Saturday, February 11, 2006

SEVENTEEN THOUGHTS ABOUT "THE" (PART 6): Here are the last 2 songs on my iTunes list that begin with the word “the.” I'll add a few closing thoughts tomorrow.

16. The Way You Look Tonight by Tony Bennett. So many "love" songs are really about the singer and what is going on with him or her. "I never knew love like this before", "You send ME", etc. I prefer this (rare) version of The Way You Look Tonight by Tony Bennett over the famous version by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra's version is good, don't get me wrong. But the way he sings it, you know and feel a lot more about what's going on with him. The woman is more or less an object. In contrast, Bennett's contemplative approach means that he takes himself out of the song and leaves only the reflected glow of love. Listen, for example, to the way he sings: “And that laugh/ That wrinkles your nose.”

17. The Wind by Circus Maximus. Truly an amazing song. Jazzy, contemplative psychedelic rock. The only song that is anything like it is Traffic’s The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, although I would say that this song is even better. If you like that song, you’ll love this one. Fans of the work of Nick Drake should also check this out, although, again, I would say that this song blows away anything Drake did. Play it late at night and let the mood overtake you. Buy the CD here.

ALOTT5MA CONTEST ALERT: Name Kevin Costner's band! Is "The Postmen" taken? I feel certain that someone can do better than that.

Edit: How about "Beau Burroughs & The Wingmen"?

Tip of Ye Olde Internette Hat to No Rock & Roll Fun.
IT'S AUTOMATIC! SYSTEMATIC! HYDROMATIC! And it's getting banned from high schools, according to a front-page NYT article where complaints focus on the drinking and the kissing, and not at all the vixenlike behavior of Cha Cha Di Gregorio or the whole question of what type of "wagon" is involved.

Friday, February 10, 2006

CHILDREN! FUTURE! In front of a delighted HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, these opening ceremonies are even more filled up of overblown symbolism and odd choices (Sarandon! Disco!) than most. Shall we discuss?
MAYBE U2 IS LOU BROCK: Maybe not. But in any case, Soundbitten has produced and plotted an informative chart concerning the comparative logic of scalping Coldplay tickets. I entirely recommend it.
A CLASSIC FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: At least 1/3 of ALOTT5MA bloggers find the whole ethos of babynaming to be singularly fascinating. In keeping with that obsession, I refer you to the Baby Name Wizard Blog. Today's post presents the results of a wholly nonscientific poll as to which names are gaining ground and which are losing it.

The hot list feels pretty accurate to me: 1. Ava 2. Violet 3. Emma 4. Ella 5. Madison 6. Aidan 7. Aiden 8. Olivia 9. Lily 10. Sophia 11. Lucy 12. Isabella 13. Avery 14. Owen 15. Cadence 16. Charlotte 17. Jack 18. Jackson.

Setting aside Violet, which is clearly anticipating a post-Garfleck boost, and Cadence (I don't know who exactly is naming their kid Cadence), I know at least one -- and usually significantly more than one -- preschooler with each of the top 18 names. The girls' names, incidentally, seem to fall within two broad categories: (a) wholesome Americana names (1-4, 9, 11) and (b) European Infanta names (8, 10, 12, 16).

The downward trajectory is a little more all over the place: 1. Madison 2. John 3. Ethan 4. Kayla 5. Aiden 6. Melissa 7. Nicholas 8. Allison 9. Hailey 10. Madeline 11. Michelle 12. Zachary 13. Elizabeth 14. Jasmine. I think the descent of a name is a much more gradual process than the ascent, so it's harder to peg a name as trending towards unhotness.

Any votes for names that should be on one or the other of these lists?

(For another great time sink, see the Name Voyager, which depicts the Social Security Baby Name Index graphically.)
MOVIN' ON UP: There really is no other way to announce a member of the cast of The Jeffersons dying, even when said departed was already "up" when George and Louise made their leap skyward. I speak of Franklin Cover, perhaps better known as George's "honky" neighbor, Tom Willis, who was married to Helen, who was portrayed by the woman that is Lenny Kravitz's mom, who died yesterday at the age of 77. (I have to admit, though, when I saw the CNN headline "Franklin Cover, neighbor of the 'The Jeffersons,' dead," I thought it was Mr. "Don't Call Me Guffman" Bentley who had moved on up.)
MORE FROM THE BBC: On net neutrality. This is not getting the attention it deserves.

Edit: More! Tendentious backgrounder, from the Dreaded Wikipedia.

SEVENTEEN THOUGHTS ABOUT "THE" (PART 5): Here are 3 more songs on my iTunes list that begin with the word “the.”

13. The Other End (of the Telescope) by Aimee Mann. Can we all agree that Aimee Mann is a genius? Can we all agree that Elvis Costello, who wrote this song, is a genius?

14. The Payback by James Brown. Can we all agree that James Brown is a genius? Yesterday on this blog many of us were discussing what the world would think of U2 50 years from now. You can make a very solid case that James Brown has been more influential than U2. 50 years from now I bet that JB will be held in mighty high esteem.

This song hit #1 on the R&B charts and #26 on the pop charts in 1974. There's a lot of information about it here.

It’s the sound of blaxploitation movies. Which makes sense because Brown had recorded this with the intention of adding it to the soundtrack for a film called Hell Up in Harlem. The producer rejected it on the grounds that the song was not funky enough. Yeah, you read that correctly. Not funky enough. The single went gold. James added it to his double LP The Payback, which turned out to be the best selling album of his career to date. Let’s just say this is funky enough for me.

15. The Renegade by Ian and Sylvia. I wonder if Kim knows this one?

Pop culture has essentially ignored American Indians. This is one of the only songs I know that focuses on that subject. It's the tale of a renegade, persecuted by the culture of the white man.

It's not that much different than the subject of many hip hop songs. Imagine this passage adapted for a gangsta rap:

“Up on the hillside policemen were climbing
The ghosts of the night wind, their fantasies ceased to tell
Dark on the snow were the blood drops a-dryin';

Daylight came late over high coastal mountains.
The renegade stood watching with his rifle by his side
Then he emptied his gun up into the pale yellow sunrise
And he ran down the hillside the to place where he died”


HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE A T-SHIRT? The grey one commemorating the Patriots first Super Bowl victory.

The white one from Bora Bora, purchased on my honeymoon.

The red one I got for winning third prize in a dance contest at a club in Boston 15 years ago.

The green one Concord Academy gave me for giving a speech on coaching youth sports.

The white one I bought at a Bruce Springsteen concert, now looking much worse than when it was new.

The "Why Not Us?" T-Shirt I wore during every single game of the Red Sox playoffs in 2004.

I have room for about 12-15 T-shirts in my dresser. That drawer is always stuffed to capacity because I simply can't bear to part with some of these shirts that have special meaning for me. Every once in a while I transfer some of the older ones to a shelf in my closet, where frankly I never look at them again. Do any of you have favorite T-shirts that you have hung onto forever? Have any of you figured out a way to balance sentimental attachment and limited storage space?

ICE, SNOW, BROOMS, RIFLES AND SKELETONS: Tonight also is the beginning of the 2006 Winter Olympic games. Later, we can talk about the opening ceremonies, but for now, let's talk overview: what, if anything, are you looking forward to seeing? What events interest you? Or will you pretty much watch the Games whenever there's nothing else good on the tv? And do you care to make any predictions?

For me, it's figure skating first, because I am deeply entertained by the whole athleticism v. artistry debate on display both within each performance and with the sport's judging generally. I am also fascinated by the fact that you can be one of the best twenty skaters in your discipline the world and still have a decent likelihood of screwing up at least one element of your performance. If you want safe bets in the entire Games beyond "Americans will not medal in the Nordic events"), go with any Russian team in pairs, and Evgeni Plushenko ("Hansel. He's so hot right now.") taking the men's gold.

Otherwise, I enjoy all the speedskating events, and would watch ice hockey if I had the time, but I can't get into the skiing because it all just looks the same to me after a while. Biathlon? Great concept, but lousy execution -- it should have more of a paintball/laser tag element to it. And I have no interest whatsoever in any of the X-Games stuff they've shoehorned into the Games, which must mean that I'm getting old. You?

(P.S. to DanP: The Olympic Theme Song does have words. The first line is "This! Is! The o-LYM-pic Theme Song!" and you can freelance from there.)
A HELPFUL REMINDER: Tonight, from 8-10p, Fox will be airing its final four episodes of Arrested Development.

Count me as one of those people who ignored the critics and ignored your personal entreaties and never saw the show, but I know that puts me in the minority of this site's readers (and bloggers). (Nor will I be watching tonight, given the competition.)

Try to explain to me what I've missed, because I will be catching up on DVD, and what you're hoping for tonight.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

YOU WON'T ACCEPT A GUY'S TONGUE IN YOUR MOUTH, AND YOU'RE GOING TO EAT THAT? VH1 has been counting down the 100 Greatest Teen Stars all week in its patented 20 slots per hour stretched over five nights with endless repeats format. Since VH1 makes no real attempt in these lists to be authoritative and rather just whores to its demographic (Eight of the top 10 stars made their mark in roughly the same era, with David Cassidy and Britney Spears being the exceptions. I'm guessing final decisions are based greatly on whether said star is willing to be interviewed or on how good the quality of snarky comments from the usual suspects are, which would explain what Shannen Doherty is doing at No. 5), I don't see this sparking many arguments among this blog's faithful. The link above will reveal the rest of the top 10, while you can find 100-21 here.
TOSS IN A BOX OF MILK DUDS AND A MCGWIRE ROOKIE CARD, AND WE'RE DONE: As part of the consideration for NBC's hiring of Al Michaels away from ABC/Disney, NBC/Universal has transferred to Disney all rights to Walt Disney's first cartoon creation--Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. Interestingly, this consideration would have been wholly valueless in the absence of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which brings the total number of strikes in the "positive effects of the SBCTEA" column to something approaching 1.
CHEER UP, KANYE: The Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro points out that Kanye West has some good company when it comes to not taking home album of the year honors at the Grammys. Caro looks at just the years 1968 and '69 when The White Album, Astral Weeks, Odyssey and Oracle (please, if you don't own this album, buy it now), Abbey Road, Dusty in Memphis, and Let It Bleed, among others, were snubbed and Glen Campbell's By the Time I Get to Phoenix and Blood, Sweat, and Tears' self-titled album took home the hardware.

It's actually a fun game to play (though somewhat difficult due to the Grammys' odd eligibility timing--the cutoff is September). Take the 1985 awards (which honored albums released from September 1983 to September 1984). Among those albums that failed to beat out Lionel Richie's seminal Can't Slow Down: Born in the USA, Purple Rain (both of which were nominated, and it should be noted that the superior Nebraska and 1999 lost to Toto IV two years before), The Replacements' Let It Be, Husker Du's Zen Arcade, Run-D.M.C's and The Smiths' self-titled debuts, Stop Making Sense, Reckoning, and Unforgettable Fire. Hell, even 1984 would have been a better choice.

It's a fun game. I invite you to play in the comments. Pick a year and find at least a half-dozen classics that failed to beat out an album you couldn't even sell to a used CD shop today. I'm guessing the 1979 awards (remember this is CDs released in 1977-78), where Christopher Cross (Grammy hearts Yacht Rock) beat out Pink Floyd is a good place to start.
DENNY & ALAN--LAWYERS/FRIENDS: Sadly, that's a team we won't be seeing on The Amazing Race this season, as in CBS's latest schedule shakeup, TAR will air on Tuesdays at 10 against Denny Crane & Friends. Love Monkey apparently gets canned, and David Mamet/Shawn Ryan vehicle The Unit (about counterterrorism forces) gets the 9 PM slot. I believe this is the first time a reality show has as its regularly scheduled timeslot 10 PM. Can TAR compete against Boston Legal and SVU? Discuss.

SEVENTEEN THOUGHTS ABOUT "THE" (PART 4): As regular readers of this blog will recall, I noticed that when iTunes lists songs it does not ignore the words “the”, “an”, or “a” at the beginning of a title (unlike the usual way of alphabetizing). In the past several days, I have been writing about some of the songs on my iTunes list with titles that start with the word “the” (search for “Seventeen Thoughts” below). I have been proceeding in alphabetical order.

Something unexpected happened when it came time to write about the next 3 songs. As it turns out, all of these songs are from a compilation called The Folk Years that I gave to my father.

It was never easy to buy gifts for my Dad. A successful lawyer with the means to buy himself more or less anything he wanted, my father was not particularly interested in material things. He liked reading, photography, and orange creams.

I suppose I had a decent batting average in finding gifts for him, but I hit mostly singles. A Richard Ford novel, a lens for his beloved Minolta, or the aforementioned chocolates.

I hit a home run when I bought him The Folk Years for Father’s Day. It was a somewhat expensive gift, but I was happy I had spent the money when I saw his face as he unwrapped it. About once a week for the next month or so he would call me to marvel over how much the gift meant to him (“It has Pete Seeger singing Guantanamera! Remember when we heard him play at Symphony Hall?”).

That Father’s Day was in June of 2004. Six weeks later, Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Six weeks after that he died.

My takeaway message for all of you: give someone you love something really special. Stretch a little if you have to. You won’t regret it. And you never know when it will turn out to be the last gift you ever buy for that special someone.

The three songs:

10. The Midnight Special by Harry Belafonte. This is a great song. The All Music Guide indicates that there are 270 recorded versions of it. Belafonte’s version is better than the one by Johnny Rivers, who ended up with the big hit in 1965. Belafonte is a fascinating man. Do click on the link and read the wikipedia piece on him.

11. The Mighty Quinn by Ian and Sylvia. Most of you probably know the version by Manfred Mann, which hit #10 in 1968, or the one by Bob Dylan, who wrote the song. But the Ian and Sylvia is the one I know best. It was often playing on the stereo in my family’s apartment in Cambridge when I was young.

12. The Motorcycle Song by Arlo Guthrie. I confess that I hate this song. There are four Arlo Guthrie songs worth listening to: Massachusetts, City of New Orleans (my mother grew up in Kankakee), Coming Into Los Angeles, and, of course, the immortal Alice’s Restaurant.

(This posting has broken most of the informal conventions of this blog. I beg the indulgence of my fellow bloggers and all of you readers. I'll return to pithy observations about pop culture tomorrow.)

CHICKS DIG THE LONG CON: And so the taming of Sawyer has come to an end. I thought this was a kickass episode, but am having serious difficulty coming up with anything to say outside the comments. And so I'll stop trying.
HOW LONG TO SING THIS SONG? Two thoughts from last night's Grammy thread that I wanted to carry forward to today:
  1. Was I correct, or suffering from sleep deprivation when I wrote last night, "If you needed confirmation that U2 had taken the pantheon leap from Damn Good Band to Will Be Remembered Fifty Years From Now On The Same Level As The Beatles And Stones, well, there you have it, I think . . . . You know how in baseball analysis when they do Similarity Scores, and for someone like a Pat Burrell you can see a bunch of comparable players and chart out what you expect the rest of his career to be like? You can't do that for Bono. It's like predicting out Felix Hernandez's career based on 2005. Rock music hasn't seen someone quite like this before, and the career trajectory could still go in a lot of unprecedented places." Is "One" the "Yesterday" for our generation? Or is Adam C right that as good as they are live, and as great as many of their songs are, they just don't have the influence on other artists that would place them on the Beatles level?

  2. Did Kelly Clarkson's Grammy wins and the Fantasia appearance legitimize American Idol as a real discoverer of talent and not just a very popular tv show where the winner gets to release an album? (Even if Kelly didn't seem to thank the show, 19Entertainment or anyone named Nigel in her two speeches.) Beyond Kelly and Fantasia, we've seen Carrie Underwood emerge with a country album that debuted at #1 and is still in the top ten, Clay Aiken's immense popularity, and now Jennifer Hudson's got the Effie part in the Dreamgirls movie that's coming out in December starring Eddie Murphy, Beyonce and Jamie Foxx. Or was this still a fluke, and do we have to wait to see the next releases from all these performers before declaring it a non-fad?

Finally, I realized that the Luke Appling reference was arcane even by the standards of this blog. Here's an explanation. Sly Stone, you're no Luke Appling. But welcome back.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

  • Even if you think he's generally gone too heavy on pop culture and recurring jokes, today's Bill Simmons NBA column surveying the season is just a remarkably smart read. When he focuses on the sport itself, he's as good as King and Pasquarelli on the NFL or the Prospectus crew on baseball.
  • Phil Jackson, I think Mark Cuban's calling you out.
  • Okay, so I saw a decent chunk of Duke-NC last night. I have no idea if JJ Redick's going to be able to get his shot off in the NBA, but he sure as hell did last night. Wow.
  • Quick trivia question, the answer to which Isaac and I are shocked: are there any players remaining in the NBA who played on any of the six Bulls championship teams? Name 'em.
KLUM, BRIDE OF SEAL, DAUGHTER OF COUNT VON COUNT: So while the rest of the world was watching the Grammy Awards (an arcane contest governed by the rules of a craft, an art, an industry and a world I do not understand) the Throckmorton Estate's monitors were tuned by dint of habit to Wednesday's inevitable Project Runway (an arcane contest governed by the rules of a craft, an art, an industry and a world I do not understand). No one here (we even asked the cats) can support the result, which I'll try not to spoil while spinning the following snark.

First, suppose I made someone a jumpsuit that could only ever have been worn by any actual female on the planet under three circumstances, to wit: (1) if said female was an uncredited extra on the original Battlestar Galactica tv series, fawning over Dirk Benedict as he smarmed off on another mission; (2) if said female was an uncredited extra in the nigh-30-year-old Buck Rogers tv series, fawning over Gil Gerrard as he fought to free himself from the lustful clutches of Draconian Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley); or, (3) if said female was creating really shifty low-budget "fan-fiction" home movies based one Star Trek franchise or another and/or attending a "Con".

Just suppose that's what I did. And suppose it was falling apart on the runway. I should be kicked of the show, right?

Second, alternatively, suppose I took a scruffy but effiminate model and made them over in a kind of Duran Duran-goes-to-the-Grammies pantsuit. Should I be kicked off the show for not using buttons? Or for having some puckered seams? When the jumpsuit was falling apart?? And I'm the likeable one???

Yeah. We're mad. While that big recording industry thing is probably taking precedence tonight for most of the ALOTT5MA faithful, the comments are open for your further recriminations.
FINDING A CAREER FOR KEVIN NEALON: I didn't get Showtime, so haven't watched Weeds. Is it worth picking up at $1.99 an episode from iTunes? I'd been thinking about trying Battlestar Galactica that way too, but as I understand it, that's a show that really needs to be watched on a screen bigger than 3 inches. Also, the classic SNL downloads now available remind us just how far it has fallen.
"I LIVE LIKE A BARNYARD ANIMAL. I'M ASLEEP AT NINE AND UP BY FIVE": As we first discussed last week, Tony Kornheiser will indeed be joining the ESPN Monday Night Footbal broadcast team with Mike Tirico and Joe Theismann, with Al Michaels sliding over to NBC to stick with John Madden for the now-flagship Sunday Night game.

Even though Kornheiser claims to have not stayed up past midnight since his bar mitzvah, this was an opportunity he says he could not pass up. He and Wilbon will do PTI from the MNF city each Monday during the season. No word on whether Stat Boy will be there to correct Theismann's numerous miscues.
GRAMMY LIVE OPEN THREAD: According to the LA Times, only eleven of the 108 Grammy Awards will be given out live on television tonight. The rest of the three hours will be spent on live music, live music, necrology (bigger ovation - Lou Rawls or Luther Vandross?), self-serving speeches about how You Kids Shouldn't Steal Our Stuff, and more live music.

Let's discuss it all, as it happens.
A POST IN WHICH THE WORD "PRECIOUS" IS USED AND ABUSED REPEATEDLY: Trio Atelier, the Evanston culinary mainstay that launched a thousand acutely precious Chicago restaurants, will be closing in late February. Owner Henry Adaniya is contemplating fulfilling his dream of opening a hot dog stand on the beach in Hawaii. Mahalo!

In other news of the violently precious, 29-year-old chef Paul Liebrandt's new endeavor, Gilt, (which took over La Cirque 2000's old space in the New York Palace, for those who are interested in such minutiae) today received two stars from the NYT. Frank Bruni says that "Mr. Liebrandt may use more ingredients per square inch than any chef in Manhattan." In a city laden with such chefs as Wylie Dufresne and Bobby Flay, those are strong words. (For the non-New Yorkers: think Philadelphia's Lacroix, Chicago's Tru, and so forth.)

I will confess to being intrigued, particularly when upon contemplating such yummies as langoustine tortellini in a golden squash velouté and lobster infused with vanilla on a cauliflower purée. But then there's the fact that the menu is divided between "classical" and "modern." And the his-and-hers olive oils to accompany the wasabi/green apple sorbet. Oh, my precious preciousness.
WE'RE GOING TO HOLLYWOOD: And not a moment too soon. After what seemed like weeks and weeks and weeks of Eastern European girls vamping their way through Christina Aguilera songs and mealy-mouthed little Clay Aiken wannabes with bad teeth, tonight we begin my customarily favorite phase of American Idol.

I generally put very little stock in the impressions formed during the audition round -- if I didn't find them independently entertaining, I certainly wouldn't bother to watch the auditions for plot advancement purposes. (Oh, and: Oh My God, was the non-vocal-cords-impaired twin last night spectacularly gorgeous, or what?)

But here's one thing that's been intriguing me. If you compare the number of noteworthy guys shown during the audition episodes to the number of memorable girls, it certainly seems like this is going to be a heavily femalecentric season. Do you think that's the case, or is there some significant population of male ringers that the producers are keeping under wraps for the time being? Conspiracy theories are, of course, welcome.
CURIOUS INDEED: Ripped from the headlines...

Bloodied body of Curious George co-writer found near his Boynton home

A 'Curious' promo strategy for monkey cartoon

If I'm Will Ferrell, I'm watching my back when the DVD comes out.
ONLY ONE HAS DONE A WEST SIDE STORY TRIBUTE: Are House and Scrubs really the same show? I don't know, but I would so watch Dr. House and Dr. Cox get into an insult battle. (And the Cuddy/Kelso comparison posed in the article seems misleading to me--Kelso cares about no one except himself and his ego, whereas Cuddy is a far more complex and interesting character.)
I THINK KANYE WOULD TAKE ISSUE: From Tin Pan Apple v. Miller Brewing Co., Inc., 737 F.Supp. 826 (S.D.N.Y. 1990), a case involving the alleged use of look-alikes and sound-alikes for The Fat Boys:
Rapping is generally alleged to be spoken or semi-sung rhyming verse recited over a powerful rhythm track created by drums and drum sounds; it is lyrics over an almost exclusively percussion-based melody.

SEVENTEEN THOUGHTS ABOUT "THE" (PART 3): Here are 3 more songs on my iTunes list that begin with the word “the.”

7. The Jam by Graham Central Station. Bassist Larry Graham was a key member of Sly and the Family Stone. If you love that band’s music, you’ll love this funk classic, which hit #15 on the soul charts in 1976. The song follows the blueprints of Sly’s songs I Want to Take You Higher and Dance to the Music -- a powerful groove combined with individual solos. Like Sly and the Family Stone, Graham Central Station was a multiracial group that combined a solid soul foundation with hook-laden pop. Graham’s only major success on the pop charts was his solo ballad One in a Million You, which hit #9 in 1980, a tender love song worthy of your attention.

8. The Man I Love by Django Reinhardt. This is what joy sounds like. Play this song, or nearly any song by the famous Gypsy guitarist, and you’ll soon find yourself smiling. As the All Music Guide observes: “he would spin joyous, arcing, marvelously inflected solos above the thrumming base of two rhythm guitars and a bass, with Stephane Grappelli's elegantly gliding violin serving as the perfect foil.” The Man I Love is from his CD Souvenirs, which is an excellent way to get acquainted with Reinhardt’s sweet jazz.

9. The Message by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. An old school classic, this song went all the way to #4 on the “black singles” charts in 1982. This was one of the first rap songs with social commentary.

"Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I'm tryin' not to lose my head

It's like a jungle sometimes;
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under."

DO YOU THINK I GIVE A DAMN ABOUT A GRAMMY? Yes, we do around here, as I noted in recapping the 2003, 2004 and 2005 ceremonies. Don't get me wrong -- the awards themselves are generally nonsense, but they always put on a hell of a show.

I surveyed my fellow ALOTT5MA bloggers regarding certain of the awards to be handed out tonight. If we voted in the Grammys, here's who'd win:

Record of the Year: Nominees are ''We Belong Together,'' Mariah Carey; ''Feel Good Inc.,'' Gorillaz featuring De La Soul; ''Boulevard of Broken Dreams,'' Green Day; ''Hollaback Girl,'' Gwen Stefani; ''Gold Digger,'' Kanye West.

We say: "Hollaback Girl" edges out "Feel Good Inc." "That sh-t is infectious", says one of us.

Album of the Year: ''The Emancipation of Mimi,'' Mariah Carey; ''Chaos and Creation in the Backyard,'' Paul McCartney; ''Love. Angel. Music. Baby.,'' Gwen Stefani; ''How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,'' U2; ''Late Registration,'' Kanye West.

We say: Pretty unanimous for Kanye, albeit almost by default. One vote for Macca.

Song of the Year: ''Bless the Broken Road,'' Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna & Marcus Hummon, (Rascal Flatts); ''Devils & Dust,'' Bruce Springsteen, (Bruce Springsteen); ''Ordinary People,'' W. Adams & J. Stephens, (John Legend); ''Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own,'' U2; ''We Belong Together,'' J. Austin, M. Carey, J. Dupri & M. Seal, (D. Bristol, K. Edmonds, S. Johnson, P. Moten, S. Sully & B. Womack) (Mariah Carey).

We say: Tied between "Devils and Dust" and "Ordinary People". I could break the tie, but I voted Rascal Flatts.

New Artist: Ciara, Fall Out Boy, Keane, John Legend, SugarLand.

We say: No strong support for anyone. Meh year.

Pop Vocal Album: ''Extraordinary Machine,'' Fiona Apple; ''Breakaway,'' Kelly Clarkson; ''Wildflower,'' Sheryl Crow; ''Chaos and Creation in the Backyard,'' Paul McCartney; ''Love. Angel. Music. Baby.,'' Gwen Stefani.

We say: Tie between Ms. Apple and Ms. Clarkson, but, seriously people? The Clarkson album is the bomb-diggity. Precisely engineered for maximum hit-osity.

Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: ''Speed of Sound,'' Coldplay; ''Best of You,'' Foo Fighters; ''Do You Want To,'' Franz Ferdinand; ''All These Things That I've Done,'' The Killers; ''Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own,'' U2.

We say: Coldplay, grudgingly.

Alternative Music Album: ''Funeral,'' The Arcade Fire; ''Guero,'' Beck; ''Plans,'' Death Cab for Cutie; ''You Could Have It So Much Better,'' Franz Ferdinand; ''Get Behind Me Satan,'' The White Stripes.

We say: Best category, all solid nomiees. Death Cab drives away with our win.

Best Rap Song: "Candy Shop," by Curtis Jackson & Scott Storch, songwriters (50 Cent Featuring Olivia); "Diamonds From Sierra Leone," by D. Harris & Kanye West, songwriters; (J. Barry & D. Black, songwriters) (KanyeWest); "Don't Phunk With My Heart," by William Adams, Printz Board, Stacy Ferguson & George Pajon, Jr., songwriters;(Kalyanji Anandji, Full Force & Indeewar, songwriters) (The Black Eyed Peas); "Hate It or Love It," by Curtis Jackson, A. Lyon, Jayceon Taylor & M. Valenzano, songwriters; (Baker, Felder & Harris, songwriters) (The Game Featuring 50 Cent); "Lose Control," by M. Elliott, C. Harris & G. Isaacs III, songwriters; (J. Atkins, R. Davis & C. Hudson, songwriters) (Missy Elliott Featuring Ciara & Fat Man Scoop.)

We say: "Lose Control", in a landslide. We [heart] Missdemeanor.

Best Spoken Word Album: "The Adventures Of Guy Noir," by Garrison Keillor ; " The Al Franken Show Party Album," by Al Franken; " Chronicles - Volume One (Bob Dylan)," by Sean Penn; " Dreams From My Father (Senator Barack Obama)," by Barack Obama; " When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops? (George Carlin) , " by George Carlin.

We say: If he can't win for the theme song, Sen. Obama ought to win here.

Performers tonight will include octuple nominees Mariah Carey, John Legend and Kanye West; Madonna with Gorillaz; Paul McCartney; Kelly Clarkson; Bruce Springsteen; U2 w/ Mary J. Blige; Coldplay; Faith Hill and Keith Urban; Christina Aguilera and Herbie Hancock; Sugarland (who?); Jamie Foxx with Kanye West (hmm . . . I wonder what they'll play); an all-star tribute to Sly And The Family Stone featuring Maroon 5, Will.I.Am of The Black Eyed Peas, Robert Randolph, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Joss Stone, John Legend, Ciara and Devin Lima; Jigga w/ Linkin Park; and a tribute to New Orleans music featuring Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and "Soul Queen of New Orleans" Irma Thomas; rockers Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, and U2's The Edge; and soul singer Sam Moore.

Be here for all the coverage.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

DR. YANG TO THE ER STAT! For the many folks who might be a little upset that they couldn't reliably watch, TiVo, or VCR Sunday's Grey's Anatomy, it'll rerun Thursday from 9:30 to 10:30. If you didn't check it out, you now have a second chance. (Interestingly, this pits Grey's head to head against half of a new episode of ER, and I think there's no question what's currently the better show.)
CLEARING OUT MY CLOSET: Here are a bunch of lists getting stale in my bookmarks...
  • Kanye West swept the Village Voice's annual "Pazz and Jop Poll," with Late Registration being named the top album and "Gold Digger" the top single. West's College Dropout was the top Pazz and Jop album last year. Alas, R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet (Part 1)" only placed 24th.
  • Another great annual list is Business 2.0's look at the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business.
  • Bud Light's "Magic Fridge" may have topped USA Today's Ad Meter of Super Bowl spots, but Tivo users were big fans of the Ameriquest ads.
  • Oh, those wacky Brits. They believe Homer Simpson is the most romantic TV husband of all time and The Shawshank Redemption is the greatest film of all time. Speaking of Brits, Apple Paltrow-Martin will have plenty of money to spend on therapy as she grows up.
  • Back on this side of the Atlantic, a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon would be bike riding with Jessica Alba in Portland, Oregon.
DIDN'T THE FIRST "N" ONCE STAND FOR "NEWS"? Tonight on "Larry King Live"--"The cast of TV sitcom classic 'Growing Pains' is together again for the first time. Find out what they are doing now."

Tomorrow night? "'Full House' stars, Bob Saget and John Stamos on the intervention that saved a former co-star from a crystal meth addiction."
IT'S RIGHT BEHIND A BEAR HOLDING A HEART: All of us here are (needless to say) big fans of the TiVo. But am I the only one who thinks that the TiVo promotion I got by e-mail today, claiming that "Nothing says BE MINE like a TiVo box for your Valentine!" is less than wholly accurate?
YOU CAN'T SELL THIS ITEM EVEN IF YOU WANTED TO: Kotaku has an amusing list of smutty items you can find while playing World of Warcraft. I think the last thing my level 26 Night Elf Rogue (or pretty much any character) needs is Kezan's Unstoppable Taint.
FREE WILLY: Perhaps your state is one of the 15 that received MGM bill proposals today. Do talk to your Congressman.

SEVENTEEN THOUGHTS ABOUT "THE" (PART 2): Here are 3 more songs on my iTunes list that begin with the word “the.”

4. The Glamorous Life by Sheila E. A staple of 1980’s pop, this song went all the way to #7 in 1984. Sheila “E” is actually Sheila Escovedo, daughter of famed jazz percussionist Pete Escovedo. Her uncle “Coke” Escovedo was also a well known percussionist (I wonder about his name, don’t you?). The two senior Escovedos played with Santana and Azteca. Sheila’s brother Peto was in Con Funk Shun.

Prince became Sheila E’s mentor around 1983. She sang and played percussion on his awesome hit song Erotic City. The funky Minnesotan also helped her to get a record contract, which led to her debut album, Sheila E. in the Glamorous Life, released in 1984. Although he was not credited, it is generally acknowledged that Prince wrote The Glamorous Life, produced it, and played several instruments on it. In fact, the All Music Guide reports that if you listen carefully, you can hear Prince's original guide vocal faintly in the background.

5. The Heart Asks Pleasure by Michael Nyman. Every once in a while I buy a new age CD. Usually I am seeking some sort of insight. Often, in fact you might say very often, I end up with insipid crap such as this song. It’s like dating a woman who is beautiful but not especially smart or kind. In a very short amount of time you end up wondering “is that all there is?”

6. The Hump by Patrice Rushen. This is from the awesome collection The Funk Box, which all of you should own. Patrice Rushen is best known for her hit Forget Me Nots, which went to #23 in 1982 and was later remade by Will Smith as the theme for the film Men in Black. She has also done a lot of session work for jazz musicians including Jean Luc-Ponty, Lee Ritenour, and Stanley Turrentine.

As far as I can tell, The Hump never hit the pop charts or the R&B charts. It was an album cut from Rushen’s 1977 LP Shout It Out (now sadly out of print). The song is a blistering funk tune: a powerful blend of George Clinton and Quincy Jones. The bass line is especially memorable.

THERE IS A TRUE YEARNING TO RESPOND TO: So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew, The African and Native American, the Sioux, The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek, The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh, The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher, The privileged, the homeless, the teacher. They all need a good nosh sometimes:
Maya Angelou, in town Saturday to speak at the National Constitution Center at a fundraiser for the Philadelphia Comprehensive Center for Fathers, lunched with longtime friends Jerry and Marciarose Shestack. The couple picked up Angelou's special request at Famous 4th Street Deli - chopped liver, corned beef, pastrami, rye bread, coleslaw and pickles. They dined in Angelou's tour bus.
No word on whether she also enjoyed a Famous 4th Street Cookie.
THERE GOES MY SLEEPER BET FOR THE GAMES: Sadly, I have recently learned that His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco has retired from Olympic competition, and the chairman of the Fédération Monegasque de Bobsleigh & de Skeleton will not be leading Monte Carlo's sledders for a record sixth time after placing 28th out of 29 teams in the 2002 Games.

Back in 1998 at the age of 39, he explained his shift from the two- to the four-man bob, saying, "It is best at my age to have more people push you." During the 1998 Games, he also placed 28th, besting traditional bobsleighing powers Puerto Rico, Greece, Ireland and the U.S. Virgin Islands down the icy chute.

You can meet the 2006 Monegasque Olympians -- four bobsleighers and two Alpine skiers -- via this link.

Monday, February 6, 2006

"THANK YOU, HANS, FOR HELPING RID THIS VILLAGE OF THE TURKS. MAY I PLEASE HAVE A MENTO?" Every once in a while, a question like this occurs to me. And so I ask it: What is the singular of Tums?

In other words, if you were in need of a particular branded antacid, would you say, Dear, could you grab me a Tum? Or are the singular and plural the same here?
THE AUTHOR IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS: Just when James Frey started to edge off the screen, back comes "JT Leroy" so we can ask, is it worse to make up incidents in a "true" memoir or to just invent your entire existence from whole cloth?
JUST SIT RIGHT BACK AND YOU'LL HEAR A TALE: While watching HIMYM this evening, I was reminded of a posting I've been meaning to make for a while--the TV theme song post. Sadly, many shows today don't go with the theme song, either as a regular thing (HIMYM, Lost) or because they frequently run long (Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives). But there are still some great ones currently out there:
  • Beauty And The Geek--The use of the Pet Shop Boys' "I've Got The Brains (You've Got The Looks)," coupled with the use of clips from the series, makes for a good time.
  • House--What's amazing is that the gorgeous electronica theme is not written for the show--it's the first minute of Massive Attack's "Teardrop," which is wonderful enough on its own, but coupled with the medical visuals, makes for one of the most impressive opening sequences on the air.
  • Related--Cheesy, upbeat girlpop to be sure, but the lyrics--"I hate you/I love you/You know too much about me"--capture the sibling relationship that's at the heart of the show.
  • Boston Legal--A vaguely funky wah-wah guitar, coupled with the oddly cut opening credits, and it works--peaked by the vaguely Dr. John-esque "oooutlaw!" shout at the end.
  • Everwood--The only purely orchestral piece on the list--the starting piano chords, which flow seamlessly into a softly lilting violin, and then a full orchestra, accompanied (in the first two seasons) by a Norman Rockwell-esque montage of the small town that we almost wish we grew up in makes this one a keeper, and Blake Neely (the show's composer) one of the composing talents to watch.

So, what are your favorites out there now?

QUID PRO BRO: Ten words about tonight's HIMYM: Best Barney episode ever. And Victoria? Already on my nerves.

SEVENTEEN THOUGHTS ABOUT "THE" (PART 1): Idiosyncratically, iTunes does not ignore the words “the”, “an”, or “a” at the beginning of the title of a song. As it turns out, that means that I have 24 songs on my iTunes list that are grouped together because their titles all start with the word “the.” Let me tell you about 17 of them (the other 7 are classical pieces that I suspect are not all that interesting to this group).

  1. The Bottle by Gil Scott-Heron. Gil Scott-Heron is an important figure in music history. The Allmusic Guide calls him “one of the most important progenitors of rap music.” His spoken word, jazz-influenced R&B from the 1970’s certainly blazed a trail, as did his lyrics, full of anger at various forms of injustice. Many of his LPs and CDs are now out of print, but this greatest hits compilation is a good one and includes The Bottle, as well as Winter in America and perhaps his best known song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

The Bottle was his biggest hit, peaking at #15 on the R&B charts in 1978. It’s a catchy song about a serious subject -- alcohol abuse:

“See that black boy over there, runnin' scared
His old man's in a bottle.
He done quit his 9 to 5 to drink full time
So now he's livin' in the bottle.”

  1. The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter by William Ackerman. A new age guitar instrumental by the founder of Windhan Hill Records, this song appeared on the album Passage. As the amazon review notes, Ackerman really has a way with the elegiac and the moodily majestic. I often listened to this piece to dial down the stress of law school.

  1. The Coventry Carol by Alfred Deller & The Deller Consort. I’d recommend this to anyone seeking classically themed Christmas music. From the famous album The Holly and the Ivy, this song was perhaps played more often than any other at Christmas when I was a lad. Listening to it now calls to mind the joy of those happy holidays, tempered with a certain measure of sadness that some of the important people from those days are no longer with us.

"LEAN WIT IT, ROCK WIT IT": In our continuing effort to keep you abreast of snap music, let me call to your attention this NYT article on Dem Franchise Boyz's new CD "On Top of Our Game" (the beginning of the article is about Remy Ma).

As the article notes, on the song "Stop Callin' Me," the group features a clever rhythm to confront an eternal conundrum: is it possible to talk to women about why you don't want to talk to them?

SNAKES. I HATE SNAKES: Yeah, sure, Harrison Ford has a new movie out this week, and it's his first action/thriller in nearly 10 years, but wouldn't you rather see all three Indiana Jones films on the big screen at NYC's (arguably) best movie house? You can, and for a mere $7.50 a ticket. I'm sorely tempted to do a Raiders/Last Crusade double feature (though I don't understand why Raiders only gets 1 evening show during the week while Temple of Doom gets 2).
AND BRUCE WILLIS IS DEAD: Following up on Adam's post about Grey's last night/early morning, there's been a lot of commentary about Grey's policy of misinformation combined with a refusal to let anything leak about upcoming storylines. Several of TRWCT have made their names by leaking "spoilers" for popular shows (most notably Kristin Veitch at E!Online and Michael Ausellio at TV Guide). I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I'm a spoiler whore, especially in an era where we have to wait and wait for certain shows to return to the air, but our good friend Shonda Rhimes is starting to convince me otherwise:
One of the things I feel really strongly about is knowing what's going to happen on an episode of television before you see it. It's crazy, like, why tell people what's going to happen instead of getting them to watch it to see for themselves? Plus, it freaks me out to see our storylines on the Web, and it freaks me out to hear people saying, "I hear you've got blah-blah-blah on your show." So, we all made an agreement that we're going to keep our mouths shut and just keep on [making] the show and having you guys enjoy it.

She's got a point--while the general nature of what a "Code Black" is had leaked widely, specifics as to plot points had been closely guarded. Would the past two weeks of episodes have been as astounding had we known the big reveals for Bailey and Izzie in advance, or what, precisely, was the cause of the Code Black? I think not. So, where do you stand on spoilers?

MMM . . . BEER: Indeed, the winner of the annual USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter ratings was the Bud Light ad with the revolving wall. Nothing fancy, but a good joke nonetheless. Six of the top ten ads were Budweiser or Bud Light, says the survey, while favorites here like the Burger King Whopperettes and the Godzilla/Hummer ad placed well out of the top slots.

So, who won our predictions contest? No one had Hines Ward, so eliminate Question #2. I'll go with Benner -- had the Steelers winning and the Rolling Stones set exactly, which is more impressive to me than getting closer on the score or predicting Bud Light's victory. So congratulations, and please bask in the Fame and Glory Forever.**

(**"Forever" is a term of art, and doesn't guarantee "forever" or "forever ever", okay?)

Sunday, February 5, 2006

CODE BLACK: Thank you, Shonda. (That is all I'm going to say without spoiling.)
LOOKING BACK ON WHEN I WAS A LITTLE NAPPY-HEADED BOY? Well, we're well into the pre-game, with Stevie Wonder now having taken the stage in the sort of ill-founded "collaboration" with random musical artists that is usually reserved for the Grammy Awards. Still, it is less ill-founded than Celine Dion's apparently regular cover of "I Wish" as part of her Vegas show. Use this thread for discussion of the game, the broadcast, the commercials, the entertainment, or whatever else comes to mind.
IT'S NOT "NEW ENGLAND, THE PATRIOTS AND ME": But Polamalu! sure is catchy. Unlike, I have to say, Isaac, Sweet Shaun Alexander.
DERO'S GOT A BONER: Uncle Fester's getting the band back together.