Monday, October 30, 2006

confidence and conversations

If I don't straighten out this confidence problem of mine in the next two years, then yeah, I could see myself joining a cult. Why not? Everybody wants to feel wanted.

On another topic, here's a non-revelation for you: the problem with public cell-phone conversations is that the people having them think the conversations are private. But I can hear every "asshole" and "motherfucker" you say, sir and madam. I have a bad feeling my soon-to-be-two-years-old niece will know all of those words by the time she hits four. (I do want her to know that "fucking" can be a verb, an adjective, and an adverb, but it may take time for her to learn all the different conjugations.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

"Let's drop the big one / There'll be no one left to blame us ..."

Randy Newman was a guest last week on The Colbert Report, and at the end of the show he sang his song "Political Science." Here are the lyrics:

No one likes us—I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money, but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us, so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia's crowded and Europe's too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada's too cold

And South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one
There'll be no one left to blame us

We'll save Australia
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo
We'll build an all-American amusement park there
They got surfin' too

BOOM! goes London
And BOOM! Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh how peaceful it will be
We'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono
And there'll be Italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let's drop the big one now
Let's drop the big one now

The studio audience laughed through most of the song. It's obviously relevant in the current Bush/Iraq era, but Newman wrote it in 1969 and recorded it for his 1972 album Sail Away, during the Nixon/Vietnam era. History repeats.

As for "the big one," our government apparently believes in the policy of "No Nukes (For Anybody Else)." Is this because we've decided no one else is sane enough to keep their nukes in the missile silos where they belong? I guess we just have to stay sane ourselves then. (Make sure you get lots of sleep, Mr. President.)

I ordered an album from CD Baby for the first time on Saturday.

Below is the message that was included in the e-mail sent to me today regarding my shipment. Pretty funny.

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Monday, October 16th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year". We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to!!

songs that will still blow me away years from now, vol. 2

The thing I like most about music blogs is the chance to hear the next great pop song. It could be from 2006 or 1973it doesn't matter to me. I just like discovering new songs that won't leave my head for months. The thing I like least about music blogs is how narrow-minded they can be. Now, I can't claim to like every genre of music on earth, but in regard to most blogs I've seen, there's more to hip-hop right now than Gnarls Barkley, there's more to alternative rock than Beck and Radiohead, and there's more to '70s soul than Marvin Gaye and Al Green. Expand your horizons, bloggers, and I'll expand mine. I'll also stop complaining since your blogs give away actual MP3s and mine gives away nothing but words.

The best song I've heard recently, courtesy of my favorite music blog, Jefitoblog, is Wheat's "Closer to Mercury," from their 2003 album Per Second, Per Second, Per Second ... Every Second. It's one of those transcendent pop songs that makes you want to be a better person for three minutes and 51 seconds. It shows confidence, and everybody's attracted to confidence, right?

Summer love moves fast
You get a little slower when the fall moves past
But you'll never find another love like my love
Winter slows the pace
Spring brings the summer back to your face
But you'll never find another love like my love

Friday, October 13, 2006

a sad day for music

It's not sad because J-Zee hasn't dissed me yet. No, it's sad because Tower Records is finally closing its doors.

When I was in high school in Macon, GA, back in the early '90s, it was a huge thrill to go to the Tower Records store in Atlanta next to Lenox Square Mall. Before you could order any CD you wanted through and then, it wasn't easy to find certain albums in Macon at small, mall-based stores like Turtle's, Record Bar, or Camelot Music. And as my tastes in music started to expand (or got better, you might say), it became frustrating going into Record Bar (later Traxx, once there was no actual vinyl left on the premises) or Turtle's (later Blockbuster Music and Wherehouse Music) or Camelot (um ... still Camelot as recently as 1995, which is the last time I remember buying something there—Michael Jackson's Off the Wall on cassette and the Replacements' Hootenanny on CD, to be exact) and not being able to locate Paul Simon's One-Trick Pony or albums by lesser-known bands like Big Star.

So when you went to Tower, which specialized in "deep catalog" offerings, it was like Christmas Day. They seemed to have everything, and you could imagine spending an entire day there just flipping through the racks of CDs or reading movie magazines you'd never seen before, like the UK's Empire. I remember Empire having really glossy pages and found it interesting that movie titles in that magazine were neither italicized nor surrounded by quotation marks. I currently have an issue of Empire from 1999 that I still haven't read. Good job, Robert.

Off the top of my head, here are some of the items I purchased at Tower between the golden years of 1992 and 1998, before Internet CD shopping took over:

1) Sly and the Family Stone's Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back and Small Talk (both of which were Japanese imports, which made me feel like a big man)
2) The Simpsons: Songs in the Key of Springfield
3) Randy Newman's Sail Away
4) Soul Hits of the '70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind! Vol. 9
5) Big Star's #1 Record/Radio City and Columbia: Live at Missouri University 4/25/93
6) Dave Thomas's SCTV: Behind the Scenes book

Internet CD shopping ruined an important aspect of traveling to other cities and countries for me: going into record stores. One of the only good things about my "study abroad" trip to Europe in 1997 was my visits to various record stores in Italy and England, including Tower Records in London. Pretty shallow, I'll admit, but you should've met some of the people on that trip. In Italy I found a copy of Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On that featured the original 1971 artwork, and in England I found Lou Reed's first solo album from '72, which you couldn't find in the States at the time as far as I knew, and Geoffrey Williams's The Drop. (Who's Geoffrey Williams, you ask? Let me tell you!)

Now when I travel, the thrill is gone. When I bought the Lemonheads' Hate Your Friends from in January or February of '98, I knew a big change was about to happen. I still like to buy CDs in stores—a Second City performer made fun of me in a show for buying Pete Yorn's Nightcrawler at Virgin Megastore because if you buy albums there you "must be a tourist," even though I'd just explained from my seat in the audience that I had bought the album after walking there FROM WORK (for the record, this happened on October 26, but I'm cheating by leaving this post dated as October 13, which is when I started it)—but there's definitely some convenience in buying albums online, especially if, like me, you don't own a car. You can also save some money aside from the shipping and handling charges, because if you don't buy an album like Nightcrawler at Virgin four weeks after it's released, the price gets jacked up to $18.99.

Here's an excerpt from an article about Tower's financial problems from back in August, I believe:

"We're praying they'll reorganize successfully," one veteran music executive said. "We're praying they'll come back to life. Do I feel they're going to do it? Yes. Tower's enough of a brand, they can come back." The executive added that the dissolution of Tower could have a dire impact on the public's perception of music retailing: "Can you imagine Tower Records with boards on the windows on Sunset Boulevard? It'd be horrifying."

Well, Halloween's right around the corner. Why not give nostalgia whores like me a real fright?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

You should be happy, John Belushi ...

... because I just saw a few minutes of Blues Brothers 2000 on AMC and remembered that it took a white guy (John Goodman), a black guy (Joe Morton), and a kid (who knows or cares?) to replace you in the sequel to one of your best movies. Couldn't you have stopped this disaster from beyond the grave? Or at least poisoned the kid before filming started? The kid's presence in the movie makes me wonder if Dan Aykroyd and John Landis, the director, couldn't get script approval from Universal Pictures until they added an underage sidekick. Oh yeah, and the sequel's gotta be PG-13, not R like the first one. Gotta broaden the audience base!

Yep, good move, Universal. The Blues Brothers made $57 million in 1980. Blues Brothers 2000 made $14 million 18 years later.

I also saw parts of Summer School Monday morning on TBS. I hadn't seen it in a long time and didn't feel so good when Harmon's character responded to Courtney Thorne-Smith's jailbait tactics by saying, "When you're 61, I'll still be 75." Thorne-Smith's character is 16 in the movie. 75 - 61 = 14, and 16 + 14 = 30. Wait a second—Mark Harmon's supposed to be 30 in this movie?! That's one year younger than I am now!

I should've titled this post "Numbers aren't just numbers." Oh well, 2 bad 4 all of U. (Nice segue into a post about Prince, don't you think? We'll see. I was very excited to find an uncut version of his never-officially-released song "Wonderful Ass" recently on a music blog.)

Friday, October 6, 2006

"You know me so well, [surname]."

In addition to guys who call their friends "buddies," I also have trouble trusting guys who identify themselves and their buddies by their surname. "Churchwell, what up? This is Ritter. Call me back, brah!" I also don't trust characters in TV shows and movies who do this, especially when it's a man and a woman who want to nail each other. I've never known any wannabe couples in real life, even if they were couples for one night only, who addressed each other that way. Joel and Maggie called each other Fleischman and O'Connell on Northern Exposure, from what I remember, and Pacey called everybody by their surnames on Dawson's Creek, which got weird once he was going after Joey Potter.

Oh yeah, I should mention that I'm obsessed with Dawson's Creek. It's a terrible show in many ways, but it's great wake-up TV at 8 AM every weekday on TBS, so I can't really complain. I recently saw the end of the episode in which Joey lost her virginity to Pacey. Joshua Jackson, who plays Pacey, was going through a puffy period at the time (eating too many fried shrimp on location in Wilmington, NC, maybe?), so at the end of the episode when Joey takes off Pacey's shirt, I wonder if Josh began to regret canceling his workouts with the WB's on-set personal trainer so he could play more video games in his dressing room. Let this be a lesson, young Hollywood stars.

Here's one complaint about Dawson's Creek, although I've grown to love this facet of the show—most of the major characters start out hating any new character who's introduced, because the new characters almost always come across as blowhards before they eventually drop their guard. Sometimes Dawson, Pacey, Joey, and Jen, the main characters on the show, want to sleep with these blowhards, but sometimes they don't. Sometimes the blowhards are old people who can teach life lessons to the younger characters, sometimes they're rich teenagers who really just need a hug, and sometimes they're soulful bartenders working their way through college
who don't have the patience to deal with rich teenagers with fake IDs demanding pitchers of beer in lieu of hugs.

My favorite regular character is probably "Grams," Jen's grandma, who speaks in a ludicrous "Pepperidge Farm" accent. Yeah, I realize the show's set in Massachusetts and Grams has a New England accent, but I wonder what the actress who plays Grams sounds like in real life. If she sounds nothing like her TV counterpart, then she owes me a free bag of Milanos.

My favorite season is the sixth and final season, because it's obvious at that point that none of the stars or the writers really want to be there anymore. (The final season is sometimes the most fascinating season for almost any long-running show for that very reason. Watch the fifth and final season of Moonlighting once it comes out on DVD just to see how bored Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd look, especially since Die Hard had already come out and made Willis a movie star.) Besides, the show started with the main characters in high school, and whenever TV shows about teenagers extend beyond the high school years, the writers run into the problem of how to keep the main characters together in a realistic way once it's time for them to head off to college.

Another great thing about shows like Dawson's Creek is that everybody hooks up with everybody else. Dawson lost Joey to Pacey, who helped her lose her virginity, but don't worry, 'cause Dawson finally nailed her in season six. Hells yeah, Dawson! Dawson got his virginity out of the way in season five with the help of Jen. Luckily, we never had to watch Jen and Pacey get it on. Wait, scratch that—they did make out a few times and discuss having a sex-with-no-strings-attached relationship in season three. Wow, these teenage soap operas sure are incestuous. Did I miss an episode in which Jen and Joey experimented together? Probably not, but just when I thought I'd seen it all, there was an episode in season four in which Jack, the token gay character, made out with Jen while they were drunk! Now I'm waiting to discover an episode in which Dawson's dad has a one-night affair with Grams.

But the bottom line is that I love Dawson's Creek for its non-nutritional value, and therefore (almost) all of my sarcastic comments about it are made out of love. You've won me over, Capeside High Class of '01! Keep up the good-natured incest.

Hot chicks on the 145! (Part II)

But there's only one hot chick in this follow-up to the June blockbuster. That's okay, though, because this hot chick had enough hotness to cover five hot chicks. For real.

Golly gee, this hot chick knew how to wear clothes. And yet she still looked like a nice girl on her way to work. And guess what? I'll never see her on the 145 again.

That's how mass-transit hot chicks operate: they only use a bus one time, just so all the single men like me can get a good look—a gander, if you prefer—and then wonder for the next half decade, "Say, whatever happened to that hot chick I saw on the 145 on Tuesday, October 3, 2006?"