Thursday, April 29, 2004

It never ceases to amaze me how much junk e-mail I get. Even more amazing are the names people make up (or steal) in order to disguise themselves.

I've even received junk mail from myself. I have no idea how they do that...

anyway, today I got a "viagra"-style pill ad in my e-mail from Milla Jovovich. I had no idea she cared...

Monday, April 26, 2004

A friend of mine turned me on to the feed for Air America, the national liberal talk radio station. I'd like to say I'm impressed, but what little I've heard so far seems to do for democrats what regular talk radio does for Republicans: it makes them sound like a bunch of radical conspiracy theorists.

Why is there no station anywhere that looks at both sides and gives a reasoned, logical, middle explanation of things which would probably be closer to what's REALLY going on?

I will keep listening. I haven't heard Al Franken's show yet. I hope it's good. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Everybody in music is into re-mixes these days. "DJ Blogger Remix." "I Let My Dog Do It Remix." "Fucked Up the Overdub But It Still Sounds OK Remix."

I guess that's fine, but what gets me is that the music industry seems to treat this phenomena like it's something new. Clearly it isn't.

Consider, for example, "Let It Be...Naked," the Paul McCartney-supervised remix of what was probably the Beatles' most mediocre accomplishment. Personally, I like the results, but I'm apparently in the minority.

If you haven't heard it, "Naked" takes out all of the production values that Phil Spector added ("Wall of Sound" production, strings, etc. -- Ringo Starr cleverly called it "Ex-Spectorated") and lets you hear what the Beatles heard. In some cases, there's not much difference, but in quite a few places, the difference is stunning, and Billy Preston has every right to file for "Official Fifth Beatle" status, should there ever be any argument to that end. In a lot of ways, "Naked" is Preston's shining moment with the Beatles; he's all over the thing, and if you like his soulful organ playing, as I do, this one's for you.

It's not like the Beatles were the only ones re-mixing their songs, either now or back then. Frank Zappa did it constantly, for better or worse.

And tell me something: How many versions of "Help Me Rhonda" by the Beach Boys are there? I can think there's two or three: There's the "Hit version" one, where you hear Brian Wilson singing really high in the chorus: "Help MEEEEEE Rhonda yeah!" But then, there's another one I hear on oldies radio a lot, with a different guitar solo in the break, and the same part above is sung by Al Jardine and Mike Love, and it's more mid-range, they're singing the same notes, more rhytmically, rather than harmonizing: "Help-Me-Rhon-da-Yeah!"

And then, there's the "Fade-in, fade-out" version, which is different than the single version. On the single, it fades with the same notes you hear at the beginning of the song, playing underneath the first lines. On the radio, you're just as likely to hear this preposterous mix where Brian Wilson had the guys sing the chorus over and over, and you get to hear them fade in, fade out, fadebackinreallyfast, drift out, come back, SHEESH, just get it over with! That version (or some version) also has a part in the chorus after the last verse where the guys sing "Get her out of my heart," then the band does this bizarre BUHHH-Dumm, (Boom boom) "Bow Bow Bow Bow" into the reprise.

Look, call me a purist but somebody's gotta decide which version is gonna be the definitive one that people will be playing in another 40 years (and I'm sure they will be; goofy as the song is, it's catchy).

I say go with the version that made the money in the first place. That's why people know it.

By the way, regardless of which version you choose, you gotta admit that "Since she put me down, I've been out doin' in my head" is the greatest metaphor for getting drunk or stoned that anyone's ever come up with, which just reinforces Brian Wilson's genius credentials. (Even though humorist Dave Barry thinks they're singing "Since she put me down, there've been owls living in my head.")

But wait...I'm not done.

Three Dog Night. Okay, not the greatest band of the 70s, to be sure, but they knew good songwriting when they heard it and had a shitload of hit records. Who, in their great programming mind, decided that alternate mixes were needed to play on oldies radio as opposed to the versions of their songs we remember from 35+ years ago?

Case in point #1: "One," the Harry Nilsson song that was 3DN's first hit. Now, when I was 11 and spent my hard-earned 69 cents on that single, it FADED OUT. As opposed to the album version, which ends with a rather anemic and predicatable "Ba-doom, bum-bum-bum BUMMMMM..."

Which version gets played on the radio now? The Album cut. Why?

Case in point#2: "Joy to the World." Call your local oldies station. Ask them to play this song. Listen to the musical break in the middle and then, if something sounds amiss, call the station back and say, "WHERE'S THE FUCKING GUITAR SOLO????"

Every time I hear "Joy to the World" on the radio, they play this bizarre mix (was it this way on the album?) where the musical break comes on, and the only ballsy part of the song, the guitar solo, is missing. Just the backing track is there. My whistling the missing part is hardly a replacement.

I guess my point to all this is to know when to leave well enough alone. And when you have to re-mix something, make sure it's something people will want to hear, and a version that stands on its own.

Rest assured I will NEVER re-mix any of my own songs!


(If you like different kinds of
might be a kind you want to listen to.)

Monday, April 19, 2004

The CEO of McDonald's died of a heart attack over the weekend.

What's the word I'm looking for here--irony?

Friday, April 16, 2004

I've never been much of a believer in psychic phenomena. Even though some weird events have happened to me that I've never been able to explain. (Ask me about my John Lennon story sometime.)

For example, I never put a lot of faith in the idea that twins, just because they're born at the same time, have the benefit of "psychic connection" about them.

I know, you hear stories about twins who are separated at birth and find each other years later, only to find out that they got the same things for their birthdays, and both became dental hygienists and stuff like that. But any intentionally "psychic" connection is still out there to be proved.

However, twins can be really weird.

Back when I was a horny teenager in Wisconsin, I went to school with a pair of twin girls. All attempts to attach myself to either in a romantic sense resulted in enough material for a sitcom, but they were rather intriguing people and I never forgot them.

Neither, apparently, have quite a few of the people from that time of my life who I've bumped into over the years. They all want to know if I have any idea what happened to T&N, who I will keep anonymous because if you're reading this and you know who I'm talking about, then I don't have to tell you.

Anyway, I had no idea at all about what happened to them until awhile ago when I discovered a link to their younger brother, who's a lawyer in Texas.

He told me that they both lived in Texas as well, where they both married accountants.

Both accountants are named Dave.

Both Daves are from Milwaukee.

Both Daves are five years older than the girls.

Now, I don't know how these people met each other. Maybe one Dave knew the other Dave, and set up one of the twins with a blind date. Maybe they met while buying kumquats. Who knows or cares? The point is, that's a pretty bizarre set of circumstances, especially if this stuff just played out without intervention from one side or another -- a completely unpredictable occurrence.

In other words, coincidence.

Yeah, that's what it is.

(By the way, the twins in this case were not identical; they were easy to tell apart, and their brother told me that they got into different lines of work. So the similarities end there.)

I read a Heinlein story once about a pair of telepathic twins. In the book, Scientists have perfected speed-of-light travel; one of the twins agrees to be shot into space to see how far he can go and still communicate with his brother. Answer: really, really far. And, for a really, really long time. Maybe someday we'll get a real answer on whether twins can "communicate," per se. But I'll hang my hat on coincidence for now.

Note to T&N if you ever read this: get in touch with somebody! Everybody from Brookfield Central wonders where the hell you are and how you're doing.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

If I had my own TV station, KTOM, it would be the finest TV station ever. It would show nothing but GOOD televsion.

What do I mean by GOOD television?

Stuff I like, of course.

Which means it would be mostly music.

My fantasy station would show:

Reruns of:
Soundstage, a music program that ran on PBS in the 70s;
Early shows from Austin City Limits; same era as above;
Night Music/Sunday Night, the two-season music program from '89-90;
The Johnny Cash Show, especially the shows with people like Dylan, etc. in it.
Ed Sullivan reruns.

Also, all movies would be uncut. All movies would be good, or really really bad, so bad they're good.

I would also go out and find "Alice in Wonderland, or What's a nice kid like you doing in a place like this," a Hanna-Barbera production from the mid-60s that featured Sammy Davis Jr. as the Cheshire cat.

I would show Marx Brothers movies whenever possible.

I would have my own music show where I brought my friends on and forced America to listen to them.

Investors? Anyone?


Monday, April 12, 2004

Phil Mickelson won the Masters golf tournament yesterday.

Further proof that that Apocalypse is upon us.

Not that I begrudge him -- I mean, for god's sake, it took him eons to win his first major tournament. Always the bridesmaid, as it were.

But that's what I LIKED about Mickelson. He made us all comfortable with doing okay. What's the big deal about winning when you're still pulling in a comfortable living?

But now he's a champion and we need to find a new hopeless underdog to pull for.

Judging by the way the Mariners, the Yankees and the Diamondbacks have been playing during the first week of the baseball season, I think we have a few possibilities out there.

I am taking an evil satisfaction in watching the Yankees struggle. Steinbrenner buys his "ultimate team," only to discover they can't play together. And while the structure teeters, he signs manager Joe Torre to an extension for three years, which means that if he fires Torre in a fit of pique (oh, he wouldn't do THAT, would he?), he's stuck paying the guy millions. Maybe the Yankees should be the next thing Donald Trump takes on on that stupid TV show of his. What's that show called, "You're Fired," or something like that?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I saw an interesting news headline on AOL this morning:

"Muslim Holy Man calls for more revolts"

I'm sorry, but the minute you tell your followers to go out and kill, you stop being a holy Muslim cleric and you immediately become a dick in a hat.

While it's definitely the fun thing to do to support President Stupid, I don't. I don't support the so-called "war effort" (interesting--I heard a senator use the phrase 'it's been more than a year since we declared war' -- do YOU remember ANYBODY declaring war on Iraq?), I think (like most people) that we're going after the wrong people, I think we're totally screwing up relations with middle-eastern countries for at least the next 10-20 years by doing this, and I think we're wasting an incredible amount of money forcing Mom and Apple Pie down the throats of a people who'd rather cut their throats than eat apple pie, which as you know comes in a crust, which is made with lard, which comes from pigs, which they're not allowed to eat anyway.

I don't support having a president who clearly doesn't have an original idea in his head. I have the sincere belief that when he was here a couple of months ago and had dinner at the Tee Pee Tap Room with Jerry Colangelo, he probably had to have the concept of a taco explained to him.

I don't support a VP who maintains connections with his old job by giving that company all the contracts for the "new" Iraq.

What I do support is a new way of picking presidents: A lottery. Everybody puts their name in a hat. Whoever gets chosen has to do it for four years. Couldn't be any worse than the people we have in there now.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Last night my wife and I watched an epsisode of a cable-TV reality show called "Can You Be A Porn Star?" I watched this out of a combination of boredom and prurient interest. By the time it was over, I was even more bored and hardly aroused by what I saw.

This episode, which apparently was episode 7, showed the remaining finalists (grand prize: you get to star in a porno movie and you win 100 grand, which if you know anything about the porn industry would make you the highest-paid porn star in the world, probably) engaging in such non-porno activities as bashing a penis-shaped pinata, while a panel of judges from the porn industry watched. For what reason there were judges to watch a pinata contest was never explained.

There was also an intriguing (NOT) scene where all the girls received an easter basket full of sexual goodies, none of which they actually used or even bothered to unwrap.

For the life of me, I don't understand how any of these things makes someone right for becoming a porn star.

You DO get to see one finalist "act" in a porno scene, and then engage in the most R-rated porno I've ever seen. (Notice I said R-rated. I don't even think it qualifies as porn. In fact, if we were in any other country this would probably air on commercial T V in the afternoon.)

On top of all this, and here's where Mr. 25-years-in-advertising-and-production gets on his high horse, the production values here are worse than the worst porno movie I've ever seen. It's a three-camera shoot, using three cameras whose white balances have been set to different values, so every time one camera cuts to another, all the tones change on your screen. After a while it's sickening.

And the sound -- don't get me started. 75% of the show sounds as if the speakers were bei ng picked up by a mic in another room.

Anyway, after about 25 minutes of derisively ridiculing this show in unison, Janice (my wife) finally drifted off to sleep, leaving me to see if I could make it through to the end of the show. It ended with the thr ee professional porn people critiquing the R-rated porno scene and agreeing that the girl may have something there.

All I can say is thank God this wasn't called "Can You Be a Porn Producer?" because this piece of dreck doesn't even qualify as good TV, m uc h less libido inducing entertainment.ss

Friday, April 02, 2004

I could never be a biker.

I'm in a Mexican restaurant last night (Arriba -- try the Chicken Chimayo), and sitting at a table behind me are a bunch of bikers and their ladies. They were loud enough that I could frequently hear what they were saying, and since they were having a good time, I got an idea of what constitutes "biker humor."

Anonymous Biker 1: If I was on that "Surivivor" show, they'd have to call it "No Survivors," 'cause I'd bring my gun! First sumbitch says, 'Oh, I forgot my deodorant!' BAM! Die, stupid!"

Raucous laughter from the other bikers.

Okay, first of all, Biker 1's comments just go to show how freakin' stupid people are if they honestly think, even in jest, that you would be chosen for a show like "Survivor" if your primary supply that you would bring with you is a gun. What a dumbshit.

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