Hollywood and the Decemberists

Filed under: a group of folks,music @ 14:53

The Decemberists were playing at the Hollywood Bowl on July 7th (several weeks ago), and Michelle and I got cheap tickets.

They put on a really good show. Very engaging and energetic. I also really dug Andrew Bird and his Leslie-like cartoony speaker setup. His live performance, though, was head and shoulders better than his Armchair Apocrypha album I got off of iTunes after the concert.

The crazy part of the evening, however, was meeting Morena Baccarin.

Wait, what? Yeah, she was at the Hollywood bowl and, after a double take, I asked for a picture. She was super nice and graciously agreed. It was my first opportunity to interact with a celebrity in LA despite all the small world stories you hear from here and my living in the area for the past four years.


The best songs are the sad songs

Filed under: a group of folks,music,slice,useless @ 14:35

I had a debate with Michelle the other day that started with me making the statement above. My argument was that artists are going to spend a long time composing and brooding over a work of sadness because they have nothing better to do; they’re sad. A happy song, however, will be written quickly; the artist has better things to be getting on with.

Now, I know there will be many who disagree with this assessment (or the conclusion), so allow me to seal the deal by offering up a concrete example grounded in objectivity that will surely convince even the most fervorous of dissenters: Elliott Smith v. The Village People.

As long as nobody brings up Belle and Sebastian, I think we’ve got that all settled.


Death Cab and Spoon at the Greek

Filed under: a group of folks,music @ 10:32

Depending on whether or not someone else grabs it first, I may have an extra ticket for the Death Can for Cutie and Spoon concert tonight at the Greek Theatre.

Get in touch with… Greg or Ellen or Paul.za if you want it (or me by phone); I’m at the beach today.


Black Eyed Peas – My Humps

Filed under: a group of folks,music,news @ 16:43

Jeff recently lent me Monkey Business by Black Eyed Peas, and I’ve been listening to it on and off over the past few days.

It’s good. There’s several tracks that have, in the immutable words of our generation, huge, catchy hooks. “Pump It”, “Don’t Phunk with My Heart” and “My Style” among them. A couple are pretty sweet remixes of old classics including “Union” (of Sting’s “Englishman in New York”), and “Pump it” again (of Dick Dale’s “Miserlou”). And one track’s just plain fantastic: “Don’t Lie”. Though a couple lines are overly steeped in poppy vocals, the song manages to make it despite.

But the quality of the album as a whole is not what I wanted to comment on today. Rather, I’m more interested in dissecting the lyrics of one song in particular: “My Humps”, a fair to middlingly catchy song about a… shall we say ‘curvaceous’ hot girl. Allow me to reproduce a stanza of the lyrics here.

Tryna feel my hump hump,
lookin at my lump lump.
You can look but you can’t
touch it. If you touch it, I’ma
start some drama.
You don’t want no drama.
No no drama.
No no no no drama.

Consider those last two lines in particular: “No no drama. / No no no no drama.”

That’s one of the worst lyrics I have ever had the misfortune of hearing. I think I can honestly feel a little rivulet of blood pouring from my ears every time I hear that song. What was the songwriter thinking? “Uh… Something that rhymes with ‘drama’. How about ‘drama’? Yeah, that”ll do. And for the next line I’ll use… meh… ‘drama’ again. And for the forth… screw it. Slap another ‘drama’ in there, throw in a few ‘no’s for rhythm’s sake and call it good.”

Well, allow me to retort. You’re a no talent ass-clown. That’s right: no no talent. No no no no talent. And for this reason, I proclaim “My Humps” by Black Eyed Peas a work of sheer Musical Genius.


The great renumbering

Filed under: music,useless @ 00:41

Everything has changed. 2+2=5 is now 4. One is three, and so is 12-51.

You guessed it, all of the songs to which I’ve given a ‘my rating’ in iTunes have been incremented up a notch (BAM!).

When I started rating songs, the ones I really loved I’d give only four out of five stars. I mean… five stars. That’s a big commitment. I just didn’t think I was at a place in my life where I could be starting a five star relationship with a song. What if I had to demote it later? From four to three isn’t so harsh, but five to four? Man, that’d be heart wrenching for the both of us. And could I get out of the relationship what I needed? Put into it what it deserved? My life’s been pretty unstable of late. Would it be fair to ask a song to be a part of that?

Too, I didn’t want to think I was settling. What if there were a better song out there? Could I really give a song I was only pretty sure I liked a full five stars knowing that any day a deep, mind shaking, lung grabbing, hot new track might bump into me from around the corner and rock my world enough to lay claim on me forever? ‘Nothing’s perfect’ necessarily implies there’s always room for something better at the top. I couldn’t ignore the possibility of finding that something better. So four stars it was.

No longer. You’re looking at a new man (supposing you happen to be looking at me while you read this: a tricky feat – and a little creepy). Gone are the days of devaluing a song simply because there might be something better. I finally realized that every one of the excuses I was giving those songs all boiled down to me blowing smoke up their (respective) asses. Now I play straight. You’re a five star song? You get five stars. You’re a four star song? I’m not going to tease you into thinking you might be worth five; I’ll give you four, I’ll mean it, and we’ll both just have to deal with it.

And just because I’ve now recently given out a few, don’t think five stars is easy. I’ve still got high standards. You’ve got to be able to compete with the likes of Debra. Or her sister. I think her name is Frontin’ On Debra (DJ Reset Mash-Up).


iTunes has it in for me

Filed under: music,news @ 20:25

Not a week and a half ago, I commited a bit of iTMS stupidity. To add insult to injury, the iTunes free download of the week this week is a song I purchased (for money) nearly two months ago: “I Predict a Riot” by Kaiser Chiefs. While it’s nice to think of myself as ahead of my times (actually, I prefer “prognosticator of musical import”), I’d rather be cheap.

It’s a good song, though. Get it while it’s free.


Damn you Bryan Adams

Filed under: a group of folks,music,slice @ 16:50

I’ve always hated Bryan Adams’ music. “Everything I Do”, “This Side of Paradise”, and (I loathe writing it down) “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman”, suck. I tried to think of a more diplomatic way to put it, or even something a bit more intellectual and substantive. But “sucks” is really the best way to express the way in which I detest his music.

Dixie informed me today that “Summer of ’69” is a Bryan Adams song. Man that’s an awesome song; I always thought it was Bon Jovi.

I honestly don’t know how to move forward in my life knowing what I do now. Bryan Adams, the putrescent archon of pappy crap, wrote “Summer of ’69”, a mid-eighties musical and lyrical work of genius.

My entire world has collapsed.


Man, I’m Dumb

Filed under: music,news @ 16:17


I just bought a song off iTunes. A song I already had. That’s ninety-nine cents (three tacos minus tax) down the drain. All for a stupid Jimmy Eat Flippin’ World song.

Why they hell didn’t I bother to search my library before buying, you ask? Because what kind of douche bag owns “Sweetness”? I mean, it’s hella catchy, and the subject’s fair, but, let’s be honest, it’s a little repetitive.

Well now it’s even more repetitive, since I have two copies. I’m listening to them back to back now.



The sacrifices these kids make

Filed under: music,neat! @ 18:51

I got an email today from one of my students. The subject: “PLAYBOY MANSION”. I thought at first he had a virus, but no – read on. Quoting from personal correspondence in a public arena is a heinous offense punishable by duodenal excision, but I’m making an exception this time. And I’m sure the original sender won’t mind in the slightest.

Dear all powerful and sympathetic TA,

Do you like jazz? I know you like playboy bunnies. The playboy jazz festival is coming up and they’re having opening festivities this Wednesday. I also got a call from a friend who’s looking for a drummer to play Wednesday afternoon AT THE FLIPPING PLAYBOY MANSION (I put that in caps because I’m excited and I’m a drummer too!). Please, I beg you, let me escape the bubble we float around in each day that we call Caltech. Let me break free from time constants and propagation of errors so I can jam out and hopefully get tangent to some (HOT) curves (you know what I’m talking about). In fact, you can come along too if you want! Please, my good man, if you have any sympathy for a poor, hard-working, stressed student, you won’t make me pass up a trip to the playboy mansion for physics lab!

John “I’ll take pictures!” Doe

Sweet merciful crap.

Good GOD man, by all means go forth and multiply.

Enjoy (and take your camera),

Say what you will about Caltech (I know I will), but this never happened at Rochester.


A Question

Filed under: music @ 23:33

For any out there with a Celtic connection, or with some knowledge of music and history, what does Waltzing Matilda have to do with traditional celtic music?

Dad has a CD titled “Celtic Carols”. One of the titularly referenced carols is, indeed, Waltzing Matilda. And, as a side note, there’s the Pogues.

Is it a celtic tune better known to Americans by it’s Australian lyrics?

Or is the CD produced by a bunch of crackheads?

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