Thursday, April 14, 2011


Until recently I was a contributing writer to EBurban, a hipster music review site (
here's all the articles I wrote). They let me write about eight articles, the editor was constantly annoyed at my anti-smug, anti-hipster attitude. This article was apparently the last straw:

The Twilight Singers – Dynamite Steps (1 Star)

How does one describe The Twilight Singers and their new album, “Dynamite Steps”? There are only so many ways to describe lame hipster music that all sounds exactly the same. So why not, instead, tell a little tale that describes precisely what they sound like. As En Vogue once said, “Free your mind and the rest will follow.” Let’s try a little metaphor, shall we:

In an undisclosed location, deep in the arid wastelands of central Australia, musician Nick Cave sits in his underground bunker, The Nick Cave, speaking to his producer on the red emergency phone. “Mr. Producer,” he says, “I have once again been bitten by the creative bug and wish to make another album featuring my signature dark-folk musical stylings.” The producer informs Nick that, although he is pleased to hear of his recent inspiration, to remember that all of The Bad Seeds where killed two months prior in a fiery wallaby-related incident. Hearing Nick’s obvious dejection over the phone, his producer reassures him that he will make some calls and bring in some other famous musicians to help.

The following day, the producer enters The Nick Cave followed closely by none other than Bono. Bono, forced to remove his ever-prevalent blue smoke tinted sunglasses in the dim light of the cave, approaches Nick and clasps a hand to his fellow artist’s shoulder. “Mr. Cave, I love your work, but if I am going to be a part of this project I am going to require a lot less acoustic guitar and a lot more histrionic echo effects. Also, could it hurt to have every song slowly increase in tempo and volume in order to manufacture some gravitas?” Before Nick can protest, his producer stands up and declares the idea to be “unadulterated brilliance”. “Great,” Bono says on his way out the door, “I’ll let The Edge out of their crates and get them right on it.”

At Bono’s home, made entirely out of recycled tinted sunglasses, the producer meets with The Edge to discuss the album further. Nick Cave arrives late, having brought doughnuts which are then embarrassingly dismissed in favor of Bono’s famous lindsor tarts, only to find that a consensus has been formed among the group. “Nicky, baby,” the producer explains, “We think you’re a poet, we really do. But your lyrics are too spooky, we need something that screams real raw emotions with just a hint of whininess. That’s why we’ve hired the guy from Dashboard Confessional to re-write your lyrics.” Nick, exacerbated and confused, asks what and who Dashboard Confessional is so that he may at least look into their lyric writing ability. “No need,” says the producer, “he’s on his way now. And he’s bringing the good doughnuts!”

The project is coming together -aside from the fact that Nick Cave has been drinking a lot more- but the gang still agrees that there’s something missing from the album. Bono says, “What we need is a voice that defines the current generation. A voice that can bring gravity to our music, a voice so smooth and pure that hearts will melt at the mere clearing of the singer’s throat.” Suddenly, inspiration hits them all at once. Bono, The Edge, the Producer, and the Dashboard Confessional guy leap from their chairs and gleefully shout the name of their front man in unison, “Randy Newman!” As the gang rushes to the recording studio, Nick Cave retreats to the bathroom with his pint of bourbon, sobbing quietly.

Conclusion: The Twilight Singers should get at least a thimble of credit for coming up with a few darkly inspired lines here and there, but any semblance of lyrical talent gets buried under the same old befuddled indie meanderings. And yes, the lead singer does song exactly like Randy Newman.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Blog Has Nearly Died from Neglect!

I've been soo busy with write for other places I haven't been updated. Here's some articles I've written since the last post:





Friday, August 27, 2010

Less Debating, More Fighting

I have wriiten another article for my good friends at

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Subcultural Revolution

I am not cool. Never in my life have I been cool. For a long time I wondered if that “cool” world was better than mine and then one day I saw the light. “Hip” is just another word for personality disorder. What started out when I was in High School as a few huddled groups of kids with nose rings in art class has now become a worldwide tight-jeaned epidemic. I can’t walk into downtown New York these days without my biohazard suit and hipster repellent (hipster repellent being the music of Nickelback and/or Creed). Now, there are many subcultures that I disapprove of. Goths, born again Christians, punk rockers, NASCAR fans, people from Kentucky; I try to avoid and could do without them all, but at least these folks, insufferable as they may be, have the dignity to acknowledge the fact that they are a consumer group. Goths buy eye-liner, NASCAR fans buy those moronic reflective sunglasses, and Christians buy Mel Gibson DVD’s. Hipsters, on the other hand, probably the biggest youth culture market out there, cling like cat hair to a black shirt to their false sense of individuality. Think of the millions of pork pie hats and scarves that are sold each and every day, think of all the skinny guys with names like Connor drinking Pabst and wearing vintage distressed t-shirts, think of the sheer magnitude of them just texting and tweeting and I-Poding bringing this culture to its knees choking on its own sense of irony!

Sorry, I got a bit excited there. But seriously, fuck you Steve Jobs. I just need a phone to call people, not an app to scratch my ass.

Back before hipsters the line between cool and lame was quite clear. You were cool if you go laid, wore decent cloths, and others admired you. You were lame if you lacked fashion sense and social graces. Somewhere in this new millennium, though, we lost our way and geek became chic. Now right now you’re probably saying, “But dear sir, isn’t it high time that the uncool got their day in the sun?” A statement to which I respectfully reply, “Cram it, ugly. I’m talking here. Why don’t you scrape the dumbassery out of your ears and listen for a change?”

Geek, no matter how valiantly it tries, is not chic. That’s the point of geek, once it becomes chic it loses its geek. You follow? Thick-rimmed glasses, once a universal mark of geekdom, have been co-opted by the hipster because of their tenuous grasp on the concept of irony (though it would be nice to see pocket protectors come back. Do you pockets get as inky as mine?).

For hipsters, it all about the external. They must look the part with their hair and their ear buds and their tight jeans, they must inform the world daily of their various moods and stages of angst through Facebook and Twitter, all so much effort to seem so effortless. To seem like you don’t care you have to care so damn hard, so hard you end up looking like Russell Brand. You see cool people are inherently selfish. So the geeks aren’t finally getting their due, they’ve just gotten their cloths stolen.

Does anyone understand the concept of quiet dignity anymore? Everyone is shouting from the mountaintops about how unique they are. The problem is that there are a thousand other mountain tops with a thousand other people shouting the exact same thing. The noise from all the shouting is deafening and the people who are actually trying to make things better (the squares) can’t hear themselves think.

I’m not saying that all squares are activists and volunteers, in fact most aren’t, most of them are what you’d call “some dudes”. Your dad is a square, your teacher is a square, your boss is a square and, as superfluous as they all may or may not be, they’re at least attempting to contribute in a societal sense. The file clerk at a warehouse that ships party supplies is a square and, true, the world would be not better or worse without him. Like the male nipples they are without purpose, but at least they’re not parasites.

© 2010 Dan Howard.
All rights reserved.
Work cannot be reproduced for any reason without consent of Dan Howard.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rochester’s Reign Expands

Hey everyone,

I have become a contibuting writer for the good people at
Under the psyduenym of "Lord Rochester" I will be doing, that's right, even more complaining!

Please to enjoy:

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Dream Police

Christopher Nolan is a director of rare abilities. He dreams big and, unlike other filmmakers who make films on a wide scope (I’m looking at you Roland Emmerich), actually has the talent to pull it off. For forty years Batman had been battling in a cartoon world filled with foes who’s most intimidating threats where things like, “You haven’t seen the last of me, Caped Crusader!” In Nolan’s hands Batman must contend with the new Joker, a man who is part domestic terrorist and part world’s worst (or, maybe, best) sociologist. So, when Christopher Nolan wants to make a movie about human beings with the ability to enter the dreams of others, we’re not talking about Randy Quaid fighting a snake man with Kate Capshaw here… By the way, for those keeping score, that is the second reference to 1984’s “Dreamscape” made on this blog. If you can find the first one, I’ll send you a free windbreaker.

There’s quote from and Edgar Allen Poe poem that in essence sums up the film “Inception”. "All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream". In a world where the technology that allows others to infiltrate dreams exists Cobb (DiCaprio) and his team are the best extractors money can buy. They make their living as dream thieves, entering peoples’ subconscious and stealing important ideas. One day, however, a powerful Japanese businessman named Saito offers Cobb the deal of a lifetime. You see Cobb has been on the lam for the last several years, if he returns to the states he’ll be arrested for his wife’s murder. He’s like the Roman Polanski of psyche-thieving non-pedophiles. Cobb is, of course, innocent and Saito offers him a free pass back into the United States to see his children again if he can complete one more assignment. But if you thought this was going to be another simple extraction like the others you are quite mistaken and unfortunately no longer eligible for the windbreaker.

What makes Cobb so good at his job, and ultimately what makes Nolan so good at his, is his ability to create dreams inside of dreams. The best way to steal an idea is to confuse the target as to whether or not they are still dreaming. Often times in the film people enter other dreams while already in one or wake up from a dream only to find they are part of another dream. Saito sees Cobb's expertise and asks him to perform not an extraction but an inception, he wants an idea planted in someone’s brain and the team’s artistry at creating multiple layers of dreaming makes them the perfect candidates.

The crime film is probably to the most prolific genre in cinema (with the exception of porn and talking dog movies) and the general thought is that everything that can be done has already been done before. With “Memento”, “The Prestige”, “The Dark Knight”, and now “Inception” Nolan challenges the status quo. Great directors, like Tarantino, or Michael Mann, or Scorsese, work inside of a genre and are able to make something new, to pull the rug out from underneath the audience just when they think they know what’s coming next. Christopher Nolan has made the ultimate post-modern heist movie and if you say you’ve seen everything there is to see [incoming hackneyed joke], much like Aerosmith, Nolan will tell you to dream on.

© 2010 Dan Howard.
All rights reserved.
Work cannot be reproduced for any reason without consent of Dan Howard.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blood, Sweat, and Surgery

Let me begin with a caveat for those who are less than fully versed in the genre. There are certain truths we as an audience accept when watching modern horror movies:

1.) Everyone has terrible cell phone reception

2.) No one knows how to change a flat tire

3.) It is perfectly logical that the skinny chick in heels can out run the killer faster than her jock boyfriend

4.) When fleeing the killer’s basement and/or torture chamber the best route of escape is to whimper a lot, make as much noise as possible, and then summarily lock yourself in a room with no way out

5.) The villain cannot be killed by bullets, stabbing, strangling, or explosions but a porcelain lamp to the head will subdue him long enough for the girl to run into another inescapable room

6.) After receiving a 911 calling featuring a woman’s voice screaming, “Oh god help! He’s killing everyone!” the police will respond by sending one patrol car driven by a single officer armed with a flashlight

It’s going to take a new breed of horror film to break these conventions and, though it makes a few valiant efforts, “The Human Centipede” is just another replaceable soldier in the horror movie brigade. The film is saved, however, from its humdrum execution by its fairly original premise and the scenery devouring performance of its villain. The plot is simple; three tourists are abducted from the German countryside by the insane Dr. Heiter for his nefarious experiments. Where things start getting interesting is when we discover the nature of the good doctor’s lab research. I don’t want to give anything away but I will say that Dr. Heiter’s previous employment was most likely a rotation as the Chief Surgeon of the Wholly Unnecessary and Bat-Shit Crazy Procedures Department at Munich General Hospital.

The doctor, played with thin-lipped German menace by Dieter Laser, is both a throwback to the mad scientists of horror movies past and a personification of modern fears as well. We don’t fear being chased by knife-wielding maniacs anymore. A generation of children raised on unearned congratulations has produced and audience that thinks they can take down Jason Voorhees with a few punches from their Maori tattooed biceps. What people who were brought up believing they were God’s gift to the world fear most is the idea that they are impotent. That no matter how special they’ve been told they were does nothing to change the fact that they are flesh and bone and that the flesh and bone of even the most confident and posturing person is no less soft and brittle.

Look at films like “Saw” and “Hostel”. Torment and mutilation has replaced murder as the prevalent fear. Dr. Heiter kills only to protect his experiment, not out of sadistic joy. His sadistic joy, and the source of terror in these types of movies, comes from the idea of being left alive in agony. Americans believe that the world revolves around us and around our country and discovering the world (revolving around us or not) doesn’t care about your life and is often downright hostile to the way you live is revolting. The torture in these films is the real world putting us in our place. We have the biggest army, the fastest food, the loudest cars, and the shiniest cell phones but under the knife we bleed the same as anyone else would and that frightens us.

© 2010 Dan Howard.
All rights reserved.
Work cannot be reproduced for any reason without consent of Dan Howard.