Friday, September 30, 2011

COME HERE, LOVERBOY:  Sylvia Robinson did two things you'd think were difficult to include within one lifetime. In 1957, she was the Sylvia in Mickey & Sylvia who recorded the #1 hit "Love Is Strange."  More than two decades later, as NPR reports ...
In 1979, producer Sylvia Robinson heard hip-hop music at a birthday party in Harlem and had a hunch that it would be commercially successful.

She called her son, Joey Robinson Jr., and asked him to gather a group of musicians who could perform like the rappers she saw in Harlem. She then held makeshift auditions for a rap group outside a pizza parlor in Englewood, N.J.

"She put these three guys together who had never met each other before, had the backing track all ready and created a record in a matter of minutes," says Dan Charnas, a former rap industry executive who chronicles the history of hip-hop in a new book, The Big Payback.

The group that Robinson put together, Charnas says, would become the Sugarhill Gang, and the track they recorded was "Rapper's Delight," the first hip-hop single to break into the Top 40 charts.
She passed away today at the age of 75, and we've got a pair of videos below the fold.

SHA LA LA NA NA! Do you want to watch a video of collected nonsense lyrics over the years? Of course you do, and you want to note the notable omissions--two that come to mind immediately are the chanting in Engima's "Return To Innocence" and "Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah, Roma-roma-mah, Gaga-ooh-la-la."
THIS LIST HAS 99 PROBLEMS:  Coming to VH-1 for five nights next week—the Top 100 Songs of the Aughts. It is, as the Stereogum link notes, a very pop/mainstream hip hop-centered list, with the top rock songs being Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" at #5 and Green Day's "American Idiot" at #13.

Most underrated: "Stacy's Mom" down at #88; most overrated is Madonna's "Music," which doesn't belong on this list at all, let alone #28. Among the MIA? "Ms. Jackson" and "B.O.B.," Outkast; "Work It," Missy Elliott; "Take Me Out," Franz Ferdinand; "One More Time," Daft Punk; "How to Save a Life," The Fray; and even though he appears four times in the top 21, Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'" and "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" belong on this list too.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I STUDY NUCLEAR SCIENCE, I LOVE MY CLASSES: From the ALOTT5MA Totally 80s Desk, a Very Special Music Video from the cast of Head of the Class:
CLASSIC WINGER: We like Grantland, and we like Joel McHale, so Joel McHale writing for Grantland about his short-lived career as a walk-on football player for the Washington Huskies is something that we have to link to.
.108/.178/.157:  That was Dan Johnson's slash line heading into tonight. OMG, what a night of baseball. I'm speechless.

added: Tom Verducci has words:
They will go down as the most thrilling 129 minutes in baseball history. Never before and likely never again -- if we even dare to assume anything else can be likely ever again -- will baseball captivate and exhilarate on so many fronts in so small a window the way it did September 28, 2011.

Starting at 9:56 PM Eastern, the grand old game, said to suffer by comparison from football's siren sisters of gambling and violence, and said to suffer from America's shrinking attention span and capacity to contemplate, rose up and fairly screamed, "Watch this!"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

AS LONG AS JENNY IS THE FIRST VICTIM, I'M KIND OF OK WITH IT: While Cecily von Ziegesar has long since handed off Gossip Girl to a series of ghostwriters, and left the TV show in the hands of Schwartz and Savage, but she's decided to reboot/parody the series with Gossip Girl: Psycho Killer, in which Serena returns from boarding school (as she did at the start of the series), but her secret this time is that she's acquired a taste for killing, and Blair's not going to let Serena do anything better than she does....
SYNCHRONICITY DESK: Because it's a confluence of things that we love and because it's much been discussed in portions of the ALOTT5MA Twittersphere this evening, we feel compelled to note that 5-time Tony nominee and 2-time winner Sutton Foster has signed to play the lead in a new show from Gilmore Girls creator/mastermind Amy Sherman-Palladino. Despite consistently excellent stage work, Foster's done very little TV or film work (her most prominent role was as the girl who was so hot she was making Bret sexist on Flight of the Conchords), but her brassy style seems an interesting fit with Sherman-Palladino's trademark rapid-fire dialogue. The show is titled Bunheads (not to be confused with Josh Charles' girlfriend's debut novel of the same name), and Foster will play "a Las Vegas showgirl who impulsively marries a man and moves to his sleepy coastal town, taking a role at her mother-in-law's dance school."
GAME 162:  Wow.  My dad has a habit of saying "well, it all comes down to this" during moments in sporting events which are not, in fact, always outcome determinative, but this is going to be quite a night in Major League Baseball, the culmination of and reward (or punishment) for six months of attention. Boston, Tampa, and Atlanta's games all start at 7pm EDT; the Cardinals an hour later. Get ready, and good luck.

This afternoon, of course, the eyes of the baseball world will be upon Miami Gardens, Florida, for the unlikely-to-be-emotional closing ceremony for the last game to be played at the unfriendly confines of Joe Robbie Stadium Pro Player Park Pro Player Stadium Dolphins Stadium Dolphin Stadium Land Shark Stadium Sun Life Stadium, home of two World Series champions over its 19-year span. Among the notable former Marlins expected to appear are Kurt Abbott, Antonio Alfonseca, Bruce Aven, Rickey Bones, Charlie Hough and ... oh, come on, it's the Marlins. Some kid named Strasburg will start for the visiting Nationals.
SO PUT ANOTHER DIME IN THE JUKEBOX, BABY: Frequent commenter Chuck writes, “So a case settled, leaving me time to ponder Donna Summer’s inability to garner much Hall of Fame traction and whether it was largely due to genre, which led me to ponder the spectrum of women in rock, from Very Much Rock to Don’t Rock. Very hard to distinguish between rock SOUND and rock ATTITUDE.

"Here’s an attempt to rank 31 data points (this is not a list of ALL women who rock or don’t rock -- the attempt was to fill out the spectrum), from rocking-est to mocking-est. It is imperfect but worthy of discussion. Personally, I found it most hard to figure out where the Lilith crowd fits in. One way to think of this is, “If I’m an annoyingly macho guy, whose concert would I be least embarrassed to be seen at?” Note that where an artist who had a significant solo career and career in a band is listed, her entire career is considered (eg. Natalie Merchant). Here’s the list:"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CHUCK D WILL MAKE SOME NOMINATIONS: The United States Postal Service, for the first time, will allow living people to appear on stamps, and is soliciting your suggestions.

My first selections: Stevie Wonder; Aretha Franklin; Muhammad Ali; the astronauts whose Congressional Gold Medal ceremony is coming soon (Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins, Glenn); and Harper Lee.

(Remember the Rule.)
TICK TICK: Sunday night, Andy Rooney will deliver his 1097th and final commentary for 60 Minutes. His journalism career began with Stars & Stripes in 1942, covering World War II from London and both over and inside Nazi Germany. The oft-imitated Rooney joined 60 Minutes in July 1978.

Last year Time Magazine compiled his 10 grumpiest segments.
IF THE REAL THING DON'T DO THE TRICK, YOU BETTER MAKE UP SOMETHING QUICK:  Nominees for the 2012 class of inductees into the Rock and Roll Non-Country Popular Music of the 1950s and Beyond Hall of Fame have been announced, and in advance (or in lieu, depending on our ambitions) of our Keltner analysis of the nominees (we've only done the Beastie Boys and Donna Summer), for a second straight year I'm going to put it up for a preliminary vote.

Here goes. Cast your votes via this Doodle link -- vote for as many or as few artists as you wish, and we'll see how the numbers shake out.  (Typically, artists require 50%+ support to be nominated and the top 5-7 get in, unless Jann Wenner decides otherwise.)

First-time nominees include Heart, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, The Cure, The Spinners, Eric B. & Rakim, Guns N' Roses, the Small Faces/Faces, Rufus with Chaka Khan, and Freddie King. The Beasties and Chilis return to the ballot, as do Donna Summer, Donovan, Laura Nyro, and War.

[First-time eligibles this year but not nominated include Crowded House, Guided by Voices, the Jayhawks, Lyle Lovett, Salt N Pepa, Soundgarden, They Might Be Giants, and Yo La Tengo.]

Vote early, defend your choices here, and rock on.
DAWSON'S JURASSIC CREEK: It is very difficult to send people back in time. Indeed, it requires two particle accelerators the size of the Washington Beltway to rend the space-time continuum and put people through, a hundred or so at a time. It can also only be done about once a year. Given those constraints (and perhaps a bit more often to send the non-living), we realize this is a very large undertaking for a very crippled economy. So, in order to ensure the survival of humanity, what do we expect to be sent back in order for humanity to stand a chance?

* vehicles;
* weapons and ammunition in infinite supply;
* state of the art medical equipment (also, leeches);
* enough materials so every colonist can live in a four bedroom home with its own stainless steel kitchen;
* throw pillows;
* window treatments;
* posturepedic mattresses;
* people without a discernible skill set

Things that don't get sent (even though you can request stuff and "everything is provided for us"):

* iron (because while we will provide the colony with enough nylon backyard sunshields for a resort in Palm Springs, you will be expected to do your own smithing).

Look, colonization of the past is a perfectly reasonable trope. And the folks behind Terra Nova know enough about it to give a shout out to Bradbury's "The Sound of Thunder" and what I thought might be an allusion to the even cooler "Hawksbill Station" by Robert Silverberg (where the chrono-political exiles were all lame, crazy, and turned tricks for some extra trilobyte soup).

But for this sort of conceit to work, and for me to believe that the underlying conflicts are best solved by requesting more supplies from present-day Earth, the show is going to needs rules. And I don't see that the producers are going to supply them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

SORT OF LIKE IRISH SPRING ... BUT WITH ARABS:  I don't plan to blog about The Good Wife every week, and this wasn't a particularly great episode anyway.**  The case of the week wasn't particularly smart other than the initial gambit from Cary, and there was a little too much Kalinda Magic this week.

That said, if you were wondering (as was I) what the deal was with that random tutor-slash-flashmobber, there's a backstory. As always, The Good Wife remains the gold standard by which tv shows trying to integrate technology into plotlines are measured.

** Look, I understand the need to get everyone up to speed and set the chess board for the season, though the Sophia plot apparently had to be abandoned longterm given the actress's hiring by L&O:SVU. I'm just bugged from a legal ethics perspective by Eli Gold's status at the firm. Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4 is clear that Eli can't be a partner of the firm, so what is he--a vendor renting space?
NOT YET PREPARED TO CALL IT UNNECESSARY, BUT CERTAINLY NOT A NECESSARY REMAKE:  Michael Lewis to adapt his own Liar's Poker for the big screen, because who wouldn't want to see a movie about bond traders set at a firm which no longer exists?
RED AND WHITE (NO BLUE): A couple of weeks ago, our friends at Pop Culture Happy Hour discussed local children's television of their youth. In Dallas, that show was Mr. Peppermint, later retooled into Peppermint Place, hosted by Jerry Haynes, better known as "Mr. Peppermint," who succumbed to Parkinson's today at 84. In addition to hosting the show, Haynes was one of the first eyewitnesses to the JFK assassination to be interviewed on TV and had small roles in a number of films (Robocop, Boys Don't Cry, Places in the Heart). More oddly, Haynes' son, Gibby, is lead singer of a band with a name not appropriate for printing on this blog, best known for their one hit "Pepper," which was purportedly based on Gibby's experiences at my high school.
WILL WE GET TO PLAY BULLSEYE-THE-WOMP-RATS AT THE PARTY?  Mark Hamill turns 60 years old today.
NOT THE BEES!  Matt Zoller Seitz induct ten actors into the Overacting Hall of Fame.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

THE PHRASE THAT PAYS:  Look. If you're going to give me a leg of The Amazing Race with Clues That Actually Require Thinking, a missing passport, teams lying about who they are ("I protect people," as well as the Survivors) and others fretting about being underestimated, and then top it off with one of the more blatant Loser Edits in show history, I'm going to be happy.

No, I'm not quite sure what the first challenge was other than "pay attention to which umbrellas seem to work for the other teams," and I'm not thrilled with the ending, but hey: it's a show that started ten years ago with teams scrambling around Central Park looking for payphones, and a decade later it's still around and a team is aided because folks on Twitter spotted them being filmed. Welcome back, Phil's Eyebrow.

added, NYT:  The backstory on the Twitter-save; more details via RealityBlurred.