Dig

August 27, 2011

As a child, I had an obsession with dinosaurs and the prehistoric world. It likely was triggered by seeing Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster in the theater and watching B-movies on late-night television in the ’70s.

It’s why I still pause, as I did the other night, when I stumble upon Jurassic Park.

I can’t help but think that had that movie arrived a decade or so earlier, I might have ended up a paleontologist.

I dug Sam Neill’s style as Dr. Alan Grant.

He had a groovy hat.

His work attire was well within my sartorial range.

He spent his days under expansive skies in the Badlands, digging about in the dirt, searching for the fossils and bones of fantastic creatures.

Yes, I think that I’d enjoy the paleontological lifestyle. It seems to be relatively uncomplicated.

(at least until some well-intending, yet short-sighted, billionaire industrialist recegenrates velociraptors)

Not being a homeowner or an escaped convict, it’s been awhile since I’ve had to dig. In fact, I don’t recall digging for any reason – for bait, for treasure, to bury a drifter – since before I left for college.

(where I, unwisely, didn’t study paleontology)

I’m confident that – thanks to a pop-up book I had when I was five and late-night movies – I know enough to recognize dinosaur bones should I happen upon some.

Surely leading the life of a paleontologist can’t be as simple as getting a pick, a shovel, and a floppy hat and moving to Southern Utah.

Maybe all of the really cool dinosaur bones have been dug up.

Then again, perhaps paleontology is as straightforward as finding a plot of earth and digging until you hit T. Rex remains or China. You either end up on the National Geographic channel or causing an international incident.

So, I might soon suggest to Paloma that we pack up the Volvo, load up the cats, and head westward.

In the meantime, here are four songs to get us aspiring diggers in the mood…

Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt
from Us

Despite a great affection for Peter Gabriel’s music, his leisurely pace in releasing new albums has caused me to lose track of him over the nearly two decades since he released Us.

(which arrived a mere six years after the commercially successful So)

I much preferred the emotionally gripping Us and the brooding Digging In The Dirt might make a swell theme song for a freelance paleontologist.

(plus, seeing Gabriel on the ensuing Us tour might be the highlight of my concert-going life)

The Pixies – Dig For Fire
from Death To The Pixies

Though The Pixies were poster children for the burgeoning alternative rock movement that took place while I was in college, I had little more than a passing interest in the band. Why I’m not sure as I quite like much of their catalog.

(Paloma would likely put them high on her list of favorites)

Dig For Fire has been described by lead singer Black Francis as an homage to Talking Heads and the catchy track does possess the latter act’s jittery, stutter-step spirit.

The Who – Dig
from The Iron Man: The Musical By Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend’s adaptation of a children’s story was released while I was studying in Southeast Asia, leading to several confusing exchanges with shopkeepers as I attempted to find a copy…

me: “Pete Townshend of The Who…”
shopkeeper: “Who?”
me: “Yeah, The Who…”
shopkeeper: “Who?”

The album, despite guest appearances by everyone from John Lee Hooker to Nina Simone, wasn’t worth the effort of acquiring it. It did feature two new songs by The Who – the first since the band’s first farewell with It’s Hard in ’82 – including an ill-advised cover of Arthur Brown’s Fire.

But I dug Dig and, though it’s hardly a Who classic, the repetitive use of the title does make me want to pick up a shovel.

Blondie – Dig Up The Conjo
from No Exit

So, I’m a bit confused by Dig Up The Conjo, from Blondie’s 1999 reunion album No Exit.

It sounds as though the band is imploring me to “dig up the Congo,” which would be ambitious as the Congo River is the deepest river in the world.

But, “conjo” is apparently a Spanish insult.

Of course, Blondie was often lyrically nonsensical, so perhaps my confusion is justifiable, but I thought No Exit was a strong return for Blondie (after a seventeen-year hiatus) and Dig Up The Conjo is dense, swirling, and hypnotic.

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One Doped Up Monkey Is Much Less Fun Than A Barrel Full Of Sober Ones

February 21, 2009

Amongst the rubble of headlines about global economic collapse, global social collapse, and the world in general losing its mind, there’s been the ongoing saga the past several days of that berserk chimpanzee.

You’ve possibly heard of the domesticated monkey – former star of commercials – who went mental and mauled a friend of its owner. It was sobering.

I realized that this chimp had achieved a level of notoriety that most people never will (one of most people being me which made it sobering). Of course, I think that notoriety would clash with my reclusive nature.

It’s undeniably a sad, ghastly incident, but, apparently, the police report that was filed had the monkey’s owner admitting to spiking the simian’s tea with anti-anxiety medication.

It’s true that most of the population has been conditioned to believe that there’s a pill to remedy any issue, real or imagined. But, if the report is true, what would make someone think it might be a good idea to give prescription drugs to a creature that, while “domesticated,” is best suited to be roaming around in the wild?

If ever in such a situation and I reach the same conclusion, I do hope a little voice inside my head suggests I reconsider.

There’s something strange about this human/monkey mishap coming so close on the heels of the recent anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. I can’t help but wonder what he would have made of these recent turn of events.

Peter Gabriel – Shock The Monkey
In the fall of ’82, I was still sticking to a musical diet of whatever was on Top 40 radio. Shock The Monkey was certainly one of the most unusual songs that I had heard within that limited format and was my first exposure to Mr. Gabriel.

I was fortunate enough to see him live on his tour for Us in ’93 – incredible band, amazing music, and certainly one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.

The Pixies – Monkey Gone To Heaven
Paloma and I caught The Pixies on their reunion tour several years ago. It was her birthday present that year. Personally, they were a bit hit and miss for me during their late ’80s heyday, but Monkey Gone To Heaven is an odd, little gem that was all over college radio (at least where I was).

Gorillaz – Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head
You know, since the turn of the century, I really have had less and less sense of what is popular in music, so I was a bit surprised that, commercially speaking, Gorillaz have had considerable success here in the States. I’d have bet anything that the animated band from England would be one those acts that had failed to attract the same widespread audience as in their homeland.

Good for us. Gorillaz are more fun than killing strangers.

Aldo Nova – Monkey On Your Back
Hard rock was something else that I really didn’t hear much until I ventured outside the world of Top 40 music. But Aldo Nova was one of the first pop-metal acts to make it onto pop playlists with his song Fantasy during the summer of 1982.

By the time his second album came out in the fall of 1983, I had branched out and was mostly listening to album rock stations and, when I could get reception, alternative rock station 97X. Monkey On Your Back was massive on the former.

Joe Satriani – Psycho Monkey
I’m not overly familiar with guitarist Joe Satriani, but I’ve found what I have heard of his music to be clean and melodic. Psycho Monkey has a bit more grit to me (though I much prefer the stellar Ceremony from the same album, Crystal Planet).


Release The Flying Monkeys

June 1, 2008

Sometimes I astound myself that, for having accomplished so little aside from using my powers for apathy rather than evil, I have some interesting resources to call upon. Not only do I have connections to celebrities such as Sheryl Crow, I’ve recently consulted a source on an issue that hasn’t gotten much attention – the US military’s attempts to create a flying monkey army.

Forget microwaves, unmanned drones, stealth bombers, smart bombs, and terminators. It’s obvious to anyone who has seen The Wizard Of Oz (which would be pretty much everyone even including that uncontacted tribe in the Brazilian rain forest) that the future of warfare will be decided by whomever develops an army of flying monkeys.

If it hadn’t been for the flying monkeys, Dorothy would still be a house-dropping, witch-killing, slipper-stealing fugitive; she would still be running free in Oz with her gang of sycophants, flouting the efforts of the Wicked Witch of the West who was impotent in capturing them until she unleashed the flying monkeys. So, clearly, flying monkeys is the way to go.

As I will undoubtedly be someday known as the Woodward and/or Bernstein of Flying Monkeygate, I have a source much like their Deep Throat who I shall refer to as Whispering Bunny. When I asked Whispering Bunny about attempts to develop a flying monkey army, they confirmed that I was “not far from the truth.” Hmmm, perhaps they are actually gliding monkeys.

If someday soon, you tune in to CNN and see a talking head – with the caption beneath them reading flying monkey warfare expert (or maybe enthusiast) – being consulted about this matter, it will likely be me.

In the meantime, enjoy these monkeyshines.

The Pixies- Monkey Gone To Heaven

The Tubes – The Monkey Time

Warren Zevon – Leave My Monkey Alone

Patti Smith – Space Monkey