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Archive for the ‘South Park’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SOUTH PARK-Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics (1999).

When this came out in 1999, I was a huge South Park fan and I didn’t celebrate Christmas very much.  So this was a wonderful anti-Christmas celebration.

Now, 19 years later (holy cow), this album is a fun holiday treat–one that can’t be played in front of the kids.  So it has become an adult-only holiday treat when S. and I are driving.  Most of the songs are still hilariously offensive and hold up really well.

“Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo” by Cowboy Timmy is an intro, nothing special.  But things pick up hugely with song two, “Merry Fucking Christmas” sung by Mr. Garrison.  Hearing it sung in his voice is hilarious and it is so profane.  Thank you, Mr. Hat.  It’s a seasonal highlight.  As is Cartman’s “O Holy Night.”  He gets all the words right in this one and he has a choir behind him.  Even 19 years later, Cartman’s voice is still funny, especially singing this beautiful song.

The next song, “Dead, Dead, Dead” by Juan Schwartz and the South Park Children’s Choir is meant to darkly comic I guess (“someday you’ll be dead”) but really it’s just kind of dull and it feels endless even though it’s barely 2 minutes long.  But Mr. Mackey picks things up with his hilarious rendition of “Carol of the Bells”  Mmmkay.

Kyle’s “The Lonely Jew on Christmas” is pretty funny “And what the f*ck is up with lighting all these f*cking candles, someone tell me please” which is made even better with the appearance of Neil Diamond!  Shelley’s “I Saw Three Ships” is a one-note joke (she has braces and can’t say the letter S).  It feels too long at a minute, although “Shut up, turds!” could become a holiday catchphrase.

I didn’t know that “It Happened in Sun Valley” (sung adorably by Stan and Wendy) was a real song.  I didn’t know why it was funny.  I still don’t know if it is funny (Stan throws up when he talks to her which is kind of funny, but doesn’t really work in a song that is largely solid and enjoyable anyhow).  We like it and just ignore the barf.  Eww.

The next little skit is so offensive as to be utterly  hilarious.  It begins with Hitler singing “O Tannenbaum” and then Satan trying to make him feel better by singing about it being “Christmas Time in Hell.”  We often wonder why the guys chose the celebrities that they did to put in hell.  Did they particularly dislike the named people or were they just trying to upset as many people as possible.

Chef only gets one song on this CD, but his hilarious take on “What Child is This” (called “What the Hell Child is This?”) is amazing.  It’s white so it cannot be mine.

The skit “Santa Claus is on His Way” sung by Mr Hankey is weird because it is taken from the episode and relies on a visual joke that doesn’t translate to the CD.  But again, Cartman is back to redeem everything with the ultimate Christmas song, an ode to Grandma and the “Swiss Colony Beef Log.”

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is, I assume a rip on Peanuts with the kids of thee “South Park Children’s Choir” all singing it (badly).

Parker and Stone showed their amazing musical genius (ultimately put on display with Book of Mormon) with “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” sung by The Broflofskis with Eric Cartman and Stan Marsh.  Basing the melody around the Dreidel song, they add four or five people singing at the same time and it sounds fantastic.  Cartman’s lyric is stunningly perfect “I have a little drediel, I made it out of clay, but I’m not gonna play with it cause dreidel’s fucking gay”) fits so perfectly rhythmically that its uncanny.  Stan’s dad’s love for Courtney Cox which you hear clearly at the end is in fact the only thing he sings throughout the song which is also genius.

“The Most Offensive Song Ever” is pretty offensive.  Perhaps it’s after 19 years of listening, but it seems more and more obvious what all of Kenny’s mumbled words are.  Mary!

I don’t understand the joke with “We Three Kings” by Mr. Ose. Is it just that he’s Chinese?  It’s less than a minute but is pretty irritating.  The disc’s closing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sung by Mr. Hankey with Stan, Kyle and Cartman is a fun ending but it only helps you realize how short the disc actually is (especially if you skip those three or four lame tracks).

Merry Christmas everyone.  When you’re old enough.

[READ: December 2, 2018] “Sunflowers”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

I typically dislike war stories.  They’re probably great for soldiers, but not for me.  Both because I think war is awful and because soldier stories are usually all the same: lots of boredom (for them) and then something horrible happens. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHEF-Chocolate Salty Balls (single) (1998).

This single itself is not a Christmas song (obviously).  But “Chocolate Salty Balls” is really catchy (with great organ) and is pretty funny.

The Christmas songs are the other two that are included with the disc.

They both come from South Park commercials or interstitials or something that was aired on TV back in the heyday.

The third (and weaker) song is Ned Gerblansky and Uncle Jimbo singing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.”  Ned is using his “cancer kazoo” to drone his way through the song.  It’s kind of funny.  But the real joke is that his batteries die and the whole song is less than a minute long.

The real treat is Cartman singing “O Holy Night.”  There is a second version that comes on the South Park Christmas album and it is also wonderful.  I have a hard time choosing which one of these I like more because that one is done well (but is still funny) and even has backing singers..  In this one, Kyle is given a cattle prod and is allowed to shock Cartman every time he messes up.  Which he does a lot.  Like, “Jesus was born and so we give presents, thank you Jesus for being born.”  This leads to a lot of cursing and screaming and a hilarious moment where he sings a beautiful operatic “divine.”  “Damn, Cartman.”

It cracks me up every time.

[READ: December 4, 2018] “Counselling”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This story is about a woman making questionable decisions. (more…)

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nov3SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-Antipop (1999).

This wasantipop the final album that Primus made before going on hiatus (ostensibly breaking up, but they did reunite a few years later).  I have distinct memories of buying this album and listening to it on the way home in the car.  I remember liking the songs but having the very distinct feeling that it didn’t really sound anything like Primus.  And that is still the case.

This album has a whole mess of guest producers and guitarists and critics seem to think that every song feels very different.  But I disagree.  It feels like a very heavy Les Claypool solo project.

About the album Claypool has said: “Antipop was the most difficult record we ever made, because there was a lot of tension between the three of us, and there was some doubt at the label as to whether we knew what the hell we were doing anymore… Primus sort of imploded.”  In the Primus book, Larry says that a few times he wondered why he was even there since there were so many other guitarists.  I noted that even though there were other guitarists, there were no extra bassists or drummers present, which is kind of shitty.

Producers include Fred Durst (!), Jim Martin (from Faith No More), Stewart Copeland (!), Matt Stone (!) and Tom Morello (from Rage Against the Machine) and Tom Waits.

Tom Morello features quite prominently on the disc, producing and playing on 3 tracks.  And on the songs he’s on, I feel like you can’t even hear Larry (if he’s on them at all).  Morello gets co-writing credit on the songs too, and they feel more like Rage songs than Primus songs–they are very heavy and very metal.  “Electric Uncle Sam” is certainly catchy and rocking.  I rather like it although it feels far more Morello than Claypool.  “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool” also sounds quite Rage like to me.  There’s certainly Primus elements, but it feels very conventional–it’s again very aggressive with no sign or Ler.  “Power Mad” is Morello’s third song. It’s the least interesting song on the disc.

Matt Stone from South Park produced “Natural Joe.”  It feels quite like Primus–a bit heavier, perhaps tahn usual and with that now ever present slap bass.  The “son of a bitch-a” line seems like it might have had a Matt Stone influence.

Fred Durst produced “Lacquer Head” the album’s only single.  It is really catchy.  Durst says it was his idea for Primus to get more heavy (like in the old days) but this is much heavier than anything they had done.  I have to think that the “Keep on sniffing” section was Durst-influenced as it sounds kind of rap-metally.

“Dirty Drowning Man” was produced by Stewart Copeland and features Martina Topley-Bird on backing vocals.  The opening sounds very Primus, but the chorus is very conventional.  Martina barely registers on backing vocals, which is a shame.

Songs credited to just Primus are “The Antipop” which is also quite heavy and strangely catchy given the sentiments.  Perhaps the most unusual track on the disc is the 8 minute “Eclectic Electric” which has three parts.  The first is slow and quieter with a catchy/creepy verse.  Part 2 is much heavier, while Part 3 revisits part 1.  I do rather like it.  James Hetfield plays on it although I can’t tell where.  “Greet the Sacred Cow” has a funk bass part and a real Primus vibe.  It’s a quite a good song.  “The Ballad of Bodacious” seems like a Primus cover band from music to concept.  The final song they did was “The Final Voyage of the Liquid Sky.”  I love the crazy watery bass that opens the song.  The verses also have a real Primus feel.  And those choruses are unreasonably catchy.

The final song was produced by Tom Waits.  It doesn’t sound like Primus at all. Rather, it sounds like a big ol’ sea shanty  A perfect Tom Waits-ian song.  And it’s a really good song too.  You can definitely feel the Primus vibe though, even if it doesn’t really sound like a Primus song exactly.

There’s a bonus track, which is a cover of their song “The Heckler” from Suck on This.  This version is good (although not quite as good as the original version).  But it shows how far removed the new stuff is from their earliest recordings.  This also means that “Jellikit” is the only song from Suck that has not been played on another record.

So while I can see that many fans of Primus would hate this album, fans of heavy rock from the era should certainly check it out.  Les’ voice is heavier, more metal, and the guitars are pretty conventional.  And I still think there are some good songs here.

[READ: January 16, 2015] “The Empties”

This story is set after the end times (which happened in August 2015).  I enjoyed that in the story two characters argue over whether they are living in dystopian or postapocalyptic time.  The one guy argues that “dystopia means an imaginary place where everything’s exactly wrong and what we’re living in is a postapocalyptic prelapsarian kind of thing.”  Our narrator says they are both wrong because those two words pertain to stories and this is real life.

It has been two years since E.T. (End Times).  Very few people still bother to charge anything on the extant towers.  And most of the weak died in the first winter.  Our survivors are in Vermont which has brutal winters but also have wood burning stoves which she imagines many city folk do not have.

Our narrator has been writing in a journal that she received B.E.T. (Before End Times) and then one day she decides to go to the library (the only building still with a lock) to see if she can use the type writer to write a history of their lives since E.T. began.   The “librarian” is heavily armed and is frisking everyone who leaves–books are valuable commodity.  She says they don’t have any paper but that she is welcome to use the reverse side of her own novel (Shroud of the Hills by Matilda Barnstone copyright 2003) which she sent out to many places but never got a response. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-“Mephisto & Kevin” (1998).

chef aid oct27On the South Park Chef Aid album, Primus played this song.  It’s not one of their best, but it’s a fun little number.  The bass is interesting and once the chorus comes along, there are some great guitar sections.

The lyrics are a childish thing about Michael Jackson’s semen–and I don’t think they have anything to do with these two characters directly.

It is of course fun that Isaac Hayes sings the chorus (which has to have been kind of cool).  And the music in the pre-chorus is heavy and interesting.

Apparently, that’s Trey Parker singing at the very end.

[READ: January 16, 2015] “Alan Bean Plus Four”

Yes, THAT Tom Hanks.

Who knows what to expect from an actor, especially one whom you’ve never heard of writing a story before.  And who knows even more what to think when the story is as strangely written as this one.  Well, not strangely written… it’s pretty normally written. But the content is quite unexpected.

The story is about a four people who build a rocket and fly it around the moon and back.

What is strange about the way it is written is that there is never any doubt from anyone that it will work or questions about how it will work.  Even though some of the things they discuss are preposterous, it will still work and does still work. So it seems like the narrator is crazy, and yet we are not given that information.

It begins with the premise that if you could throw a hammer with enough muscle, it would sail around the moon and return to earth like a boomerang.  Of course Anna points out that a hammer would melt upon reentry, so why not just make a shuttle and they could all fly round the moon.  They could succeed where the Russians failed.  And so they set out to build one and sail it on the anniversary of when Apollo 12 landed in the Ocean of Storms (forgotten by 99.999 per cent of the people on Earth). (more…)

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nyoct20 SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-“South Park” Theme Song (1997).

In 1997, Trey Parker and Matt Stone asked Primus to recsouthparkord a theme song for their new show South Park.  They joked that the show might not even be picked up, but whatevs–it could also be a hit.

Of course, it turns out that this show has probably made Les and the boys more money than anything else they’ve done.

Interestingly, the original song they submitted was 1 minute long (way too long for an intro) and rather slow and creepy.  Rather than have them edit it or re-record it, the South Park team just sped it up (and removed the solos, which they put at the end) and then asked Les to re-sing it.

So here is the original, rather creepy version of the theme song.

And here is the final product

[READ: January 10, 2015] “Ordinary Sins”

This is the story of Crystal.  Crystal works at a local parish as secretary.  She took the job thinking it would be temporary. Then she got pregnant unexpectedly (there’s no father around) and now she is stuck (and grateful that the church is keeping her on).

Her co-worker, Collette, totally disdains her and tries to make things unpleasant for her.  In fairness, Collette tries to make things unpleasant for everyone.

The priest at the Parish, Father Paul, is super nice and quite kind, especially to Crystal.  He seems to give her little bits of encouragement throughout the day.  He is a former alcoholic and from what Crystal can tell, he has more than made up for his sins and (since she knows everything about him, really) he seems pretty devoid of all sin at this point.

He encourages her to go to confession.  Eventually she does.  But during the confession, she confessed a bit more than she meant to, .  And since she knows he knew it was her–how could he not?–she tries to hide from him, believing that things will be weird.  And things do get weird, but they seem to be more weird because of Father Paul not what she said. (more…)

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primus bookSOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-Suck on This (1990).

primus suckThis was the disc that introduced me to Primus–it was on a beach vacation with my friends Al, Joe and Rad.  Al made this the soundtrack of the drive and, man, it was weird and crazy and super cool and by the end of that trip I was hooked.

Actually I was immediately hooked when the band opened this live disc with a rough version of Rush’s “YYZ” which then launched into “John the Fisherman.”  What do you make of this band and this weird song?  Stomping bass which is doing all of the lead stuff, with guitars that are just noises and craziness but which really work with what the bass is doing (once you listen a few times, anyway).  The drums are mammoth and very prog rock.  And then there’s Les’ voice–cartoony and unconventional–sometimes deep, sometime really silly, sounds that work perfectly with the storytelling lyrics.

The quality of this recording is pretty poor, although I find that it sounds a bit better on smaller, less “good” stereos, where Ler’s guitars don’t get lost so much in the bass.  Most of these songs have been re-recorded for later albums, so perhaps the newer versions sound cleaner to me.  [Groundhog’s Day, Frizzle Fry, John the Fisherman, Pudding Time and Harold of the Rocks on Frizzle Fry and Tommy the Cat on Sailing the Seas of Cheese].

The best songs on this disc have really catchy parts: “John the Fisherman” (most of it) or the insane fast bass and wild soloing section of “Groundhog’s Day.”  Sometimes it’s just when the noise stops and Les gets a line, like “It’s Just a Matter of Opinion” (in “The Heckler”).  Although the noise there is really catchy too–listen to what Ler is playing during the funky bass section–it’s wild and amazing.

Of course “Tommy the Cat” is a major standout from all three guys.

The only song that doesn’t really work for me is “Pressman” which seems a bit too long without a lot of resolution (although the end is pretty cool).  I often get “Jellikit” (the other song that didn’t make it to a studio album) in my head, whenever I think, Did you like it?  There’s even a drum solo from Herb the Ginseng Drummer in that song

What’s fun is that the audience is totally into it and they know most of the songs–anticipating lyrics and even singing along.  And this is where “We’re Primus and we suck.” comes from.  It was a shocking debut when it came out, and it’s still pretty unusual, although not as unusual as some of their later songs would be.

[READ: January 3, 2015] Primus

As I said above, I’ve been a fan of Primus since near the beginning of their existence.  And yet, for all of my enjoyment of them, I didn’t really know all that much about their origins.  I didn’t know that the original line up was Todd Huth and Jay Lane (guitars and drums), and that the three of them wrote the songs that appear on Suck on This and much of Frizzle Fry.  Ler had to learn these unusual parts (Ler took lessons with Joe Satriani and is much more accomplished than his lack of flashiness indicates) and did so wonderfully. I also didn’t know that Les and Kirk Hammet were in the same class in high school (and that he’s the reason Les picked up a bass in the first place, even though they never formally played together).

The book is constructed as a series of quotes from a vast assortment of people.  The “cast” is two pages long and includes current and former members of the band and management as well as fans like Trey Anastasio, Matthew Bellamy (from Muse), Geddy Lee, Chuck D, Eugene Hutz, Tom Morello, Buzz Osborne, Matt Stone, Mike Watt, Hank Williams III, guys from 24-7 Spyz, Fishbone, Limbomaniacs and even Linda Perry (!).

It opens with Les talking about his high school years.  And what’s amazing is how many people who were involved in Primus are friends from when he was a kid.  If they didn’t play together, they were involved with art or management or something.  We also get the origin story of Bob Cock, which answers many questions.

Les had formed Primate (legal dispute with the band The Primates made them become Primus) with Todd and Jay.  They toured a lot and were gaining a following, but Les was always looking for something more.  He even auditioned for Metallica after Cliff Burton died (Kirk thought it sounded great but I guess James didn’t). (more…)

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blacaxeSOUNDTRACK: HAVE YOURSELF A SULLEN LITTLE CHRISTMAS–NPR (December 19, 2013).

charliebrown_wide-ac0b12e7fc8f83eb302cc221a37ba8592ccc2e63-s40-c85NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson and Travis Larchuk hop onto Morning Edition to talk about Christmas songs that are melancholy sad and downright sullen (which is quite a lot of them, if you really listen to the words).

They talk about some new(ish) songs that are depressing  Like David Mead’s “The Smile of Rachael Ray” (which would be bad enough, but that’s just a lead in to the bummer within), Harvey Danger’s “Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas (Sometimes),” Garfunkel & Oates’ “Year End Letter” (which is quite funny) and the song “Dead, Dead, Dead” from the South Park holiday album Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics.

Of course, dark Christmas songs are nothing new.  There are plenty of dour holiday standards that originate in the 1940s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Blue Christmas”  are major downers.

When I try to compile Christmas mixes I try to leave off the bummer songs, but it’s really hard.

Stephen Thompson gives an excellent summary of the season: “Christmas is the one day a year when we’re all supposed to be happy, and so you’re hyperaware when you’re not.”  I hope everyone has a Happy Christmas this year.

[READ: December 10, 2013] Mouse Guard The Black Axe

This book features a preface by Terry Jones.  It doesn’t say a lot, but it’s worth a mention.

The Black Axe begins after the events of Winter 1152 (it is set in Spring, 1153), but the bulk of the book is a flashback to the origin story of the Black Axe.

As the book opens we learn that Lieam, one of the Mouse Guards has been missing for the last three months.  We also learn that even though the Winter was a dangerous time for the mice, the Spring proves to be equally treacherous as all of the predators are awaking from hibernation. But despite the current crises, Gwendolyn’s thoughts turn to Spring 1115 where the story of Celanawe begins.

We see Celanawe on an island building a house.  Suddenly a crow approaches.  On the crow is Em, a mouse who can communicate with the crows and who reveals that he she has been looking for him. (more…)

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