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Archive for the ‘Seinfeld’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: Y&T-“Mean Streak” (1983).

In the early 1980s Y&T had a couple of albums that made it onto my radar.   This one, Mean Streak, had this song which I liked enough. It’s got some cool riffs and Dave Meniketti’s raspy but distinctive voice.

I remember liking this song, even though I really had no idea what was going on in the lyrics.  The chorus where everyone sings “mean streak” behind his lyrics was certainly the catchy selling point.   But this is hard rock more than metal and is not really my thing.

I may have bought this album, but I know I have the follow up In Rock We Trust, which was more poppy (and they were more pretty).  I had forgotten all about “Lipstick and Leather” yet another cheesy pop metal song about, well, lipstick and leather.

People who were fans of Y&T (like Posehn) were die-hards, but even listening now I see why I never really got into them, even if I liked them for a bit.  Maybe it was a California thing.

[READ: January 2019] Forever Nerdy

S. got this for me for Christmas after we saw Posehn on a late night show and he talked about his nerdy obsessions, including Rush.  It seemed like an obvious fit.  And it totally was.

Posehn is a few years older than me, but if he had lived in my town we would have totally been friends (except I would have never talked to him because he was older).  Anyhow, we had more or less the same obsessions and the same nerdy outlook.  Although I was never really picked on like he was so perhaps I was a little cooler than he was.  Although I never smoked or drank when I was in high school so maybe he was cooler than me.

Things to know about before reading this–Posehn is a vulgar dude–there’s not much kid friendly is in this book.  Also this book isn’t really an autobiography exactly. I mean it is in that he wrote it and its about him, but if you were dying to find out fascinating stories about his crazy life, this book isn’t really it. I t’s more about the things he was obsessed with–in true nerdy fandom.

Although, Brian, what nerd doesn’t have an index in his own book? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SEVYN STREETER-“It Won’t Stop” (Field Recordings, August 6, 2014).

The blurb for this song totally cracks me up (especially 4 years removed) because not only did this song not seep into my collective consciousness, I’ve never heard of it. Nor have I heard of Sevyn Streeter.

Although it is funny that just last week my wife and I were utterly mocking people who name their child a number–what else did George Costanza tell them to do? And how misspelling it like this is even worse.

Anyhow, here’s the blurb:

In the spring of 2013, songwriter and R&B singer Sevyn Streeter released a song called “It Won’t Stop,” which she’s called her “baby.” Over the year and change that’s followed, the song has sunk into our collective consciousness through commercial radio play and a music video viewed more than 35 million times, and on the recommendation of a growing group of critics and fans. The lyrics are vernacular, warm, unpretentious, while the performance demanded by the music is not for the meek. Away from a studio — and air conditioning — in a New Orleans boxing gym, Streeter executed with muscle and grace.

Having mocked the blurb, the song itself is pretty.  I’ve no idea what the original sounds like, but this version is done with just two acoustic guitars–one of whom seems to be playing some bass melodies from time to time.  Streeter sings and warbles all over the song and does those R&B quivering notes that I hate, but she does have a nice voice.

But damn is this song long.  Why is a pop song five minutes long?

It’s neat that they filmed this Field Recording [Sevyn Streeter Knocks Us Out] in a boxing gym–how on earth were they able to eliminate all of the ambient noise?  It almost seems like it’s not live.

[READ: February 8, 2018] “Microstories”

This is a collection of flash fiction pieces which may or may not be connected.

Rain
Never ending rain seemed to be the truth until the day he was born.  While everyone was delighted for him that he never had to experience it, he lived with regret that he would never have the chance.

Divorce
He is dressing for his grown up daughter  What a strange thing to have to do–how infrequently he sees her, how should he look.  No idea what happened at the end of it though?  An earthquake? (more…)

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talkingSOUNDTRACK: HOSPITALITY-Tiny Desk Concert #212 (April 30, 2012).

hospitalHospitality are a four piece band from New York.  They play fairly quiet, kind of delicate music.  Most of the songs have a delicately picked out guitar line on the electric guitar and strummed chords on the acoustic.  Amber Papini is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist.

“Sleepover” the first song, starts out even more quietly, with Papini picking out notes on the acoustic guitar while singing in what is practically a whisper.   There’s an interesting part in the middle where both guitars are picking out melodies and its the bass that is playing the most prominent line of the melody.

“The Birthday” picks things up a bit with a relatively more intense song.  The chords are louder and Papini sings more intensely.  This song ends with a whole series of “la da de das.”  Some songs can’t pull that off, but it works perfectly with this one–especially when the bassist adds harmony vocals–it’s super catchy.

“Betty Wang” opens with just the acoustic guitar and drums as Papini sings.  She won me over immediately with the echoed and rising notes of “so shy so shy so shy.”  With the electric guitar bursts and rather loud drumming this song is practically raucous.

The band is quite but their melodies are really catchy.

[READ: December 28, 2016] Talking as Fast as I Can

I was so excited that they were making a continuation of Gilmore Girls.  And while it was no doubt hard to live up to all the expectations of all of the fans, I thought the new series was great.  It captured the old show very nicely even though everyone had moved on ten years.

I wasn’t expecting a new book from Graham, and certainly not a memoir.  But, with some down time, she was able to push this book out as well as doing everything else she’s been doing lately.

For a memoir, this book is a little skimpy (208 pages), and yet, if that’s all she had to say I’m glad it wasn’t padded out with a ton of fluff.  Plus, Graham doesn’t tell us everything about everything.  She talks about her childhood, about acting, about being single and about Parenthood and Gilmore Girls.  It’s all done in what has become Graham’s trademark style (although since we are reading it and not hearing her, the pace is probably much slower). (more…)

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1975SOUNDTRACK: ESKIMEAUX-Tiny Desk Concert #466 (August 28, 2015).

esquimeauxEskimeaux is Gabrielle Smith, who is the keyboardist in Bellows, a band that played a Tiny Desk Concert just a few months before this one.  As far as her stage name,

as an adopted child, Smith discovered that her biological father is Tlingit Eskimo; she describes the -eaux suffix as “just a playful jumble of letters that represents the way I record — a confusing layering of sounds that somehow coalesce into something simple.”.

Smith sings three songs in less than ten minutes.  She has a pretty, unaffected voice–just clean and clear vocals.  For the first two songs it’s just her and her guitar

“Folly” is a simple song as you might expect from just a strummed electric guitar.  But there’s something about the way she sings her lines in a series of rising notes that is really inviting.  She also has a nice way with words.  Like:

In my dreams you’re a bathtub running / You are warm and tender / And bubbling

“A Hug Too Long” is a faster song with a simple but interesting guitar riff that’s followed by a simple but interesting vocal melody.  Again, her clear voice fits perfectly with the music.  It features the intriguing chorus: “You went to work, I went to New Brunswick.”

Her final song is “I Admit I’m Scared.”  She has her bandmates from Bellows come out to sing with her.   There’s no extra instrumentation, but Smith sings in a slightly deeper register and Bellows fleshes out sections of the song (they even do a kind of deadpan synchronized move after each chorus).   Another great line of hers is: “And everything I said spewed like sparklers from my mouth.  They looked pretty as they flew but now they’re useless and burnt out.”  As the song ends, everyone sings louder “If I had a dime for every time I’m freaking out” which leads to a  dramatic climax before the final resolution: “We could fly around the world / Or just get out of your parents’ house.”

Bob jokes at the end that they can come back any time with a new band.  She says they have five other bands (including Told Slant and Small Wonder).  He says “you could come in every Tuesday.”

Bellows isn’t that different from Eskimeaux in style–pretty, quiet songs that are articulate and almost deadpan.  But having Smith sing (and presumably write) changes the way the style is created.  Which is pretty cool.

[READ: June 8, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976

I really enjoyed this book a lot.  In the introduction, Robert Smigel talks about how it seems like in this era, Schulz turned a corner a bit to become more absurd.  The jokes are sillier, with new characters and some crazy ideas–like talking buildings, pitching mounds and body parts.  He wonders if it was Schulz’ happy marriage or just a desire to take some chances rather than repeating himself.  But whatever the case, the book is really fun.  I especially love the Peppermint Patty/Marcie strips in which Schulz just seems to be having a great time.  I also love all of the jokes with Sally in which she makes herself laugh with some awful puns–I just imagine Schulz cracking himself up and not being able to wait to draw the strips.

But for all of the newness of the strips, Peanuts is always seasonal.  So 1975 beings with ice skating and snowmen.  Linus has made a snowman reclining and reading a book. Charlie asks if it’s Robert Frost and Linus snarks “You said it, I didn’t.”

Patty has been falling asleep a lot in school–her dad is away–and Snoopy makes as terrible watchdog for her.  More funny Patty moments are when she is being so decisive about true false questions.  “Irrefutably true, understandably false, intrinsically false, inherently false, charmingly true.”  To which Franklin asks “Charmingly?”  Patty also becomes the first disciple of the Great Pumpkin–but she blows it by asking for a gift, as if the Great Pumpkin is some kind of Santa Claus. (more…)

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oatmealSOUNDTRACK: KATAMARI DAMACY SOUNDTRACK (2004).

katamari In the xkcd post from yesterday Munroe made a joke about driving to Katamari Damacy.  I didn’t know what that was (well, I figured it was a video game, of course). It turns out to be a puzzle type game for PS2.  Since we have a Wii, I’ll never get to play it.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the groovy soundtrack.

The soundtrack to this game incorporates real, interesting music instead of an 8-bit-sounding theme (it won awards back in 2004).  And it is really wild and fun.

I’m focusing on the first two tracks, because there’s just too much to deal with here, but the whole things is trippy and interesting (and most songs are over 3 minutes).

“Nanana Katamari” is the opening song.  It’s upbeat and bouncy, with a simple Nanana vocal line (with some mild beatboxing in between).  It introduced the melody that runs throughout the disc (in various permutations).  After the first few lines, an 8-bit synth line comes in, making it seem like it’s a typical video game soundtrack.  But this is just the intro–and it lasts for just under 90 seconds.  But when “Katamari on the Rock” opens, with some weird glitchy sounds and drums, you have no idea what you’re in for.  Soon, the music turns The music is jazzy and boppy with a kind of Esquivelish “wha??” feeling.  There’s singing, there’s big flourishes and little comments (yea!) and it just sounds fantastic.  I can’t even imagine how this works in the game.

“The Moon and the Prince” is also glitchy sounding, but with some fun spoken (Japanese?) words and a fun beat.  There’s also tracks called “Katamari Mambo” and “Last Samba” showing a vast diversity in musical styles.  And, this being a (Japanese) video game, there’s also some really weird things like the 3 minute “You Are Smart” which is just a synthetic robot saying the title words over and over on top of an electronic riff.  Or “Katamari March Damacy” which sounds like a Wendy Carlos synth song with electronic voices.  Or “Wanda Wanda” which is mostly people saying Wandubadubaduba over and over with some really weird and cool synth music accompanying it.  And yet “A Crimson Rose and a Gin Tonic” opens with the drums of a classic jazz song (the one that Woody Allen uses all the time) and even seems to reference “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”  The Japanese female singer could be singing in Japanese or just scatting, but it doesn’t matter because it sounds great.

There’s even a pretty love song (sung in English) called “Que Sera Sera (not that song, no).  I saw someone on a forum say that he wanted to play it at his upcoming wedding (wonder how that worked out).  It opens with a pretty piano melody and some nonsense syllables before the lyrics come in:

I know you love me
I wanna wad you up into my life
Let’s roll up to be a single star in the sky

I hear you calling me
I wanna wad you up into my life
Let’s lump up to make a single star in the sky
To you, to you

The fact that on different tracks, the singers sing in both Japanese and highly accented English adds an incredible quirkiness to the mix.  As does “Cherry Blossom Color Season” which is sung by children.  The penultimate song “Katamari Love” song is probably a cheesy pop metal song but since it’s sung in Japanese (which means I don’t have to know what the lyrics are) and has a total ROCK STAR feel, I love it.

It’s a fascinating soundtrack, one that was not intended to be listened to with out the game (I assume) and yet one which works quite well on its own.  And opens up some interesting cultural mash ups.

[READ: February 11, 2015] 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth

This weekend is all about old(ish) books of things compiled from the internet which you can already find for free online.

I love The Oatmeal.  Or, as I found out when reading this book, I love the Oatmeal when people send me their favorite jokes.  Because The Oatmeal has some simply outstanding jokes, but there are a lot of jokes in this book that I thought were just okay–not as hilarious as his best stuff.  Which makes me a judgmental jerk, and I acknowledge that.  But the titular joke about punching dolphins is so poor compared to the rest that aside from the shock value, I can’t imagine why it would be chosen for the title.

The best The Oatmeal jokes are linguistic and/or angry.  But there is a whole side category of surprising informative cartoons about various subjects: beer, coffee, cheese (disgusting and true) and many other subjects. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GEORGES BIZET-Overture/Habanera (1874), Nocturne in D major (1867).

Bizet is best known (to me anyway) as the creator of Carmen.  And the Overture is utterly recognizable while “Habanera” is probably one of  the more recognizable vocal operas (you know it).  But Bast and co. seem to known Bizet from his piano work, which I didn’t know at all.

I chose “Nocturne in D major” at random.  It’s very pretty, but nowhere near as memorable as say “Habanera.”

I don’t play piano and I’m not a huge classical music fan (although I do know many composers).  Listening to this piece anyhow, I find it hard to understand how people could recognize Bizet in Bast’s work.  Obviously there are dozens of other pieces that may be more representative of a signature sound, but this just sounds like a beautiful (and not overly challenging like Chopin) piano piece to me.  It’s also true that this piano piece was written ten years before Carmen, and maybe they are thinking of the music of Carmen as recognizably Bizet (can you even play Carmen on the piano?).

I forgot how much I enjoy this opera though, (or at least the highlights).

[READ: Week of July 30, 2012] JR Week 7

I enjoyed this week’s read very much.  It had some real emotional scenes–and a scene that stayed with just the same two people for a long time.  It was also interesting to see Gaddis handle sex–in his own detached mechanical way.  And I liked starting to see the pieces (Davidoff, the Waldorf) start falling into place (as they may also be falling apart).

But before we get to that we must look at a doctored photo.  The photo from Mrs Joubert’s class’ interaction with the folks at Diamond Cable has come back and they have added black to the class.  Mr Hyde notices immediately  that his son (“tell by his haircut” (461)) has been darkened, “Blackface in every one of them.”  “Looks like he’s about ready to get down on one knee and sing Mammy” (461).  While Hyde is outraged, the rest of the room is complementing Whiteback and the company for promoting racial diversity.  It’s even suggested that this will help the Major’s image on the other side of town.   Of course underneath all of this is some festering racism: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKBABE THE BLUE OX-“Basketball” (1998).

This was the first song I’d ever heard from Babe the Blue Ox, and I was hooked (sadly, The Way We Were, where this song is from was their last album).  This is also my favorite songs about sports (and it will never be played in an arena).

It opens with this great funky keyboard over a cool walking bass line.  And after a verse about playing basketball, we get the gorgeous bridge: “pass it to me, I am free, look there’s no one guarding me) sung by one of the women in the band (who sounds vaguely like Edie Brickell).  When the chorus kicks in “And when she gives it to me, I am as high as can be” both singers harmonize wonderfully.

There’s even a cool instrumental break.

Everything about this song is catchy and wonderful.  And it should have been huge.

[READ: December 21, 2011] Grantland

McSweeney’s seems to keep trying to push me away.  Or maybe they are just trying to push me out of my comfort zone.  First they publish Lucky Peach, a magazine about cooking (with recipes that contain ingredients that I couldn’t find anywhere).  I don’t read cooking magazines, but I loved this one.  Now they publish Grantland, a book about sports.  I don’t follow sports.  At all.  I used to play sports and I used to watch sports, and then when I got out of college, I did neither.  I have a very good knowledge of most sports (so I can still follow any game that’s on), but as for actual people playing the games right now–I’m ignorant.  So, why on earth would I want to read this book about sports?

I was pretty sure I would finally not be getting this book until I read the author list: Chuck Klosterman, Colson Whitehead (!), Malcolm Gladwell (?)  I knew this was going to be no ordinary sports book.

So it turns out (and I didn’t know this until just now) that the book is a collection of works from the website Grantland, which is created and run by Bill Simmons.  I haven’t explored the site but it sure looks interesting enough–longish articles about sports and culture and all kinds of interesting things.  And evidently this issue is a sort of best of the website.  The whole Grantland experience, including this book, are connected to ESPN, indeed, ESPN gets a copyright for the book, McSweeney’s is just the publisher.

And this volume was wonderful.  I couldn’t put it down.  I even wound up putting aside a book I was in the middle of to read it.  None of the articles are terribly long and, despite the basketball textured cover (which is very cool–no one can walk by and not touch it) the variety of sports covered is wonderful: from boxing to cricket!  And there are short stories and essays about the entertainment industry as well (articles on Shia LeBeouf and Amy Winehouse (!)).

If I had one complaint about the book it’s that many of the articles don’t give a time from when they were written.  I assume they are all fairly recent but since I don’t follow sports I can’t say for sure.  The other problem is that several of the stories end with a game/match unresolved.  Clearly they have been resolved since then, but even one line saying what happened would be comforting for those of us not glued to ESPN. (more…)

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