Who Is Harry Nilsson?

Just watched this doc­u­men­tary. Only a hand­ful of artists meet a trag­ic end like this, where their fame endures long after their tal­ent burns out. My old boss at TLA Video, Adri­an Hick­man, used to play Nils­son often at the store. I did­n’t have an ear for it then, but lis­ten­ing to his voice com­plete­ly blew me away. Nils­son was­n’t just a great pop singer/songwriter; the guy was an auteur like Orson Welles, craft­ing a work so dense and poet­ic only to have it undo him.

My favorite part of the doc­u­men­tary? See­ing Nils­son at the height of his fame, par­ty­ing with the Bea­t­les and Elton John. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pho­to mon­tage as thrilling, laugh­ing mani­a­cal­ly at pho­tos that would make fans of The Hang­over blanch. Watch­ing inter­views with guys like Bri­an Wil­son and Van Dyke Parks gave me a sense that Nils­son was­n’t just some maudlin pop singer, but a guy who was liv­ing every moment to the fullest. Equal­ly impor­tant, he set lofty goals and achieved them. He did it all. He did it fast.

Maybe it’s because I’m get­ting old­er, but artists like Har­ry Nils­son appeal to me more now, just as I find myself appre­ci­at­ing vet­er­an ballplay­ers who are still giv­ing it a go long after they’ve been writ­ten off by con­ven­tion­al wis­dom. Makes you won­der how any artist made it through the ’70s alive. Did­n’t mat­ter if you were punk or posh, chances are you were doing things that did con­sid­er­able harm to your person.

Come clean and admit your favorite ’70s rock­ers here. And, yes, you can like the Adverts and X‑Ray Spex and still be total­ly smit­ten with Elton John.

Check Out Nightlands New Video

My friend Mark made it. It’s pret­ty cool, so I’m shar­ing it, but chances are you saw it on Pitch­fork or pret­ty much every blog in the known uni­verse. It’s that good! So are Night­lands. Can’t wait to see them play the Ox in late Jan­u­ary. It’s gonna be down­right cozy in that icebox!

My Favorite New Show: Brew Masters

Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel real­ly knows their demo­graph­ic. “Dead­liest Catch” may have run aground, but leave it to those genius­es to hit upon a sub­ject near­er and dear­er to me: craft beer. The kick­er? Throw Dog­fish Head beer guru Sam Cala­gione into the mix and you’re bound to attract an audi­ence of lit­er­al­ly dozens of beer geeks from around the U.S. A hit!

My main ques­tion is why did­n’t I know about “Brew Mas­ters” before catch­ing a com­mer­cial dur­ing a Tot­ten­ham-Arse­nal match on ESPN2? I’m not even that much of a soc­cer fan. And I fol­low @dogfishbeer on Twit­ter! Serendipity!

Not sure that I’ll be able to watch when it airs as it shares a time slot with a lit­tle show called “Board­walk Empire,” but you bet­ter believe I’ll be DVR-ing it like a boss to watch Mon­day night while Helen checks out “Gos­sip Girl.”

UPDATE: I may have spo­ken to soon. Read this fun­ny post over at A Good Beer Blog for the details. “Cake Boss” of beer sounds apt. Could be a turkey, but I still have love for local craft brew­ers. Go Sam!

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Helen and I have had a hell of a time watch­ing movies late­ly. Between work and rais­ing a very active 17-month-old baby, it’s hard to watch any­thing more than a few sit­coms before pass­ing out on the couch. We ral­lied last night to watch a full-length fea­ture for the first time in months and watched the inter­na­tion­al hit, The Girl With the Drag­on Tat­too. What bet­ter way to cel­e­brat­ing scal­ing back on our Net­flix sub­scrip­tion than by stream­ing a movie, right?

You’ll have to for­give me for not read­ing the books, but when my Dan­ish host mom rec­om­mend­ed them to Helen and me back when we vis­it­ed them in ’09, I had a hunch they’d be here soon. It’s a grue­some sto­ry poor­ly told; Helen, who has read the book, explained that they real­ly took lib­er­ties with it and I can’t right­ly say it was for the best, but where it does­n’t suc­ceed as an adap­ta­tion, it works as a thriller.

Lis­beth Salan­der reads like a more emo­tion­al­ly tor­ment­ed Jason Bourne, with even less insight into her trou­bled past. She’s a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter who’s absolute­ly cap­ti­vat­ing onscreen. The main prob­lem with the movie is that the sto­ry can’t seem to get out of its own way at times. The ham­fist­ed direc­tor ham­mers home in every pos­si­ble frame just how atro­cious and psy­chot­ic these crimes are, as if the audi­ence had­n’t ascer­tained that already. Hope­ful­ly that improves in future installments.

My biggest wor­ry about The Girl With the Drag­on Tat­too? That peo­ple will over­state the influ­ence of the Swedish Nazi Par­ty. The Swedes have their faults, but being Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers isn’t one of them.