Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Song of the Year 2007. It's ovah, Seance!

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' (great) new album Living With the Living has apparently already locked up album of the year in some quarters and has been on heavy rotation at my palatial estate for the last week or so; but their ridiculously stomping cover of Chumbawumba's "Rappaport's Testament: I Never Gave Up" from the accompanying Mo'Living EP (actually a brief song cycle about some of the lesser known Wayanses*) is what's really rockin' my... uhm... palatial world right now. It's the only song I've listened to obsessively in gods know how long as well as the first one to fill me with some "Eye of the Tiger"-style get-up-and-go since... well, Ted's recent cover of "Rock n Roll Dreams'll Come Through." In fact, I think the only way I'll give up now is if they don't play this song when I see them tomorrow night in DC. For now you can listen to it at the very end of Omar's latest Best Show on WFMU recap.

*Yes, I went for a bad Wayans pun instead of a bad Rappaport pun. I daren't attempt both. I simply daren't.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"See you at the Oscars!"

This post serves as something of a public service (as opposed to the rest, which are more like saintly missives kissed by seraphim), as I think - think - at least a couple of my readers have never read anything by George Saunders, who I'm almost certain they would go unabashedly batty for in no time. Many of Saunders' recent stories initially resemble an expanded, satirical McSweeeny's feature or some other internet-era feat of whimsy, but are eventually fraught with uncommon humanism and Vonnegut-like pathos that distinguishes him above so many other contemporary writers. I just finished his latest short story collection, In Persuasion Nation, and it really clicked with me beyond anything of his I'd previously read, which includes the fantastic Pastoralia and the earlier CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (which I felt at the time suffered from seemingly forced miserableness). In short, Saunders is the funniest writer I know of working today, certainly one of the most clever and original, and if it catches you right his work is also genuinely affecting.

Wait, did I say George Saunders? I meant Tom DeLay w/ Stephen Mansfield. That's a mia-gulpa for yours truly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

One of those all-link posts that I hope ultimately doesn't count

- SOYA has a preview of Showtime's version of This American Life - which I'll check out in whatever decade Comcrap gets around to fixing my cable - with an animated segment by Chris Ware.

- Things every comedy-loving person saw before me part 437: On Fiona's right shoulder, a good angel. On her left, a bad one.

- Said the Gramophone's posted a gorgeous Medicine Head song that I flipped over last winter, which evidently was one of John Peel's faves. I originally heard about it as part of a news story on the suitcase full of singles he carried with him most of the time. I then found it as part of a subsequent flurry of mp3 postings that, like an Andy Goldsworthy piece, was too fragile and beautiful to last.

- Here's another mp3 blog w/an oft-great selection. It's worth checking out just to see how many films you can identify from the still frames.

- "The President should be allowed to fire everyone..."

- "...and senators should be allowed to take all the cheap shots they want without anyone being able to respond."

Oh, and I'm diggin' this hard (and no, I haven't picked up the rest of the stuff in the box set yet):

I'm told that after the early 70's, the Bee Gees briefly emerged from obscurity to appear in some reggaeton-themed, coming-of-age drama with Daddy Yankee, the girl from Puce Moment, and Tom Noonan from Manhunter. Oh, and they apparently rode Rick Dees' coattails by releasing a disco record. However, anyone who likes the Beatles, Beach Boys, Zombies, etc. even a little would do well to check out their remastered, reissued (with bonus tracks that stack up just fine against the non-bonus kind) debut album from '67, which is utterly in the same vein as those groups. Take the weirdly brilliant flourishes of "Every Christian Lion-Hearted Man Will Show You," which proceeds from mock-Gregorian chant into ye olde 60's pop majesty. You know what a Gregorian chant intro would portend these days? Some depressing, 22-minute post-rock instrumental w/ a title that looks like a page from Absalom, Absalom! that's what! To quote Brian Wilson by way of Tom Scharpling, "I just wasn't made for these times."

Which is not to say depressing music doesn't have its proper place. Take El-P's new one, for instance. I've only listened to a couple of tracks so far, but any hip hop album that opens with a Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me sample automatically earns five mics and a couple of "garmonbozias" for good measure.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Please God, let there be three more Artie Bucco episodes.

While a Simpsons movie is finally hitting theaters this summer, in perhaps the most flagrant-ever defiance of the "strike while the iron is hot" rule, another dragged-out series is coming to an end as the final episodes of The Sopranos air beginning in April. Recently there was a news story about a shooting permit dust-up between the producers and Bloomfield, NJ. Series creator David Chase wanted to film the alleged final scene in the final episode at Holsten's Ice Cream Parlour but ran into some resistance from stereotype-scarred locals, who were eventually forced to relent and let the filming take place.

The ice cream thing is a fascinating tidbit. If we assume that the final scene of the series really does take place in an ice cream parlour, then I present the following theory on how the ending will play out:


TONY and AJ enter an ice cream shop. Robert Patrick's compulsive gambler character from season two is manning the counter, but Tony fails to notice. AJ glances up at the menu.

AJ: I want an ice cream cone... and a hamburger... and french fries.... and some fucking ziti (wink to the camera)... and...
TONY (shaking him furiously): YOU'LL GET NOTHING AND LIKE IT!*

Just then, the INDESTRUCTIBLE RUSSIAN MOBSTER who eluded Paulie and Christopher in the "Pine Barrens" episode from season 3, storms into the shop and stares down Tony. We see he is still badly injured but holding clumps of wingtipped hair in his tightly clenched fists, indicating he has already enacted revenge against Paulie off-screen.

TONY: No! It can't be you! We all thought you were dead!

The IRM says something in Russian, but some jackhammer noise outside drowns out his voice, so even if you speak Russian you don't know what he's saying, and it's supposed to always remain ambiguous.

Suddenly, the IRM attacks Tony, first attempting a bear hug w/ no success, then slamming him through a table in a feat of mom-rescuing-trapped-child-like strength. A horrified AJ stands there watching because he is useless. Robert Patrick has fled the scene. The IRM then drags a stunned Tony over to the soft serve machine, where he slowly empties its contents down Tony's throat, choking him to death.

The camera then pans from Tonly's lifeless body over to a tub of ice cream marked BEN & JERRY'S DUCK DUCK GOOSE. We hold this shot and superimpose it over a flashback of Tony frolicking with the ducks in his pool at the beginning of season one.


A blank, bright white screen, in front of which stands the creepy, silhouetted old woman Tony has previously seen in his dreams. The figure steps slowly forward and is revealed to be... DAVID CHASE in drag. Chase then smiles knowingly at the camera as we fade out. The Rolling Stones' "Rough Justice" plays over the credits.

*It's never too late in the series for a Caddyshack homage.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Ides of March

I remember always hearing something about this day but I can’t remember what it is. You’re supposed to remain generally oblivious, run with/toward sharp objects and wear a leafy headband, right?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

This doubles as my submission to the 33 1/3 series, by the way

Recently while listening to Prince's greatest album, Sign O' The Times, on the way to work, I began to have new, serious reservations about the lyrical content of a song I've always dug, "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker." While I haven't always exactly shared the same value judgments as His Purple Badness, let alone the characters in his many salacious songs (hmmm, now I smell a potential blog miniseries), something about this particular title character seemed especially off-putting on this occasion. Let's break down the song's lyrics and see if we can pinpoint the sources of my consternation:

Dorothy was a waitress on the promenade
She worked the night shift
Dishwater blonde, tall and fine
She got a lot of tips
Well, earlier I'd been talkin' stuff
In a violent room
Fighting with lovers past
I needed someone with a quicker wit than mine
Dorothy was fast

OK, so far I think most of us would have a favorable impression of Ms. Parker. Plenty of charming, alluring young women have held down food service jobs at some point in their lives. My ideal personifcation of this type might more closely resemble, say, Salma Hayek than a "dishwater blonde," but whatever. Plus, Dorothy of course shares her name with a revered writer, so any moment now I think we can expect her to serve up a platter of bon mots with a side of sly come-ons (or onion rings), right?

Well, I ordered - "Yeah, let me get a fruit cocktail, I ain't 2 hungry"
Dorothy laughed
She said "Sounds like a real man 2 me"
Kinda cute, U wanna take a bath?
(do you wanna, do you wanna, bath)

Uh oh, right away discriminating listeners probably are getting the feeling they've been sold a bill of goods concerning Ms. Parker's alleged "wit." I can just picture the kind of woman who'd say "sounds like a real man (to) me." She'd probably fit squarely in either the white trash or Francesca Fiore camp, neither of which I particularly want to visit. Plus: "U wanna take a bath?" That just about tops the list of most UN-clever things a person can say upon first meeting . "Hi, my name's Chri - WILL YOU TAKE A BATH WITH ME?!?" Although today that sentence might look more forgivable in the low-stakes era of text messaging, where Prince proved 2 B ahead of his time, spellingwise.

I said "Cool, but I'm leaving my pants on" (she say)
"Cuz I'm kind of going with someone"
She said "Sounds like a real man 2 me"

We'll address the pants issue in a minute, but you'll recall how that last sentence set off alarm bells the first time she used it. Now she's just repeating the same stock phrases like a mentally challenged person approximating flirtatiousness. A part of me wonders if this song should've been called "Riding the Bus with Dorothy Parker" instead.

"Mind if I turn on the radio?"
"Oh, my favorite song" she said
And it was Joni singing "Help me I think I'm falling"

Oh good, I'd have to listen to Joni Mitchell with her as well. Normally I don't think music taste is that important but by now I'm less and less inclined to cut her any slack.

The phone rang and she said
"Whoever's calling can't be as cute as U"

Ugh. Keep going...

Right then I knew I was through
(Dorothy Parker was

My pants were wet, they came off
But she didn't see the movie
Cuz she hadn't read the book first

Dorothy not having read a book? As one bonafide comic genius was fond of saying, "get out of the city!"

Instead she pretended she was blind
An affliction brought on by a witch's curse
Dorothy made me laugh (ha ha)

Great, now we can apparently add bad improv acting to the list of "cons." The fact that this guy is laughing at it doesn't exactly cast him in a good light either. Maybe Prince is channeling Drew Carey here?

I felt much better so I went back
2 the violent room (tell us what U did)
Let me tell U what I did...

I took another bubble bath with my pants on
All the fighting stopped
Next time I'll do it sooner
This is the ballad of Dorothy Parker

At this point I think I'm most concerned about Prince's wardrobe, as I'd wager the kind of pants he wears wouldn't lend themselves to frequent bubble bath immersion . I don't know if his leaving his pants on (at first, anyway) nullifies the whole "cheating" aspect either. Worst case scenario, that resembles Francis Wolcott from Deadwood's logic, and I'm sure we all remember how that turned out.

Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker

Yes, yes, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker. Maybe someday Prince will write a follow-up song called "The Ballad of Virginia Woolf," about a schizophrenic lunch lady who ends up running around in an gorilla suit like at the end of Wise Blood. Save that for your next comeback, Your Paisley Majesty!

Friday, March 02, 2007

I've been shamefully negligent declaring my love for 30 Rock on, of all things, this very blog of admiration and/or scorn for the works of others. Count me as the 3,000,000th unoriginal person who saw last week's episode to say I love it so much I want to "take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant." You can always watch the last 5 or so episodes for free on and I strongly advise everyone to take advantage. It's become my favorite show while Real Time w/ Marlo Stanfield is away. I always thought Tina Fey was just ok, but if I'd known she would eventually create something so brilliant that also just happens to feature recurring Ghostface Killah appearances, I would've subjected you all to beguiling/creepy .gifs like this more often:

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Kelly Clarkson Survived a Broken TV Home.

Despite having already written the self-described "definitive treatise on American Idol" (still the second most popular blog post in MySpace history, following Joe Rogan's legendary 2005 flame war with a Thai restaurant waiter). I made another couple of mild attempts to get into it this year (well, the auditions anyway) without success. You want just one reason why I'm not furiously texting each week on behalf of, say, a moisturizer-loving white guy warbling "A Change is Gonna Come?" Here's just one:

Forget for a moment that the other two "judges" on this show are a crackpot choreographer who got lucky and a guy primarily known for using the word "dawg" more awkwardly than Sean Connery. I think I'd have more musical taste in common with just about anyone - even Ryan Seacrest, a guy who makes Carson Daly look as gonzo as Hunter S. Thompson - than Simon Cowell.

All this time I've had absolutely no idea what this guy had done in the music industry that even qualified him to critique the handwriting on a setlist, much less anyone's singing ability, so I looked up his entry on the perpetually super-accurate Wikipedia (and by the way, the NY Times running an article about someone else's inaccuracies is a bitter laugh indeed). Turns out in addition to signing a bunch of UK pop drones I'd mostly never heard of (note: as bad as you think American pop music might be, just rememeber the British scene is always substantially worse), Cowell's also got the following credits under his belt:

"He also released several novelty recordings featuring the likes of wrestlers of the World Wrestling Federation, Zig and Zag and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, that were huge successes."

Wrestlers? Power Rangers? Zig? Zag? Before looking at his resume, I always thought Cowell's idea of a perfect pop star would be a trilly-voiced, mall-ready sexpot who finds herself irresistibly attracted to a flat-topped sleazoid seemingly oblivious to his own prissiness. Turns out it would be Jet Jaguar.

Meanwhile, from elsewhere on the interwebs, here's your first, tantalizing tease as to the contents of The Wire season 5 (Thanks to Recidivism for the link). With all due respect to UBM, I kinda consider Maniac Cop to be the "Dr. Strangelove of police procedurals." I'm gonna go waaaay out on a limb w/ a prediction for the final season: McNulty will die, while Omar and Bubbles will both survive. Oh, and Clay Davis will resign as state senator and join the Comedians of Comedy tour. I think they've been building up to that one for some time.