers, Neko Case, and the Decemberists. Nothing wrong with any of those bands, but you can find better writeups elsewhere.

So this Monkey won’t bore you with another list of the same names. Here instead are five songs that made a memorable impact this year that you might not see on other top 10 lists.

(Also, maybe some of these songs technically came out in 2008, but maybe your Monkey didn’t hear them until 2009, and maybe he doesn’t want to hear any corrections, so let’s not nitpick, OK?)

  1. Great Expectations by the Gaslight Anthem: Melodic, sentimental and anthemic pop punk. Good band.
  2. Oh My God by Ida Maria: More high energy stuff in the pop punk vein. You won’t find a more refreshing blast of music this year.
  3. How You Like Me Now by The Heavy. This English band blends elements of Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, and Screaming Jay Hawkins into an awesome mashup of funk, rock and soul. This song proves that last year’s breakout single Colleen was no fluke.
  4. The Great Defector by Bell X1: An Irish band writes an unapologetically catchy tune that sounds a lot like the Talking Heads, but that’s OK. U will like.
  5. Strange Overtones by David Byrne and Brian Eno. Speaking of the Talking Heads, their former lead singer wows with this super danceable tune. Finally, middle aged white guys have some soul!

Here is the James Brown-ified “The Heavy” at their best.