Saturday, February 10, 2007
When we got home, I checked iTunes, and discovered two things: (1) the standard version of Stagger Lee is sung by Lloyd Price, and (2) do you have any idea how many people have recorded this song?? Everyone from Wilson Pickett to Nick Cave to the Dead to Bobby Rydell to Neil Diamond to Bob Dylan to Ike and Tina Turner to Professor Longhair to Huey Lewis to Fats Domino -- it's insane. The only song I can think of off the top of my head that's been recorded as often is Amazing Grace, which is sort of cheating. Got any others?
- Richard and Emily Gilmore, Gilmore Girls--If there's only one thing the new writing staff on Gilmore has gotten right, it's Richard and Emily's characters. They can be detached, insane, and yes, even vicious, but you never doubt that they love each other, and are trying, in the best way they can, to love their daughter and granddaughter. A particular achievement, since Gilmore is mastering both happy and boring (Rory/Logan) and unhappy and boring (Lorelai/Christopher) this season.
- Paris Geller and Doyle McMaster, Gilmore Girls--We haven't seen nearly enough of either of them this season, but not even that can take away from the awesomeness that was "Paris and Doyle do hip-hop." (Heck, even TWOP can't find the words to express it.)
- Marshall Eriksen and Lily Aldren, How I Met Your Mother--OK, kind of cheating since they had a falling-out earlier this year, but their mind meld and willingness to tell each other EVERYTHING (yes, even Marshall's fear of Sasquatch) renders them endlessly fascinating.
Any I'm missing? There might be an argument for Dwight and Angela, though I'm not sure I'd describe them as "happy."
- 2003: Joe Strummer tribute with Springsteen, Costello, Grohl and Van Zandt thrashing "London Calling"
- 2003: the most excellent Roots band backing Eminem on "Lose Yourself"
- 2004: Prince & Beyonce medley, about which I said at the time, off by two years, "If that's what Prince is going to be like in five years when he starts playing Vegas, I'll send in my $125 right now" and now is recognizable as the Super Bowl medley done backwards
- 2004: a Black Eyed Peas performance of "Where's The Love" w/Timberpants that just keeps building
- my absolute favorite -- a 2005 tribute to Janis Joplin with Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone, Etheridge's first post-cancer performance, and words cannot describe just how awesome it is.
- 2005: Kanye, Jamie. The FAMU marching band. Gold. Digger. Completely, wonderfully excessive, as opposed to a more subdued Mr. Foxx joining Alicia Keys on "Georgia On My Mind".
- And just because it's so weird to even say this -- from 2006, Jay-Z, Linkin Park and Paul McCartney throw down together.
Earth, Wind & Fire, Mary J. Blige and Ludacris in a James Brown tribute; Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie and Chris Brown in an "R&B" tribute; Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, the Dixie Chicks, Gnarls Barkley, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, John Mayer, Corinne Bailey Rae, Rascal Flatts, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shakira, Justin Timberlake, the Police, Carrie Underwood, James Blunt and T.I.Also, make your predictions for who gets the loudest non-James Brown necrology applause (Ahmet Ertegun), and what time the annual "stop stealing our music, kids!" lecture is delivered. Or, I guess, express your predictions and hopes for the awards themselves. I'll probably liveblog tomorrow, though this is the kind of thing for which TiVo was invented.
Friday, February 9, 2007
Sadly, that means the end of Blinq, his blog-about-the-local-blogs which has long listed this site high on its blogroll (God bless alphabetical order), mentioning us in his very first post and pretty frequently since. Dan always treated the blogosphere and this region generally with insight and heart, making the blog a daily read, and I'm looking forward to what's to come, a move from Blinq back to full-time ink.
Or you can help us work on the song.
"Courtesan," which in a different age is probably what she would have been labeled even though she was married), is a category we don't have much use for anymore. The woman who makes sexual alliances for money, who was less than a blushing bride but not so fallen as a prostitute, was once a vigorous cultural type, at least through the 19th century. Courtesans were the essential heroines of our greatest operas. They offered up their bodies, in various states of undress, to painters from Caravaggio to Toulouse-Lautrec -- and too many others to mention. It was a courtesan who set in motion many of our greatest novels, not least of them Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" -- which begins with the love of a man named Swann for a "great courtesan." But the idea of the courtesan has all but disappeared, and with it much of the nuance about our analysis of sex and marriage....
For centuries, there have been men who have wondered why women really love them. That the real sexual allure of men may not be their good looks, their masculinity or their charm, but rather their power and position, can make men wonder whether they are loved for themselves or for something external and unrelated. When marriages don't look like they look in storybooks -- love matches between princes and princesses -- intimacy is shadowed with doubt.
And it's the same fear that made poor Anna Nicole Smith gibes an endlessly rich source of material for Leno and Letterman; they were laughing at her, of course, but also at men who were foolish enough to marry women like her. We laugh at what makes us uncomfortable, and Anna Nicole Smith made us very uncomfortable indeed.
We shouldn't go overboard about the power of these techniques at the moment, but what you can be absolutely sure of is that these will continue to roll out and we will have more and more ability to probe people's intentions, minds, background thoughts, hopes and emotions.More interesting, from a less paranoid perspective, is how long it will be before some related gadget makes the keyboard obsolete. And the mouse, and the steering wheel, and the remote control, and the telephone keypad, and the ...
Slashdot? Of course.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Tonight I have more questions than comments:
- I don't usually check the TWoP patter these days, but was surprised at the level of pissed-off-ed-ness over there at this episode. Is TWoP where the angry people hang out these days, or did everyone have major problems with this episode except me?
- Those of you who traditionally like the George character: do you still like him? I found him annoying last year and I find him even more annoying now. But then again, Meredith doesn't annoy me and I know that many of you can't stand her. Which is why I ask the question.
And now, prediction dichotomies!
- Little girl: (a) misdiagnosed and not long for this world, or (b) unharmed symbol of Meredith's damaged inner self?
- Truck guy: (a) squashed like a bug but surrounded by friends, or (b) soon to be rescued by Apparition du Denny Duquette in response to impassioned prayer by Izzie?
- The new 'do: (a) handsome and youthful, or (b) desperately seeking highlights?
- McDreamy's hair: (a) damply askew after he leaps into the water, or (b) histrionically raked by fingers as he watches someone else leap into the water?
Talk about whatever you like.
That said, Gratist Bouquet Toss Evir. Also, nice coincidence on your wedding entertainment, given today's blogging -- the best Police & Sting cover band in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region. Just don't even think of crashing, however.
Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune's Architecture critic has an interesting examination of the list's high (the Vietnam War Memorial at No. 10) and lowlights (The Bellagio at No. 22) and what it all means in the context of what the public likes and what they are supposed to like.
While it lasts, a wag has modified Smith's Wikipedia page with the following entry:
On February 12, 2007, men across the country will wear their zippers at half-mast to honor Ms. Smith's memory.So to half-mast on Monday, men.
10. The Instrumentals: Reggatta De Blanc (Regatta; Sting/Andy/Stewart)/Behind My Camel (Zenyata; Andy). Pop bands are usually known for songs with words, and Sting of course enjoys showing off his eloquence (except where he can display his erudition in other ways, such as playing classical lute), but these two gems show off The Police’s instrumental chops. I especially like the latter, penned by Andy Summers. Sting apparently disagreed: He hated the song so much he refused to play it. Andy and Stewart recorded it, and Andy later overdubbed the bass part. The song subsequently won the Best Rock Instrumental Performance Grammy.
9. The Break-Up Songs: Can't Stand Losing You (Outlandos; Sting)/So Lonely (Outlandos; Sting)/The Bed's Too Big Without You (Regatta; Sting). These three songs show that The Police knew a thing or two about breaking up long before Sting went solo. In just minutes, “Can’t Stand Losing You” runs the gamut from the fazed stupor of realization (“I’ve called you so many times today/And I guess it's all true what your girlfriends say/That you don't ever want to see me again/And your brother’s gonna kill me and he's six feet ten”) to the bottomless pit of despair (“I guess this is our last goodbye/And you don't care so I won't cry/But you'll be sorry when I'm dead/And all this guilt will be on your head/I guess you'd call it suicide/But I'm too full to swallow my pride.”). For better or worse, the band focused on the latter; the single’s cover featured a picture of Stewart hanging himself, and BBC consequently banned the song.
8. Rehumanize Yourself (Ghost; Sting/Stewart). I like this song because it’s fast and fun. I like it because it takes aim at right-wing hooligan thugs. I like it because it effectively summarizes Das Kapital in a matter of minutes. But most of all, I like it because The Police get away with dropping the c-bomb while maintaining their intellectual cred.
7. Secret Journey (Ghost; Sting). I have nothing profound to say about this, and the “all you need is love” message is hardly new. But it’s a fun song, and an early manifestation of Sting’s ongoing fascination with the intersection between romantic love and spiritual grace – a fascination that culminates (for now, at least) in his most recent pop album, “Sacred Love.” Also, when I’m having trouble interpreting the world around me, I often find myself singing “You will see light in the darkness/you will make some sense of this.” Corny but true.
6. Walking in Your Footsteps (Synchronicity; Sting). Who else in 1983 was producing songs about the Darwinian implications of nuclear war? “Hey mighty brontosaurus/Don't you have a message for us/You thought your rule would always last/There were no lessons in your past/You were built three stories high/They say you would not hurt a fly/If we explode the atom bomb/Would they say that we were dumb?” A clear predecessor to the more direct “Russians.” Plus: Panflute!
5. Bring On The Night (Regatta; Sting). There are two versions of this song that I prefer over the Regatta version – the live solo version on Sting’s two-disc set of the same name, and Bim Sherman’s version on Police Reggae tribute album “Regatta Mondatta Vol. 2” – but this song may be the band’s most successful experiment with Reggae, and I just love the bass line. Also, I’m just one of those people for whom the day really begins at dusk.
4. Spirits in the Material World (Ghost; Sting). “Our so-called leaders speak/With words they try to jail ya/They subjugate the meek/But it’s the rhetoric of failure.” Nuff said. Except for this: If you can, get the Synchronicity concert version (from the two-disc “Live!” album). Sting’s derisive grunt after the first line quoted above is sublime.
3. Someone to Talk To (Message in a Box; Andy). I never heard this song until receiving the box set, but it’s now one of my very favorite tracks on the four discs. Another great, perceptive break-up song: “I love you, why didn't I say that before/I guess that it's safe now she's walked through the door…. I didn't see her I only felt me/And one day I'll learn just which part of me bleeds/Now that she's gone I know she was great/But I f***ed it up and now it's too late.” When was the last time you heard a man be so honest about the end of his relationship?
2. No Time This Time (Regatta; Sting). Probably my favorite “Police song that could never be confused with a song from Sting’s solo albums.” Relentlessly frenetic, an angrier precursor to “Synchronicity II,” and a brilliant merging of form and substance. Young Sting (intentionally, I assume) struggles to keep up with the tempo, singing/screaming what might be a modern professional’s anthem: “If I could/I'd slow the whole world down/I'd bring it to its knees/I'd stop it spinning round/But as it is/I'm climbing up an endless wall/No time at all/No time this time.” Google the lyrics; I dare any of the professional parents here not to relate.
1. “Everyone Stares.” Not to be confused with the band’s song “Does Everyone Stare?” This is the Stewart Copeland documentary that occasioned the recent thaw in relations among The Police men and rumors of a reunion tour (apparently, Stewart was tickled that Sting attended a showing at Cannes or Sundance or somewhere, and things took off from there). In short, Copeland gets video camera, takes cool footage chronicling the band’s rise and fall, and sets it against innovative remixes of the band’s songs. There’s not a lot of analysis in here – just fun candid footage and the odd mix of excitement and horror as these guys go from playing small clubs in the UK to topping the charts internationally. Andy’s genuinely strange sense of humor in particular is a real treat. Also, one more (interestingly placed) c-bomb, which might give one pause about Stewart.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a word about my hopes for the Grammys. Clearly, they need to perform a big hit. This is harder for The Police than for some bands, because if you think about it, their biggest hits mostly address topics like prostitution, pedophilia, stalking, Carl Jung, and the mind-numbing routines of workaday life in the middle class. (Fun!) My “big hit” choice for Sunday would be “Message in a Bottle,” a song that would let The Police be The Police (as opposed to being Sting with more notable back-ups than usual) while pleasing the crowd. If they get to do two songs, the second will probably be another hit (“Every Breath You Take” or “Roxanne” seem likely). But if I had my way, it would be something directed more squarely at the fans. The Synchronicity concert included great versions of “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “So Lonely”; I guess I’m hoping for one of those.
Well, I’ve surely overstayed my welcome. I’d love to chat more in the comments.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Seriously, yo? The Hoeffel campaign had me blog on their behalf even after knowing that I had written about the eating of fermented whale meat seven times in 2003. If they could tolerate that, John Edwards can stand behind Amanda Marcotte (no relationship to Matt, mind you) and have her do the job for which she was hired, and is eminently qualified. [/inside baseball rant over]
edited to add: The Edwards bloggers are safe.
That doesn't mean, though, that you should be deprived of the hilarity of the two superbowl teams awkwardly reacting to the commercial. Highlights include:
- Rex Grossman theorizing that "some people who don't really like football watch the Superbowl for the commercials ... those type of people are really going to like this commercial";
- Muhsin Muhammad's dead-eyed explanation that "when their lips touched, that's hilarious right there";
- Marvin Harrison's "mm--mm--mm--mmm," which is so awesome because it sounded like the hungry noise Thelma made when she was trying to get her hooks into Reverend Reuben on "Amen," i.e., not how I think Harrison intended it to sound;
- Cato June's traumatized recollection that "I thought they were going to stop, you know, at some point -- two men ... that's not right"; and especially
- Harrison again, looking like he would chew off his own leg to get out of the interview, blurting out that he's a "car guy," stammering that "the end result definitely blew my mind," and then looking away for a split-second like he was choking back tears.
As for the singles, Gnarls Barkley's still sublime "Crazy" rightfully took top honors in a Reaganesque landslide (each vote in the singles category counts as a single vote), topping TI's "What You Know" by 101 votes. Two of my favorite singles of the year did not fare as well: Gwen Stefani's oft-derided "Wind it Up" (113) and Regina Spektor's jaunty "Fidelity" (153).
When I read about Amaechi's brave announcement tonight, I thought back to an article I ran on Amaechi, who was then playing for the Orlando Magic, back in 2001 when I was at the helm of the late, lamented Basketball Digest. The angle was that not only was Amaechi at the time emerging as one of the better centers in the East (Shaq was in LA, Ewing went to Seattle, Smits retired, and Zo came down with his kidney ailment), but, as the subhead read "Erudite Orlando center John Amaechi relishes his standing as the most unique player in the NBA." In respect to Amaechi's announcement, I found this passage from the 2001 article particularly fascinating:
His biggest pet peeve is stereotypes, which he calls "boxes." He fights the battle every day, trying to make people understand how he feels.
"If you're a ballplayer, you're supposed to have a big, fancy car, not be eloquent, spout cliches, and dress in a certain way," he says. "If you're a reporter, you do certain things, and you 'can't be trusted.' If you're a teacher, you're in a different box. Two people may look the same, but they are never the same."
Amaechi is anything but the stereotype. He listens to Mozart. He lives alone. He doesn't have an entourage. He reads child psychology textbooks. He speaks three languages. He walks through the Orlando locker room before a game looking for some milk to pour into his tea. He has a definitive plan for his life, and basketball is merely a minor part in it.
"I'm a box-buster," he says. "That confuses people. But that's good because it makes them think. I believe I'm special, unique, but it has nothing to do with basketball. Everyone out there is special, whatever they do."
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Meanwhile, if the halftime show gave you a jones to beef up your Prince collection, this Pop Matters column offers a through rundown of the Purple One's long and winding career from 1978 to 1999 to 3121.
And while everyone seems to agree that this year's Super Bowl ads were less than super, only one was so offensive that it most likely will never be shown again (or at least not until two gay head coaches face off in the big game). Also Cracked has the last word on the ads with hi-larious analysis of the game's five worst commercials.
- If Peter can now and forever turn invisible, regenerate, paint the future, and presumably fly just because he was in the vicinity of Invisible Guy, Claire, Isaac, and Nathan, can he also turn back time, teleport, read minds, move things telekinetically, and do all of the other things for which Sylar ate brains, just because he has been close to people who can do those things?
- And while we're on that subject, say that Peter can do those things, and Sylar eats Hiro's brain and gets that power too. Shouldn't they just declare a truce? Every time one or the other got an advantage in a fight, the other would just take a mulligan and start the fight over. That episode will be lame.
- Heroes are rare, and most people are not open about their powers. So why is it that we're now aware of at least three couplings between the superpowered (Nathan-Claire's mom; Nathan-Niki/Jessica; Niki-DL)? And why don't Ma Petrelli and George Takei have powers (of which we know, I guess)?
- I thought peoples' powers really started coming out as part of a simultaneous genetic mutation -- like an awakening -- six or eight months ago. Based on the Claire-and-her-mom story, apparently not?
- This is really a question from last week, but if Claire's mom is Lincoln Burrows's dead wife from Prison Break, then does that make Michael Scofield Claire's uncle? My guess is his superpower is "incredible dumb luck," though Spacewoman would probably vote for "penetrating steely gaze."
- Speaking of Prison Break, it seems to me that Mrs. Bennet is of the Prison Break school of Housewives of a Certain Age, in that she shares their defining characteristic: a belief that greasy child-molestery-types are totally hottt.
Looks like Lisa Nowak, NASA astronaut and attempted kidnapper, has solved that problem for us.
Monday, February 5, 2007
On the bright side, Tim said today he will be back for season four, and he has news (and advice) regarding Malan Breton, Michael Knight and Jeffrey Sebelia.
Who, you may ask, is John Ducey? Actually, that's not quite right. Who, you will ask, is John Ducey? John Ducey was a couple years ahead of me in college. He was active in theatre stuff in that "I Am Active in Theatre Stuff" kind of way, and following graduation, he headed off to LA to seek his fortune as an actor. And sixteen years later, he continues to seek his fortune as an actor in LA. I know this not because I was friends with the guy, but because about eight years ago, someone referred me to his website, which is just about the greatest chronicle I've ever seen of one man's efforts to make it big. (It's also an amazing display of what a little OCD and an internet connection can accomplish.)
Make sure you check out the timeline. And after you do, you too will be able to shout "Oh My God, that's John Ducey!" the next time he shows up on HIMYM (or Sabrina the Teen Witch or Party of Five or Wheel of Fortune).
Where credit is due: Slashdot.
Or, I guess, we can talk about the game itself.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
As their dating progressed, Ms. Wu researched Mr. Nobay online and learned that in 1998 he sued Princeton, unsuccessfully, for defamation after the university notified medical schools he had applied to that his applications contained misrepresentations and altered his academic record. (In court, he admitted misstatements but says he still believes some of what Princeton presented was inaccurate.)So, she asked, what did he lie about, exactly? According to the AP in 1998:
The graduate, Rommel Nobay, had admitted he told numerous lies and half-truths in applying to Princeton and later to medical school. He claimed that he was part black and a National Merit Scholar and that a family of lepers had donated half their beggings to support his dream. ... Nobay, 30, a computer science teacher from New Haven, admitted that he was not, in fact, a Merit Scholar and that a family of lepers had not helped send him to school. He also acknowledged that he doesn't know whether he has any black blood.Heh. The Wife reminds me to disclose my conflict of interest here, insofar as I -- lacking sufficient ties to Northeast Philadelphia's leper community -- failed to gain admission to Princeton, and that her favorite lawsuit against Princeton remains the student who got drunk, climbed atop a NJ Transit train, was electrocuted and severely disabled as a result, who then successfully sued both Princeton and the eating clubs for being negligent in not stopping him from getting drunk or telling him it might be a bad idea to climb on top of an electric train.