The Jealous Sound – A Gentle Reminder

At the bottom of The Jealous Sound’s new website (scratch that — brand new, with lots of coming-soon/under-construction caution tape) is the line: “a second chance rarely comes along.”

For a band that released one great LP, way back in 2003, truer words are rarely spoken. A nine-year hiatus is fine when you’re an established act; reunion tours generate their own publicity and the hyperbolic hyphenate “long-awaited” gets carelessly thrown around all over the internet. But for these guys, who faded out before ever realizing on the promise of Kill Them With Kindness, the just-released A Gentle Reminder (2012, Music Is Subjective) truly is a second chance.

The band traces its origins to UC Davis in the mid-90’s (not coincidentally, the same birthplace for my love of this much-maligned offshoot of punk rock), and Blair Shehan’s band Knapsack. They became The Jealous Sound in 2000 after moving to Los Angeles, and released their first EP right as “emo” started to become a bad word. Even Pitchfork, back in its ultra-pretentious days, acknowledged Kindness as “a solid set of rock songs that hovers somewhere between the professionalism of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American and your favorite slice of homegrown emotion.”

It then remained to be seen if The Jealous Sound would, like Jimmy Eat World, overcompensate in an effort to distance themselves from the mainstream and lose themselves musically. Or maybe they would ride the wave of alternative-eyeliner hardcore and degenerate into Hot Topic popcorn like, say, Alkaline Trio. Maybe they would undergo a successful transformation into a grown-up indie band by following a Promise Ring/Maritime model. Or, they could just disappear…

Continue reading The Jealous Sound – A Gentle Reminder

Ghostmann’s Angry Comic Book Review of the Month: Justice League #5

Foreword: Sometimes you just gotta vent and writing a pissed off review is WAY more fun than writing a serious one. Lucky for me there are a lot of shitty comic books out there on the stands. Here’s one of them….

Sorry, I’m not in the best of moods as I write this review right now so bear with me – there could be a multitude of expletives spewing forth.

This comic is fucking stupid.

In a world of great team books like Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force, The Ultimates, and even DC’s Justice League International, I would be embarrassed to have my name on the cover of Justice League #5. What the fuck is going on with Geoff Johns here? Seriously, I’m not joking. There needs to be a goddamn intervention quick. Hey Mark Waid, Rick Remender, and Jason Aaron, your fellow comic book writer has hit bottom. You need to reach out to him and let him know that he’s not only hurting himself but the people he loves. It’s time to sit down, guys, and write a letter to Geoff reminding him of the good times, and also letting him know that if he continues to write shit like Justice League #5 the following will happen: comics written by Geoff Johns will no longer be welcome in your house. If Geoff Johns calls and wants to do a cross-over with your comic you will turn him away. Continue reading Ghostmann’s Angry Comic Book Review of the Month: Justice League #5

The Best of DC’s New 52: #4, Batwoman

4. Batwoman – J.H Williams III and W. Haden Blackman

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward apperance of things, but their inward significance.”

-Aristotle

I love comic books.

Like most kids back in the days before the internet and X-Box, I got a lot of my entertainment from comic books. I would ride my bike down to the corner store and browse that spinner rack full of four-colored worlds, looking for the right one that would transport me into another universe, another realm, another saga. My friends and I would spend lazy summers outside reading comics, drinking root beer, and dreaming.

As I got older my friends moved on to more “adult” hobbies, but I stayed with comics. Through my high school years I would get “nerd” thrown in my face as I walked out of the comic book store with a stack under my arm. Instead of attending keggers, I was writing and drawing my own comics. For my American history final exam, instead of  writing a boring paper, double spaced and bound, I wrote and drew a 12 page comic book – featuring my American history teacher and class. I got an A on it. I got an A in Art class. I wrote a paper on the future of comic book sales for economics. I was the school newspaper’s artist. In my creative writing class I turned in comic book scripts.

Comics have always served me well.

Even now, as the second half of my life begins I still head into the comic shop every Wednesday to pick up those wonderful 22-page escapes into the universes, realms, and sagas that have become like a second home to me. These never-ending stories of good vs. evil will always be there for me. These stories never die. “To Be Continued” forever.

Batwoman’s story started 56 years ago in Detective Comics issue #233. Created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff, Batwoman/Kathy Kane was introduced into the DC Universe as a love interest for Batman/Bruce Wayne. For some reason people back in the 50’s thought it was weird that a grown man (Bruce) would live with a 13 year old boy (Dick Grayson/Robin). Rumors of homosexuality flew like bat guano. A lot of the shit flinging came from the direction of the book The Seduction of the Innocent. A book that claimed comics were corrupting the youth of America with their depictions of sex and violence and horror. As result of this bullshit witch-hunt the Comics Code Authority was created to “police” the comic book creators and censor art. At any rate, Kathy Kane was here to say “hey look everybody, Batman’s not gay.” Continue reading The Best of DC’s New 52: #4, Batwoman

The Best of DC’s New 52: #5, Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E

5. Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. – Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli

I’m not a comics fan.

Never have been. Most likely never will be, but that doesn’t stop my peer group from continually trying to push them on me. Because, you see, I am a socially-maladjusted nerd, so it should be something I’m rather keen on. But I’m just not interested, so here’s my Final Statement after spending twenty years surrounded by people who are:

  • I don’t care about Watchmen, and no matter how many times I “borrow” your copy (i.e., accept it as it is shoved into my hands to get you to quit bugging me about it), I am never going to read it.
  • I don’t care about Frank Miller, or the other one.*
  • I don’t care about cross-overs or multiple universes. Or the “death” of any superhero, which always seems to be a minor media event even though everyone knows damn well he won’t be gone for long.

I do care about Idle Time ranking projects, though, so here I am. Always willing to lean into the pitch and take one for the team, even if it means reading over fifty fucking funnybooks in way too short a time. Sometimes through gritted teeth, more often simply nodding off, but occasionally experiencing a flash of genuine tolerance, I paged my way through each issue of DC Comics’ “New 52.” (About 36 of which seemed to be Green Lantern-related. Those DC chumps really bet the farm on that turd of a movie last summer, didn’t they?) Continue reading The Best of DC’s New 52: #5, Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E

2011 in Music

Happy Anniversary Idle Time!  Today marks the tenth anniversary of our merry band of pop culture enthusiasts, and we couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the celebration, as well as The Year of Idle Time, than announcing our signature list.

Click the link for a tour through our Favorite Forty of 2011. On behalf of Will (WH), Isey (MI), Rex (RF), Donno (DH), and myself (MDG), as well as the numerous friends and contributors we’ve tasked over the year and will continue to harass for content (I’m looking at you, ghostmann), thanks for humoring us. We’re going to bug the hell out of you this year.

The Worst of DC’s New 52

Comic book events have been convenient ways of tricking my otherwise four-color-phobic Idle Time brethren into reading comics. Remember in 2008 when we hosted the Secret Invasion pool? Or late last year when Erik tried to organize a comics-themed podcast? (I haven’t given up on you, ghostmann) Nothing really worked. Comics is still a distant third place in the Idle Time media hierarchy.

definitely smells like something...

Then DC announced its “New 52” initiative: fifty-two brand-new number-one issues, including re-boots on iconic books like Batman and Green Lantern. Incredible creative teams were assembled. Everything was going to be fresh, and opportunity for reaching new readers had never been greater. The plan met with huge opposition from DC faithful, of course; there was even a protest organized for last year’s SDCC. But for people like me, eager to see comics attack a broader audience (just don’t mess with my Marvel books), this seemed promising. Even Uncle Isey, the Holy Bee himself, long the staunchest hold-out to the funnybooks, enthusiastically declared, “I’m in.”

So the two of us, along with Rex, who never needs an excuse to be asked to read a huge pile of comics, tasked ourselves with reading all fifty-two of the DCnU’s premiere issues. We employed our patent-pending Idle Time roulette system to rank the lot and we now know, unequivocally, which of these new series are worth picking up… and which should be used for kindling and birdcage liners. Erik “ghostmann” Hanson, a longtime DC stalwart, will be chiming in on our Top list, as will the mysterious Lazy Bear, who we’ve forced out of his eleven-month slumber with comic book homework.   We’re already five months in on many of the titles, and the first collected editions of these books hit shelves beginning in May. Now, then, is the perfect time to tell you what to read, and what to avoid. Continue reading The Worst of DC’s New 52

Julie Taymor’s Phony-Baloney Beatles Movie: A Retrospective Rant

My personalized Amazon Gold Box Quick Pick of the Day yesterday was the DVD of Across The Universe for $7.99. Man, Amazon doesn’t know me at all.

There is the casual Beatles fan, and then there’s me and Mark Lewisohn. (If you get that reference, you can join me and Mark Lewisohn.) Back in ’07 when this flick hit the theaters, about a half-dozen well-intentioned but clueless people asked me if I was going to rush out to see it, and my answer was “No, and if you go see it and I find out you did, then you and I are no longer on speaking terms.” What director Julie Taymor has concocted is a paen to “casual” Beatles fans and obnoxious, aging Baby Boomers, and a slap in the face to serious Beatles fans everywhere.

OK, that last sentence was a little obnoxious itself, but, dammit, I’m upset. So let me lay my case out slowly and clearly, simple enough for even a Doors fan to understand. Continue reading Julie Taymor’s Phony-Baloney Beatles Movie: A Retrospective Rant