Monthly Archives: September 2006

Fireside Chat #22

Celebrity-Stalking, Part 2: The Selection Process

“I’m an ideal stalker,” you realize. “I’m a stay-at-home mom whose kids have left the house, and Jesus told me, while I was smoking out with my oldest daughter, that stalking is part of his divine plan. Now whom should I stalk?”

First, crazy housewife, may I just complement you on your grammar? Most people tend to use “who” and “whom” improperly, so it’s always refreshing to hear someone use it correctly and without hesitation.

I suggest that you begin your career by making a list of all actors, musicians, athletes, and models with who you could realistically become obsessed. Make it as long as you like, but only include celebrities you could really flip out about. Someone who scores high in both “revere-ability,” one whose career you respect, and “bone-ability,” one who you’re sexually attracted to, would be an excellent choice. After all, there’s nothing worse than a tepid stalker.

Once you’ve got your list, start narrowing. Cross out anyone so famous that he has already been stalked dozens of times. The oft-stalked celebrities (Tom Cruise, Gallagher) are the ones least likely to be flattered and most likely to press criminal charges against you. I heard a story of a guy running to hide in the bushes at Meg Ryan’s house, only to find three other stalkers in the same bushes. They made it clear that there was no room for another “Meg-Head,” and he had to go home and start the process all over again. How embarrassing!

Likewise, cross off the “minor celebrities,” like the guy who plays Led Zeppelin covers at the local indie-cool café on Friday nights. Stalk that guy and you may not make it into the local paper, let alone onto the evening news. Remember, a big part of what you’re doing is leeching yourself to the celebrity to achieve your own pseudo-fame.

Do some internet research. The goal is to find someone as famous as possible whom has not yet been stalked. If Paul Giamatti does it for you, and it looks like he’s a stalker-virgin, then he should make it onto your short list.

Narrow the list down to three. Now, close your eyes. Look deep inside your heart. Which of the candidates do you picture screaming, “Get away from my dumpster”? That’s the one. Choose him. Or her, Crazy Housewife, I’m not judging.

“Great!” you say, pulling a black wool mask over your face. “I’m heading over to his house right now.”

Hold it, you eager sicko. If you’re going to do this thing, you do it right.

Before you even begin the stalking process, make sure you’re completely well-versed in the celebrity’s body of work. If it’s an actor, see his early films, no matter how small. See the one where he played Cop #4. You’ll need this info later when the time comes to prove to him that you are his number one fan.

If it’s a musician, dig up his early demos, or some live bootlegs and pay special attention to the songs he covers and the stage banter. Later, when you purposefully run into the celebrity at the supermarket and pretend you don’t know who he is, you can nonchalantly recommend that he listen to a band whom’s song(s) he plays live.

Only once you have become the nation’s predominant Barry Bonds scholar will it be time to begin stalking. I’d continue, but I’ve got to go, for now—“Whom’s the Boss” is on.

An Equal Opportunity Website

In honor of Darnell’s birthday month, his ENTIRE episode of “The Gather Round Children Show” (#5) is now available for download. Rock out, Daad!

Finding the Good in Tragedy: “Father, You Sinned” Premiere

Two parts journalism, one part review, and stir.

I don’t want to come off as cocky, but I’m kind of a big deal now, getting invited to film premieres and all. Check out a new article over at La’s The Place, which marks my first departure into photography!

eye candy

Unrelated eye candy.

Glen Phillips – Mr. Lemons (2006) review

Every Time I Try to Get Out, He Pulls Me Back In

by Gabe Durham

Before I became the LA-savvy intellectual I am today, my sister and I approached Glen Phillips for a photo after a lively solo acoustic show. He agreed, but was clearly annoyed. “I feel like one of those characters at Disneyland,” he muttered as he posed between the two of us. I vowed never to play the adoring fan again, and the next time I saw Phillips perform, I made sure never to make eye contact for fear that he’d recognize me as “the picture guy.”

It’s six years later, and I like to think that both Phillips and myself have mellowed a little. Back in those days, the former Toad the Wet Sprocket front man was hot off the heals of his greatest artistic achievement: his solo debut, Abulum. The sparse folk-country-rock album sounded like the broken heart of a collaborative musician who found himself alone in a basement with some recording equipment. It was gorgeous, if a little alienating for pop fans, but it didn’t sell. So for his 2005 follow-up, Glen turned up the glitz. Winter Pays For Summer showcased the same great songwriting, but through producer Jon Fields’ ultrapop filter. Some of the tracks (“Easier,” “Finally Fading”) barely survived their sugary treatment, while I could have sworn “Cleareyed” was a Phil Collins cover. The whole album screamed, “Play me on the radio!” and still no one did.

Now, just a year later, Phillips seems to understand that he ought to just make the kind of record he’s best at: the decidedly modest Mr. Lemons.

It couldn’t hurt that Lemons, like Abulum, was originally self-released. To self-release an album is risky for even the most well-established artist: It is to toss a bottle into an ocean of music and hope that it floats to deserving ears. The plus side is that Phillips is completely free. He can finally record songs that he’s been playing live for years (“Marigolds,” “Didn’t Think You Cared”), he can unabashedly praise God (“Thank You”). He can even cover Huey Lewis (“I Want a New Drug”).

While not every decision on Lemons is the best one, the album belongs to Phillips and Phillips alone. His distinct, confident voice carries the album from its bright beginning (the single, “Everything But You”) to its bare, slow-building conclusion (“A Joyful Noise”).

But Glen’s is a hard-won glory. The lyrics on Lemons, even when paired with sunny major chord progressions, have to do with the dark side of love, fear of God, death, selfishness and expectations. In the straightforward “I Still Love You,” a lover remarks to his mate that he has seen her worst side just as she has witnessed his own, before finally telling her, “I’ve seen the worst of you, it’s true / But it’s the smallest part of you.”

On this record, Phillips tastefully downplays his choruses so that it’s the verses that linger. In “Thank You,” there is no chorus at all. In “Marigolds,” the emotion in the chorus is much more memorable than the notes themselves.

“Marigolds” is the confession of a man who sends his sick (potentially drug-addicted) father away for treatment, but not entirely for unselfish reasons. He admits, “My criminal mind is on women and wine / As they finally take you away.” “Marigolds,” sang only over electric guitar and the slightest orchestral flourishes, is Phillips at his best: insightful and delicate.           

“Last Sunset,” is a short poetic reminder of our mortality over light acoustic guitar. “One thread it hangs / Swinging, dangling / It breaks, we fall / Bye bye / that’s all.” It’s not a new revelation, but it’s a humble one, and it’s all the better for it’s addition of the strong female vocal performance that graces multiple tracks on Lemons.

Throughout all the darkness on the record, it is gratitude that emerges victorious on nearly every track, and never better than on “Waiting.” The kind of melodious country song Allison Krauss wins Grammies for, “Waiting” is the gem that makes Mr. Lemons a surprising, sweet experience.

It’s almost enough to convince me to let my guard down and compliment him the next time I see him perform. Almost.

Fireside Chat #21

Is Celebrity Stalking the Right Vocation for Me? Frequently Asked Questions.

I’ve had it up to here* with all the trash everyone is talking about celebrity stalkers.

Let me clarify. Obviously, I have a problem with stalker/killers because they cross the line between a little good-natured invasion of privacy and forever ending someone’s right to live long enough to catch “Rocky VI” and “Rambo IV.”

Stalking celebrities is a long held national tradition, as American as robbing banks, stealing cars, or punching a guy cause you don’t like his face. The first American stalker was named Hortence Creepwater, a man aboard the Pinta in its maiden voyage to the New World. Hortence passed the dreary travel days writing love letters to Christopher Columbus, tying them to rocks, and chucking them aboard the Santa Maria. When one of the rocks hit Columbus in the back of the head, Hortence was tossed overboard, and Columbus went on to a fabulous career of discovering new land, pillaging, and enslaving the natives.

And, though he wouldn’t admit it, Columbus was flattered by Hortence. The celebs love attention, that’s why they’ve gotten into their professions in the first place. Sure, Mandy Moore would go on the record as horrified if she found a 40-year-old creepo who watches “A Walk to Remember” twice daily, in her home, trying on her underwear. But once the cops have dragged the man off, she’d think, “Wow, twice daily. My films have that kind of replay value.”

Anyway, nobody wants to be a stalker-virgin. It’s the kiss of death for the world-renowned. Imagine you’re Will Smith in a circle of A-listers swapping stalker stories at the Academy Awards, and Jack Nicholson turns to you and says, “What about you, son? Who was your craziest stalker?” and you have nothing to say. You’d wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Am I unworthy of a stalker? Is it because of ‘Bad Boys II’?” In this example, yes, it is because of “Bad Boys II.”

“Okay, Gabe,” you’re thinking, “I’ll admit that celebrity stalkers are great in moderation. But how do I know if it’s right for me?” Good point. Of course, not everyone should stalk. If everyone were stalking, there would be no one to stalk. AND there would be no one to watch the stalkers on the news and comment, “What a sicko. Glad I’m not like her.”

There’s two camps that celebrity stalkers generally fall into. First, there’s the “Bored Out of My Mind With Loads of Free Time” camp. If you watch “Entertainment Tonight,” the E! network, MTV, VH1, subscribe to both People and Us Weekly, and can name celebrity children faster than you can name your own, you likely fall into this category. Then there’s the “Insane” camp. If you feel compelled to stalk Ashton Kutcher because George Washington hovered into your window and told you to stalk for the good of the Union, you would likely fall into this category.

However, the ideal candidate for celeb-stalker is someone who is both Bored and Nuts. So before you jump on the bandwagon, take a good long look in the mirror, pal. This is going to be a long, arduous process—it could go on for years—and there are a select few who are bored enough, crazy enough, and man enough to get the job done.

* I’m currently standing, holding my hand flat at about eye level.

Coming Soon…

– An album review.

– One great rock song.

– The Triumphant Revenge of the Fireside Chat.

Keep on gatherin!

GREat times.

As Thursday/Testday fast approaches, I look forward to a time when I can spend more time tending my e-flock.

In the meantime, visit Matt Highfield and get yourself some tunes off the grittle.

Here’s my favorite: A Piano Tune.

The “Tried Your Darndest” Party!

Now that the contest is over, we can all celebrate by listening to the Gabe Durham original remix of Shapes and Sizes’ “Wilderness.”

Didn’t even place: Gabe’s Remix of “Wilderness”

Call me old-fashioned but if I don’t win a contest by mashin them up with Sufjan Stevens, Beck, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beastie Boys, and even Shapes and Sizes themselves, then I sho don’t know how to win a contest. But, after carefully inspecting the winning entries, I figured out what they’ve got in common: SEX APPEAL. Both the first and second place entries are the kind of song that make a brother want to grab his best gal and get freaky on the dance flo.

WELL NOW THAT I KNOW, YOU BETTER BELIEVE I’M GOING TO START MAKING SOME CHANGES AROUND HERE.

sexy

Step One: I’m getting rid of that “Recalling the Good Old Days” crap! I was thinking the new GRC slogan would be, “Sexing You Up Big Time Since 2006.” Still working on that one. Maybe you could help me.

Step Two: Instead of posting reviews and dumb stuff, I’m going to be posting weekly installments of a SEXY serial novel about a cool guy who goes to all the clubs and GRINDS hardcore on tons of babes.

Step Three: No more pictures of old people! Talk about un-sexy.

How else? This “being sexy” thing doesn’t come naturally to an old-fashioned country bumpkin like myself, so I need your help! Please post some comments and let me know how to to make Gather Round, Children as sexy as possible.