November 30, 2007

PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: Which of these do-it-yourself solutions to baldness is most in keeping with your rock 'n' roll lifestyle?

  • Hat 16%
  • Bandanna 50%
  • Close shave 33%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!

November 28, 2007

The Joe E. Ross Memorial Post

My First Circuit

(and my first youtube video) A very simple touch-sensitive oscillator I just wired up, consisting of an IC chip, capacitor, resistor, 9-volt battery and a couple of quarters. Touching both quarters sends the current through the body to close the circuit. Pitch is controlled by the amount of pressure applied (more surface area of the fingers= more electricity= higher pitch). It only makes farty noises for now, but will have some additional oscillators stacked on and be put into a sculpture eventually. For updates, check elsewhere. I recommend "Handmade Electronic Music" by Nicolas Collins, a great book for novices like myself to quickly start scratch-building music machines.

November 27, 2007

November 26, 2007

Here Is Your Robot Music

U2's "The Joshua Tree" Revisited 20 Years Later

I didn't bother to give U2's "The Joshua Tree" the time of day until two years after it was released. There were legions of assholes in Lincoln-Way High School who thought they were Bono. They were the same kids in tight-rolled jeans who had "INXS KICK" scrawled all over the covers of their notebooks. But once the excitement had settled to a tolerable simmer, I borrowed "Umberto St. John's" cassette and copied it. So now, 18 years later, it is comfortably one of my ten desert island albums. It's an untouchable, perfect classic in my book. I attribute at least half of why I feel that way to the production of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno-- there's an eerie, rich, organic texture to the album which simply sounds unlike anything else. So, as you may have seen, the album was just re-issued in three versions: the basic remastered CD, a 2-CD version which includes a collection of B-sides and singles, and a deluxe version with the 2 CDs, a DVD, a book and some prints. I'd always felt that, like The Cure's "Disintegration," the CD was a little muddy sounding, so I opted for the new 2-CD version. I have no regrets: it's a sparkling example of a remastered album done right. But that's not entirely what this post is about. Read on. My roommate is the editor of a popular music magazine. Universal sent him the deluxe version with the DVD to review. I was curious what I was missing, so I borrowed it last night to check out the concert and the documentary. I kind of wish I hadn't watched the concert. As concerts go, it's a great one, but my regret stems from the fact that I wish I hadn't witnessed Bono's weird Fiddler on the Roof outfit and the creepy strut/prance movements it seemed to inspire. Here's a low quality clip from that show. Blink and you might swear that's Mandy Patinkin on the vocals: Do you see why this is a problem? Now, when I listen to the album, a small portion of my brain won't be able to disassociate that ridiculous goddamn outfit from it. I can deal with The Edge's goofy reservation Indian/wampum trader hat because it's already in the album's cover photo. But the gypsy minstrel costume? Impossible.

November 25, 2007

F'd Puppet of the Week 11/25/07

At first glance this may seem to be a cheap off-market marionette of a popular drum playing character from the Muppets. It is in fact a cheap off-market marionette of the guy who used to beg me for change outside the liquor store next to Columbia College.

Keep your hands up...

A PIZZA TEEN! Original: "The Kitten's Pur"

My friend Mia and I shot this in about 2 hours last night using the cheapy 640x480 AVI movie mode of my 6 megapixel Canon Elph on a $10 tripod. I edited it in about 5 hours using Windows Movie Maker, a bare-bones "family-friendly" editor which ships with Windows XP and Vista. I kind of like the low resolution quality-- it has its own weird aesthetic which reminds me of 8mm, only a lot more flexible. I'm impressed by how fast and inexpensive it is to create a passable miniature movie now. If you are a person with movie making ambitions, you absolutely have no excuses any longer.

November 24, 2007

Two Stand-Out Tracks From Lynch's Inland Empire

Anyone who talks with me for a short while (or pays attention to any of my posts here) soon learns I'm a David Lynch geek. When they learn I'm a David Lynch geek who hasn't seen a single episode of Twin Peaks, they tend to feel I'm a malnourished David Lynch geek. One of the things I dig about him is his hands-on approach to multiple aspects of his films. What other big whoopdeedoo director (other than John Carpenter, perhaps) actually creates entire musical sections for the score? Lynch has been doing that since the beginning, but I believe Inland Empire marked the first time he actually provided the vocals himself. I recently picked up the soundtrack, and these are the two stand-out tracks for me. Lynch is singing on this first one: And this second one, while it sounds a little campy here, is strangely beautiful and moving in the context of the two moments of the film in which it is used: UPDATE! YouTube killed the videos as I knew they would. It's fair. I'm impressed by how fast they did so. Good to see that someone's got Lynch's back.

November 23, 2007

PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: The house is being assailed by zombies! Quick! Which of these prominent African-American authors do you trust to cover your back with the 12-gauge as you investigate the cellar for supplies?

  • Maya Angelou o%
  • Toni Morrison 75%
  • Zora Neal Hurston 25%
  • Alice Walker 0%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!

November 22, 2007

Happy Frickin' Thanksgiving

Fellow Blogger: Crummy Church Signs

I discovered this blog randomly while checking on the common spelling of "crummy" versus "crumby" for my previous post. The mission statement appears to be "critical analysis of critically bad church signs." I don't know how some of these people do it, how they manage to sustain their interest in such a tight, niche idea such as this, but God bless them. Check out the latest church sign madness or sort through THREE YEARS (!!!) of archives by CLICKING HERE.

A PIZZA TEEN! Arts & Crafts Holiday Activity

Stuck in a crummy hotel this holiday? Plan to be in a hotel in the near future? Feeling bored or anticipate that you will be bored? Kiss the blues goodbye, friend! Grab one of those lame-ass paintings or prints hanging on the hotel room's wall and scrawl a prayer to the Antichrist on the back! Non-stop laughs! And who's going to know? The photos below were taken way back in 1999 or 2000 while my friend John was staying at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, NY. As he was settling in, I decided to take liberty with my pen. Here's a photo of the Desmond: And somewhere in one of the rooms, written on the back of one of the paintings, is the following (click to zoom): Here it is in greater detail (click to zoom):

November 21, 2007

November 19, 2007


It's hard not to approach "peanuts" with reservations: all that ubiquitous merchandising, those sickeningly sweet television specials... but charles schulz's original comic strip, which he wrote, drew, ruled and lettered for 50 years without assistants, is most often a tragic self-portrait of a lonely and doubtful man. Even towards the end of his life, with 55 million people reading his strip, and an income upwards of 40 million a year, he often complained to his wife, "I wish I knew if people really liked me". It's amazing that such unrelenting pessimism had so much appeal. When asked why charlie brown had to always lose, he replied, "because there is nothing funny about the person who gets to kick the football. Drama and humor come from trouble and sadness, and mankind's ability to survive life's unhappiness." "Charles Schulz and Peanuts", the most exhaustive Schulz biography, was recently published. A quick recap with examples of his strips can be found here. And if you missed the wonderful PBS "american masters" episode from two weeks ago, look for it on video.

Point - Counterpoint REVISITED!

Additional evidence has surfaced which demands that I revisit Stexe's original "Point - Counterpoint" post. Behold! Point: Drugs Are Not Cool Counterpoint: Drugs Are Cool

New High Score On Wizard Of Wor: 86,900!

Another of my absurd M.A.M.E. preoccupations is Midway's 1980 classic Wizard of War, a simple, satisfying game, with awesome sounds and a classy use of a primative color palette. I fed a lot of quarters into the Wizard of Wor game at Coachlite Skate Center in Roselle, IL, back when Journey's "Escape" was the big new album, but I'm still no master of the game. There don't seem to be any discernible patterns, and it appears that the Wizard himself only materializes when he damn well wants to. When he does appear, it's impressively scary, but if you do manage to kick his hooded ass back into the nameless void from whence he came, the program flips out and goes all black and white with extra weird freak-out sounds a'la The Bishop of Battle. Here's a dude getting his ass handed to him by the Wizard... but still managing to stomp my high score by nearly ten grand. Damn him! Anyway, here's the screenshot, which, now that I've had a moment to think about it, seems pitiful on many levels.

November 17, 2007

F'd Puppet of the Week 11/18/07

The day Jim Henson died I was so distraught I was sent home from work. My dreams of making puppetry a career seemed to die along with him. The older I get the more I seeth with regrets. I am resolved to do something meaningful and creative in the puppetry arts before I leave this earth. This week I offer two of my favorite pieces by Jim Henson. First, his version of "Time in a bottle" an errie piece depicting his often expressed and sadly fulfilling fear that he did not have enough time in life to do all he wanted to accomplish. And second, his very early and WHACKED OUT short film, "Time Piece". You will never think of Jim Henson the same way again, and there sure ain't no puppets in it. Still, it shows his obsession with time and mortality. Two topics that are increasingly near and dear to my own heart.


Sure it's fake, but it's still funny: ITALIAN SPIDERMAN

November 16, 2007

Elvis Trapped In A Rehersal Hell Of His Own Making

The cause... The effect...

Scientology or Psychiatry: Choose Your Poison

Speaking from the computer-generated sets of Revenge of The Sith, Ron Savelo promises to have the answers. But like all of scientology's videos and literature, this knowledge is never disclosed. It's ostensibly about brain anatomy, but quickly devolves into L. Ron Hubbard's invented terms: life is all about "livingness... the beingnesses, doingnesses, and havingnesses" (actual quote at 4:10). It's as incomprehensible as a Lyndon Larouche pamphlet, but the one part that resonates with me is the outrage towards the pharmaceutical industry; I realize it has saved millions of lives, but their influence in politics and the health care system is upsetting and dangerous. When in hollywood, visit the scientologists' new hatecrime, the high-budget Psychiatry: An Industry of Death museum. It's free. On your way out, a couple of the most beautiful young receptionists you've ever seen will ask if you'd like an oral survey. Tell them you're in a hurry because you have to feed the parking meter. They'll tell you to move the car into their free parking lot. Turn and run.

November 15, 2007

Ghost in The Machine


PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: Which part of Mike Damone's five-point plan has proved the most effective?

  • Never let on how much you like a girl.
  • Always call the shots. 25%
  • Act like wherever you are, that's the place to be.
  • When ordering food, you find out what she wants, then order for the both of you.
  • When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV. 75%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!

Marcia Brady: A Gateway To Preadolescent Eroticism

When I was a kid, there was something very, VERY interesting about this scene from The Brady Bunch which I couldn't quite express. In time, I got it: it is by far-- by FAR!-- the most awesomely decadent erotic metaphor aimed at children and young adults I have ever seen on broadcast television. Has it been surpassed? Boy, that Peter sure IS a lucky son of a gun! I was similarly intrigued by Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the girl from the Witch Mountain movies, and Nellie from Little House On The Prairie-- they were all incredibly interesting, but I lacked the understanding and the words to express why. BONUS! The people who overdubbed the very NOT SAFE FOR WORK video below seem to have had similar issues, although, I recall having mine ironed out by fifth grade.

November 14, 2007

November 13, 2007

Know Your Roots

November 12, 2007

F'd Puppet of the Week 11/11/07

Point - Counterpoint

Point: Drugs Are Not Cool Counterpoint: Drugs Are Cool

November 09, 2007

Dear Bucket Drummers,...

I have a heartfelt message for the professional bucket drummers of the world: FUCK YOU! I'm all in favor of street musicians, but I am vehemently opposed to the specific hollow BANG! BANG! BANG! of the plastic bucket. The sound is on the same level of unpleasantness as the wail of children in the hospital's burn ward. Here's how it works: as a new bucket drummer on the subway platform, you shall use some of the money you earn to buy yourself a percussion instrument which doesn't cause pops of internal bleeding within my brain. I don't care how talented you are, if after two days you are still beating away on a bucket, I hope, for the sake of my inner ear health, that a Central American mother driving a stroller full of children, bootleg DVDs and churros "accidentally" shoves you and your bucket in front of a screaming express train-- the sound of your scattered chunks clattering rhythmically along the tracks will be a huge sonic improvement over the bucket.

November 08, 2007

Make Mine Vanilla

PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: Jack and Jill ran up _______.

  • the pile of fetal pigs 10%
  • Pat Morita's driveway 40%
  • $1500.00 in late fees 20%
  • one another's thighs 20%
  • the hill 10%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!

Chuck Close Discusses His Creative Process

I'm not a fan of Chuck Close's art, but I respect him and his ability to speak candidly, clearly and intelligently about his work. Like Warhol, there's just no mystery in his work for me-- it seems like he gets an idea for a new way of making a portrait, then he flips on the autopilot. He knows what it's going to look like before it even exists, and for an artist like myself who enjoys surprises, that's not a terribly interesting way to work. I also got really, REALLY sick of hearing about him all the time while in Grad School from his friend, painter & University at Albany professor Mark Greenwold (he's the guy in Chuck's painting above). As seems to be my fate when our paths cross, I got stuck in a tiny elevator with Chuck and his $24,000.00 robo-wheelchair a couple of weeks ago. Well, Chuck's been rolling around town, promoting his gigantic book. He was on WNYC recently and gave an insightful interview about his process, and to be honest, it's pretty good. If I sound like I'm down on Chuck, I'm not. The tone is just a lingering weariness from having to endure endless dialogues from Greenwold on what a terrific guy Chuck Close is. Enough is enough! I get it already, you know? Anyway, the interview is below. I recommend it.

November 07, 2007

A Four Act Metaphor

November 06, 2007

"Hush, Little Robot"

I'm a huge admirer of way-out composer / technical genius / visionary shaman Bruce Haack, but this documentary (which I haven't seen) looks dubious. I'm only posting this trailer because it contains a rare clip of his appearance on Mister Roger's Neighborhood, in which he displays one of his homemade music machines (enclosed entirely inside a briefcase). Haack made children's records in the 1960's until he either found God or scored some good acid, inspiring him to make the brilliant and charming Electric Lucifer record in 1970. UPDATE! Being that (a) Electric Lucifer has never been domestically re-released and (b) everyone should hear it, you can get a free download of the whole LP here!

A PIZZA TEEN! Giveaway!: Desktop Wallpaper

A belated Halloween treat for you, loyal PIZZA TEEN! reader: a desktop wallpaper of the awesome Soul Train hideaway of Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), the Overlook Hotel's head chef in The Shining. Two sizes are available for maximum convenience and amusement. Select the one which best suits your needs and save it as your desktop's wallpaper/background. (WARNING: Boobs!)

November 05, 2007


from Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #10 "Thy Kingdom Come"

November 04, 2007


November 03, 2007

F'd Puppet of the Week 11/04/07

Pure and simple, this guy's shit makes me smile. Enjoy! Keep your hands up... Umberto St. John

November 01, 2007

PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: Which corporate media empire loves you the most?

  • Disney 23%
  • News Corp. 0%
  • Sony 14%
  • Time Warner 14%
  • Viacom 42%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!