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Showing posts from 2012

Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisk'o

I've heard about Basil Hayden's for years, but somehow just never managed to buy myself a bottle. I was too busy to try the BEST, that's why.

Okay, okay sure...I'm an admitted bon vivant and I love my whiskey. Therefore, every bottle that's right in front of me is the "best I've ever had!!" Last week it was Bulleit. Two weeks ago it was Woodford Reserve.This week it's Basil Hayden's BUT...let that not invalidate the seriousness of what I'm about to impart to you.

If you're an enthusiast of the whiskey-type beverages, you must try Basil Hayden's Small Batch, Eight-year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This shit is so smooth you'll wish it came out of your tap instead of water. You'll be tempted to drink a shot of it at breakfast, with your bacon & eggs. You'll wish your only job in life was to sit on the porch and sip glasses of this shiz. You could do that, of course, but then you really would have no job an…

Movie Review: Killing Them Softly

I try as hard as I can to eschew bullshit...so let's get right to the point: you can't make an exciting movie out of a boring book. Period. There it is. It's hard for me to say that, considering George V. Higgins (author of the book Cogan's Trade that became this essentially snooze-worthy film) wrote one of my all time favorite books and perhaps the greatest crime novel in history: The Friends of Eddie Coyle.

It's not that it's a patently bad film, it's just that hardly anything happens. In a crime/action movie...that's bad. But there's a corollary to that rule: if nothing's going to happen, at least there has to be fast, snappy, funny dialogue. Tarantino is a master of this...see Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction for dialogue 101...but incidentally there's also a lot of action in those films so maybe that's a bad example.

In this film there are, quite simply, just too many scenes of people sitting around talking. And the dialogue isn'…

Things that irritated me about voting THIS time...

Voting is always a strange experience. For months there's all this weird hype about the General Election, the importance of voting, blah blah blah...and so you feel like the moment you walk into the polling place the skies are going to open up and the Hand of God is going to come down and give you a ballot and a golden quill pen as a heavenly light beam shines down upon you...

Wrong.

You pretty much just walk into the polling place; usually a school or other type institution. People greet you. They hand you a piece of paper or direct you to a voting machine. And, if you're like me and you vote a straight ticket, voting is a pretty quick and oddly unsatisfying process. You fill in one single dot or press one single button. And...that's it. No fanfare. No marching band waiting for you outside the door. No phone call from your candidate. All you get is a paltry little sticker and the sense of pride (hope, really) that you didn't do anything wrong and that your vote will …

Halloween Book Recommendation: American Pscyho

Most of you out there have probably already seen the film American Psycho (2000); however, if you liked it I would highly recommend reading the book, by Bret Easton Ellis (1991).

Brief Synopsis: A young Manhattan business man appears to have everything: money, good looks, a good job, a beautiful girlfriend. However, his obsessive attempts to wear the right clothes, go to the right restaurants, have the right opinions, produce in him -- instead of satisfaction -- a deep frustration that turns into violence and he becomes a serial killer, while maintaining a perfect facade of sanity to his friends and associates...in fact, the facade is so perfect that by the end of the book there is a substantial question as to whether or not he actually committed any of the murders at all.

Review: The main character, Patrick Bateman, is so hilariously and impossibly superficial that he's almost like a robot; he obsessively catalogs and describes in detail the designer of every article of clothin…

Film: Color Me Kubrick

You probably haven't heard about this film, Color Me Kubrick. It flew pretty far below the U.S. radar...and perhaps everyone's radar. But it's worth a viewing if for no other reason than to watch a hilariously funny performance by John Malkovich.

Basically, a gay con-man goes around pretending to be Stanley Kubrick in order to get money and sexual favors from just about everyone he encounters. Only the police can't catch him because no one wants to go on the record as having been one of his "victims" because of the public embarrassment that would ensue.

What makes this movie is Malkovich, no questions asked. Without him it might be just another mildly interesting British indie comedy. And...maybe it still is. But Malko is just incredible to watch on screen. He completely owns and absorbs himself into any role he has to play...while still being himself. That, is an achievement. Malko is so odd-looking and so earnest and has such a gift for playing tragically…

A Vignette from the Life...

I've been out of town for a week or so. My friend Andrew has been picking up my mail. I called him from the road yesterday.

Me: "Has anyone broken into my apartment or anything?"

Andrew: "If they did they'd be sorely disappointed."

Ahhh...how a single sentence can say so much about not only one's lifestyle, but one's friends.

Republican Election Logic...Eeeeeeee

I just heard an NPR commentator (I didn't catch her name) say there is a powerful current in Republican thought which suggests that, if they lose the election, they will believe it was because they WEREN'T CONSERVATIVE ENOUGH, and move further toward the Right.

Yowza. Be sure and let me know how that works out....mm'kay?

Dark Knight Rises: A Review in List From

WARNING: Spoiler Alert! Blah, blah, blah...you know you've seen it already.

Here is a review of the final installment of the Dark Knight trilogy, in a series of witty, trenchant observations by yours truly...

1.) First off, it's worth the money. But I'd still have to rank this third place against the other three films.

2.) What is this? A comic book movie, or just a movie? Last film had the Joker, it had Scarecrow...both pretty comic-booky villians. The only thing comic-booky in this was Bane's weirdo gas mask. Cat woman wasn't even very "catty." And throwing-in the whole "Robin" thing at the end? Please. I'd be happy either way. But it's like, either do it up comic book style, or don't.

3.) I got goosebumps every time Batman did something good and they play that one big violin note. That's worth the price of admission right there. 

4.) My eyes glossed over during the final action scene. "WHAT?" you may ask. I don't…

What I'm Listening To: Lower Dens

Lower Dens are a shoegaze/postpunk band from Baltimore. I saw them open for Cass McCombs last year and then saw them again at the Pitchfork festival last weekend. That second time really got me hooked though. All week I've been revisiting their old album Twin Hand Movement, and just got their new one Nootropics.

The new album is smoother, cooler, more trance-inducing than the first one, almost the kind of thing you could put on before bed. While that's not usually a ringing endorsement of an album, there are a few driving, head-bobbing tracks on album. The first one is a little more raw, a little more reminiscent of early Cure.

Get a chance, check em out...

Indie Rock: Burnt Ones

It's been a long and busy couple of weeks, though probably the most productive and fun weeks/month of my life. Suffice it to say, my brain is fried. But, not so fried that I can't tell you about this toasty band I've been listening to called Burnt Ones.

These guys are originally from Indy but have since moved out to San Francisco. They play fuzzy, psychedelic pop/garage kind of stuff, which is right up my alley right now. I bought one of the their cassette tapes at LUNA the other day & haven't been able to stop listening to it.

I find myself more and more listening to local and hyper-indie rock. It's just more raw, more innovative, and just flat-out more ballsy than most of the stuff you download or buy that has national distribution. The more people that something appeals to, the more watered-down it has to be. To me, that's just basic math. Not a hard-and-fast rule, mind you, and certainly the inverse isn't always true. But I just get more satisfactio…

Psychedelic Square: My cover story

Here's a link to my cover story in NUVO Newsweekly:



Check it out! It's about the vibrant & growing underground music scene in a gritty but artist-laden neighborhood called Fountain Square. The product of about a year or so of checking out these local bands and reviewing shows...and of one intense week during which I immersed myself in this scene and got to know the people making it happen. Hope you like it!

Cover Story in NUVO this week...

Has it been a MONTH since I've last written??? Shee-it... Well, I've got something big to report: I've got a cover story Indianapolis' alternative weekly newspaper, NUVO, about the emerging underground/psychedelic music scene in the city's Fountain Square neighborhood.

It's the product of a year or so of covering shows all over the city, and of gradually narrowing my focus toward the group of innovative indie rockers living and playing in the Square right now. Even more recently, it happened after about a week in which I conducted dozens of interviews and spent at least four nights down there hanging out at the Brass Ring, Mediumship, and a couple of other important places down there.

This has been, without a doubt, the most fun story I've ever worked on in my career as a reporter/journalist. Hope you enjoy it when it comes out! I will post a link.

Homeade Mango-Mulberry Sorbet

So, last week I was jogging and I saw what looked like a blackberry tree in a relatively accessible location. I stopped and tried some of the berries. They didn't make me want to puke. So on Friday evening I went back with a shopping bag and collected about a pound or so from the tree, perching myself along a nearby brick wall with, some might say, a sense of bravery inconsistent with my agility. No, I did not fall. Sorry. This story would be a WHOLE LOT FUNNIER (or more tragic) if I had.

Instead, I got home and -- upon a quick internet search -- realized that what I had were mulberries and not blackberries. Blackberries, I suddenly remembered, grow on thorny bushes and not trees. Mulberries are a little bit longer and thinner than blackberries, and not as sweet, but still pleasant tasting.

I also had six or so mangos in my fridge, which my Mom had given me a week or so before. My mango consumption cannot hope to keep with that number of mangos; I generally find mangos to be a tim…

What I'm Listening to This Week: Meat Puppets II

I can't stop listening to this album. I'm literally on my tenth or twelfth run-through today alone. I'm obsessed. Let's back up a step...

I've always loved Nirvana's MTV Unplugged Album, especially the songs "Lake of Fire," "Oh Me," and "Plateau" which Kurt Cobain plays on the album, crediting the Meat Puppets. Thus, I don't know why in the hell it's taken me so long to get into the Meat Puppets, but...that time has come.

The album, released in 1984, is the Meat Puppets' second album (hence the Roman Numeral II, there, wiseguy). Supposedly this one was a big departure from their first album, which was pretty hardcore. I've not listened to that one yet, but I'm positive Meat Puppets II is a huge step forward. Meat Puppets II is a coherent work of art that skillfully combines punk, folk, and even funk for a really gritty, rusty, grungy kind of sound reminiscent (or perhaps pre-saging) Neil Young's grungier re…

Arrah & the Ferns

If you have any taste at all for country-inspired indie rock, or even if you just like good music, give Arrah & the Ferns a listen or two. Based in Philly (via Muncie, Ind.) these guys combine country, folk, and alternative rock for a sound that's a little bit of a throwback but with a contemporary spin. Country beats and Southern rock guitar work underlie Arrah Fisher's warm, country-girl-turned-city-vixen kind of voice.

You can download their album FOR FREE here:

http://arrahandtheferns.bandcamp.com/album/soldier-ghost-ep

The songs "Wake Up" and "Soldier Ghost" are particular favorites. In one of them Arrah sings about sending her fingernail clippings to the wife of her lover....whoa dude.


The Tornados

I don't know why but I'm going through this "60s instrumental Surf Rock" phase right now. This path has led me to an English group called The Tornados. Ever heard the song "Telstar"? That's them.

They use a lot of keyboard/organ and shuffling work on the drums to create a weird, spacey, almost Asian-influenced kind of sound. Not surprisingly, it sounds precisely like what you'd imagine people in the 1960s (the first Space Age) thought Space Music should sound like. The song "Telstar" was in fact named after a satellite.

Amid today's morass of different genres & styles of music, I'm called back to Surf Rock for its charming brightness and the way the songs follow a simple, guitar- or keyboard-driven melody line, dispensing with the verse-chorus-verse-chorus formula of other rock of the era. Surf Rock makes you feel like you're going somewhere, riding a wave, perhaps?

There's also something heavily nostalgic about it, li…

Cool Website: Fab.com

Ever see some cool gadget or piece of kitsch in someone's home and wonder a.) where the hell they got it, and b.) why YOU never see or find out about cool stuff like that?

 If so, check out Fab.com every once in a while, they've got loads of cool stuff, everything from kitchen gadgets, to T-shirts, to furniture, to...stuff that serves no real purpose but just looks cool. And no, they are not paying me to write this post, so therefore I have no reason to recommend them, other than they're awesome.

Even if you don't plan to buy anything (I still don't think I have yet), it's just fun to look at and see some of the kooky stuff they have for sale. Fab.com. Check 'em out...

My "Mad Men" Obsession

Over the past two weeks I've become obsessed with AMC's Mad Men. Yes. I, Grant Catton, a man who ever since Seinfeld went off the air has eschewed cable T.V. with a vigor only reserved for ardent pseudo-intellectuals, have now become obsessed with a T.V. show. I'm gonna go so far as to say that good T.V. is a form of "literature." This might make some of you gasp, but I've come to this revelation after realizing that a good, well-written, complex & long-running T.V. serial can yield as much for the mind and imagination as can a great book.

I do not say this lightly; only after years of turning a haughty blind eye to television have I been able to come back and embrace it with such glee (no pun intended). Therefore, you can take my recommendation seriously: watch this show. I'm desperately trying to get caught up so I can a.) start watching the current season, and b.) start reading this book of essays on the T.V. series that I just bought and which con…

Titanic Memorial Cruise: Slapping Fate in the face...

Call me a little...um...superstitious, but isn't it tempting fate to launch a Titanic Memorial Cruise to commemorate the one and only voyage of History's Most Tragic Floating Irony?

Sure, sure...times and technologies have changed. Ships carry better radar devices, better radio systems. There will probably be support boats following the replica ship, not to mention there are 5x as many ships on the ocean now than in 1912. Hell, there probably isn't even ICE in the North Atlantic in April anymore. Nothing could possibly go wrong...right?

Does the word "Unsinkable" mean anything to you? In case you never saw the movie Titanic, or don't know your history very well, that's exactly what they said about the original ship, and look how that turned out.

Not to mention the fact they are dealing Fate an obvious slap in the face, isn't the whole thing a bit--I don't know--morbid? I support the idea of taking some ships out there to the spot to host a sort of Me…

The Price of Gas is Going up: A Rant...

Frankly, I don't understand why there's any debate or argument over the price of gasoline, ever. Why do people get all up-in-arms about the price of a gallon of gas? Yes, of course I understand why...because we need it to get to work, get to school, drive to see our neighbors that live three blocks away. I get it. But why do people feel like they have some Constitutional right to low gas prices?

Here's an idea: Oil is a finite resource. It costs a lot to get it out of the ground. It costs a lot to refine it. It costs a lot to ship it. The more of it we use, the harder it becomes to get it out of the ground and the less of it remains in the ground. My point is: when there's an abundance of something, it's generally cheap. The less there is the more it's gonna cost. That's Economics that even a child can understand.

So why all the fuss over gas prices? This is the Free Market. Those that hold the strings--in this case, the commodity--have the right to raise the…

The Inevitability of the Romney Campaign

Might as well just begin the triumphal chorus right now: Mitt Romney's going to win the Republican nomination. For a minute there it looked like maybeRick Santorum might make a miracle run to front. Even I thought so. But then, I forgot one of the Cardinal rules of politics, as stated by Jimmy the Greek.

Along with being a native of Stubenville, Ohio (minutes from where I grew up), The Greek was a world-famous bookie and sports commentator. He took bets on absolutely anything and everything sports-related. Few people know, however, realize he was also a politics junkie and loved to make bets on elections. Anyway, the Greek used to say that--except in times of extreme duress, like say, post-WWI Germany--the most centrist candidate will always win. I think Romney's latest wins in Michigan and Arizona have borne this adage out quite well.

Look at the two Republican front-runners:

Romney is this plastic, air-brushed, shrink-wrapped Barbie doll, middle-aged corporate white man who wil…

Quick Film Review: Ides of March

Movies about politics nowadays always paint it as this low-down, back-stabbing, cut-throat game, which, it probably is. I say "probably," because I'm not privy to real underbelly of this game. I made some calls & knocked on some doors for the Obama campaign back in 2008 but that was like kindergarten compared to the serious, heavy game of professional politics. Having gotten a small taste of it though, I love to see a good political thriller like this one.

And it definitely is a thriller. The tension heats up from the very beginning as Ryan Gosling's character, a campaign manager for a "Governor Morris" (Clooney) gets involved in some double-dealing with the opposing campaign and finds himself in the middle of a very uncomfortable situation between a female intern and his candidate.

Long story short, Gosling learns a difficult and fast lesson in this film, which ends up being both a twist-laden drama and a frank but sad commentary on the American politica…

The Future of the Republican Party

This just in: The Republican Party as we know it is finished. And thank god. It's become such a weird patchwork of conflicting ideologies and oddball pretenders that I don't see how anyone can take them seriously anymore. There was a time when that party had some respectability, some class, some dignity. But it's to a point now where you can look down the entire list of Republican candidates and not see a single face that you could conceivably imagine winning the Presidential race this Fall.

In my opinion, the GOP will eventually split into two groups: A.) The Bible-thumpers, Tea-Partiers, and other assorted whacked-out fringe types, and B.) the small-government fiscal conservative types who are essentially rational people and who don't care about social issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Group A will ride off into the sunset and become completely ineffectual in national elections and increasingly less effectual at state and local ones. Group B will flounder for a wh…

Cord Count: 12

My daily life requires twelve (12) different cords. When did things get so f**king complicated? I didn't even count the cords to items like my lamps or the fridge or the vacuum cleaner (not that I actually use it). No, these 12 are cords that I tend to have to tote around with me every day for all of my various and sundry phones, iPods, computers, etc. Not all at once, mind you. But seriously, this is ridiculous.

Read the list below and see if it doesn't this make you long for a simpler time....a time when you had to be home for someone to reach you on the phone, and you had to wait like a week to find out if your photos were any good, and people weren't glued to electric screens for 85% of their waking hours. Was it that long ago? Aye. Life moves pretty fast these days, and a man loses count.

At any one time my life requires:

2 Phone chargers (one with usb, one plain old charger)
1 laptop charger
1 iPod usb/charger cord
1 hands free cell phone ear piece cord
1 pair ear buds (cor…

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes II

Let me start by giving this film the most entry-level (though not easily earned) piece of praise I can give a movie: I got my money's worth.

This isn't normally the kind of film I'd shell-out hard-earned money to go see in the theatre, but I've been seeing a lot of movies lately and, well, you have to see what's there and what you're on time to see.

Anyway, this is just a really fun, action-packed buddy film. Set in a sort of "steam-punk"1891 Europe, the film takes place between London, Paris, and Switzerland, as Holmes, Watson, and a female gypsy they pick up along the way, follow the infamous Professor Moriarty across the continent as he attempts to start a war. Moriarty, as it turns out, has been secretly building up a munitions factory in central Europe, with which he plans to supply the warring armies. The film turns out to be sort of a criticism of the Military-Industrial Complex which has so altered the shape of Geo-Politics in the past 70 odd y…

Sriracha Hot Sauce: A torrid love-affair

In case you've never seen this lovely, dangerous green-topped bottle sitting on the table at your favorite Asian restaurant...I introduce you to Sriracha hot sauce. It is a devil, a temptress, a delicious condiment and yet a feared adversary not to be trifled with.

I use Sriracha on just about everything you could conceivably use hot-sauce on: meat, eggs, potatoes, vegetables, anything that needs a kick in the ass where flavor is concerned. And believe me, Sriracha will give your food a kick in the ass--and give you a kick in the solar plexus.

The thing about Sriracha is it's not immediately hot when you put it in your mouth. No, when it first hits your tongue it has a complex, earthy kind of chili-pepper flavor. It's thick and robust, like tomato sauce almost, not thin and acidic like the "Nuclear Hellfire" hotsauce you see in souvenir stores or what have you. No, this is actually almost like a chili relish at first.

However, somewhere between swallowing and digest…