As I have pointed out before.
Rest in peace.
Some of my favorite records are collections of out-takes, b-sides, and other tracks that never quite made it onto albums. When carelessly curated (I'm looking at YOU, Anthology I, II, and III) they do little more gather cutting-room floor material for completists. But when assembled with care (or sometimes just luck) they can reveal something about an artist that their carefully-cultivated albums fail to. And since I haven't created a "Five Perfect" post in several years, I thought this would be a good time.
Honorable mentions: Black Market Clash, Still In Hollywood, side two of the cassette of Standing on a Beach, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death, and Tom Waits' three-disc Orphans collection.
Seriously, program directors, give these bands a rest for a few years:
Who did I miss?
Seriously, it's like these stations are frozen in the mid-90's. After the jump, take a look at this playlist from TODAY on my local "alternative" station. Note that not only did they play Cake three times in a 9 hour period, they played "The Distance" TWICE. Inexcusable.
Apparently, this has been around for awhile. But I hadn't seen it until a moment ago -- I haven't seen Rush live in probably 15 years, come to think of it -- and I think it's the bee's knees...
(Hat tip: Mick Shrimpton on Twitter.)
So this musician John Mayer gave an interview to Playboy in which he discussed sexual intercourse with Jessica Simpson without using a negro dialect. Or something. I really don't know much about what he said or much about the man's body of work, for that matter.
(Oh, "Your Body is a Wonderland"? That guy? Jeeeeee-ZUS.)
John Mayer's Nashville fans were treated to more than just a rock concert last night. They also got a lengthy, tearful apology, delivered mid-song, and the promise -- or threat, depending on how one feels about the musician -- that he'd be quitting what he referred to as "the media game."
There's more, including a video. Because this is 2010, Mayer apologized first on Twitter before blubbering on stage. It's a brave new world, brothers and sisters.
Now, this may sound a bit odd, contradictory or perhaps even hypocritical coming from somebody who pays the mortgage "doing journalism" -- though certainly not celebrity journalism -- but I think anyone who deals with the press should always keep these two maxims at the very front of his or her mind:
First, journalists are untrustworthy bastards. They're quote hunters -- the juicier and more embarrassing the better. Even I've been burned by reporters before.
Second -- and this one is really important -- never say nothing to nobody about nothing. Ever.
There are caveats and exceptions to both rules, of course. (Obviously, don't think twice about talking to me.) I don't understand why a guy like Mayer, who is evidently a gossip and tabloid magnet, didn't learn to keep his yap shut years ago. Could be it's all an act; he's really just generating controversy for the sake of publicity; and this latest stunt got out of hand. "It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it," Mayer tweeted, "because I realize that there's no intellectualizing a word that is so emotionally charged." An understatement if ever there was one.
Or maybe Mayer thought people were only kidding when they say they just read Playboy for the articles.
Turns out that of the weak lot of pricey commercials that aired during Super Bowl XLIV, the most politically charged and polarizing wasn't the Focus on the Family spot featuring Tim and Pam Tebow. (By the way, does anyone take the National Organization for Women seriously anymore? Anyone? Really?)
No, it was that Audi "Green Police" commercial.
I thought the ad was cleverly written and produced (the anteater was a cute touch)... and utterly horrifying. Two bits in particular really bothered me: The part where the Green Police put some hapless homeowner in the back of a squad car as a news reporter explains the perp was caught using incandescent lights; and the Cops-like scene where the bewildered couple is rousted for setting their hot tub's thermostat too high.
My first reaction watching the YouTube was entirely visceral. I've watched it three more times however, and I still don't like it. But I'm aware this may be an overreaction. (Maybe.) Steve Hayward's pithy analysis is perhaps among the more sensible from my comrades on the right:
Is it mocking environmentalism? Um. . . yeah. Your moral authority is pretty thin when a major advertiser finds it safe to take this approach. Think anyone would ever try something like this about the civil rights movement? Or the feminist movement?
Hayward suggests that Republicans could successfully exploit the part of the ad I hated most in the fall: "I'm guessing a winner will be a repeal of the forthcoming ban on incandescent lightbulbs. I know I'm running out of space stocking up on them for 2012 or whenever the ban goes into effect." (It will be phased in between 2012 and 2014, FYI.)
I wish I shared Hayward's optimism. Sure, arresting a guy for installing incandescent lights or raiding a house because some schlub committed a "composting infraction" might be over-the-top now. But how about fining and jailing people for not maintaining proper pressure on their car tires? California's Air Resources Board proposed to do precisely that, for real, but quickly backpedaled once the public got wind and started making ugly noises.
Certainly, some environmentalists viewed the ad the same as Hayward did -- to their great consternation. Our friend Lisa Schmeiser tweeted how she was "bugged by the demonization of environmental measures. Seemed counterintuitive to the sales pitch." And Audi itself appears to be unsure whether the ad is wholly irreverent or maybe just a little bit serious.
The Green Police are a humorous group of individuals that have joined forces in an effort to collectively help guide consumers to make the right decision when it comes to the environment. They’re not here to judge, merely to guide these decisions.
Right. They're "guiding" the guy who chose plastic over paper at the beginning of the ad where exactly? (Incidentally, the lyrics of Cheap Trick's Dream Police redo, which are basically identical to the 1979 hit single but for one word, say the Green Police are "judge and jury." So put that in your carbon-loaded pipe and smoke it, Audi ad geniuses!)
The Audi Green Police page goes on to helpfully explain how
there are numerous real Green Police units globally that are furthering green practices and environmental issues. For example, Israel's main arm of the Ministry of Environmental Protection in the area of enforcement and deterrence is called; you guess it, the Green Police. New York has officers within the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation that are fondly called the "Green Police". The Green Police is also the popular name for Vietnam’s Environmental Police Department and the UK has a group who dresses in green as part of the Environment Agency’s squad to monitor excessive CO2 emissions.
Oh, and there was one other Green Police force that the German-owned carmaker doesn't mention, probably because... well, go and read for yourself.
Pains me as it does to link to it, if you can get past the "teabagger" guff, I think Grist's David Roberts discerns perfectly the message Audi is trying to get across in the spot:
The ad only makes sense if it's aimed at people who acknowledge the moral authority of the green police -- people who may find those obligations tiresome and constraining on occasion, who only fitfully meet them, who may be annoyed by sticklers and naggers, but who recognize that living more sustainably is in fact the moral thing to do. This basically describes every guy I know.
Ah, yes. What's a little loss of liberty for a life of contentedly "green" servitude?
The ad's payoff, don't forget, is that the guy in Audi's new clean diesel roadster gets to drive off when the Green Police wave him through their preposterous eco-roadblock. So if you want to keep the Green Police off your back, you can start by switching back to partially recycled paper bags, installing mercury-filled compact fluorescent lights, and driving a imported car. Brilliant. And, as I say, horrifying. It's just a commercial. Yep. Got it. I still hope the campaign blows up in Audi's face.
Gumby creator Art Clokey has died. The animator and filmmaker had a rough childhood but lived a remarkable life and left an indelible legacy for several generations of kids. He was 88.
If you came of age in the 1980s, you will likely remember a short-lived Gumby revival and, of course, Eddie Murphy's take on the character in the Silver Age of Saturday Night Live. This is what I remember most, though...
"If you've got a heart, then Gumby's a part of you." Rest in peace, Art Clokey.
All Internet lists exist to prompt arguments, spark controversies, share a bit of knowledge, and generate lots of links. Ken Denmead -- a.k.a. GeekDad at Wired -- has contributed the best and the worst of the new decade with his "100 Quotes Every Geek Should Know," a document that at once delights and appalls. I mean, he includes Roy Batty's last three words in Blade Runner but not the immortal lines that precede them? Seriously? And he will rue the day he chose a couple of pedestrian lines from Real Genius.
I would note, too, that not all of Denmead's selections are from sci-fi or fantasy films. There are even a couple of song lyrics. Fine. But with such a broad criteria, where's Apocalypse Now? No, not the obvious one. Any self-respecting geek ought to know you can't land on one-quarter or three-eighths of Venus. That's dialectic physics!
The comments on the piece are lively and there are some excellent suggestions. (And it's really not such a bad list... I guess. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that.) One I would have liked to have seen from the endlessly quotable Army of Darkness: "It's a trap, get an axe!" I use that one all the time.
Well... what say you?
I've seen Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Possess Your Heart" video before. And it's pretty old. Hardly "New Year." But I've never seen it in its full long form until tonight. It's beautifully shot, and I can't believe the band had the budget for this at the time.
Even if you're not a fan, this is still a sight to see (for a music video).
I dare to call this a remarkable event in modern popular culture. Modern comedy, especially on Comedy Central, drips with cynicism. The network's biggest shows — South Park, The Daily Show, The Sarah Silverman Program and (perhaps to a lesser extent) the Colbert Report — take potshots at everything traditional in America. I find a good bit of that funny, but start to get tired of it after extended exposure. It's always been a mystery to me how a network that makes its bones by continually mocking (often in bad faith) the values of Middle America thrives. Perhaps the majority of America — the non-elites — are not as stupid as Jon Stewart seems to think we are, and we have the self-confidence to laugh at ourselves.
Yet, on Comedy Central no less, Colbert presents a little song that is sincere, respectful, honest and (gasp!) wholesome. Note that Colbert produced a "Christmas" special, not a "Holiday" special. The distinction is important, especially in today's climate.
Still true today. So ... in the Christmas spirit, I re-post it again today. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas, everyone!
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|A Colbert Christmas: Colbert/Costello Duet|
(Man do I wish Comedy Central videos would format better for ordinary blogs.)
Music is indispensable to me. I have a playlist I listen to regularly on my laptop when I write. It started as a two-hour playlist I created for when I would frequent the Paul Biane Library in Rancho Cucamonga. You can only use a study room there for two hours at a time. It's since grown more than seven and a half hours -- just shy of a proper eight-hour workday length -- with 102 songs.
A couple of notes. The list doubles as a playlist for possible podcast music. Regular Ben and Joel Podcast listeners will probably recognize some of the music that has appeared in recent months. The list is heavily influenced by suggestions from Monkey Robb -- particularly Explosions in the Sky and Colourbox -- and the Mighty Jimmy Aquino. What can I say? I really like Supergrass's "In It For the Money" album. Finally, I think Mahler is a fine way to wrap up the workday, though there is a good case to be made for beginning the list with the 8th Symphony.
I've listed the song titles and artists below the fold. What do you listen to when you work?
(Click "Read more" below to view the rest of this post.)
The old Saturday Night Live, Chris Rywalt writes, "is actually much, much worse than we remember. The current season only seems like a severe drop in quality. The show has actually always sucked."
Rywalt, as usual, isn't entirely wrong. But he isn't quite right, either. (And vice-versa.) In more than 30 years on the air, Saturday Night Live has produced many gems. Think of the Two Wild and Crazy Guys, the Samurai Deli, Gumby, Willie and Frankie, Billy Crystal's Joe Franklin Show bits, Ebony and Ivory, Chris Farley's Motivational Speaker, The Sinatra Group, "More Cowbell." Think of those great ad parodies like Schmitt's Gay and Bad Idea Jeans. But a show that has 90 minutes to fill also produces a lot of unfunny garbage. How many sketches have we seen over the years that went on for six or seven minutes with few laughs and lame endings?
Andy Samberg's digital shorts are exemplars of the best and worst of Saturday Night Live currently. I'm a big fan of Samberg's humor-laced brand of Jewish hip-hop. As good as those videos are, however, there always seems to be something that strikes a sour note. The Taser punch line in "On the Ground" doesn't quite work for me. And there is something about Shy Ronnie's "accident" that falls one or two degrees short of funny to me, even though the ending is terrific.
Subjective? Well, in matters of taste there is no argument, as the sages say. I believe I'll have another potato chip.
Hey, if you are a little LA music venue and one night some guy comes in to play and does a cover of some obscure Tears For Fears song that was on soundtrack and he and the original band and some guy who looks like Spiderman gets rich, and then some other guy pays a song that gets picked up for "Garden State" does that mean that your venue is famous ?
But it does mean that it has the best FAQ ever. Oh, I mean: Best. FAQ. Ever.
Fact: At 4:07, 4:19 and 5:55 (close-up) of the following video, Dwight Schrute from "The Office" is standing next to Harry Belafonte during Quincy Jones' iconic "We Are the World" Super Group benefit video.
Don't worry. I've confirmed this. I emailed Dwight myself. And he related the following information, quoted directly ...
Fact: Harry Belefonte smells funny after a night of partying.
Fact: That's not Cyndi Lauper's real hair color.
Fact: I was not the only one wondering why Huey Lewis was there. Willie Nelson gave me a knowing glance.
Fact: Dionne Warwick tried to give me a Psychic Friends reading.
Fact: Huey Lewis didn't know who James Ingram was, either. Huey's off the hook.
Fact: Bruce Springsteen was just a little too into his singing part. (Editor's Note: Dwight Shrute says he is convinced that Bruce was the most-sober performer — and since Dwight Schrute was fully sober, Dwight Shrute could definitely have taken him that night in a battle of martial arts.)
Fact: Kim Carnes paid money to be included. Money wasted.
Dwight Schrute started to ramble after that. Something about how he thinks Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder are faking their "blindness" to bump up record sales. "Everyone knows people open their wallets for the 'handicapped'," he said. Anyway, I present the evidence:
(HT: Mrs. Zaius, who was hipped to this amazing story from a Facebook friend.)
No, not football. The immortal WKRP turkey drop episode, of course...
Cool mash-up featuring the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" set to scenes from "The Empire Strikes Back." (Via Ace of Spades.)
This video isn't exactly new, but Mrs. Zaius hipped me to it tonight, and I thought I'd share it for the sake of our five readers who would like a diversion from the usual flotsam and jetsam around here. The California Lakelys saw The New Pornographers open for Death Cab for Cutie a few months ago at the Hollywood Bowl (though we were hip to the band before the show). They're worth exploring.
Anyway, this video was reportedly made by high school kids at Millburn High School in Essex County, New Jersey. (There's a gratuitous hit at George W. Bush in the credits ... but they are high school kids ... sigh ....) And The New Pornographers liked it so much, they approved it as an "official" video for "The Bleeding Heart Show" off the Twin Cinema album from 2005.
Great song from the Canadian Band, and an inspired video (made me think of They Might Be Giants in the early years.)
Although I know who Lady Gaga is, I can honestly say I've never heard her song, "Poker Face." And I'm not sure I could hear it now that I've experienced Eric Cartman's cover and Christopher Walken's dramatic reading.
Videos embedded below (click on "Read more" to view).
SNL was a rerun tonight -- it was the one with the Obama sketch that major cable news networks thought worthy of "fact-checking." Anyway, I thought this Andy Samberg short was funny... perhaps because I'm not part of your system, maaaaaaaan! Or perhaps because I've had too much to drink.
My musical tastes tend to be quite varied -- you might say ecumenical -- but Christian rock is not a favorite. For some reason, Kathryn Jean Lopez has been posting a great deal about Christian rock at the Corner over the past day. I found myself nodding in agreement with one of her correspondents, who wrote "I prefer my decadence pure."
In what Lopez promises will be the last word on the subject, she quotes an e-mailer who makes an excellent observation:
(T)here is a great body of Christian Rock out there by bands who don’t try to market themselves as “Christian Rock” .... Heck, even Ozzy Osbourne, once you get past the flamboyant stage act, actually has a message that is quite consistent with Judeo-Christian values -- take a serious listen (to) “Iron Man,” “The Ultimate Sin,” or “Crazy Train.”
Quite right. I'll go one better. I contend that the greatest "Christian Rock" album of the past 35 years is Black Sabbath's "Master of Reality." Apart from "Sweet Leaf," the album features some of the most explicitly religious -- and, indeed, Christian -- music you'll find from a hard rock band.
And if you don't believe me, you can go to straight to the Devil.
Jennifer Anniston says: "I take a three-minute shower.” And she's so green, she even finds time to brush her teeth in that quickie shower, as well.
Either she's lying to one-up her Hollywood green-weenie friends, she's joking, or she has super-human speed going from shampoo to soap to toothbrush. Me? I spend at least 5 minutes just enjoying the hot spray of water on my skin. But since I don't travel on private jets, I can do that every day if I live to be 328 years old and have a smaller carbon footprint than the private-jetting Jen. Continuing ...
"Entourage” star Adrian Grenier has lived in an apartment insulated with old pants.
Not only is that weird in the extreme, it's lame. I insulate my house with live homeless guys standing shoulder to shoulder between my drywall and the stucco. Once they are too thin to be effective, I let them out for a couple of weeks to fatten them up ... then the pattern continues. Beat that, Adrian! I practice the ultimate in recycling!
Vegetarian and planetary crusader Tobey Maguire reportedly has banned all leather products from his house. He also “makes everyone take off their leather belts and shoes and leave them by the door!”
Got him beat, too. Inspired by one of Hollywood's greatest productions, why not make human skin into leather ... which I can then make into clothing and put on animals to raise their self esteem? Hey Toby: "Now it places the lotion in the basket. ... PUT THE F*&^ING LOTION IN THE BASKET!!!!
Leonardo DiCaprio “stays green at home, too—with his $3,200 eco-friendly toilet!”
And how much carbon did it take to make that stinky-ass toilet of yours, Leo? Oh, never mind ...
To read the whole green-weenie Hollywood story, go here.
And so am I. Otherwise, we'd probably be hearing more about this lame tempest in a teapot:
The MTV Awards once again earned its reputation for tawdry entertainment by broadcasting Jack Black praying to the devil. The comedian, who was hawking a heavy metal video game called Brütal Legend, asked the "Dear Dark Lord Satan" to bless the rock star nominees with "continued success in the music industry."
I guess the Newsbusters people aren't Tenacious D fans. (Not really safe for work, and spoiler warning.)
Politico reports: "Obama calls Kanye 'jackass'"
ABC News's Terry Moran tweeted the comment. "Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential."
Apparently it was an off-the-record comment and Moran deleted the tweet not long after.
Jules Crittenden remarks:
Obama finally says something we can all agree with … Then does a grab back. Figures.
Too bad. Could have been a great bi-partisan civility reach-across uniter-not-adivider kind of move in these uncivil times.
And Allah at HotAir observes: "I knew he had his good points. What I don’t know is why he’d insist on keeping this off the record."
You can't have nice things.
And, I think you will agree by the end, this goose is thoroughly cooked:
(Hat tip: Crywalt via the Incomparable e-mail list)
Some monkeys seem to like Metallica, but not because of James Hetfield's adolescent lyrics, you can be certain of that!
I've loved this song, "Sing," ever since I first heard it in the late '90s while living in the charming and beautiful town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Great memories there.
Anyway, I post it here because there's a monkey in the video!!!! — and because tonight was the first time I saw the video. Travis is one of the great British bands that never made it big (meaning REALLY big) in the United States. I'll never understand why a band as talented as this, that made such great Brit Pop songs, never made it as big here as Coldplay.
Anyway, as you'll see in the video below, the boys in Travis are having quite a bit of fun — and the monkey acts more civilized than the humans he observes. This video is reminiscent of the classic INXS video for "The One Thing." Gotta be an homage.