October 13, 2006

Last night, in honor of it being Friday the 13th, we went to see a midnight show of a play about Jack the Ripper.

Viva la thirteen!

October 9, 2006

I have re-discovered the greatness of music videos.

Not current videos. Not, you know, schlock from Jessica Simpson and whoever else the kids are into these days. But good videos. Videos by artists who understand that videos are opportunity for wild pageantry and larger-than-life encounters. Videos by artists whose sheer old school coolness makes even the dumbest video amazing. Fucking great videos. I have been watching it all lately. From Buddy Holly by Weezer (omigod the Fonz!) to Bicycle Race by Queen. And I have created (though I am generally opposed to lists and ranks and such), a Top Thirteen list of Wicked Awesome Videos You Should Damn Well See Because They Rock.

Why thirteen? Honey, this ain't The Late Show. This is a CRYPT.

Top Thirteen Wicked Awesome Vidoes You Should Damn Well See Because They Rock

13. Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, Marilyn Manson

Not only is it appropriate for a song about hell by Marilyn Manson to be at number thirteen, but this video is really visually arresting. Actually, all of Manson's videos are visually arresting and incredibly weird. I absolutely love them. This one makes the list because honestly, he looks so beautiful in drag. Goth drag. Whatever. And lovely models are used to create still life scenarios involving sex and long needles in flowers as the camera swings wildly around them.

12. Under Pressure, Queen

Freddy Mercury with a full on porno 'stache, tight white pants, and no shirt doing what Freddy Mercury does best onstage. Which is sing, adopt odd stances, and look incredibly retro-sexy. Plus it's a killer song.

11. I Started A Joke, Faith No More

It's set in a cheesy karaoke nightclub and some fat guy in a bad suit introduces some singer we've never heard of with his rendition of Faith No More's I Started A Joke. Already I love it for the gutsiness of putting your own song under the fromage lens of karaoke. Then the performance gets very emotionally riveting and the audience, formerly mocking, ends up teary. It's brilliant and hilarious. And sort of touching.

10. The Sweetest Thing, U2

U2 videos tend towards dullness for me. They get a gimmick and then beat it to death for the duration of the song. But in this case, it works. It's Bono in a car enlisting the help of passing string quartets, boxing coaches, a dog puppet, and marching bands to apologize to his off-camera girlfriend. It's the cutest video. I would forgive him for, you know, being Bono if he made it for me.

9. The Nobodies, Marilyn Manson

This is easily my favorite Marilyn Manson song EVER (though admittedly every other song he does is probably tied for second) and the video is a pageant of glorious weirdness. From Manson's ram-horned head gear to Manson as a skeletal tree in a boggy wasteland to the children in the machine, this video has it all. If all of what you want is freakish orphanages, the devil in nailpolish, writhing around in mud, and the suggestion of cannibalism.

8. In The Air Tonight, Phil Collins

This is the dumbest video ever. Like everything from ... but seriously, it tries too hard to be cool and edgy. The result is something less brilliant than your average YouTube offering. But the difference between YouTube and In The Air Tonight is Phil Collins. Decades and common sense have relegated Phil Collins to the bottom shelf of celebrity status where, presumably, he still does weddings and Disney soundtracks, but when you see this video and its extreme close-ups of Phil's frown and its flashing technicolor negative imagery, you can't help but get all nostalgic for the 80s and for Phil himself. It's so dumb it's brilliant. It will never, now, be anything less than absolute art.

7. Learn To Fly, Foo Fighters

Jack Black and Kyle from Tenacious D are drug smugglers and the Foos are everybody else on the plane including themselves, the pilots, the effeminate air hostesses, and random fat girls and babies. That's really all you need to know. If you're not already laughing, you're dead inside. Their video for Big Me ripping off the Mentos commercials used to be my favorite but Learn To Fly eclipses it by a margin of sheer audacity. They also get special props for best insertion of actual band footage by having the on-flight entertainment be a Foo Fighters concert.

6. Easy, Faith No More

This may be the second dumbest video ever but I have a soft spot for both the song and drag queens. Since the video features copious amounts of both, I'm sold. Faith No More have the ability to actually make things this dumb cool. Unlike Phil Collins who was made cool by nostalgia, Faith No More were too cool for words and so they didn't have to care about things like good photography, coherence of story, or relevance to lyrics. It's a bunch of drag queens primping around the band in a grainy hotel room. Or something. It's so good.

5. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, The Beatles

WTF! I need to explain this? It's the freakin BEATLES! Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is a trip. And that is exactly what it was supposed to be. It's not really supposed to make sense in any linear fashion. You're supposed to take LSD and then go "shit... dude... totally". Visionary.

4. Astonishing Panorama of the End Times, Marilyn Manson

In this video Manson is wearing his feathered-black-leather-jock-strap-body-stocking concoction from the Rock is Dead video but the catch here is that HE'S CLAYMATION! Well, maybe not claymation precisely but he is definitely animated. The entire video, which features Manson and his band rocking out hard onstage at a concert, is rendered in some manner of claymation. And it looks exactly like them. The little clay Marilyn Manson swaggers and screams and fists the air as the little clay Twiggy thrashes and the little clay crowd goes mad... oh, it's just absolute perfection.

3. Take On Me, Ah-ha

Like all great 80s bands Ah-ha died a quick death at the hands of grunge (damn Seattle and their endless supply of garages with bands in them) but before they did, they left us this little gem as a token of how great they once were. And by "great" I mean "cheesy". And by "cheesy" I mean "priceless". In Take On Me, the lead singer of Ah-ha is rendered as a sort of poorly drawn sepia-toned comic character who cavorts through comic frames and pages on the run from the poorly drawn police. All this is read/watched by a real-life girl in a diner. An unpaid bill, the girl getting drawn into the comic, and the crumpling of the pages later, and the girl is in her room with the now-static comic. As she mourns the loss of her poorly drawn would-be love, she sees him in the mirror slamming from side to side, flickering in and out of being poorly drawn and real. In the end, he becomes flesh and steps out to take her in his arms. It's seriously the cheesiest thing ever but is so absolutely gold in terms of nostalgia that Family Guy has already ripped it off. You know you're hot when Family Guy bothers to mock you.

2. Across The Universe, Fiona Apple

This is a remake of a Beatles song which is generally never a good idea except in the case of Fiona Apple who is genius. The song is from the Pleasantville soundtrack and for all three of you who watched Pleasantville, the video will be a rare treat. It features Fiona at her waif-goddess best simply singing to the camera while she moves through a black and white 50s style diner. As she wanders, the diner is trashed around her in a giant brawl that seems oddly poetic when set to the haunting strains of Fiona's voice. It's beautiful in a very simple way and manages to evoke the spirit of Pleasantville without ever inserting cheesy movie clips into the flow of the song.

1. Personal Jesus, Marilyn Manson

'Four videos by Marilyn Manson in the top thirteen?' you cry. It could easily have been more. I didn't list The Dope Show which features a hilarious cameo by Billy Zane and that androgynous suit or (s)AINT with it's drug-hazed, blood-soaked desperation. No, instead I only chose four. And Personal Jesus makes the number one slot because it is just so damn lush. It's Depeche Mode as filtered through Marilyn Manson's flair for the dramatic. It looks like art - all gorgeous washes of color in the background and highly stylized glam-rock suits on the band - but plays like a dirty dream with corseted gothic nuns and lingerie-clad girls riding bulls. Even Manson's make-up is perfection - black kohl, white lashes, diamonds, and crimson lips. It's like Christmas for your eyes.