Natalie Popovich [Interview]

Natalie PopovichOh sweet, sweet delicious world of horror.  Your ways and means and the characters you create are just absolutely fascinating.  The world of horror has had a strong presence here at Trainwreck’d Society, which most of you regular readers probably already know.  We’ve had legendary figures in the world of horror from filmmakers to actors to special effects gurus, and even a legendary horror host.  And now, we are so pleased to announce that we have another great interview with yet another wonderful horror host Natalie Popovich, a.k.a. Ivonna Cadaver!

Ivonna is known as the host of the absolutely fabulous and often times hilarious Horror show Macabre Theatre alongside the legendary Munsters cast member Butch Patrick, and is now the leading lady behind the project!  Her sex appeal, charm, wit, and astounding knowledge of the world of horror makes her one of the most sought after ladies in the world of horror.  And best of all, she does it all in the vein of the classic horror host field.  It will be no surprise to me in 30 years the name Ivonna Cadaver will be mentioned alongside the likes of Count Gore De Vol and Elvira.  Although it shouldn’t take 30 years to figure this out, I figured it out in 30 minutes of viewing the Macabre Theatre.

So ladies and gentlemen, I am so happy to announce that we managed to get a few questions in with the beautiful and talented Ivonna Cadaver!  Enjoy!

Can you tell us a bit about Macabre Theatre?  What was your inspiration behind your character Ivonna Cadaver?

Macabre Theatre is a 2 hour formatted television series featuring classic and all new indie horror and sci-fi films. Ivonna Cadaver, that’s me! sets out to expose these films to the next generation and the generation that adored this type of programming, growing up loving this genre. I also cover red carpets featuring the hottest or should I say the coldest box office horror hits, interview the most relevant celebrity icons in the genre and do 12 to 13 segments within the 2 hour show that delights my fans with campy comedy. It’s really to die for…sorry, I just couldn’t help myself Butch Patrick aka “Eddie Munster” was an original cast member. My alter ego.  Natalie Popovich, Executive Produces the show and felt Butch needed a side kick, someone to get the viewers, let’s say a little more interested in these great flicks. Ivonna Cadaver was born or let’s say was reinvented for this 21st century! She now heads the show and has been featured in 48 Macabre Theatre shows. Not bad for the “ghoul next door”!
If you weren’t working as an actress these days, what do you think you would be doing, as far as outside of the entertainment world?

The obvious comes to mind. Grave digging and funeral burial design a life-long dream…
Ivonna Cadaver2Have you always been a fan of the horror world?  What were some of your early inspirations?

Always. Imagine, years ago there was George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead now this generation is experiencing zombie take-over shows like The Walking Dead which holds the number one rated spot. American Horror Story is genius and Bates Motel is a back-story dream laced with some of the best acting by a female lead. Things have changed and Ivonna couldn’t be more thrilled of the relevance today. I of course have always been a huge fan of Italian horror especially the likes of Dario Argento and Mario Bava. They are for me, the essence of good horror, the music, the flavor and their vibe had me hooked from the start, pardon the pun. Many of these filmmakers have paved the way to what is now a booming genre and a take over on the big and small screen.

What do you think of the status of the horror in cinema world of today?  Has technological advancements helped or hurt the creativity of horror?
Like I said did anyone ever think years ago the number one rated show on television would be about zombies? American Horror Story is visual brilliance. I think “advances” period, are wonderful for the genre. Listen, I interviewed Rick Baker, 8 time Oscar Award winner for special effects in make-up about 5 years ago and I’m not so sure he was so excited about the changes regarding technological advancements but since then I believe he has picked up two more Oscars, received a star on the Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most Oscars in his field this year and was thrilled when I interviewed him this last time. Things change but talent remains constant. Everyone is entitled to their creative sensibility. What stands the test of time? Talent.
Who is a horror host, present or in the past, that you have enjoyed the most?
Well, believe it or not as a very young ghoul I lived next door to the GM of “WTOG” channel 44 a station in Tampa, Florida and the home of Dr. Paul Berrier. They had wild parties next door, they carried on and Dr. Paul Berrier would pop out of a casket in the middle of the night, I’m told. I remember going to the set and meeting him and thinking…well hell, I don’t even know what I was thinking, I was a baby…I don’t think it had anything to do with one day I’ll be hosting my own nationally syndicated show featuring classic and new indie horror but it’s an interesting thought all the same…I think he may have been proud.
In your obvious professional opinion, how do you feel women are presented and treated in the world of horror?  Is it good or bad?  
We are what we make. We as women have to pave our way. There are so many women who have paved the way in Horror. Barbara Steele, Jamie Lee Curtis, who embraces the genre along side with all of her obvious main stream roles, and now the always great Jessica Lange in American Horror Story, who again is a super nova. It’s getting better, it’s getting bigger and woman are right there in the fore-front…
What does the future hold for you?  Any other projects out there that you would like to plug?
I will continue to entertain the audience with great interviews from the finest directors, producers and artists within the genre. I will be-dazzle my fans with humor because it’s good to laugh! I will also continue to showcase new content that coincides with the “movement” happening currently in the television industry and social media “buzz” within this genre. Also, in the true spirit of Trainwreck’d Society, just know Ivonna Cadaver will always keep “light” in an otherwise world of darkness. It’s not what’s inside the dungeon that should scare you, it’s what’s outside. No worries though, if you need any help I’m here to assist. There’s always room for another warm body in here 😉

Ivonna Cadaver
What was the last thing that made you smile?

The thought of another warm body in the dungeon…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The Summer Movie Spillover of the American Blockbuster [Film]

Captain America

PREFACE (2014)

Years ago summer began late in June with the sounding of 11 am public school bell ringing. For me now, the idea of summer has long been shattered by adulthood, although I still romanticized that period feeling an echo of Americana for what has become known as the summer movie blockbuster. The 90s were pivotal in defining this season with the crowning of Will Smith as the summer’s first king of blockbusters with his Fourth of July releases of Independence Day (1996), Men In Black (1997) and Wild Wild West (1999). At that time, for both the studios and the audience, the Fourth of July was the most important weekend of the summer season fueled by the returns of those previously mentioned freshly-out-of-school teenagers buying tickets with their parent’s money. Smith’s Fourth of July returns equaling over 1.6 billion dollars from three films. By the late 2000s summer movies had expanded beyond late June  bell ringing overtaking Memorial Day weekend as the season’s new official beginning, and for a time, connecting the starting and ending of summer blockbusters with huge appliance day sales.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a summer movie by all definitions of size, budget, gravitas and scope – but curiously had an April 4th, 2012 release date. Captain America will not be alone this summer with the releases of The Amazing Spider Man 2 on May 2nd, Godzilla May 16th and X-Men: Days of Future Past on May 23rd – all weeks earlier than Memorial Day weekend. Only two years ago on April 3rd, 2012 Universal released Battleship as its own summer movie proxy blockbuster. Battleship would go on to gross only a return of 65 million dollar domestically with a 209 million dollar production budget while Captain America has made over 600 million dollars after its initial two-and-a-half weeks run in theaters on a 170 million dollar budget. Battleship and Captain America both exist within a new summer paradigm were inflated budgets represent an immense risk to the success of blockbusters through studio competition.

Over the last ten years the scope of the blockbuster budget has grown with nearly no restrictions to the point where a once 50 million dollar budget was consider a large amount of money for a movie has morphed into the current 200 million dollar standard. Budgets are not the only issue. The summer movie season is also over saturated with studio releases potentially forcing opening weekend slit-returns via a limited amount of ticket buying moviegoers. These budgets typically do not take into account marketing and distributions costs meaning a film sometimes needs to make double its production budget in order to just break even. These ultra-budgets have created an all-or-nothing mentality for the season – a film will live or die by its opening weekend return so competition is a very bad thing. Substantial sized studio investments with mass saturation releases between Memorial and Labor Day has led the blockbuster season no longer able to support ultra-budgets films competing directly against one another and thus we have summer blockbuster premieres in rainy April.

Blockbuster BombThe origins of the word blockbuster has a significantly different context then we use today. In 1941 Nazi occupied Europe pressed the knife against England’s neck to paraphrase Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort portrayed by actor John Wayne from the World War II epic, The Longest Day (1962). The RAF (Royal Air Force) was the only offensive option against a German Army dug in across the English Channel. Blockbuster had a very literal meaning describing the deployment of 4000 lb and larger HC bombs dropped on German military targets. The Mark I or “Cookie” was a a single bomb capable of obliterating an entire city block. One of earliest recorded uses of the word was printed in the Guardian Newspaper – “Quantities of some additional military supplies that have been or are being furnished by the British to our troops as reciprocal aid by Britain include 15,000 bombs, from 250lb. incendiaries to one-ton ‘blockbusters’…”(Manchester Guardian, 25 January 1943, 5). Prior to the coining of the word blockbuster in movie terms alternatives such as “spectacular” (Wall Street Journal), “super-grosser” (New York Times), and “super-blockbuster” (Variety) were highly used. Today, blockbuster is a slang expression for a successful film speaking to the works’ spectacle, scope of story and size of budget, or rather the line of moviegoers wrapping down the block.

Old Hollywood had existed for 50 years until eventually fracturing by financial failure culminating with 20th Century Fox’s release of Cleopatra (1963). The once proven star system of old Hollywood epics had faltered as privately owned studios were being sold to corporations. American audience turned to lower-budget genre alternatives. Bob Rafelson, a founding B in BBC, produced Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider (1969). Rafelson is a key figure of the New Hollywood Movement inspired by the films of European and Asian New Wave Form. These low-budgets genre movies took in enormous amounts of returns for producers who risked little actual capital on productions. By 1975, audiences had returned to the theater coalesced around Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Without a home video market, audiences frequented the theater over and over again creating a cultural impact around, at the time, a very new style of fast paced action entertainment. Audiences were once again talking about the movies.

Jaws changed the Hollywood format by beginning the summer trend of major studios planning marketing strategies around a Fourth of July summer release schedule. Producers, executives, and studios scrambled to create a feelings of “event” in their own film releases for stronger commercial appeal. The blockbuster was quickly coined as a marketing effort and the summer movie season had begun.

FILM COST (NOT MARKETING) RETURNS (OVERALL) RELEASE DATE
Cleopatra 44 Million 58 Million June 12, 1963
Easy Rider 360 Thousand 41 Million July 14, 1969
Jaws 9 Million 86 Million June 20, 1975
Independence Day 75 Million 817 Million July 02, 1996
Avatar 250 Million 2.8 Billion December 18, 2009
Battleship 209 Million 302 Million April 03, 2012
Paranormal Activity 15 Thousand 194 Million September 25, 2009
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 170 Million 600 Million (04/24/14) April 04, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a turning point for the Marvel Universe and the ninth overall installment of the Marvel venture. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely the film stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson. In the film, Captain America, Black Widow and Sam Wilson join forces as a conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D is revealed. The comic book superhero film is a new genre but the movie spends a great deal of time playing instead as an older gritty 1970s political thriller such as The Parallax View (1974), Three Days of the Condor (1975), and Marathon Man (1976). Director of Photography Trent Opalock retains the overall clean look of the Marvel Universe’s past eight films but still manages to capture elements of the those previously stated inspirational films using classic framing and naturalistic light choices. It is this mixing of genres that pushes Captain America beyond other Marvel releases as a more memorable stand alone film. The actions sequence (which there are still many) retain a blurred hand-held style mixed with quick cutting. If Captain America: The Winter Soldier is to be the standard for the 2014 summer movie releases, 2014 began on a very positive note.

Captain America stillThe announced sequel will feature the return of Anthony and Joe Russo as directors and a May 6th, 2016 release which as of this posting will place Captain America 3 directly against Batman Vs. Superman. The financial demands of the summer movie blockbuster have risen such in the last decade that films must earn considerably more in returns than its budget would indicate in order to generate a profit. For this reason, films such as Superman Returns (2006), The Last Airbender (2010), Battleship (2012), Lone Ranger (2013), etc.. are considered failures despite each grossing over 300 million dollars worldwide. The built in audiences of Marvel and Superman combined with an assumed 200 million dollar plus marking costs for each film must guarantee a split-return on this future opening weekend. This is how a studio goes bankrupt, although my money would be on Captain America 3 because those past Marvel movies made an Uncle Scrooge Mcduck’s money bin worth of cash while the DC universe is still very young in the big screen format.

Some studios have returned to lower-budget genre filmmaking known as sleeper hits. These films are meant to create a larger percentage in returns on smaller investments over the all-or-nothing ultra-budgets high risk productions. Paranormal Activity (2009) is the most recent well known of these films costing 15 thousand dollars while making over 196 million dollars worldwide. Robert Rodriguez’s over-the-top action film Desperado (1995) made 25 million on a 7 million dollar budget for Columbia and Gareth Evans’s The Raid (2012) 1 million dollar budget made 15 million for Sony Picture Classics. Since Jaws and Easy Rider smaller films continue to have a place in summer releases.

The era of the ultra-budget summer movie blockbuster is not over but the current model of budget and release schedule cannot continue to be supported similar to the 1960s Cleopatra example.  Hollywood has always been slow to respond, so for the time being, I will continue to enjoy my 250 million dollar blockbusters movie going with a smile on my face, a big bag of popcorn in my lap, and beer in my hand (Because I live in a city with an uncountable number of beer theaters). But, we might find many more gems of filmmaking in the form of those low-budget sleeper hits in the future. Spielberg and Soderberg (The Bergs of Hollywood) have all spoken publicly on the inability for the industry to support blockbuster failures.  The 2016 season could represent that paradigm shift if indeed Captain America 3 and Batman Vs Superman actually *Face/Off (1997).

*Face/Off – Budget 80 million dollars with a return of 250 million. Now that was a summer blockbuster.

Kevin “Dot Com” Brown [Interview]

Dot ComIt’s very hard to believe that one of the finest comedic television shows in recent history has been off the air for over a year now.  30 Rock went away like all the classics though: at exactly the right time.  No shark was jumped.  It simply faded out of existence and will be in the history books as one of the funniest shows in history, and an ensemble of some of the finest comedic actors in every thrown together.  And as you can guess, some of us simple won’t get over it.  Last year we managed to steal a few words from cast member Scott Adsit, and I was absolutely thrilled.  And since then I have been trying like hell to get one other very specific character to share a few words with us.  And ladies and gentlemen…..we got him!

My favorite segments of 30 Rock always took place in Tracy Jordan’s dressing room, with his awesome entourage, Grizz and Dot Com.  While they weren’t prominently exposed during the entire series, I know I always got giddy like a damn school girl when these two appeared as the often times voice of reason to the zany and often times hard to manage Jordan.  Some of my fondest memories from this show involve the illustrious Kevin “Dot Com” Brown.  And I as I said before, I’ve been trying to get him on the site for a quite a while, and I am so excited to say that this hilarious funny man has been so kind to take some time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.  Between stand up, the theater, producing, and so much more, this is one inspiring cat with an awesome story to tell.  And we are so honored to have him join the TWS family.  Enjoy!

 

How did you get into the world of stand up?  Where you always sort of a jokester growing up?
No, I was never a jokester growing up. I was never ever funny or amusing. I got into the world of stand-up because my brother Andre (Dre) was a stand-up comic and I was a promoter. My brother invited me to one of his comedy shows and the host did not show up. My brother came to me and asked me to host. I resisted because I had never done any jokes or stand-up before. When Dre asked me do him a favor well, I could not refuse my brother. He said I was good at talking to people and that is why he felt I could do it. I went on stage and had the most fun I had ever had in my life. I got the bug…

What was your very first appearance as a stand up comedian?  Did it go well?

I did not decide to be a stand-up comic until 10 years later after being asked to host the event by my brother. Stand-up is different from hosting. As a host, you can have a pleasant personality but as a comic you must have material. For my 1st performance as a stand-up comic; I was at a comedy room in the Bronx called the BBQs which was very very hood, very crowded, and very difficult. My buddy who was hosting that night, asked me to do a few minutes and bring him up. I think my buddy wanted me to bomb so I could go back to promoting.

Before leaving the stage, I got a heckler wearing a yellow baseball jersey and when I looked into the audience and saw it was a Black guy wearing the yellow jersey it was on… because I had 3 snaps that were tailor made. The first snap got a laugh, the second one a bigger laugh and the third one, I killed them. I ran off stage feeling euphoric and that was the beginning of my journey as a stand-up comic.

What was the set-life like for you personally during your time playing a part of Tracy Jordan’s entourage on 30 Rock?

30 Rock was one of the most amazing life changing journeys I ever experienced. It took me places I never dreamed I would be. I was introduced to people I never thought I would meet. It set a standard for quality and coming in comedy that I have so much respect for and will spend the rest of my career trying to reach the bar that was set so high.

Kevin+Brown+30+Rock+Series+Finale+Wrap+Party+z9TvYVOWN7XxHow much of your own personality were you allowed to put into your character on the show, considering you used your actual nickname and all?

All of it!!!!!! The writers on 30 Rock were amazing. New people (writers) would spy on us by hanging around and ease drop on our natural conversations. Many things we would joke about would end up in the script. I am very much that character (Dot Com), it is based on who I am off-stage.

Now that 30 Rock is long and gone, living in the television history books, do you miss working on that show?  Are you missing your old family?  Do you still keep in touch?

Dot Com: What do you think? (chuckle) 7 years was longer than any of us dreamed of and the show literally turned us into stars as individuals. Everyone is very busy working on their careers. I work every day extending my 15 minutes of fame.

I am intrigued by the off-Broadway play Box I have come to find out you not only starred in, but also produced.  What was the play about, and what intrigued about the project?

Dot Com: The play Box was an incredible opportunity for me. I played a Haitian refugee who stowed away in a coffee box trying to make a better life in America. It was a powerful dramatic role and I love doing drama and theater. Yes, I produced the play. Actors in the know realize if you really want to work in the business you must produce your own vehicle. Box had a powerful message tailor made for me. (not being Haitian) It is one of several films and plays I produced. I am producing my own films and tv projects.

What is your ultimate goal as an actor?  What do you hope to accomplish in the world of entertainment before you retire, if you ever retire?

Right now, I just want to work and do interesting projects. Ultimately, I want to own a network or movie studio.

If you could appear in a biopic of any famous American in history, who do you think you would be right for, or who would you like to portray? 

Heavy weight boxing champion Jack Johnson. Not a remake of “The Great White Hope” because it was brilliantly done by James Earl Jones but a more gritty version of Jack Johnson’s story.

What sort of projects do you have going on right now?  What does the future hold for you?


I recently executive produced a short documentary, Uptown Comedy Club, the Birth of Hip Hop Comedy , based on a club and television show I owned in the 90s launching a number of Black Comic careers, many who are now at the top of their game.  My next desire is to re-launch the television show with a new millennium spin.In April, Smirnoff started its new ad campaign in which I appear as “The Bouncer”.  Look for me in a few different projects. Stay tuned!

Kevin_Brown_Facebook_Cover_Photo

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Father’s Day when my 20-year-old met my 5-year-old goddaughter. Watching the look in their eyes was so amazing and it was the greatest time I ever had.

 

The YouTube channel Slackatory compiled an amazing collection of some of best Dot Com moments on 30 Rock, which is solid proof as to why he was one of the greatest assets to the show.  This explains him perfectly!

John Craigie [Artist]

John Craigie2I believed I was finding myself being able to wander away the world of country-folk music and into something a little more dangerous, and maybe a bit louder, but like always I was drug back to from where I came when I heard the beautiful and melodic styling of San Francisco based folk smith John Craigie.  This mellow strumming and harmonica blowing cat pieces together some of the finest folk-pop meets country rock and Cajun-fuzed blues you will ever here.  And the storytelling is nothing to scoff at either, songs mixed with any emotion you can dream of, from the happy go lucky-“we can do this” positivity, to the hopeless gloom-monging that is still absolutely beautiful.

And much like I always say about the gifted ones that I’ve showcased…John Craigie is a guy you really should see live.  I have never had the privilege of doing so, but I would love if John made his way to Spain so I could experience such a beautiful and calming spectacle.  Just listening the the live version of “Let’s This Over When We’re Sober and Not At Burning Man” really gets me grooving, and I could only imagine how wonderful it would be see this wonderful songsmith in person.  And while it may be a while before I get to experience the joy of seeing this jive country cat jam in person, my fine readers in the States are in luck.  As he often does, Craigie will be hitting the road very soon and coming to a town near you!  Check out his WEBSITE for more details, but here are a few stops he will be making:

April 18th – The Bartlett in Spokane, Washingto

April 23rd – Common Grounds in Spearfish, South Dakota

April 24th – Walnut Room in Denver, Colorado

April 26th – Harmony Music House in Boulder, Colorado

April 29th – Side Door Lounge in Omaha, Nebraska

April 30th – 331 Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota

May 1st – Uncommon Ground in Chicago, Illinois

May 3rd – The Bridge in Columbia, Missouri

May 4th – The Gramaphone in St. Louis, Missouri

May 7th – Raccoon River Brewing Company in Des Moines, Iowa

May 9th – Studio 909 in Washington, Iowa

May 10th – Racoon River House Concerts in Coon Rapids, Iowa

May 29th – Playwright Public House in Ashland, Oregon

May 30th – Marshall Grange Hall in Garden Valley, California

June 1st – Redwood Mountain Faire in Felton, California

June 4th – Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, California

June 14th – KC Turner House Concert Series in San Francisco, California

June 17th – Humboldt Machine Works in Arcata, California

 

John CraigieAll of these great gigs and the summer hasn’t even showed up yet!  You all have been fine readers, so you owe it to yourselves to join in the on the fun with John Craigie wherever he may be closest to you.  And be sure to pick up a copy of of his 2013 album The Apocalypse Is Over, as well as the rest of this dude’s immaculate and extensive collection.  Treat yourself to some wonderful tunes that will hopefully inspire you all to love, live, and brush your cares away for at least a short while whilst hearing some absolutely beautiful songs from the likes of John Craigie.

Carcass, The Black Dahlia Murder, Gorguts, Noisem, Bastard Feast Live @ The Roseland Theater in Portland, OR [03.30.14]

Carcass1I love when I get to see a band perform that I never thought I would get to see. Reunion tours. Farewell tours. There are so many bands I love that have a tendency to skip over the Pacific Northwest year after year. I have a bucket list of artists that I’ve never gotten to see. I was able to check Carcass off that list, finally. They split up in 1995, and reunited 12 years later. I have listened to these British goregrind legends and melodic death metal pioneers for years. They are easily one of the most important bands in extreme metal, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to see them perform.

Bastard FeastThe show opened early with local band Bastard Feast (formerly Elitist). Filling the venue with a robust death metal/doom metal sound (fused with elements of D-Beat and black metal) this group fit the bill better than some of the groups to share the stage later in the night. Their frantic, ugly music caught me off guard in a beautiful way. Vocalist Josh Greene rolled his eyes back in his head and shrieked out unnerving vocals over the sounds of down tempo, lumbering riffs and intense pummeling rhythms. The venue was relatively empty at this point, and the crowd was still small and relatively unresponsive. It was a solid performance of some wonderfully dark and unnerving music. The kind of stuff that can even make the most well versed metal fan uncomfortable.

NosiemI hit the merch table and re-positioned myself upstairs for the remainder of the show. Next to take the stage was Baltimore thrashers Noisem. Now, I enjoy this band’s studio work. They released a full length last year that caught my ear for a week or two. Solid old school death metal with a penchant for some late 80’s thrash. Their live performance was much different than their studio experience. I felt like I was watching a grindcore band. The energy was full and frenetic, and vocalist Tyler Carnes barely seemed to spend any time on the stage. He wandered back and forth between the security barrier and the stage most of the set, spewing forth his lyrics, feeding off the growing energy of the crowd. Unfortunately the sound at that point had not been balanced properly, so the guitar leads that occasionally take over as a focal point for the group were lost in a wall of sound. In either case, they were fun to watch and the energy they put into performing live translates very well.

GorgutsCanadian death metal veterans Gorguts were up next. Gorguts are a mainstay in the death metal scene, releasing a few vital albums in the early to mid nineties that really pushed the boundaries of the genre into a different, more technical territory. However, during this live performance, those tracks seemed to blend together into one solid droning sound of blast beats, chaotic stops and starts, and tremolo riffs. The only parts of their sound that really seemed to stand out was when they were performing more of their recent material. The newer tracks are much more sludgy and dissonant. While the sound is more ambient, it did nothing for the live atmosphere. Vocalist Luc Lemay stood  in one spot practically the entire performance, unmoving and looking uninspired. While the technicality shone through, and the drummer Patrice Hamelin (holy double bass!) was fun to watch, the overall performance seemed robotic (which is often the case with tech-death bands) and uninspired.

Black Dahlia MurderUp next was a band I’m perhaps all too familiar with, The Black Dahlia Murder. This marked the fifth time I have seen this Detroit based outfit. Heavy hitters in the melodic death metal and metalcore scenes, these guys have been working constantly for years. They have released six albums and toured constantly for the better part of 11 years. These guys were at some point one of my favorite bands, and I will always hold a special place for them in my heart. That being said, I was quite underwhelmed by their live performance this time out. I think the novelty of this band has just worn off a bit for me, personally. I felt like I was watching the same live show I had seen 4 times before. Getting the crowd involved in the same tired chants: check. Singer Trevor Strnad takes off his shirt to reveal his giant tattoo across his stomach that reads “heartburn”: check. Performing the crowd favorites, and having a generally good time on stage is fantastic sometimes translates very well. However this time the mystery and intensity of this death metal five piece was overshadowed but what appeared to be an attempt of trying possibly too hard. They have always come off to me as having more of a punk rock stage ethos, but nothing surprised me with their setlist or their actions onstage. Solid performance from all standpoints. Sound was great. Leads, drums, vocals…. all performed admirably and with enthusiasm. But I’ve seen this exact performance from them many times before. Their vocalist, while all smiles and laughter between screams, needs to re-establish himself as a metal frontman once again before he continues to come off as a pop punk vocalist singing death metal.

The stage crew began setting up for Carcass, brought out two projection screens about 5 feet tall, and set one up on each side of the drum set. This intrigued me, as a heavy part of Carcass’ early work was gore soaked grindcore that relied heavily on medical references and lyrics based on surgical procedures. Their most recent release, Surgical Steel was a vicious return to form, picking up where they left off in the mid nineties with a devastating melodic death metal sound. I was hoping that perhaps the visuals for the show would match that era’s content.

The band took the stage and it became quickly obvious that their set would be relying heavily on songs from their seminal 1993 album Heartwork. Not that there was anything wrong with that. It also became fairly obvious that the only signs of aging that these guys were going to display was their hair graying a bit. They sounded solid. Their new drummer, Daniel Wilding (although definitely no Ken Owen) was spot on. He hit the pocket and it was very gratifying to see the groove of their sound translate so well into a live performance. Jeff Walker not only maintains his signature snarl, but I think it has gotten better with age. Without a visual, I would swear that I was listening to this band perform in the mid nineties.

Carcass2Carcass played a fairly rounded setlist, touching on every album. Unfortunately, they only played a brief medley of track from my favorite of their albums, Swansong. But I can’t be too greedy. They joked a bit with the crowd, involving them a bit, and their live sound was very tight. Not a whole lot of movement from the Jeff Walker or Bill Steer (remaining original members), as they are getting up there in years. But their enthusiasm seemed very genuine, and their performances were that of a couple seasoned veterans. The visuals that I had hoped for were nothing more than strange art film images and a seemingly random mix of religious symbols. Toward the end they took on a gore oriented visual as they performed the classics “Exhume to Consume” and “Corporal Jigsore Quandary”. It made me feel like I was at a classic goregrind show in 1994. Maybe it was purely my overwhelming nostalgia. I don’t care. It was great.

Overall, a solid performance from Carcass. The Black Dahlia Murder came off as campy. Gorguts were relatively boring. Noisem were fun, even with terrible sound. Bastard Feast made me uncomfortable, and I like it.

 

Adam Mattson

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen [Book]

Bad Monkey by Carl HiaasenAndrew Yancy–late of the Miami Police, soon-to-be-late of the Key West Police–has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, his commander might relieve him of Health Inspector duties, aka Roach Patrol. But first Yancy will negotiate an ever-surprising course of events–from the Keys to Miami to a Bahamian out island–with a crew of equally ever-surprising characters, including: the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; an avariciously idiotic real estate developer; a voodoo witch whose lovers are blinded-unto-death by her particularly peculiar charms; Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous Bad Monkey, who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with hilariously wicked aplomb.

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I stumbled upon this little book by Carl Hiaasen simply by process of elimination.  Our local library here has a very limited selection of audiobooks.  I’ve resorted to scouring the world wide web for books to listen to while I cook up so atrociously too crazy dinners for my family, and have had some success.  But, sometimes it is just easier to pop in a disc every once in a while without the worry of wifi signals being as distorted as tween romance connections.  But, as I mentioned, the library here is very limited.  In fact, basically anything I may be interested in, I have already featured in this series.  The last two Stephen King books I reviewed were part of this category.  And unless I really want to torture myself with some bullshit John Grisham law fiction, or the enter Fifty Shades series, the library is pretty much dead to me now.  (Note:  I do read REAL books, but the joy of audiobooks is a great blessing for a husband and father of three with a full time job.)

Carl HiaasenBut, no matter how I came across the work of Mr. Hiaasen, I am certainly glad I did.  I have previously mentioned that I am not one for books that primarily follow cops.  But, I am a big fan of comedic based mystery novels, which often times featured cops.  So, you take the good, you take the bad, take the rest and then you have….well, you get the point.  Bad Monkey turned out to be an absolutely amazing little story, that if not taken to seriously, is a fine read.  Hiaasen has a unique way of forming a story in a manner the likes of the which I have rarely known.  Bad Monkey is written in a (sort of) third person nature, but has a personalized feel for whichever character happens to be the main feature for the given chapter.  He is mostly writing for or about the book’s protagonist Andrew Yancy, but he switches it up at just the right time, to sort of understand what other key players are thinking at any given time, during whatever scenario may be occurring at that particular moment.  Although it is safe to say that the common reader is continuously going to be wishing nothing but the best for Inspector Yancy, and will be thoroughly upset when things don’t go his way, and rejoice when he makes a break through.

The “mystery” of Bad Monkey is discovered rather early on in the reading, which was sort of strange to say the least.  But, Hiaasen won’t let a reader off that damn easy!  There are still plenty of mysteries to be discovered and surprises to be found.  And while I had never heard of Hiaasen, I soon learned through the good people of the internet that this is a very common trait for this well loved author.  Folks have continuously praised the man as one of the finest comedic mystery writers of our day.  And if Bad Monkey is but one example of how great he truly is, I know that I will be digging in a bit more into this cat.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society. We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books. This is review #14. Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014. Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind. For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE. Enjoy!

10 (more) Great Indie Rock Songs For Kids Under 10 (and one 90’s R&B track for good measure) [Exclusive]

girlsA few months ago I posted our first session of 10 Great Indie Rock Songs For Kids Under 10 with an immense of pride in my beautiful three little daughters.  They had become immersed in some really good tunes during the time that I was away in the Land of the Morning Calm thanks to my lovely wife. But, alas, we went and “fucked it all away” as one track on the following list might state.  Where did we go wrong?  Well, a little film from the small and minute company known as “Disney” but out yet another one of their silly little animated movies.  It was called Frozen.  And it soon took over our motherfucking lives with a steel reprimand hoisted above the once high heads we were once holding so high in pride for the coolness we thought we had instilled upon our children.

I would soon learn about some sort of “Let It Go” video craze, in which parents would film their kids singing this damn song from the movie (maybe, you have heard it?  You know, if you have ears and basic cable?).  It became phenomenon.  Awards were one, the creators were praised, College Humor dissed, blah, blah blah.  Hell, I certainly could have uploaded several versions of the videos myself if I were so self inclined.  The girls just would not stop singing these goddamned songs.  Yet I could not bring myself to act upon such types of douchebaggery.  Even though, as some of you know, I am all about exploiting the cuteness of my kids for a few hundred page views (this post being simple proof), but even I could not bring myself to gravitate towards such hapless and classless measures.  I began to instantly regret the trip to Vancouver we took to watch this ridiculous movie at a comfortable Cinetopia.

But, alas, we are trying to regain our daughter’s coolness.  Although, just recently Frozen was released on home video, so the efforts might be stalled.  But, alas, we are still trying.  I have recently introduced my youngest daughter to the beauty of Bob Dylan, and she seems to be taking a liking to it.  Many of the other tracks on here are one’s they have loved, have learned to love, so on and so on.  Some of them are disputably “indie”, but I am not getting into that argument over some songs that are good for kids.  Besides, it is a long slow recovery from the addiction of Demi Lovato and Disney movies.  But we are slowly helping them back towards the road to recovery.  Even if that means letting them enjoy a few Mumford and Sons songs.  So, here I present to you 10 more great indie rock songs for kids under 10.  And yeah, in the event of their recovery, and current relapse, I decided I would introduce a song that was absolutely the bee’s freaking knees when I was 9 years old.  Which is not a even a rock song at all, but a stellar 90’s stylized R&B song that I think history will someday show as a brilliant addition to the world of music.

So, I offer up these next few songs up to all of those who may be willing to take up arms against the devilishly catchy tunes that bullshit pop stars and the Disney corporation may try to infest upon the world.  And also as an apology to all of those who have managed to keep their kids successfully cool for all of these years.  Please show me the ways.  With that being said, please enjoy 10 (More) Great Indie Rock Songs For Kids Under 10 ( and one 90’s R&B track for good measure).

Note:  The tracks that are Bob Dylan covers were by chosen at random by me because I thought they sounded cool and did cool covers.  It was the original versions of the songs from Blood on the Tracks that made my daughter happy.  I just felt this might bring me some sort of salvation.  Alright, enjoy!

 

 

The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still

Tom Russell – Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts (Bob Dylan cover)

Jonathan David – If You See Her Say Hello (Bob Dylan cover)

Twin Forks – Back To You

The Weepies – Gotta Have You

The Shins – New Slang

Mumford and Sons – Broken Crown

The Lumineers – Stubborn Love

Sea Wolf – Middle Distance Runner

Of Monsters and Men – Your Bones

And for a bit of good measure, I’ve also turned my kids onto this classic gem of a track:

Soul For Real – Candy Rain