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music friday: pink, “i got money now”

This week is a bit of a cheat, because I’m not going to write about a song. My wife and I got to talking tonight, after I mentioned a tidbit I had read about a musician I love. We had just watched Pink on Jon Stewart, and we wondered how much Pink was worth. Well, we really wondered how much Carey Hart was worth, and how that compared to his wife. This led to a web-surfing session to find the net worth of various musicians.

Like, say, rappers. Diddy is worth $500 million. Jay-Z is worth $475 million. LL Cool J, who is also a TV star, is worth $80 million.

Or take band members. Ringo is worth $300 million, Max Weinberg $35 million. Singers? Paul McCartney, $800 million, Madonna $650 million, Bono $600 million, Beyonce $300 million, Prince $250 million, Bruce Springsteen $200 million, Britney Spears $200 million, Gwen Stefani $80 million, Missy Elliott $50 million, Carole King $15 million.

You get the idea.

Oh, and Pink is worth $40 million, Carey Hart $5 million.

What got me interested in this topic was a quote from a recent interview by David Grossman with Corin Tucker:

Grossman: You also do have a job as a web developer for a medical supplies company, right?

Tucker: Yes, I do.

Grossman: How’s that going?

Tucker: Good, really good. I’m really fortunate to have a job and am grateful that they’re able to be flexible with the other things I do.

I am a big fan of most of the rich musicians I listed above. I’m not here to dis their musical talents. But Corin Tucker is one of the great vocalists of her day, and a key member of one of the greatest bands of our time. She seems to like her day job … I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here. But next month I’ll be seeing Corin Tucker in concert, and in November I’ll see Bruce Springsteen, and next February I’ll see Pink. I like them all for different reasons, with Bruce at the top of my list, of course. I just think it’s odd that Bruce is worth $200 million, Pink is worth $40 million, and Corin Tucker supplements her music income working as a web developer. (And tickets for the big-name concerts will approach $100, while Tucker’s show is $15.)

I guess I should add some music here. This is Pink with “I Got Money Now” (“You don’t have to like me anymore, I got money now”):

blast from the past: vic-20

Blast from the Past day on Google+:

Our first computer, c.1983:


We got this near the end of its run, the Commodore 64 having already appeared. As I have mentioned before, we can thanks a salesperson at Macy’s, where we bought the machine … I wanted a Timex Sinclair 1000, which would have quickly become a doorstop. He recommended the VIC-20 because it had a real keyboard. The two most important things, personally, to come from the VIC-20 were that we went online for the first time with the addition of a VIC modem, and I was published for the first time when a BASIC program I wrote showed up in COMPUTE!'s Gazette. The day after I quit working in the factory, a check arrived for something like $1500 for that little program.

first thoughts on kill my blues

I never listen to albums anymore, much less buy them, and here I am, writing about a new album for the second day in a row. Yesterday it was Pink, today it’s the Corin Tucker Band.

I read a few reviews, all of which commented on the lyrical themes of the album. I mostly missed them; as I said yesterday, my first time through an album, I’m not paying attention to lyrics. I can tell you that the album comes out crunching with a track called “Groundhog Day” that’s a real pile driver. An after-the-fact look at the lyrics tells me that Tucker paints herself as a “Rip Van Winkle in a denim mini skirt” who “took some time to be a mom” and is now distressed that the place of women hasn’t advanced: “We fight the same battle, over and over again.” But what really matters is that the song is 2 1/2 minutes of concentrated power rock.

Most of the album has that sound. It’s not exactly a return to S-K form after the contemplative first Corin Tucker Band album, 1,000 Years, although it has a lot of the power that band carried. But where the first two Sleater-Kinney albums had a “we’re learning how to play our instruments” feel, and where the next few albums had a “holy shit Janet Weiss roolz” feel, and where by The Woods they were a complete band, inventive, noisy, and even greater than great, and where Wild Flag has a different kind of power that always threatens to careen off the stage … compared to all of that, Kill My Blues is very tight, with a compact power that usually feels controlled.

Of course, there’s Tucker’s voice, still one the great instruments in rock and roll. Her vocals, like the album as a whole, is more controlled than ever, and while there has always been a thrill in hearing Tucker let fly, she’s added what I can only call maturity to the package … she picks her moments now, and the music is the better for it.

The first album was unfairly neglected, probably because it was relatively quiet, especially when inevitably compared to the raucousness of Wild Flag. Kill My Blues shows that Tucker hasn’t lost her feel for the roar. It makes an interesting companion piece to the new Pink album: both singers are now moms, both have to deal with the stereotypes that implies, and both manage to blend the adult nature of their current lives with the youthful feel of rock rebellion in entertaining, exciting ways.

boardwalk empire, season three premiere

One problem I have with series that last awhile is that I’ve already said my piece. Whatever I have to say about the Season 3 premiere of Boardwalk Empire, I’ve already said before. The exceptions come when a series reaches a new level, or when it becomes to feel rote.

Boardwalk Empire ended last season on a brave note, eliminating a main character because it made narrative sense. So things are a bit different as the new season begins. Nonetheless, the things I said about Seasons 1 and 2 still hold: Boardwalk Empire looks gorgeous, has a “film” feel to it, plays well with the mixture of real and fictional characters, and features a great stable of actors playing interesting characters.

I look forward to it every week, and I am never disappointed. Yet something keeps it from achieving the heights of the greatest series, and I’m not sure why that’s the case. Still, I can say that if you liked the first two seasons, you’ll like this season’s premiere, and I assume that bodes well for the rest of the season. I’ve been giving Boardwalk Empire an A- since it started, and I see no reason to change that. If you’re so inclined, you can treat that A- the way American River College does, and consider it an A.

first thoughts on the truth about love

Pink’s new album is out today. I preordered, and just listened to it for the first time. I’m not big on lyrics during early listens … a song appeals to me at first for its sound. The Truth About Love starts off with a big beat, leading to a catchy opener, “All We Are We Are”:

Then there’s “True Love” (“You’re an asshole, but I love you” … that’s a lyric even I’ll notice), and the title track, which sounds a bit like if Wild Flag made a Go-Gos song:

Pink’s album always surprised, because they were never quite like the ones before. On first listen, The Truth About Love isn’t such a leap. At various times, it sounds like all of her previous work. But she’s far from stale, and her take about modern love is as tough as you’d expect from someone who wrote a great kiss-off song and then got the jilted lover to play himself in the video. They’re married now, with a kid, but songs like “The Truth About Love” peel back the happy layers to show the rough spots underneath. Pink sings with such confidence in songs such as “Slut Like You” that it’s infectious. I look forward to getting to know this album better, and I can’t wait for the tour.

what i watched last week

Voices (Ki-hwan Oh, 2007). I decided I should pass some time by watching a Korean horror movie, and ended up here. The plot was pretty goofy, but it snuck up on me, which is to say, it didn’t seem so goofy at first, and by the time I realized it was silly, it was too late. I was already hooked. It’s the kind of horror movie that tosses in something scary and/or gory every dozen minutes to keep your attention, and it worked, since I spent most of the movie oohing and aahing. It’s possible there was supposed to be some larger message here, but if so, I missed it. Voices demonstrates a pretty depressing vision of humankind, but this, too, sneaks up on you; for most of the movie, you think you have someone to root for. By the end, such people were long gone. Not as good as Oldboy or Mother, but still an easy 7/10.

Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010). This sci-fi movie couldn’t be more different from Voices. Made for $800k, or $500k, or a lot less than $500k, depending on who you asked, Monsters features two professional actors along with amateurs who may have thought they were in a documentary. It’s about aliens who land in Mexico and turn into giant octopus-looking creatures. It’s the first feature for director Gareth Edwards, who did the special effects in his bedroom using off-the-shelf computer software. And the male lead’s name is Scoot. I assumed it would be akin to a made-for-SyFy Channel movie, only without a big star like Eric Roberts. Boy, was I wrong. Roger Ebert gave it 3 1/2 stars out of 4. Andrew O’Hehir in Salon called it “a dynamite little film, loaded with atmosphere, intelligence, beauty and courage.” It won three British Independent Film Awards. And Edwards was handed the reins for the Godzilla reboot to be released in 2014, which will likely have a slightly larger budget than Monsters. Monsters isn’t quite as good as the above suggests, but it’s certainly better than a SyFy Channel movie. And the final scene with two aliens is unexpectedly moving. I’m giving it the same rating I gave to Voices, but it sure comes at its 7/10 in a different manner from the Korean film.

revolution, series premiere

There have been a lot of shows in the wake of Lost that offer interesting scenarios but, for various reasons, don’t succeed despite their seeming similarity to the Lost scenario. Revolution has an intriguing pilot, but it already contains ominous seeds of its potential demise. What would we do if all the power went out? (And by “all”, they mean “all”.) It’s not quite Earth Abides … most people do survive the power outage. It is more like Hunger Games, which isn’t a bad move if you are trying to anticipate what today’s audiences want. Revolution has an open-ended central plot designed to keep our attention for multiple seasons, mystery, elements of fantasy … it even has Giancarlo Esposito, which is a plus.

The show Revolution reminds me of more than any, though, is Terra Nova. Revolution has the backing of producer J.J. Abrams, and Jon Favreau directs the pilot; Terra Nova had an intriguing premise, an open-ended central plot, elements of fantasy, and Steven Spielberg behind the scenes. Where Terra Nova failed, though, was in its characters, more specifically, its young characters. I like series that focus on teenage heroes and heroines; I taught a course on Buffy, after all. What I don’t like is lame characters that are all stereotype and no humanity, played by actors who can’t rise above the inanities they are required to perform.

Well, Revolution is headed in that direction. The main character is a teenaged girl/woman that I can not imagine spending entire seasons with, one of the core concepts in making a series that lasts. Giancarlo Esposito can’t carry the show all by himself, especially since he’s not the main character.

It’s not impossible to create a series with a strong, young lead character. Buffy led the way, and many of the best (and worst) subsequent attempts feature female leads. Some succeeded better than others (I liked Dollhouse’s second season, and while Lost Girl is ultimately not my kind of show, I did stick with it for a season-and-a-half because of the strong lead played by Anna Silk … not to mention True Blood, which is insane and cheesy, but it’s better than Terra Nova). Too often, though, I lose interest sooner rather than later. (I’m not sure it fits in with these kinds of shows, but the Bionic Woman remake was off in such a clear way that it’s hard to believe they didn’t see how to fix things: they cast Katee Sackhoff as a semi-regular whose character was far more interesting than the titular one, not to mention Sackhoff’s acting was beyond anything else on the show.)

So I’m giving Revolution more than one episode to prove itself. I gave Terra Nova more than one, that’s the least I can do for this new one. But I’m not optimistic. Grade for pilot: B.

music friday: ringo starr, “it don’t come easy”

“It Don’t Come Easy” was released as a single in early 1971, with Ringo getting credit for writing the song. Nowadays, people think George either co-wrote it with Ringo, or wrote the whole thing himself, but the song belongs to Ringo, in any event. Ringo strains his way through the vocals … his singing had its charms, but he needed the right setting, and I’m not sure the single provided it. He then performed the song at The Concert for Bangladesh, where he forgot the words and yet somehow sounded better than he had on the studio version.

The benefit concert was quite a big deal at the time: two Beatles, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and a large band of fine musicians including Leon Russell and Billy Preston. I don’t know what people think of it now … probably depends on how much you like George. It doesn’t hold a candle to Mad Dogs and Englishmen, the Joe Cocker live album/film that featured many of the same musicians. Dylan overshadows everyone else, and it may say something that, for all the firepower on stage, Billy Preston practically steals the show. But Ringo is Ringo, and for a few minutes, that’s enough.

Here is Preston, with “That’s the Way God Planned It”:

And, for a taste of how it might sound if you took the idea of a super group and turned it into a touring band, here is one from Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Watching this, I wonder why I just didn’t turn this Music Friday into a celebration of the greatness of early Joe Cocker. “Cry Me a River”:

blast from the past: my fro, my son

It’s Thursday, which is Blast from the Past day on Google+. Here’s my contribution:


I’m bad about gauging the age of kids, but I’m guessing Neal was around one year old, so let’s call this 1976. At the time, we lived on N. Valley St., which was near Strawberry Creek, a few blocks southwest of University and Sacramento. Yes, that’s my attempt at a fro … I got my one-and-only perm, hated the process, didn’t much care for the look, either, and never did it again. I also had glasses and a bushy beard. The glasses would become contacts a few years later; the beard (and long hair) disappeared sometime after the arrival of punk.

I wonder what we were looking at. Whatever it was, Neal seems delighted. Me? I was probably thinking that it was almost time to get in the car and drive to the factory for work.