Archive for January, 2009

Lepre-gone

January 30, 2009

Shocking news from the NBA as reports confirm that the World Champion Boston Celtics have parted ways with their acrobatic mascot “Lucky” amidst a swirl of rumour and controversy. Indications are not clear as to whether 33 year old Maine native Damon Lee Blust, who would dress in a garish mockery of a leprechaun costume and perform aerial dunks with the aid of a trampoline at the team’s home games, was outright fired or if it was just a case of “philosophical differences”.

Rumours abound that Mr. Blust was not exactly representing the legendary franchise in a manner management and ownership considered appropriate with sources citing unreliability in his attendance to charity events and a recent citation for speeding and driving with a suspended license. Sources also note him exhibiting a certain arrogance relating to his perceived stature within the organization, all of which suggests a case of a wee fellow with an ego spinning out of control. Apparently, since a well publicized appearance on the Conan O’Brien Show, the erstwhile mascot was increasingly convinced that he was “the face of the franchise” and acted thusly.

A comment released after his departure would certainly suggest a certain amount of complete delusion concerning his role on the team. “…I’m not getting any younger and like most professional athletes there comes a time to step out of the limelight…”

I’m sorry, Lucky me lad, but as hard as I look I can’t find your ppg or rebounding numbers for the 2007-08 season. Have I missed something?

Of course, it’s not the first time a team mascot has gotten a big head. There was the time the Philly Phanatic, in the midst of a savage drug and alcohol binge, was accused of inappropriate suggestions and conduct toward a group of high school cheerleaders during a local homecoming parade. No one in Dallas will soon forget the antics of Rowdy the Cowboy when the internet was flooded with candid photos of him, in full costume, at the 2004 Texas Strippers Convention. Then there was the time The Swinging Friar stole the Padre’s team jet for a lost weekend in Vegas with Bobby Brown, something the franchise’s image has yet to fully recover from.

In the case of Damon Lee Blust, he quite obviously pushed his luck a little too far and his time has clearly passed, as he now fades even further into the obscurity and indignity of a Fallen Mascot for whom there is, most certainly, no pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.

SBP3

January 27, 2009

The latest textual stylings of the KSWNO’s resident Arts and Entertainment Critic, Stamford Buckforth Pimplton, III is now available for public consumption over at the main site. As always, he is insightful, eloquent and erudite as he provides comprehensive coverage of the Midwest Arts Scene from it’s dynamic epicentre, Portsmouth, Ohio. Those who know Stamford would agree that his artistic tastes are highly refined and that his works command our attention and respect. They also tell us he posesses truly fabulous penmanship and a clean, fragrant scent, whatever that means.

In this particular article, he brings the scholarly back to the schools as he sizes up various offerings from the drama departments of several regional educational institutions and finds them wanting. Apparently not too many of these young, talent barren little scamps have a future career destined for Broadway but, hey, that’s why they invented meth, right?

Who says we don’t appreciate a little goddamned culture around here, eh?

The Love Language

January 26, 2009

Lalita

The more I think back to seeing these young folks live last week, the more I listen to their self-titled debut album, released this month on Bladen County Records, the more I’m falling under the irresistable sway of Stu McLamb’s ridiculously brilliant songwriting and performance skills. This folks, is the good stuff. The stuff you keep underneath the bar for special occasions.

There are few better feelings in life, for a true music lover, than that of discovering a new band that you are certain is not only a “keeper” but who’s music is so good, so well done, so impactful on you, that you know you’re going to carry it around with you forever. That may seem like a bold statement so early on in listening to these guys but you’ll need to trust me on this. I know from whence I speak on matters such as these. It’s a very rare thing but when it happens, you know.

On that note, a bit more.

Sparxxxx

Manteo

“Honey, do what you want ’cause I won’t remember.”

Love it.

Saturday Night’s Alright

January 25, 2009

For drinking.

It’s cold as a Wiccan mammary gland here tonight as temperatures dip into the arctic and a stillness descends upon The Compound. Not much to do but hunker down, build up the fire to skin blistering levels and fill up your glass with something to help the hours pass more comfortably. In this case, it’s a large tall glass of vodka and cranberry. Soon to be followed by another. And another. I’m a firm believer in the strength in numbers philosophy when it comes to enjoying a nice beverage. They just seem to work better in groups.

I have a rule that applies to Saturday nights, as well. No working. No talking about work, no thinking about work, no looking in the general direction of any object or person that might remotely remind you of the concept of work. There is a time and place for all that and Saturday night is not it. This is when you let the hair down a little bit and shake it loose. Maybe, if the mood is right, let the mad dogs out of their cages and see what they can scare up. Bad craziness is never out of the question.

Speaking of which, I am in close contact with comrade-in-arms and fellow conspirator Gonz O’Lager even as we speak. It seems we’re both in the same frame of mind at this point and, as many of you know, when we put our heads together, all manner of chaos is likely to ensue. He tells me his drink of choice for the evening is what he refers to as the G & T, and you can figure out what that might be. Depending on the quantities we consume and general whimsy, the fate of one or two small South American nations may very well be decided this very evening.

Stay tuned as the evening progresses and, if you live in Guyana, prepare for potential evacuation.

More later.

KSWNO Updates

January 23, 2009

Well, it’s good to know that things over at the Ken Socrates World News Organization are moving along at the usual brisk pace thanks to our feisty gang of hard-working and sadly underpaid contributors. In all honesty, if it weren’t for their input, the KSWNO would likely have failed long ago. It’s simply impossible to do this alone, folks, no matter how much amphetamines one consumes.

So it is with sincere (but not monetary) gratitude that I present the latest from two of our regulars.

First, from le Femme du Flyer, Chippy McGuinness, a righteous rant concerning one of the greatest bumbling fuck-ups the modern leadership of the NHL has ever committed in their attempts to completely castrate the sport we all love so much, the implementation of the Instigator Rule. Read a little something she’s entitled Civilized Insanity and you’ll understand the issue a whole lot better. Plus, you’ll have an undeniable urge to knock someone’s teeth out of their mouth onto some ice. Preferrably, Claude Lemieux’s.

Next, it’s the Return of Mr. Manners, as a one Dwight Cooter comes back to the fold from an extended, but not voluntary, absence to present his latest rambling effort, undoubtedly painstakingly typed with one finger (don’t even ask what he’s doing with the other). He’s forgoing his usual brand of mouth-breathing advice to reveal to us his plans to keep himself out of trouble. Hint: you can help but it’s going to cost you.

Check those out and keep your eyes open for more soon. The post office tells me I’ve got registered mail down there from our man Stamford Buckforth Pimplton III so it looks like we’ll be raising the bar a bit here shortly.

Until then, let’s just settle for raising a glass or two, eh? Cheers.

Oscars: Null and Void

January 22, 2009

I admit, I don’t often pay much attention to The Academy Awards, anyway, but this year, as they have failed to recognize The Dark Knight as one of the best films of the year, and Christopher Nolan as one of the best directors, they have finally and officially invalidated themselves as a legitimate institution. At last, any nagging desire to tune into the broadcast, even to tie up some loose ends in various Celebrity Death Pools I’m in, will be completely dead and buried. I’m not even going to watch to see if Wolverine might go into berserker mode while hosting and do a snikt! on Frank Langella’s ass.

I don’t even care who else was nominated, folks. I don’t want to hear it. Benjamin Buttplug? Shove it up there sideways. Scumbag Millionaire? It’s the feel good fucktard of the year. Do I really want to see Kate Winslet soil herself on national television? Maybe but it’s still not worth giving even five minutes of my time to this farce.

Let’s be honest, the Oscars have been irrelevant for a long, long time, ignoring any film outside a genre or subject matter they consider acceptable, failing to recognize anything that might seem remotely dangerous or politically incorrect, focusing on dreary costume epics and feel good films and the odd indie with just the right amound of industry buzz.

Now, by failing to properly reward the most effective and stunning pieces of filmmaking the art has seen in decades, they have officially made the entire proceedings pointless, boring and lacking even the smallest shred of credibility.

Join me, if you will, in failing utterly, from this point on, to pay attention to anything associated with the event, it’s results or the broadcast thereof. And if anyone wants to disagree with your stance or gets annoyed with your miltant disgust, just give them your best crooked, maniacal stare and ask them one question.

“Why so serious?”

Dave

January 20, 2009

I have no idea why but I often get questions from people about my bodyguard, Dave. I assume it’s because there is an immense curiosity about just what sort of man it takes to warrant the safety of an unpredictable sort like myself who, through no fault of his own, has made his share of friends and enemies throughout his many years of globetrotting, edge-of-your-seat journalism. Both those friends and those enemies, as it happens, tend to be of the extreme sorts and both frequently attempt to get close to my physical person through various tactics, including, but not limited to, breaking and entering, impersonating public officials and, on at least three occasions, driving a military style hummer through barricaded wrought iron security gates.

So, yes, Dave’s job is not an easy one. He is, however, reasonably good at it. Allow me, then, for the sake of the mysteriously curious few who persist in asking, to give you an idea of what he’s like and why I employ him.

Those of you who have met Dave know that he’s a simple sort. Not terribly bright or good looking or, for that matter, terribly adept at the arts of personal hygiene, he nonetheless carries himself with a sort of oblivious confidence that is strangely reassuring. It’s as if he has no concept of the things that could hurt him or, more likely, has such dulled sensory apparatus that his pain tolerance is off the charts and he just doesn’t care what happens to his physical being. As a result, the blank expression he tends to have on his face never varies regardless of the level of crisis we might find ourselves in, which is deceptively reassuring for me and most certainly somewhat unsettling to those who might confront us.

He’s not a overwhelmingly big or imposing figure, either, though he is excessively hairy which lends a certain amount of bulk to his appearance. It’s not that aspect of his physical demeanor that tends to ward off the curious, however. No, it’s something a bit more intangible than that, a feeling or a vibe that Dave gives off that suggests anyone getting any limbs too far into his own personal space may very well pull back a bloody stump without the slightest warning whatsoever that prosthetics might be in their immediate future.

As you might imagine, it makes Ken Socrates autograph seeking something of a dangerous gamble. Sort of like base jumping with a badger strapped to your face is something of a dangerous gamble. I remember a booksigning at a Border’s in Providence where at least fourteen people had to be attended by paramedics before the assistant manager, a ferret-like little nerd named Brendan, tried to shut the whole thing down and was thrown hammer-toss style into the Self-Help section and then beaten senseless with a hardcover copy of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.

Understand, however, that for every violent misunderstanding where an innocent fan or passing group of middle school students gets severely injured or maimed, there is another time that sturdy, loyal Dave has flat out saved my life.

There was that time in Giza in 2001 when a group of reporters from National Geographic attempted to gain revenge on me for out-scooping them on the Paralititan stromeri discovery by feeding a monsterous amount of mescaline to the camel I was riding during a tour of the Pyramids. It’s the only time I had ever, or likely will ever, see a single man wrestle a psychotic, 1400 pound, out of control dromedary to the ground with his bare hands and pin it there until the authorities can arrive.

There was the time in Maui in 1997 when a jealous ex-paramour of a local women’s surfing champion that I was seeing gathered his posse of eight or ten local thugs and broke into the Kaanapali Beach Hotel intent on dragging me to some ritualistic seaside death. Dave was there, of course, standing outside my hotel room door, naked like some pornographic Cerberus, holding the heavily armed mob off with nothing more than a dull machete and sheer balls. I guess he’d recently shaved them.

I could go on forever, of course. That fracas at The Master’s during the Green Jacket Ceremony in ’03. Pamplona in 2005 when he fended off a half dozen rampaging bulls whilst still managing to throw my vodka sodden ass over a fence and out of harm’s way. The incident in Cincinatti last year when a fight broke out over a game of Cornhole. The list is endless but I’m certain to mention it all would only embarass the man.

You see, Dave’s a private person. He doesn’t like the limelight and I don’t blame him. He won’t mind me saying that he lives in a reasonable quiet suburb just south of Boston where he’s got himself a happy, adorable little family that he constantly boasts about, a couple of pets and modest sized library of Asian porn. He likes to cook, they tell me and I know he likes sports as much as I do as we often go to Red Sox and Bruins games together. Trust me, when there’s an ornery group of Yankees or Canadiens fans in town looking to start trouble, there’s no one you want at your side more than Dave. Even the biggest and toughest of them can be made to cry when they see one his armpits up close, believe me.

Other than that, there’s not a lot I can tell you about his personal life and even if I could remember that night he got stinking drunk during a snowstorm here at the Compound and starting sobbing to me about the deepest fears and regrets of his existence, I surely wouldn’t tell you about it. And not just because he’s got a set of keys to the place and is quiet like a cat in the night, either.

No, I have to respect Dave’s loyalty and give the guy back the same trust he gives me, I guess. Having a guy at your back you can count on is a rare thing in this world and Dave, in the end, is probably the one person on this crazy ride that I am closest to, as sad as that might sound.

So, this one’s for you buddy. My own fumbling, awkward way of saying “Thank You”. And, “Sorry”, too. For bouncing that last paycheck. I’ll make it up to ya, buddy, I promise. Enjoy.

Why I Love The Rosebuds

January 18, 2009

Last night I attended a truly wonderful musical event when I saw The Rosebuds at The Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I could go on forever about what made the show so special, from Kelly dancing through the crowd with her tambourine to Ivan, in the encore announcing, simply, “Fuck it, we’ll play a couple more.” The smile on his face the entire evening, on both of their faces, made you realize just how much they love what they do. I think when they went into “Wildcat” at the end I could have broken down and wept. It was that good.

There were gloriously fun singalongs to “Nice Fox” and “Shake Our Tree”. There were infectious dancealongs to “Bow To The Middle” (featuring audience members and and the entire support band, The Love Language, on stage attempting to coordinate dance steps) and an extended version of “Get Up and Get Out”, which, as far as I was concerned, they could have played all night long.

As it was, the show ended about 1:30 in the morning when I wandered out of the place into the snowy city streets in a state of pure, floating bliss, my ears ringing, my body a bit worn out, I felt so filled with pure pleasure it was humbling. It was the sort of show you never forget. The sort of show that reminds you why you love music.

But that’s not the only reason why I love The Rosebuds and will see every show they ever play anywhere within a reasonable radius of my home.

It’s stuff like this, a video tribute to Jasmine Rosebud, the couple’s dog (Ivan and Kelly are married), who passed away last year. Using the song “Nice Fox” from their last album, Life Like, and some video from a lazy afternoon on a lake somewhere, they give us not only a loving memory of a dear friend but a little glimpse into just how real these folks are.

And, yes, that’s a Boston Red Sox cap Ivan is wearing in that video. As if I needed another reason to adore these folks. Of course, anyone who knows the significance of the song “Back To Boston”, which opened the encore, knows what an affection the two have for this area. When they and the other band members embraced at the end of the show I finally realized that it was the last show of the tour and they would be heading home to Raleigh after. Just made it all the more special.

Touching, heartfelt and beautiful. That’s The Rosebuds for you. I always say, they are the most romantic band on Earth and the most real.

Thank you both, and all involved, for another utterly incredible evening of music and fun.

Let’s do it again sometime, eh?

P.S. The tour album is, once again, fantastic. Hand made, autographed and accompanied by a 16-page “Fun Book”, it contains 14 tracks of rareties, covers and general coolness that you can only get from them at their shows. Another little bonus for the loyal fans with whom they have created such an undeniable connection.

And The Love Language were brilliant as well. My first exposure to these fellow Raleigh folks, a seven piece with an amazing energy and a lush, organic sound. A band to watch, for sure.

Ken On Film: The Wrestler

January 11, 2009

This one’s for Chris Casino.

The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a sort of “Macho Man” Randy Savage type professional wrestler in the late stages of a once illustrious career, and directed by Darren Aronofsky, is a powerful film. Possessed of a majestic brutality, a keening sense of sadness and bloody passion, it is an absorbing, fascinating and emotional work that draws the viewer into a world they might otherwise have never considered but, once glimpsed, are completely unable to turn away from.

It is not just a film for wrestling fans, certainly, but one would imagine that those of that ilk who watch it will not be disappointed. The depiction of the “sport” seems amazingly well done, from the fight sequences to the behind-the-scenes insight as we’re allowed to watch the atheletes interact before and after the events. The violence is graphic and, to those not familiar with this sort of entertainment, is an eye-opening window into the physical sacrifices participants are willing to endure for the sake of entertainment.

That, aside from the very human portrait of a man with some very sympathetic flaws, may be the most affecting part of the film. It gives you the sense that these men, in some cases at least, are willing to suffer almost anything for the sake of the performance. In one instance, for example, while participating in an extreme wrestling event, The Ram actually allows staples shot into his body, glass embedded in his back, barbed wire to tear him apart. The blood seems very real in such scenes and one feels a grim fascination with just how far these men are willing to go for their audience.

That, as I said, is only one aspect of the film. The other is the story of the man behind the performer as he attempts to grasp the ending of his career as he knows it and the shambles he’s made out of his life in the process. At once hanging on to the glories of a distant past while dealing with some deep regrets concerning the relationships in his life, most notably his estranged daughter. Rourke handles it all with a deft, profound emotionality that suggests the character’s plight is not entirely unlike his own at various points in his life, something he has admitted in interviews. The results are intensely affecting in a way not seen from the actor since, perhaps, Barfly.

The only issue I had with the film at all, and I know the actual creators of it had little to do with this, was a poster I saw that said “Witness the ressurection of Mickey Rourke”. I’m sorry, was that someone else playing Marv in Sin City, embodying the pure heroic insanity of that character to a glorious pinpoint accuracy that gave any reader of the comic a cast iron boner just to see it?

Mickey Rourke, for all his faults, has become an old warrior of an actor; beat-up, jaded, seen-it-all. Like Marv there’s nothing left that Hollywood or any aspect of the film industry can throw at him that can kill him. Like The Ram he comes before us at this stage of his career bloodied but unbowed, knowing full well his capabilities and how to use them most effectively. How to bare his soul to his audience and make them live through his eyes.

Which is exactly what he does in The Wrestler, making it one of the most compelling film experiences in recent memory.

Oh, and Marisa Tomei is topless in the film nearly constantly, which doesn’t hurt a flick.

Just saying.

Farewell and Adieu, My Fair Spanish Lady (Reprise)

January 10, 2009

To all you reaching this page by typing some variation of this post’s title into a search engine: Please read on. This entry is for you and you alone.

I’d like to thank you, first off, for visiting my humble site here. I know at least one person per day arrives here by searching some combination of the words “Farewell and Adieu, My Fair Spanish Lady” and, though you folks are probably a bit confused when you get here, you’re boosting my stats and making me the number one result on Google for those terms. For that, I thank you humbly.

Also, I realize that the reason is because, like me, you’re misquoting the song completely, which is what brings us together here. Having considered this, and the fact that you are likeley searching for information about the actual song and not some random post about The Turkey Apocalypse or Extraterrestrial Grizzly Bears, I provide the following information as a service to you, my hapless bretheren, in the spirit of solidarity and genuine gratitude.

Tha actual song is entitled “Spanish Ladies” or “Farewell and Adieu” and was a traditional sort of old English sea shanty, a rythmic song sung by sailors doing routine tasks aboard ship. In this case, it was likely sung as the capstan was turned to raise the anchor, thus the tone of departure.

It is a very old song indeed, with many variants, but the most widely recognized lyrics are as follows.

Farewell and adieu unto you Spanish ladies,
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain;
For it’s we’ve received orders for to sail for old England,
But we hope very soon we shall see you again.

Chorus:
We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true British sailors,
We’ll rant and we’ll roar across the salt seas,
Until we strike soundings in the Channel of old England,
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty-five leagues.

Then we hove our ship to the wind at sou’-west, my boys,
We hove our ship to our soundings for to see;
So we rounded and sounded, and got forty-five fathoms,
We squared our main yard, up channel steered we.

Chorus

Now the first land we made it is called the Deadman,
Then Ram Head off Plymouth, Start, Portland and Wight;
We sailed by Beachy, by Fairlee and Dungeness,
Until we came abreast of the South Foreland Light.

Chorus

Then the signal was made for the grand fleet for to anchor,
All in the downs that night for to meet;
Then it’s stand by your stoppers, see clear your shank-painters,
Haul all your clew garnets, stick out tacks and sheets.

Chorus

Now let every man toss off a full bumper,
And let every man toss off a full bowl;
And we’ll drink and be merry and drown melancholy,
Singing, here’s a good health to all true-hearted souls.

Chorus

Of course, most of us recognize the tune as it’s sung by Robert Shaw in Jaws where he substitutes “Boston” for England, a version I certainly enjoyed, as a native of that town.

Here’s a more traditional performance.

And here is a bit more information for you.

Anyway, I truly hope that helps you find what you’re looking for. If so, maybe leave me a comment letting me know. Maybe even stick around a bit and join the madness here, if the mood strikes you. Either way, thanks for stopping by and good luck.

And, hey. Happy sailing.