Killola (or How the West Was Won)

February 23, 2009

killola-vert-darkby Kevin Egan

(The following piece was originally written for last fall’s issue of the now defunct, Chord magazine.  I felt it was a shame that this piece didn’t make it to print, since I’m not sure if I’ve come across a band that works as hard as Killola.  Anyway, I just wanted to get this out there where it belongs.)     

 

Who says melody is dead? 

All you have to do is go up on a steep hill and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can see L.A.’s latest pop-rock sensation, Killola, an act with some of the catchiest and sing-songiest tunes ever, riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.

I know.  That metaphor has been used before.  But Dr. Thompson was writing about a time when something exciting was happening in California.  So am I. 

At times reminiscent of bands from the eighties and nineties, Killola remains true to what made the music of those two decades intriguing, with great hooks, quirky lyrics and a solid rock beat.   But this isn’t something they’re conscious of when writing songs.  They just love catchy music.  

“Sometimes all it takes is a D major chord with a little whistling, “says bassist, Johnny Dunn.  “A good melody makes it.  The test is if it can sound good acoustically.  If you can take it to the parking lot, you win.”   

Johnny’s referring to the many parking lots Killola will be playing acoustic sets during their upcoming U.S. tour, for their underage audiences that can’t get into the 21-and-over venues.  To them, it’s the least they can do for the fans that have proved their loyalty by helping Killola become a worldwide internet sensation.

“We used to do an interactive webcam night on Friday nights,” says Lisa Rieffel, lead singer of the group.   “We’ve developed relationships with these people.  We know what these people look like.  We know how they laugh.  We know what they look like in their pajamas.  We just haven’t met them.”

Killola seems excited to finally have a chance to get together with their longtime friends but there’s still one element to these types of encounters that frustrates Rieffel just a little.   “If one more person tells me I’m much shorter in real life, I’m gonna be pissed!”

But that seems to be the extent of what irks Rieffel.  Killola are truly dedicated to the people that are truly dedicated to them.  In fact, to reciprocate the love and loyalty, Killola have recently put their latest album, I am the Messer, plus two bonus songs, on their website (killola.com), to be downloaded for free. 

Now everyone has a chance to ride that high and beautiful wave of the catchiest and sing-songiest tunes ever.           

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Showdown in Buenos Aires, A Friend Suspects Man of Being Kenneth Lay

February 12, 2009

by Kevin Egan

A friend of mine recently returned from Argentina.  While there, he heardmore than one rumor that former Enron CEO, Kenneth Lay, was living in the country under an alias and in disguise.  Not one for conspiracy theories, he shunned the idea and proceeded to enjoy his vacation in the lovely city of Buenos Aires. 

Kenneth Lay, Master Criminal.

Kenneth Lay, Master Criminal.

 

While eating in a small café and getting drunk on local wine, my friend noticed a man, well dressed, in a striped white suit, with a long beard and bushy eyebrows.  At first he couldn’t place the face but then after recalling the rumors about the deceased executive, he suspected that the man before him might actually be Kenneth Lay. 

My friend swallowed what was left of his wine, paid his bill and began to follow this man around town.  The man stopped in many shops, conversed with local business men, and then casually strolled down the streets Buenos Aires is famous for, as if he hadn’t a care in the world.  My friend, by this time, seemed certain that it was Kenneth Lay he was following.  He told me the man in question had an air of indestructibility about him, as if he had pulled off the greatest caper known to man and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it.  My friend felt enraged and searched for the local authorities, in order to arrest this person he thought was Lay and finally bring justice to those whose lives had been destroyed by his irresponsible business practices.

The first police officer he had found took his accusation very seriously.  My friend speaks incredibly good Spanish and was able to paint an extremely vivid picture of who Lay was and the crimes he had committed.  Several other cops were waved over and a fury began to erupt within them, feelings if it was they themselves who had lost their retirement money in the great debacle of the early twenty-first century. 

Then an officer, who I suppose would be the equivalent of a police captain, caught word of the outrage that had his subordinates in an uproar and quickly dismissed any accusations in regards to the mysterious man.  He said he recognized the man my friend thought was Lay and had known him for a couple of years as a very polite and trouble-free gentlemen.  He didn’t feel there was any reason to disturb the man with such ludicrous charges and insisted that everyone drop the matter immediately. 

Smelling a rat that transcended national borders, my friend, along with the original officer that he had spoken with, remained on the trail of the man, hoping to find something that would expose his masquerade and, again, bring justice to the workers that will struggle for the rest of their lives because of the mischievous and dastardly deeds committed at Enron.

They followed him into coffee shops, gift shops, what appeared to be a brothel, a train station and finally a park, where he met a man in a thin grey suit, who did not look as if he was a native to Buenos Aires.   The two amateur sleuths snuck as close as they could to the two men, without seeming as if they were up to something.  Bits of conversations could be heard but there were also times when the sound of children playing and birds singing drowned out what seemed like crucial indictments of the man’s guilt.  Words like “Bush” and “Suckers” were, however, heard clearly numerous times, inciting more rage from my friend and his companion.  In fact, the police officer could not refrain from standing and shouting at the man, calling him the Spanish equivalent of “a villain,” “a bastard” and “a treacherous scoundrel.”

The man in the thin grey suit reacted quickly.  He pulled out a gun with a silencer attached to it and shot at the police officer, hitting him in the shoulder.  The officer shot back, but because of the injury he sustained, he missed, hitting a nearby tree.   The man in the suit then pressed a button on his cellphone and within seconds, a person wearing a dark helmet came speeding by on a Vespa.  The Vespa slowed down just enough for the man in the suit to climb on back and disappear into a crowded street.

The man suspected to be Lay, watching his associate escape, fled himself, pushing several children out of his way, knocking most of them to the cement ground.  My friend, after ensuring the police officer was okay, chased after the man, almost touching the shoulders of his suit jacket as they both reached an intersection in which a bus and a large truck had collided maybe twenty minutes before.  The man, however, took advantage of the massive crowd of people lingering in front of the truck and quickly squeezed between them, breaking away from my friend and then shooting down an alley.  By the time my friend was able to maneuver his way through the conglomerate of Argentinians, the man suspected to be Lay was gone.  And so was my friend’s hope to bring justice to those workers back in America. 

You could imagine my surprise when my friend returned to the United States and filled me in on the details on his adventure.  I could barely believe it myself.  Except I am a conspiracy theorist and his tale only incited the rage within me even more, since it is my belief that Kenneth Lay is still alive and had faked his own death in order to escape a prison sentence for the dastardly crimes he had committed against the U.S. financial system, as well as Enron employees. 

Anyone know the number of a good Nazi hunter?           

 

     

 

           


Che, Part Two-Reviewed

February 3, 2009

 

Benecio Del Toro as Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the comic romp, Che, Part Two

Benecio Del Toro as Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the comedic romp, Che, Part Two.

by Kevin Egan

At the end of Che, Part One, viewers were left with quite a cliffhanger. After Castro (Demian Bichir) fell to his death in a field of vines and every enemy of Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Benecio Del Toro) had been eliminated through violent means, our protagonist had been dubbed heir to the thrown, while simultaneously shutting out his wife from his affairs. It was an unsettling moment as the door was closed so forcefully in her face. Still, we loved the Guevaras and desperately desired to see more of them. With Che, Part Two, director Steven Sodenbergh pulls no punches, giving us viewers the family epic we had been waiting for. Saturated with plot twists, celebrity cameos (Adam Sandler as Batista) and endings upon endings upon endings, this sequel supercedes the possibilities already established by other films, taking us into unexplored territories.

Part Two begins exactly where Part One left off, except this time around, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) returns to the present time to warn Che about his troubling children and the havoc they are wreaking in the future. This catapults Che on another wacky adventure, outsmarting his old nemesis, Biff (Thomas F.Wilson), and rescuing his family from danger. Then, once Che believes he is clear of all hijinks, an apparition of his mentor, Ben (performed elegantly by the late Alec Guinness) appears, instructing him to go to the Degoba system, to study with an old Jedi master named “Yoda.” While Che follows this path outlined for him by his old friend, his children find themselves in trouble once more, except this time it comes in the form of a shark. Luckily for them, a desperate-for-any-kind-of-work Michael Caine (as himself) shows up to help them in their struggle.

Just like in Part One, Del Toro is again magnificent in the triple roles of Guevara, his wife and his ornery grandfather. And although the “fat suit” he wears through the second half of the film will most likely earn the make-up team an Oscar nomination, it is what Del Toro does with the suit that one finds most appealing. His ability to conjure up deep and funny voices for all three of the characters, as well as contort his face to provide the most comic expressions, is a skill unrivalled in the cinema today. Robert DeNiro himself could do no better.

Without giving too much away in regards to the ending, Che, Part Two borrows from the classic comedy, Clue, offering multiple endings, each shown separately, depending on which theatre you attend. If you’re like me, you’ll see it more than once, hitting every theatre in town, for no other reason than to ensure you catch all the unbelievable ways in which Che’s fate hangs in the balance. This one’s a keeper!

4 out of 5 stars.  Bring the kids!!!