This is the first album Al released with is new look—LASIK surgery and long hair. He looked quite different, but it didn’t diminish his song writing skills. Running with Scissors is a pretty great collection of songs.
“The Saga Begins” is a genius parody taking the music of “American Pie” and merging it with the plot from Star Wars Episode I. The way he retells the story is snarky and funny. “My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder” is a weird song—an accordion-based zydeco song about, well, a guy whose girl loves Eddie Vedder. Vedder is kind of a weird person to pick (since he does make fun of him), although I guess it’s pretty mild abuse. “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi” opens with a joke on a Def Leppard song (in Hebrew) but then moves on to “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.” The original is pretty goofy and there’s not much Al could have done to it except this—changing it to being all about a rabbi. I like this version better than the original now.
The next track is the theme for The Weird Al Show. It’s utter nonsense, but very funny. And it packs a lot in to the 75 seconds that it lasts. “Jerry Springer” is a parody of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week.” The original is pretty weird/funny, so this seems an odd choice, and yet Al’s specifics to the Jerry Springer show is pretty funny. Of course I hate shows like that so I don’t love this song.
“Germs” is a style parody of Nine Inch nails (the song opens a like “Terrible Lie”, and then moves through some other songs). The sound is uncanny in its soundalikeness (except perhaps the “microscopic bacteria” section which is a little too goofy sounding even for NIN.
“Polka Power” is one of the first medleys where the parodied songs seem utterly dated. Like The Spice Girls, Harvey Danger, Backstreet Boys (which I only know because he says “Backstreet’s Back.” Smash Mouth. Chumbawamba, Marchy Playground, and Semisonic. Of course, there is also a Beastie Boys line (“Intergalactic”), but it’s a very era specific song. “Your Horoscope for Today” is a ska song of horoscopes inspired by The Onion (which is hilarious).
Of course, nothing comes close to “Its All About the Pentiums,” Al’s first rap song about being a total dork It is amazing—heavy guitars and lots of screaming. It’s even more bad ass than the original. And the smack talk is hilarious Asking about his computer: “You think your Commodore 64 is really neato. What kind of chip you got in there, a Dorito?”). I can listen to this song over and over. It’s a wonderful precursor to “White and Nerdy.” “Truck Drivin’ Song” has a remarkably deep voice for Al. It’s about driving a truck (as a transvestite). The humor is childish but funny and with that voice it’s particularly so. “Grapefruit Diet” is another series of jokes about being fat, but it works very well as a parody of “Zoot Suit Riot” with the jazzy horns and all.
That leaves “Albuquerque” an eleven, yes eleven, minute story song. It’s a style parody of a song by The Rugburns which I didn’t know until recently (called Dick’s Automotive, but that song is much more “adult” than Al’s. The song is simple enough but the lyrics are wondrously absurd and very very funny. And as it goes on and on and on you just marvel at the mind that created it. And it’s catchy too.
Scissors is a great album which holds up quite well after 14 years.
[READ: June 23, 2013] Zita the Space Girl
I’d actually read the sequel to this book first, but I quickly found this first book and the family devoured it, too.
This is a charming and sweetly drawn series about a girl, Zita, who winds up in outer space. As it opens, Zita is being a bit of a bully to her friend Joseph. Not horrible but teasing in the way friends can do. And when they find a giant meteor hole and a space-type gadget with a big red button on it, of course she threatens to push it in front to him, He freaks out, but she does it anyhow. And when she does, another dimension opens up and sucks Joseph away. Oops.
So she pushes it again and winds up in the same place which she realizes is very very different from her own. The thing that has Joseph is all tentacles in a diver’s helmet. But that’s just one of the weird creatures here (as seen in Gilliam’s Guide to Sentient Species–which I take as a tribute to Terry Gilliam). Like Strong-Strong, a large lumbering biped (who helps Zita), and a group of chicken creatures (who do not). There’s also a man who plays a flute (called Piper) who may or may not be a friend. She also meets a giant mouse named Pizzicato, but which Zita just calls Mouse. Mouse is very sweet and communicates through a printer around its neck.
Zita and Mouse also find a group of small, nondescript blue dudes whacking a red half circle who is stuck in the ground. She chases them away and the half circle, when freed, becomes a whole circle which is really a floating robot (with a huge arsenal). He becomes a trusted (smart alec-y) companion named Number 1 (we’ll meet numbers 5 & 8 later). And then there’s Randy the clumsy robot who saves everyone.
So it turns out that Joseph was captured because his captors believe he can save them–as their prophecy foretold. As the story ends, Zita must make a decision as to whether she or Joseph will go back home. And since there’s a book two, that decision, hard as it is, is a satisfying one.
I really enjoyed this book and the sequel and hope more are coming.