Monday, 14 September 2009

The Blog Is Dead, Long Live The Blog...

Regular readers of Shades of Caruso will have noticed that posting has become patchy of late. All three contributors -- myself, Canyon, and Masticator -- have had the usual Real Life complications stand in the way of regular posting, which is probably the way most blogs end up. There have been a vast number of posts I've started but not been able to finish, and the sight of them in my dashboard is like torture. The aborted Face/Offs (Knowing vs. The Day The Earth Stood Still; 28 Dresses vs. I Could Never Be Your Woman; The Fountain vs. Southland Tales), the unfinished Sci-Fi Through Time And Space entries (Charlie Jade, Dante 01), the incomplete BBC Breakfast Watch posts (so much fear of the future), the unstarted CSI: Miami recaps (dropped so long ago when they turned this blog into a weird battleground for some very very angry people)... Oh how I wanted to finish them. But I didn't. If I'm not going to write about all of the things I'm passionate about, what's the point?

And yet, at the risk of sounding unhinged, I need this in my life. It's the place where I keep my thoughts on pop culture straight. That's something that Twitter and the various message boards and comment threads I inhabit cannot do for me. Nevertheless, this unlovely blog template and the crappy functionality, which make me feel so depressed whenever I see it, have got to go. I know I'm not alone. One regular reader's very first comment on the blog was, "It's ugly". She did eventually said she liked some of the content. Still, the hurt remains.

So, I'm trying something out. Though I'm not going the whole hog by sorting out servers and downloading WordPress 2.8.1 or whatever the hell it's called (hours have been wasted trying to figure out what an FTP Client is. Embarrassing), I've started the new Shades of Caruso in a new, prettier place. It's still under construction, but I've been putting off doing this for way too long. Consider this blog an archive of the old stuff, and this the final post (unless something weird happens). The new stuff is over at, and to commemorate this, I'm announcing the winners (and losers) of the annual Shades of Caruso TV Awards for the 2008-2009 TV season. Incentive! That's how these things work, right?

Bye bye Blogger. Hello Wordpress...

Monday, 7 September 2009

Rock Band Wish List #4: (Addendum)

Recently I praised Activision and Neversoft for their eclectic range of songs in Guitar Hero 5, but today I come to bury them. Because this shit just isn't acceptable.

It might be hard to believe, but I do try to avoid preciousness or excess fragility when dealing with pop culture ephemera, and not get my knickers in a twist about, say, JJ Abrams coming along and making Spock and Uhura a couple (I thought it was quite sweet, actually), but with music, it's different. Music is more personal, and the connection to certain creators is more direct. When Kurt died, it fucking hurt. Hurt me, hurt my friends. I still remember the night his death was announced like it was yesterday. Years earlier my mother had been reduced to tears over the deaths of Elvis and John Lennon, and I hadn't understood why she would do that. When Cobain died, I got it.

This Rolling Stone article -- or should I say retyped press release -- claims that this only came about once Courtney Love (that brave defender of Cobain's legacy) signed off on it, along with Primary Wave Publishing and Dave Grohl, but it's unclear whether they're talking about the music or the image.

The licensing deal had been in the works for years, but Activision’s Vice President of Music Affairs Tim Riley is still pinching himself. ” ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is a song that we’ve had at the top of our wish list ever since I came to Guitar Hero,” he tells Rolling Stone from his office in Santa Monica. “So it’s been a while.”

Indeed, securing the proper approvals was no small feat. Not only did Cobain’s widow Courtney Love have to sign off on behalf of the estate, so did former drummer Dave Grohl and Primary Wave Publishing, which administers the Nirvana catalog. “There’s a lot of moving parts to something like this,” Riley explains. “But it was about timing, not an issue of resistance. We almost did it for World Tour, but we couldn’t get it together. Then after three years of working with the different parties, it was like the perfect storm.”

Naturally, Love did have some concerns. Namely, Cobain’s physique, Riley reveals. “Courtney supplied us with photos and videos and knew exactly what she wanted Kurt to look like,” he says. “She picked the wardrobe and hair style, which turned out to be the ‘Teen Spirit’ look, then we went back and forth over changes — some subtle, some not so subtle.” In column B? Love’s reference to the Greek God Adonis, whose youthful good looks made the male deity an object of desire. “She certainly had a physical image in mind,” says Riley. “She wanted him to have that sort of athletic definition but not overly so.” And while Love has long had a reputation for being difficult, Riley’s experience was anything but. “She was actually great to work with,” he says. “She got back with comments pretty quickly.”

I'll bet she got back to them quickly. Milos Forman hasn't been rushing to cast her in another movie, I'll wager. Would Grohl have any say in image control rights? He can't have thought this was a good idea, surely. And what about Krist Novoselic? I'm unclear about how the Nirvana estate has been handled, but doesn't he have a say?

Whatever. I'm pissed, and I'm not the only one. I'm coming in late to the game complaining about this, but it needed to be said, my recent excitement about the game was done before I realised this had happened. Shades of Caruso does not endorse this bullshit.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Rock Band Wish List #5: The New Pornographers

The Beatles: Rock Band's imminent release means I'm neglecting Rock Band II, which could well be a first for me. It doesn't help that three days ago I downloaded Drop7 to my iPhone and am now hallucinating numbers like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind.

Nevertheless, as addictive as that game is (it's like crack and heroin got spliced in a telepod with a heap of bacon bits), it's not going to feature Here Comes The Sun, so it will have to take a backseat soon. As I've said before, I'm not the biggest Beatles fan, which makes my enthusiasm for this game all the more surprising. I'm so eager that I've decided against buying Batman: Arkham Asylum, instead saving those pounds so that I can belt out Back in the USSR a week from now. The Batman-loving part of my brain is very angry at the Rock-Band-loving part of my brain.

Until the day TB:RB comes out, or is superseded by potential follow-ups such as The Rolling Stones: Rock Band, The Beach Boys: Rock Band, Radiohead: Rock Band, or Dewey Cox: Rock Band...

...I can still keep wishing on a star for new Rock Band DLC. The recent additions to the library have been superb: ten Spinal Tap tracks, an assortment of Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac songs, and the one Kaiser Chiefs single I like (I Predict a Riot, predictably). Even better than that, tomorrow will see the release of a five song Talking Heads pack, comprising Girlfriend Is Better, And She Was, Take Me To The River, Crosseyed and Painless, and Once in a Lifetime. All we need now is a Big Suit peripheral, and it's gonna be Stop-Making-Sense-HQ up in this bitch.

Of course, filling this blog with wishes is one very unreliable way to get my favourite songs on the game. The Rock Band website, however, is just fantastic, linking with the game and allowing you to make requests for future Rock Band songs on your own home page. Of course, I really doubt that my exhortations will be heeded, just as they probably won't here, either, but it's a lovely feature, as is the photo gallery, which allows you to create photos of your band members. Here is the full roster of The Vic Mackeyz, with (left to right) Daisy Hellcakes, McJoggah, Jen Sanity, and George Murderer:

Sadly, I am currently unable to rescue our Oscar night band -- Illitaritt Natzys -- from Rock Band I obscurity. Shame that. Also a shame I won't be able to customise the Beatles line-up in TB:RB, otherwise I'd have Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best, Yoko Ono, and Will Oldham (for variety).

Anyway, what do I want on Rock Band now? One song occupied my head completely during a recent trip to the States. From Electric Version -- an album I listened to after falling for the title track in Rock Band, aptly enough -- it's The Laws Have Changed, which is a strong contender for Greatest Pop Song Ever Recorded. (And yes, that is indeed Nicki "Cally from Battlestar Galactica" Clyne going mental in the video.

And then Harmonix can follow it up with all of Neko Case's magnificent album Middle Cyclone. For my forthcoming birthday. Thanks in advance, chaps.