Saturday, September 20, 2003

IT'S EDUCATIONAL (8X): Serious thanks to Adam for having me aboard, and for helpfully suggesting The Pixies purportedly possible reunion as a topic for a first post. I accept, but only to insure equal time in the face of recent Simon & Garfunkel coverage.

If it happens, and it's good, a Pixies retread could be the best reunion concert opportunity since the original Bad Brains got back on the road together for the Soul Brains tour. But I won't go too far down that road. Even if the chemistry is gone and the shows are disappointing, there have certainly been worse ideas.

If it doesn't happen, you can always enjoy new interpretations of items from their classic catalog here.

Friday, September 19, 2003

AND A FINE PIRATE HE WAS: Speaking of pirates, that's the theme of the new season of Survivor. Honestly, I was more excited for this iteration than any since Outback -- how can you not love a television show that casts a mortician for eye candy and prominently features longtime Spaceman favorite Donald Gibb? But I have one complaint: after telling viewers that you're going to throw the castaways overboard with nothing but the clothes on their backs, what's the point of giving them money and time to go buy their own supplies? It was like Survivor: Galleria out there. Plus, remember the good old days when the first person voted out was bitter and hostile?
AYE AYE! Today, the 19th of September, be International Talk Like A Pirate Day, as reader Anna Moody be remindin' me.

Learn ye pirate name here (me: Bloody Sam Bonney), then ye best be going port and starboard for ye bloody pirate jokes and riddles, and hyar for ye readin' matters.

I be leavin' ye with this one, from an old salty:
A pirate and his parrot were adrift in a lifeboat following a dramatic escape from a valiant battle. While rummaging through the boat's provisions, the pirate stumbled across an old lamp. Secretly hoping that a Genie would appear, he rubbed the lamp vigorously.

To the amazement of the castaways, a Genie came forth. This particular Genie, however, stated that he could only deliver one wish, not the standard three. Without giving any thought to the matter the pirate blurted out, "Make the entire ocean into rum!"

The Genie clapped his hands with a deafening crash, and immediately the entire sea turned into the finest rum ever sampled by mortals. Simultaneously, the Genie vanished. Only the gentle lapping of rum on the hull broke the stillness as the two considered their circumstances.

The parrot looked disgustedly at the pirate and after a tension-filled moment spoke: "Now yee've done it!! Now we're goon to have to pee in the boat."

Yarr! Shiver me timbers, thar be an ergonomic keyboard for pirates! Yo ho ho!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

NOSTALGIA ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE: One thing I wanted to say more about in the Simon and Garfunkel post -- that there is a fear of disappointment if the performers can't bring it the way they used to.

Early in our courtship, Jen and I went to Atlantic City to see Hall & Oates in concert. Please don't laugh. Ain't nothing wrong with a healthy dose of white-boy soul, with appreciating the chart-topping duo that brought the world such memorable songs as "Sara Smile", "Private Eyes", "Rich Girl" and, my favorite, "She's Gone".

Ah, yes, "She's Gone". Just a great, soulful song with nice emotional glory notes at the end, on the final "She's go-o-o-o-o-ne!" that expresses Hall's finally acceptance of the fact that, yes, no doubt about it, she's not coming back.

So I'm looking forward to the song all night long, at the same time telling Jen my fears -- he's gonna punt the note, isn't he? "I hope not," Jen said.

Well, show's almost over. They start playing "She's Gone", and the anticipation builds. It's nice. It's soulful. Even Oates has a meaningful role to play. And then, the big finish:

Splat. Hall goes low and short on it, a perfunctory "she's gone" while the rest of the band tries to cover him on backing vocals with a more prolonged "she's go-o-o-o-one", but it's not the same. It was more like watching Joe Montana playing for the Chiefs in that last season -- occasionally reminding you of former greatness, but too often mortal.

So, Artie, don't let us down.

Have you ever been similarly disappointed in a concert? Tell us about it.
AND I ONCE FRACTURED MY PELVIS DOING THE CATERPILLAR TO 'PYT': To the list of things you should not do when driving -- drink, read, nap, apply makeup, talk on a cell phone, cradle scalding-hot coffee in your lap, receive oral ministrations, brandish firearms, age excessively or insufficiently, and use your car to push a traffic officer out of the way -- we must now add a new entry: do not groove.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

WHY DENY THE OBVIOUS, CHILD? My first reaction in learning that Simon and Garfunkel would be touring again was to say, holy shit, that's cool, I'm sure tickets would be expensive but by gum it's worth it, right? I mean, it's Paul and Artie, heroes of my people, together again, creators of beautiful harmonies and, in Simon's case, songbook that is second to none.

Who wouldn't want to go?

(My second reaction: what, does Edie want another vacation house?)

But then I thought about it some more: why would I want to go? Merely to give tribute, to thank them for their 1960s songs? Well, that I can do right here, and it's not like if I don't go there's going to be an empty seat and they'll be all wondering and insecure about their status in the pantheon. They don't need little ol' me to do that.

Is it to see if they can still do it? They were solid enough in their Letterman appearance last week, so there's no reason to believe they can't sing well consistently over a several-month tour. This isn't like going out to see a 75-year-old Luke Appling hit a home run off Warren Spahn in the 1982 Cracker Jack Old-Timers Game; there's no doubt that these two performers can still entertain a crowd.

So is it nostalgia? Well, I wasn't there the first time, so I don't have any old memories to be resurrected. Yes, I did see him on the Graceland tour in 1986 or '87 (with my mom and little brother, one of my first real rock concerts), but I'm not squarely in the target demographic here.

Is it because I need to see what I'm going to look like when I age? Art Garfunkel represents one of two directions in which my hair will go later in life -- the straight-back Isro fade. (The other option? The Arlen, named for the Keystone State's senior senator, a widening bald circle starting from the middle with odd patches of hair barely hanging on. Think Gary Oldman in The Contender, and shudder in horror. Either way, I'm screwed.)

And it's not like they're such a great live act. Simon & Garfunkel was a studio band, and it's the studio sound they're looking to replicate here. (This is as opposed to Simon solo, touring with Ladysmith Black Mambazo or Brazilian percussionists Olodum, where he really expands the sound.) So why not just stay home and listen to the albums, and let one more couple from Merion hop in the Lexus, head to the Wachovia Center to recapture their youth?

I don't really have a good answer to that yet.

And, heck, if there's a reunion I'm waiting for, it's my contemporaries (more or less -- I got on the bandwagon late) the Pixies, who look to tour next year. Yes, it would make me feel good just to hear them play the songs again, and to be in an arena full of like-minded souls.

That said, if Simon and Garfunkel are covering "Debaser" on this tour (Paul: "Got me a movie!" -- Art: "Oh-ho-ho-ho!", and then together on the chorus), I am so there.
SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH . . . MAMMAL . . . WHATEVER: Finally addressing a cultural trend this blog first tackled in January, and to which we have applied non-stop team coverage ever since (even before we had a team), the Times' Nicholas Kristof today introduces his paper's readers to the pleasures of eating muktuk:
The school closed, the shops closed, and even the U.S. post office took a break so the whole population of 270 could assemble on the beach under a gently falling snow to hug and cheer as the victorious whalers brought in the supply of winter meat and blubber. (An audio slide show of the event is available here.)

The elders spoke the Inupiat language, while the kids were more hip. One girl stared at the 43-foot-long bowhead whale and shouted, "Hey, man, that's heavy!"

Two bulldozers hauled the whale onto the beach (after breaking the two-inch-thick rope, twice). Children danced on top of the whale, and then the adults began carving it up, with one man dispatched to shoot his rifle periodically to ward off the polar bears that were circling the beach hungrily. The first "muktuk," or bits of skin and blubber, were rushed into a pot, then passed around to all.

"It's good with ketchup or A-1 Steak Sauce," one man explained, offering those condiments as well. The local people had handfuls of the muktuk; I tried it and found it pretty awful. That's a major reason the Eskimo diet will trim those waistlines.

Keep reading. Remember, cooked muktuk is safe muktuk.
WE AMERICANS CAN LEARN SOMETHING HERE: Britons, riven by deep disagreements over their nation's role in Iraq and the unproven allegations of "sexing up" intelligence dossiers to support the war, have despaired recently of repairing the bland homogeneity that defines them as Englishmen. The country may rejoice, then, because they have spontaneously united behind a common foe: American men suspended in boxes above the Thames. In America, David Blaine's combination of street magic and shameless self-promotion has prompted reserved murmurs ranging from "dang, that's magic!" to "I'll bet the dude's got some serious shrinkage." Londoners have had a stronger reaction, leaving their tea and So Graham Norton behind to protest, annoy, flash, pelt, and attempt to kill Blaine (link via salon).

Monday, September 15, 2003

AND BY THE WAY, WHAT'S THAT RED, PAINFUL SWELLING? With Mr. Spaceman on board, it's time to welcome our second new contributor, a man who is capable of many things -- including, but not limited to losing a fantasy football game this week despite having Jamal Lewis on his roster.

Ladies and gentlemen, Phil Throckmorton sings a song of himself:
Phil Throckmorton rarely bowls. When he does bowl, he bowls with a religious intensity that --given his lack of aptitude for the activity-- suggests an inclination towards martydom or annihilation fantasies. Phil's hometown had a drunken prospector as the mascot for one of its major league professional sports franchises until approximately 1985, and he often feels like a plain baloney sandwich slathered with imported, certified-organic, gourmet multi-seed mustard. Somedays, that's a good thing. He once watched Showgirls, Caligula and Barbarella back to back to back, and has repurchased most of his middle-school era skate punk cassette tapes on CD. Phil hopes to contribute to Throwing Things as a true fan of good foma and an enthusiastic student of the absurd evidence. Although he sometimes seems pretentious, he is not pretending. Phil believes in rock and roll. Music saved his mortal soul. He's in a never ending game of wack-a-mole, and just keeps winning.

Also, a correction: Mr. Spaceman's home town has won a major team sports title. My bad.
AT LEAST THE STAR WARS KID GOT AN I-POD OUT OF IT: If you live north of Durham and within 100 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, you have likely been afflicted by the Springsteen syndrome, which inhibits taste receptors and makes people think that bodybuilding, tight jeans, and saxophone solos are within the realm of acceptable social behavior. The disease quickly spread by airport and Newsweek and reached its peak in 1984 as a result of bad rock dancing and people too lazy or cynical to pay attention to the lyrics. If you were of a certain age then -- say, old enough to drive but too young to pay for your own car -- you may even have been moved by this terrible ague to film yourself lip-synching and dancing. You probably did not, however, become the first baseman for the Red Sox, and probably nobody you knew put your video on a jumbotron during a wild-card race. Download Kevin Millar's nightmare here.
ADAM WOULD RATHER HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THE PARATROOPERS: Thanks, Adam, for inviting me on board. I'm happy to help contribute while you're away. I think I speak for everybody when I wish you a speedy recovery.