“Breaking Bad” And Some New Stuff

bbWhile I was in Knoxville the hotel I was staying at was showing a free screening of the new A&E original series Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston. You know Cranston as the dad on Malcolm In The Middle. Or perhaps you don’t know him at all. Never mind. It doesn’t matter, because regardless if you you do or you don’t you need to start watching this series. You WILL become a fan of the guy.

In a nutshell, the series is about a high school chemistry teacher who has severe money problems. He moonlights at a car wash after school and has a handicapped son with special needs. Oh, and did I mention his wife is pregnant? The bills are stacking up and he is becoming more and more depressed.

He collapses while washing a car at his second job and goes to a hospital to get checked out where he finds out he has inoperable lung cancer and only has a short time to live. His baffoonish brother in law is a D.E.A. agent and invites him along for a “ride-a-long” where he witnesses a crystal meth bust. One of the perps excapes through a window on the second floor and Walter (Cranston) recognizes him as one of his former students. Desparate and not willing to leave his family with a huge debt when he dies he contacts the student and pretty much blackmails him into becoming his new partner once he realizes the kind of fast money one can make selling a high grade version of the stuff. And that’s when  things get really weird. The two buy a Winnebago which they turn ito a traveling meth lab and with Walter’s chemistry background start turning out meth that’s over 99% pure glass. Walter quickly finds himself in a bit of a mess, way over his head, becoming a marked man with local drug lords and involved in a murder. And that’s just the first episode. Favorite scene: his dipshit of a partner disposing of a body in a bathtub using copious amounts of acid doesn’t realize that it will not only disintegrate the body but also the tub. He realizes this only after the tub and it’s terrible, bloody contents comes crashing through the ceiling and lands in the hallway in front of him.

It’s a gripping little show and, pardon the pun, quite addictive. Cranston won an Emmy, and deservedly so. He is brilliant. You need to watch this. I believe A&E is showing the entire first season on it’s website. Go now!

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I finally picked up last year’s Oracular Spectacular by MGMT and it is spectacular. Produced by Dave Friedman of Flaming LIps/Mercury Rev fame it’s a psychedelic dance party that abounds with invention and just enough familiar overtones to make you feel comfortable and fuzzy. “Electric Feel” sounds like a cross between the BeeGees and LCD Soundsystem while the tonge in cheek lyrics of the brilliant “Time To Pretend” are hilarious and poignant at the same time:

“I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw, I’m in the prime of my life.
Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.
I’ll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.
You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.”

If I would’ve heard this last year it would have made my top 5 for sure…

Also, I’m starting to realize the place Greatest Hits packages have in my collection. Just picked up a 40 song James Brown sampler that contains almost everything I’ll ever need from the Godfather of Soul/Baron Of Funk. This, compilled with his In The Jungle Groove comp, tells his funky story fairly completely without me having to wade through the 1,298 studio albums he released during his lifetime.

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Even though R.E.M. has been dead to me for the last 15 years, Murmer is still a great album.

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Just picked up Suicide’s second album and while not as brilliant as the first it contains some excellent tracks that helped lay the foundation of the electronica of the 80’s and 90’s. Can’t imagine Nine Inch Nails being around (just one example) without these guys.

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