Monday, December 18, 2006

Post One-Hunnert!; or, Wa Wa Wee Wa!

("One-hunnert" is how, down South, we pronounce "one hundred"; "Wa Wa Wee Wa" is what Borat says when he makes great success.)

But so! This is the one-hundredth post of this blog. Great success! In honor of that milestone, today I'll be writing about The Beatles—specifically the new, idiotically named album Love.

Yes, it's a stupid name for an album. Yes, it seems each holiday season there's a new Beatles something-or-other foisted off upon the music-buying public. Yes, we all know that The Beatles were the Greatest, Most Innovative Band Ever, and Don't F***ing Argue ... but that's all neither here nor there. Simple fact of the matter: great music, truly remarkable. Addendum to the simple fact of the matter: we all know it by heart, and therefore never have that much need to sit down and listen qua listen to one of the group's albums.

That's where Love comes in. Love is a album spanning The Beatles' entire career, remixed and reworked and basically fiddled with by Sir George Martin, original and legendary Beatles producer, and his son Giles Martin, that is the "soundtrack" for the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name (Love). Blah blah boring who gives a s***. Not I!

The album itself, though, is pretty good and fun to listen to, for this reason: the songs do things they're not supposed to! I know by heart the turns, the album order, from one song to the next ... so in listening to Love it's surprising because the songs shift and morph in ways you're not used to, making you pay close attention and really listen to the sounds of each well-worn song.

If anyone picks up Love because of this post, and likes it, I encourage you to go out and buy The Beatles Anthology Vols. 2 or 3, both of which kind of engender the same sort of responses and feelings, hearing totally different versions of familiar songs. (The ocean-floor vibration-sounding "Tomorrow Never Knows" on Vol. 2 is particularly striking.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Uzbek

6. Ate dinner at Carnegie Deli, 'neath a signed photo of Guv'nah Mike Huckabee, the Uzbek.

After The Producers, which I ended up enjoying despite my curmudgeonliness, my dad and I walked up Broadway to the Carnegie Deli, which I'd never ate at before. Though it was 11pm or so, the place was packed, a ramshackle collection of tables and all sorts of people eating pickles and massive sandwiches below signed photos of all manner of celebrities.

We were seated at a table below a picture of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, whose main claims to fame were (he's out of office come January, replaced by the Democrat Mike Beebe) 1) Losing a ton of weight and 2) Entering into a covenant marriage with his wife, Janet. (For those who don't know, "covenant marriage" is like Christian marriage-plus, with all sorts of extra legal restrictions and etc. added on; for example a divorce is much harder to obtain.)

My dad and I ordered, he a hamburger and me "the Woody Allen," which turned out to be a pastrami and corned beef sandwich roughly the size of a small television, and which I ate maybe a quarter of, or possibly even less.

But that's not the interesting part. The interesting part was the convo my dad and I got into, which concerned several elements of my mom and dad's pre-me (meaning, before I was born) lives. I asked a few questions and it was like some unseen door opened, into an area of my parents' lives I'd never yet explored. It was really interesting, all the stuff my dad told me. He was the first of our family to go to college, and now my sister is going to the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school, next year ... it's crazy how quickly a family's fortunes can rise (or fall) due to the efforts of two people -- in this case my mother and father.

I asked my dad why, considering how poor his family was, he decided to go to college, and from there to law school. Basically what he told me was that, after he was turned down by all four branches of the military (he would have gone to Vietnam) due to his shot-out right eye (injured in a BB-gun war when he was 13), he decided he'd rather not work at the lumber mill for the rest of his life, and so made a college decision. He said he wasn't serious about it at first, but after an injury fell in with some more-studious friends, who would later become his roommates and best college friends: and that was that, his life was on a different track, which led to law school, Memphis, my mom, us kids and all that's come after. It's a heartening story, I think: one about free will, the ability of people (given determination) to change their lives, and also just about how unpredictable and full of reversals one man or woman's life can be.

If this seems incomplete it's 'cause I haven't figured it all out yet. More TK.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The saddest sentence in the world

From this story:
The [U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission] said the red pompoms on the wreath attached to the beagle's mouth could detach, posing a choking hazard.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Random Paragraph Generator

This is kind of fantastic.

Sample randomly generated paragraph:
Anastasia supports Arkansas below the substitute justice. Arkansas inhabits the pressing jack. The accomplished composer prevails against Arkansas. In Arkansas raves the ideology. The pointless basis causes Arkansas within the restrained audio. A functional pot invests in Arkansas under a seeing fire.

This s*** makes me sick

From a story about Williams-Sonoma's registry business in today's Times:
Eight-page ad inserts feature black-and-white photos of a fictional young couple strolling through a park, kissing in their kitchen and drinking wine wrapped in each other’s arms. A photo of the bride-to-be, prominently displaying her new ring, is accompanied by the thought: “Now that I’ve found love, what else do I need?” Photos of Williams-Sonoma pots and pans, knife sets and toasters provide some hints.
I mean it really makes me sick. Advertising of this sort is quite a rotten thing, I think (no offense to my friends in the business). I remember a two-page ad I saw once in Rolling Stone, for Diet Coke, which pictured a silver can of the stuff along with the words, in big silver letters, "I love it when she wakes up and is mad at me for something I did in her dream."

It's theft, is what it is: theft of memories or feelings, co-opted by corporations. Which means: now, when and if that ever happens to me, I won't think "What a funny thing, she's mad at me for something I did in her dream"; rather I'll think "f***ing Diet Coke."

It's a rough scene, man.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mommy, where do BlackBerries come from?

A cute excerpt from a mildly disturbing story (which can be found it its entirety here):

In Austin, Texas, Hohlt Pecore, 7, and his sister, Elsa, 4, have complicated relationships with their mother's BlackBerry. "I feel very annoyed," says Hohlt. "She's always concentrating on that blasted thing." (Hohlt says he picked up the word "blasted" from the film "Pirates of the Caribbean.")

Elsa has hidden the BlackBerry on occasion -- Hohlt says she tried to flush it down the toilet last year. Their mother, Elizabeth Pecore, who co-owns a specialty grocery store, denies the incident. But Elsa also seems to recognize that it brings her mom comfort, not unlike a pacifier or security blanket. Recently, seeing her mom slumped on the couch after work, Elsa fished the BlackBerry from her mother's purse and brought it to her. "Mommy," she asked, "will this make you feel better?"

I love that the kid has started saying "blasted" because he saw Pirates of the Caribbean. I think more seven-year-olds should talk like scurvy pirates.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Producers Production

5. Saw The Producers. Infectious.

Broadway’s an odd bird. My dad and I recently saw The Producers at the St James Theatre. Now, normally I don’t go see Broadway musicals, mainly because I don’t have the money—but also because I think they’re often a bit kitschy and dumb.

Perhaps I’m being a curmudgeon. And I felt like a curmudgeon when, at the theater that Saturday night, I sat through the opening of the first act—which contains a scene wherein the guy playing Leo Bloom pulls out a “blankey” and coos and talks to it, comforting himself, while the guy playing Max Bialystock mimics him—and thought it all over-silly and childish.

Curmudgeon: I cop to it.

Part of the problem, I think, was that the men playing Max and Leo—John Treacy Egan and Hunter Foster—were clearly playing Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick’s version of the characters, rather than playing their own take on them. I suppose this is a common problem when two big-name stars “break” a Broadway musical; you couldn’t kill to get a ticket to the show when Lane and Broderick were in it, so it stands to reason that Egan and Foster would feel somewhat overwhelmed by playing in the shadow of those two.

But then it picked up. Partly this was due to the sheer ridiculousness and over-the-top bad taste of the musical-within-a-musical, Springtime for Hitler—which is really something to be seen—but also, I think, my cold black heart was warmed a bit by the obvious fun everyone on stage (and in the audience) was having. Singing idiot (though extremely catchy; I was tapping my feet throughout) songs and dancing around like a lunatic is hard not to enjoy, unless you’re a too-serious curmudgeon at heart like me.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Christmas Story story

For all lovers of the movie A Christmas Story, check out this great article in the NY Times:

Recreating ‘A Christmas Story’ for Tourists in Cleveland

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I just realized that I say the word "exiled" thusly: "eggs-aisled."

We all have weird linguistic tics like that; I was teased mercilessly in high school because, for some reason, I pronounced "Tuesday" "choose-day." I once knew a woman who said "aigs" (for "eggs") and "laigs" (for "legs"). It was endearing. Those tics of our significant others often are, and remain things we hold onto long after the person herself is gone.

What weird things do y'all—or do y'all's significant others—out there in TV land say?


4. Watched the Razorbacks lose in an exciting, if ultimately disappointing, game with LSU.
Since the post in which I posted the above, I also watched the Razorbacks lose in an even more exciting, but unfortunately also disappointing, game vs. the Florida Gators.

That was the SEC Championship game. The Razorbacks—aka the Hogs—are now 10-3 (read as “ten and three,” meaning 10 wins and three losses) for the season. The losses came in the first game against USC; and then LSU and Florida. Now just one game remains, the Capital One Bowl on January 1st, against Wisconsin, in Orlando, Florida. The Razorbacks have only played the Wiconsin Badgers once, way back in 1912. They beat us 64-7 … but the (figurative) college football playing field has changed a lot since then, and I don’t think the Razorbacks should have much trouble dispatching the Badgers, quality team though they may be.

Suffice it to say, it’s been a very good season, way beyond what anyone thought the Razorbacks would achieve this year. Finishing 11-3 would be great, but finishing 10-4 would be just fine as well. But let’s hope for 11-3. Just has a better ring to it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Feel free to squeeze the Charmin

3. Checked out Times Square. (It's still there.)
Boy is it ever: the place was jam-packed with people, tourists all. You can always tell the tourist in NYC by how, when waiting for the “walk” light across the street to change, they stand dutifully on the curb, rather than out in the road, champing at the bit to get across, as city-dwellers do.

The latest and greatest addition to Times Square would have to be the Charmin bathrooms. I did not go inside, but apparently they’re these really nice (I suppose that’s relative, but whatever) bathrooms, staffed by attendants, for free use by the general public. I was reading a news story about these facilities and it said that in the first few days of their opening, they had been used by more than 50,000 “gotta go” souls. The article went on to ask the question, “Where did they all go before?”

I have one answer to that question. But I’ll not share it here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

This had to be posted up top

I received this comment from a fellow named Jesse, in response to this. It was so good I had to post it properly.
In a strange coincidence, I stumbled across the Rogue’s Gallery album just yesterday when a friend who uses Rhapsody asked me for a band to search for and I threw out the name “White Magic”, which they didn’t have, except for their participation in the sea shanty compilation.

I made the Montana mix. Glad you and Toby enjoyed it down in those icy lands. I think you have full rights to rename it as the Antarctican Galley Mix or some such – as you certainly gave it more listens than it got during it’s initial outing to Montana.

Toby sent your post my way, so I thought I’d follow up your discovery of Robin Holcomb with a full rundown of that mix (I believe you have the same version as the one I’m listening to to write this):

1) No Me Llores - Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos
2) You Look So Much Better - Robin Holcomb
3) Things Behind the Sun – Nick Drake
4) Don’t Let Me Down – Phoebe Snow
5) Strawberry Letter 23 – Shuggie Otis
6) Gotta Get Up – Harry Nilsson
7) Dreamin’ - Jill Scott
8) Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Nina Simone
9) Gaslighting Abby – Steely Dan
10) A Lazy Farmer Boy - Robin Holcomb
11) Brother – Jill Scott
12) Early in the Morning – Harry Nilsson
13) Cancio den Elegido - Silvio Rodriguez
14) I Tried to Believe - Robin Holcomb
15) Space Oddity – Natalie Merchant and Michael Stipe
16) Superheroes - Esthero
17) Ain’t no Sunshine – Bill Withers
18) Driving Along – Harry Nilsson
19) CucurrucucĂș Paloma - Caetano Veloso
20) Los Amantes - Susana Baca
21) The Puppy Song – Harry Nilsson

FYI, not all my mixes are so literally named. Others have had names such as “Catfish Trampoline”, “Freedom Fries”, and even “Wicked Trancendence of the Lebanese Crack Patriots”. On the other hand, I did recently give a friend a mix called “Warm the House”, as a housewarming gift.

As long as I’m here, I’ll go ahead and share a few names of others, especially obscure ones, who I’ve discovered more recently and think are worth listening to:

• Lhasa de Sela – Mexican Canadian singer, mostly in Spanish, good stuff
• Low in the Sky – downbeat stuff from 3 producers
• Wax Tailor – great album, instrumental sample driven hip hop, French
• Ane Brun – Norwegian singer – I like “A Temporary Dive”
• Mara Carlyle – very hit and miss, but she has some beautiful stuff
• White Magic – as you mentioned
• Honeycut – new, good, funky, probably won’t stay obscure for long
• Fink
• Common Market – hip hop
• Bitter Sweet
• Electrelane
• Dani Siciliano
• Sidestepper – latin reggae

Also, I’ve taken to following this music blog( the last few months to find new stuff and it’s proven a pretty good source. Unfortunately his archived files are almost all down right now due to some legal squabbles. He does plan to continue posting though, and older stuff may go back up again at some point.

Hope something here leads you to more that you like.


P.S. Thanks for the weedy sea dragon, that thing is fantastic.

Review of Borat movie-film

2. Saw Borat. Ribald.
Hello! Multiples of days ago I see Borat movie-film with father name of David. I like. Father David also like, but he say not all like. I not know why. It is humorous movie-film, with many joke-makings about stupid Americans. But also many of Americans in movie-film are appearing to be No. 1 in quality and what makes good about U.S. and A. An instance of quality American is drivings instructor. I like him! He let Borat kiss him on each cheeks, and not hit him or shout a rape. He is quality Americans.

The Americans in New York are not so nice. They say they will hit in balls, or “fuck him up.” I not know why they want to make sexy time with Borat. Borat look like a sheet. But Pamela Andersons, she is wah-wah-wee-wah!