(In which the author receives an anonymous gift.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 21, 2011 04:38pm | Post a Comment

Don't you hate it when you're stuck sitting on a plane next to someone with thick ankles?

The other day I was busily preparing my usual breakfast – a small bowl of nonfat cottage cheese with a few cucumber slices, a cup of black coffee, and a rice cake, all deep fried and smothered in butterscotch gravy – when a knock came on the front door. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found no one there, some eight hours later. What was there was a small package, neatly wrapped in what looked like paper (though this is merely speculation on my part).

Strange packages from persons unknown should always be regarded with suspicion, but as I am a curious person by nature (my great-great-grandfather was a cat) I couldn’t help but open it, which proved to be a long and arduous task as I opted to use only my tongue, rather than the more versatile and saliva-free hands I keep at the end of my arms.

Inside the package was a cassette tape, painted a variety of colors, but without any linguistic explanation as to its purpose or content. I assumed it was a gift from one of my fans, but then I remembered they were without capacity for thought, incapable of free will and basically only good for circulating air. No, this cassette tape was almost certainly from a human, probably a living one, and almost certainly residing somewhere on this planet!

Having thus solved this riddle to my satisfaction, I sought out mechanisms necessary to enjoy the cassette. I decided to use my old boom-box (that’s 1990’s for “ghetto blaster”), which gets far better sound than my washing machine (though does nothing for butterscotch gravy stains).

Continue reading...

out this week 8/31 & 9/7...blu-ray...blu-ray...blu-ray...I can't get enough of blu-ray!!!

Posted by Brad Schelden, September 9, 2010 06:20pm | Post a Comment

I have really fallen in love with the Blu-ray. I tried to resist for a long time but I have given in! I am not proud of it. I often give myself a couple of years before I succumb to a new format. I was still buying cassettes in 1993 -- I didn't really trust the whole CD thing! I loved my late 80s and early 90s cassettes and wasn't really ready to jump to compact discs yet. I couldn't really afford it, really. I had spent years putting together my collection of cassettes, and I owned every Depeche Mode album on tape, as well as every Cure album and every album by The Smiths and Morrissey. I did finally switch over in 1993, long after most of my friends had moved on to CDs. One of them got me Staring at the Sea by The Cure as a gift, my first CD. I was, of course, hooked now. I loved that you didn't have to flip over the cassette! Most exciting was that you could skip to whatever track you wanted. And it did sound amazing. No more hissing of my old cassettes! This was still a while before digital music so I was still making tons of mix tapes, but it was now so much easier to make mix tapes from CDs. I remember how it was always hard to get the cassette to the right spot for each song when making a mix tape. I could now even program my CD player to play certain songs or play at random and I loved my new CD player! The same thing happened with DVDs. I was a big fan of VHS -- I still actually really like it. I grew up on VHS! Most of my first time viewing of some of my favorite movies was on VHS. I loved going to rent movies from various rental stores in all the different places I lived. I even worked at a VHS rental shop in San Francisco in the 90s. I loved buying cheap VHS from swap meets and thrift stores. I am a collector of my favorite things; I like to glance at my bookshelf and see all my favorite books alphabetized in front of me. The same goes for my VHS, cassettes, and vinyl. I never really gave up on these old formats. I just added the new format to the list of one of the things that I collected.

vhs rewinderAudio CDs were first commercially available in 1982 but they didn't really become popular until the early 90s. It took me about 10 years to finally catch up. DVDs were first introduced in the United States in 1997 but they didn't really take over VHS until 2003. This was the year when DVD became the more rented format. VHS was officially on its way out. I held out for about 5 years. I got my first DVD player in 2002 and my first DVD was the Muppet Movie. I was a bit sad to leave my VHS behind but I knew that it was over and I also knew that I would never forget it. I quickly fell in love with the DVD, with its directors' commentaries and all the special features. They also looked a lot better on my TV, and the packaging has so far lasted longer than VHS. Some of my VHS was getting worn out and the lines began to appear on the screen, sort of the same problem I had with my overplayed audio cassette tapes. And I really was over having to rewind my VHS tapes when I was done. Remember those rental store fees for not rewinding your VHS tapes? I always wanted one of those rewinders that some of my friends had. I really wanted the one that was a replica of a car. You just took your VHS out of your VCR and put it in the rewinder and it rewound it for you! I guess it was better since it didn't wear out your VCR, and you could start watching another movie right away while your finished VHS was being rewound. You didn't need to rewind DVDs. At least audio cassette tapes could be flipped over -- some stereos even flipped them over for you, but you couldn't flip VHS tapes overs. This was one of coolest things about DVDs. They also had fancy menus and you could skip ahead to different scenes or change the languages!

The first Blu-rays were introduced in June of 2006. The format war between HD and Blu-ray ended in 2008. Blu-ray had won. I felt bad for HD but I really didn't want to get involved until the battle was over. I also wanted to wait a couple of years to make sure the format was going to last. Once I got a new High Definition TV I soon realized that I was going to have to get a Blu-ray player. My old DVDs just didn't look as good. My first Blu-ray was The Dark Knight. It looked amazing and I was hooked. I haven't exactly given up on DVDs yet; I still have my alphabetized audio cassettes, I still collect LPs, and I still have all my VHS. There are some movies that I own on VHS and DVD and Bluray. I sometimes also have the soundtrack on cassette, vinyl, and compact disc. I am lucky I was too young to get into the Laser Disc scene. I don't buy any new movies on DVD if they are available on Bluray but everything is not put out on Blu-ray yet.

It has been fun being able to watch some of my old favorite movies on Blu-ray. It is like watching the movie for the first time, especially if you have never seen it in the theater. There are plenty of movies out there that I have only watched on cable or VHS so I get really excited when an old movie comes out on Blu-ray. Movies like The Dark Knight and Casino Royale look amazing on Blu-ray. These are the sort of movies that you would just expect to look great in High Definition. I just watched Silence of the Lambs on Blu-ray a couple of months ago. I have probably seen that movie more than 30 times but I noticed stuff that I had never seen before. It looked fantastic! The movie seemed to come more alive on the screen. Heat and The Professional are also amazing on Blu-ray. Showgirls is another essential on Blu-ray. Planet Earth narrated by David Attenborough is probably the first Blu-ray that everybody should watch! Even movies like Howard's End and A Single Man look amazing. Days of Heaven also looks fantastic, along with Interview with the Vampire and Lost Boys. It really is like seeing these movies again for the first time! The picture is so clear and it looks 3D. You feel like you could just jump into your TV. And TV on Blu-ray is also fabulous! Mad Men and True Blood are both shows made for Blu-ray. They look amazing. There are some great releases around the corner for Blu-Ray and I am gonna start saving my money now. George Lucas just announced that the Star Wars movies will be out on Blu-ray next year. The Lord of the Rings movies are coming out individually next week. I just watched What's Up Doc with Barbra Streisand on Blu-ray for the fist time this week and it was so amazing to see San Franciso in the early 70s! The costumes and sets and everything looked great in high def. Seriously amazing. I have a long list of things to watch that are already out on Blu-ray. Bullitt is at the top of the list. The Shining, Escape From New York, The Thing, Evil Dead, Dirty Harry, The Bourne Trilogy, Ghostbusters, Sons Of Anarchy, Unforgiven, Traffic, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Goodfellas, The Godfather, Casino, Heathers, & Halloween are all on the list.

Here are the awesome Blu-rays coming out in the next couple of months that I am excited about...

The Evil Dead
Sons of Anarchy: Season 2
Red Riding Trilogy

Forbidden Planet
The Office: Season 6
Mars Attacks!
THX 1138
The Player
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown


The Twilight Zone: Season 1
Return of the Living Dead
Breathless (criterion)
Jacob's Ladder
Star Crash (Roger Corman)
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Big Bang Theory: Season 3


Spartacus: Blood & Sand: Season 1
Charade (Criterion)
Robin Hood
Being Human: Season 2
Modern Family: Season 1


The Thin Red Line (Criterion)
King Kong (1933)
Iron Man 2
Get Him to the Greek
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Criterion)

Grindhouse (Special Edition) Planet Terror/Death Proof + all the trailers!
The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut & Original Theatrical Edition)
Beauty & the Beast
Troll 2
Maltese Falcon
Bad Lieutenant
Robocop Trilogy
Secret of the Kells
Blair Witch Project
The Year Without A Santa Claus
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer


Apocalypse Now
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Psycho (50th Anniversary Edition)
Moulin Rouge
Romeo + Juliet
Please Give
Seven Samurai (Criterion)


Alien Anthology
Back to the Future Trilogy
Winter's Bone
House (Criterion)
Elf (collector's edition)
The Girl Who Played With Fire

Toy Story 3
The Sound of Music
Goonies (25th Anniversary)
The Wiz
Bridge on the River Kwai
The Pacific

Metalocalypse: Season 3
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
Antichrist (criterion)

Metropolis (1927)
The Twilight Zone: Season 2
Night of the Hunter (Criterion)
Modern Times (Criterion)
Avatar (collector's edition)


Deadwood: The Complete Series
America Lost & Found (criterion)

Waking Sleeping Beauty
Meet the Parents
Meet the Fockers


Lost In Translation
Videodrome (criterion)

Family Guy: It's A Trap

I am patiently awaiting the release of some movies on Blu-ray. I have not found release dates yet but they can't be too far in the future I hope...

The Abyss, Dead Alive, Short Cuts, Pulp Fiction, Safe, Taxi Driver, Munich, My Own Private Idaho, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Ice Storm, Jaws, Woman Under the Influence, Rosemary's Baby, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Manhunter, Legend of Billie Jean, Valley Girl, Sid & Nancy, Six Feet Under, Sex & the City, Twin Peaks, & all the John Waters movies!

also out 8/31...

Best of Soul Train on DVD

Minotaur by Clientele

Fission by Film School

I'm Having Fun Now by Jenny & Johnny

Familial by Philip Selway

Music from Yo Gabba Gabba Vol. 2

also out 9/7...

Seeing Eye Dog by Helmet

Interpol by Interpol

O by Oval

  Old Punch Card by Sam Prekop

Personal Life by The Thermals

My So-Called by Venetian Snares

out today 7/15...dark knight...abba...mamma mia...the x-files...

Posted by Brad Schelden, July 17, 2008 07:20pm | Post a Comment

There is a new Nas album out this week, but that is about it. Nothing much else for me to share with you. The big albums might not be coming out every week, but the big summer movies continue to come out. Both the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, and the movie version of the musical Mamma Mia! come out this weekend. As a huge fan of both Batman and ABBA, I will be seeing both of these movies as soon as I possibly can. The week after this weekend is the release of the new X-Files movie, I Want to Believe. Some people may not like that they keep making movies out of old TV shows, but I would much rather see an X-Files movie with the actual cast than a remake 10 years down the road starring new 20- something actors in the roles of Mulder and Scully. You know it is going to happen. They did just remake Get Smart into a new movie with new actors, and Hollywood seems to be constantly turning old TV shows into new movies. But they usually don't work out so well-- The Dukes of Hazzard with Jessica Simpson and The Beverly Hillbillies with Jim Varney are two bad examples. It did have both Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton in the cast, so I guess it wasn't all bad. Still, sometimes these remakes work out beautifully, like the big screen adaptations of Charlie's Angels. I also have to admit that I like the Brady Bunch Movie as well, and I am looking forward to the Wonder Woman and A-Team movies. I just hope they don't make Jake & the Fatman or Head of the Class into big screen movies. But a Murder She Wrote movie is not such a bad idea. I bet it would actually make some fantastic money among the senior set. Unfotunately I think they waited too long to make a Golden Girls movie. The Get Smart movie actually worked. I know there were a few people out there that did not like it or decided to not give it a chance, but I think Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway could do no wrong. Without them in it, I seriously doubt I would have even seen it. 

So yes, I am very excited about this X-Files movie. I was obsessed with the show and can't wait to see what they did with this movie. I also seem to be enjoying the "musical movie" more as I get older...or maybe they are just getting better or I am getting less cynical. The movie version of the Hairspray musical was actually fantastic. I love the original John Waters Hairspray movie so much that I really thought I would hate this new version, so I skipped it in the theater, but I was pleasantly surprised when I watched it on DVD. I just tried to look the other way every time John Travolta appeared on the screen. I did see the Mamma Mia! musical about 10 years ago. I have always loved myself some ABBA and the musical was super fun. I also love Muriel's Wedding, which was basically another ABBA movie. I have been preparing for the new Mamma Mia! movie by listening to a lot of ABBA. I don't think I am alone in the fact that I have only ever owned ABBA collections until this week. I have owned various versions of ABBA's greatest hits over the years. Most people have an ABBA Gold or Essential ABBA in their CD collection, but who really owns all the ABBA albums? Well, I decided to change all that and invest some money in the ABBA catalog. All their albums got reissued in 2001 and they are super cheap. You can find most of them for $9.98 or $8.98 new! Some of the albums are full of the songs that you already know, but it has been really fun to go back and listen to all these old albums and discover songs that I have never heard before. I highly recommend it. Here is a breakdown of the ABBA albums that you might need to add to your collection...

Ring Ring (1973) "ring ring"..."love isn't easy"...

Waterloo (1974) "waterloo"..."honey honey"...

ABBA (1975) "mamma mia"..."sos"..."bang-a-boomerang"...

Arrival (1976) "dancing queen"..."knowing me,knowing you"..."money, money, money"..."fernando"...

The Album (1977) "take a chance on me"..."the name of the game"...

Voulez-Vous (1979) "voulez-vous"..."does your mother know"..."chiquitita"..."summer night city"..."angeleyes"..."i have a dream"...

Super Trouper (1980) "super trouper"..."the winner takes it all"..."lay all your love on me"..."on and on and on"...

The Visitors (1981) "one of us"..."head over heels".."the day before you came"...

What is so great about ABBA is that they released a new album almost every year. They only took one year off in 1978. Not sure what happened that year, but that is pretty awesome. Most bands these days take 2 to 3 years to come up with a new album, and it is rarely as great as an ABBA album. And unlike most other bands, they did not continue making bad albums up into the 90's. They were really a 70's band and simply stopped making ABBA albums in 1981. They may have made solo albums after that, but ABBA the group just stopped when it was time. I really love all these albums. One of my favorites right now is The VisitorsEven though it is their last album and I didn't really recognize any of the songs, tthis album really has some great songs like "Under Attack," "One of Us," and "Head Over Heels."

My ABBA obsession has gotten so bad this week that I actually wanted to buy some ABBA cassettes for my car. I only have a tape player in my car but I refuse to get an adapter. I was once a big fan of the cassette tape and actually never stopped loving them. I still have all my old tapes and now have a use for them. And there are thousands of cassettes at Amoeba for me to explore. Unfortunately the ABBA cassette selection was not the best the other day. Somebody must have beat me to it. But I just found a "Grandes Exitos" ABBA cassette from Mexico, so that will have to do for now. I really love cassettes, and I know I am not alone in my love of the cassette. While my first exposure to music was Vinyl, when I actually started buying my own music, it was on cassette. I also have very fond memories of taping songs off the radio. I would tape live shows of my favorite DJs and also tape songs I liked off the radio. I also made and received many mixed tapes over the years. I really miss those mixed tapes. Burned CDs are just not same. I also love when people still refer to albums as tapes. I have heard many people at Amoeba asking for some artists new "tape." My first Depeche Mode, Cure, and Smiths albums were all on cassette. And most of them still work. I have had a couple cassettes expire on me over the years. Music for the Masses by Depeche Mode and Louder Than Bombs by The Smiths both had to be put to rest, and one of my Erasure cassettes was not doing so well today. Let's just hope that my "new" ABBA cassette will work perfectly.

also out today...

Eight Oh Eight by Black Devil Disco Club

Love to Make Music by Daedelus

Dark Knight Soundtrack

Stay Positive by Hold Steady

Object 47 by Wire