I Love You Big Dummy!: Erstwhile blogster (& AMG man about town) Andy K once again frustrates link-happy blogsters wanting to come correct with the referral love by changing his URL yet again. And it’s not a weeblog anymore! But he’s sweet and cuddly, and he shows Michel’le love, so we deal. Also, kudos to AK’s minimalistic maura.dot.com column stylee.
Lite Brite, Schmite Brite: At first, I thought sciencists were jonesing on a scatological gene-splicing tip – “And for our next trick, we will breed pigs with break away tails! And then cows with incisors! Sharks with opposable thumbs! Ha ha!” But instead, our Jr. Dr. Moreaus mixed butterfly DNA with jellyfish DNA – the process is called germ-line transformation – to aid in their research of butterfly wing patterns. In case you’d like to conduct your own pattern research, here’s a Java applet for your tessellating pleasure. (BBC News link courtesy of humanitarian Warren Ellis.)
Round & Round We Go: I received an e-mail tonight asking for the lyrics to the FOXWOODS CASINO THEME SONG, which is definitely one step above being G00gled for “how to build a car” or “sweater meat” or (ugh) “jeter swallows”. Of course, the e-mail was the result someone discovering an ILM thread (perhaps this one), not something from my own site. Conveniently enough, that thread I linked to features the lyrics, so, ROCKY7, if you’re reading, there you go! (It begs the question why someone that found a reference to the FOXWOODS CASINO THEME SONG on wee li’l ILX can’t find the lyrics on G00gle, but I’m too proud to beg.)
The song in question, of course, is “The Wonder Of It All”. Folks in the Northeaster corner of the US (and perhaps points beyond) have heard this quaint / annoying little jingle, or seen the commercial associated with it. It’s not his song – it’s the work of jinglesmith Joey Levine (“the man who invented a genre“, according to a WFMU zine interview), and Pizzarelli, known more for his traditional jazz-guitar stylings and the occasional Late Night with Conan O’Brien appearance, got the chance to sing the jingle, and, lo and behold, he and the song are inseperable. And this is 3 years after the fact, too – while big ol’ multinational conglomerates shuffle through songs like spastic card dealers (hello Volkswagen!), Foxwoods dances with what brung ’em. I guess it’s a testament to the intoxicating allure of Pizarelli’s music, as this press release describes it. The release features a quote from New York Times movie critic Stephen Holden – I’m not sure if Holden on music is equivalent to the travesties of critical thinking Matos discretely commented on at his blog recently, but it’s not too surprising to learn that Holden’s a fan of Mr. P.:
[Pizzarelli’s] music portrays the kind of joy that sneaks up on you at odd moments when you’re just walking around feeling good…
I took some liberties with the quotation, though – I’m not sure it’d be truthful to praise Pizarelli’s music, post-Foxwoods, as a music that’s “[f]ar from evoking the hedonistic highs of sex, drugs, sports and gourmet food.”
(I tried like heck to find a sex-related Foxwoods link, but Las Vegas Ledyard is not.)
The Birds, The Bees, and…?: “When prairie voles have sex, two hormones called oxytocin and vasopressin are released. If the release of these hormones is blocked, prairie-voles’ sex becomes a fleeting affair, like that normally enjoyed by their rakish montane cousins. Conversely, if prairie voles are given an injection of the hormones, but prevented from having sex, they will still form a preference for their chosen partner. In other words, researchers can make prairie voles fall in love – or whatever the vole equivalent of this is – with an injection.” And, from that, scientists are seeking to suck all the poetry and mystery out of this thing called love. Some phrases to look out for: “chemical addiction”, “job application”, “love map”, and “work on rats”. (Link via AndrewSullivan.com)
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS – “Cotton”
I’m reading this and looking at this while listening to this (and perhaps, if you’re interested, you’ll want to check this out, if you haven’t already), and I realize A) I don’t click over to here often enough (which the steadfast impermanence of the internet lets me get away with) (FOR NOW) and B) I don’t listen to the Mountain Goats well. I own a few of their records, I play them every so often, and I enjoy the hell out of them when they’re on, but they’re there much in the same way white noise or a radio at a party or crowd noise is there – totally willing to be engaged and admired, if so desired, but otherwise plenty happy to stay in the background and stay discretely busy.
I enjoy the music from a safe, admirable distance, unwilling to get too dirty in the details for (possible) fear of getting it wrong. Bullshit, yeah, but it’s not a conscious choice for me to be standoffish; it just works out that way. Admiration as respectful cowardice / fear / passive-agressive ego stroking (because I KNOW that this is beyond me, and I should be proud to recognize that)? Oh, whatever – chalk it up to my ears being distracted by what the rest of me is doing.
But this new record – it seems to WANT me to pay attention. It’s not going to let me get distracted, not going to let me politely ignore it. And “Cotton”, with the muted strumming and the piano crossing paths like cool pillow cradling tired head – it is beautiful. “Let it all go,” he sings – yeah, sure, I’d love to do that, but what? What am I letting go? What’s going on? I feel some tears wanting to poke their way out. And I’m smiling? What’s going on?
I want to let this song go, that moment of untainted inexplicable beautiful sadness, just let it go and let it diffuse into the air and float on currents passing through drywall and budding leaves and car exhaust and smokestacks, maybe to risk the chance that someone else catches it and feels that, maybe to be selfish and keep this feeling to myself knowning only I’ll feel that way, maybe to be selfless and let the song be. Just some quiet. Just some regular noise now. Something to keep me grounded, keep me from floating away.
L’IL FLIP – “Game Over”
E. Crunk (Mr. Crunk?) (mr. crunk?) took the words right out of the place I wish my words came from in regards to this track, and also added a fine l’il Flip gif to complete the ensemble; I just thought you folks should know.
Note to Flip & Co. – next time, less Pac-Man, more Contra.
You’ll have to forgive me for being in a rigidly literal frame of mind, but when I hear cab dispatcher Ben Gibbard offer this couplet to the kids of America:
‘So this is the new year / And I don’t feel any different’
‘ I want nothing more than to take him out back and plant a few Skecher insignias betwixt his pert little fanny cheeks. (See for yourself.) Yeah, New Year’s Eve can suck, but not because of the lack of life-altering epiphanies available at the bottom of a glass of champail. (Like, duh.) (Really.) Possible solutions:
1) Instead of sitting outside tossing fireworks in your shoddy dress-up duds, start dipping into the hard liquor. FYI – boxes of wine do not count as ‘hard’.
2) Try chatting up some strangers — remember, someone you don’t know is possibly (hopefully) someone that doesn’t know you, either; strike that iron, Sparky!
3) If you are actually with someone, and if that someone’s special, find an empty bedroom or bathroom (preferably one with a lock) (and windows with convenient sightlines) and do what comes naturally.
Do NOT, under any circumstances, go wandering around in the snow shoeless and jacketless, wearing a pair of your dad’s old athletic socks and some pleated pocket-happy Bugle Boy slacks, cursing to yourself in regards to your sorry self and sorry state as midnight rolls around just so you can be some rock-hard tough guy that doesn’t need stupid shit like friends and love and an old fashioned good time. Sitting in the snow in such a state is a bad idea, too. Please also note — having a beer-fueled mope on someone’s fiberglass truck cover is quite gauche. Not that I have any first-hand knowledge about this sort of thing. Cough.
Had I heard ‘The New Year’ around this time of my life (age 19) (he hopes), I imagine the song’s crashing guitars and ebbing drums would be an appropriate soundtrack to such a scene. I might have also empathized with the lyrics, most likely because I was young, stupid, and drunk on Bud Light. Now, some fifty years later, the intellectual rebellion my younger self would have ascribed to this song comes off as mealy-mouthed bombastic posturing. Mr. Gibbard must know his shit if, later on the Transatlanticism disc, he sings about ‘the sound of settling’ — if anything epitomizes the middling half-hearted shrug of that sound, it’s this album’s opening number.
Perhaps I’m guilty of transferencism, channeling my frustration with a certain strand of popular music that involves the guitars and the whinging and the bombast into this innocent bystander. Or maybe it was Death Cab’s manifest destiny to glom onto their hoariest traits, and accentuate them to the point of parody. Or maybe I should stop all this doublethinking and just say what I now realize I should’ve said at the start:
Boo fucking hoo.
JAY-Z – “Change Clothes”
At first, I was like “cool new Jay-Z!”. Soon after, I was like “COOL new Neptunes!” Then I bought the album and I was like “ehh..” Then I was like “woo boy it’s Jay-Z again”. For an ever so brief while I was “oh just SHUT UP and retire” (even though my problem isn’t with Jay & his self-proclaimed unimpeachable stature, but with Pharell & Co.). (There’s no parenthetical aside long enough for me to discuss Jay-Z’s role in all this without coming off as a dismissive & curt asshat.) Now, when I hear this beat kick in, I can’t muster an emotion that ranks above or below Submissive Apathy, given I’ve been beaten over, about, and across the head with it since before the album dropped. Actually, “beaten” is too strong a verb – try “tapped”, or perhaps “brushed”. It began to feel like a slightly damp washcloth gently slapping against my right forearm. HOWEVER.
I caught the video a couple of weeks ago (not for the first time), and maybe it was Naomi Campbell’s hairclip, or Beanie Segal walking the runway like the debonair bastard he is, or that Alicia Keys lookalike sporting the fur, but I realized an epiphany (albeit a lightweight type). You know, like when you’re listening to a Tony Conrad piece from the Early Minimalism box set, and you lie on your bed, and after 30+ minutes of the same violin chord played at the same tempo, you start to hear something different? Yeah, of course you do!
Anyway, I started to notice how the beat did a little sashay or flourish at the end of each measure, a little quick-like BaBaDaBa to mix with the mostly measured pace it holds. There’s also this bit of percussion that obviously sounds like glass garbage can lids getting whacked by orchestra triangles, or maybe it sounds like a bent triangle being struck by hollow glass. Those two little details hit me, and continued to hit me, in full-on THX Dolby Theatre Quadrophenic glory each time the rest of the song was beating – sorry, GENTLY PUSHING – me about.
Unfortunately, this moment passed sometime this evening, as I attempted to coax my PC into playing this track from my copy of the CD. (Here’s a sample of what happened: clickclickclickclick – “I’M HITTING PLAY!!!” – clickclickclickTHUNKclick – “YOU HEAR THAT?!?!” – clickclickWHACKclickclicliclilckciclkclkcick – “COME ON YOU FUCKHALWJREORIU@**!(S(*A(!)(00908A*!”) When I finally got my computer to acquiese, the magic was gone. Without Naomi, and perhaps outside of the pitchshifted auspices of Infinity Broadcasting, those little percussive flourishes I crushed on sunk back into the mix, and I was left with what I had before – a perfectly likable song that exemplifies the Neptunes’ unerring (and tireless) (and perhaps tiresome) consistency.
This isn’t to say the formula is getting stale, but … would it be so bad if the Neptunes just straight up bombed? Or at least tried to? And I mean REALLY tried – like, if they had a lapse in poor taste, or collaborated with some completely atrocious (and, no, Fred Durst doesn’t qualify, you ninnies). There’s a point where being experimental and edge in the same exact way every time over and over turns into lifeless safety dancing. Granted, I’m not sure what that “way” is for the ‘Tunes – some motorik Stereolabbing bunsen burner bubbling way, maybe – but it’s recognizable, it’s omnipresent, and it’s more than a little stifling.
The same could possibly be said of Jay-Z, but he’s playing out the string like Pete Rose or Cal Ripken, lingering a little bit longer than recommended to collect a few more hits, giving the fans one final farewell. The Neptunes haven’t given themselves the luxury of an easy way out, and I imagine they’re not looking for the EXIT signs just yet. All I’m asking for is a little fresh air, and by “fresh”, I mean “new”; I don’t care if it’s rank and foul, as long as it’s different. I don’t need another L.A. Law or Hill Street Blues or NYPD Blue or NYPD 2069 or even Hooperman, for the love of crap – I need Cop Rock!
efinK a ekiL stuC: So, in summary –
1) Jim DeRogatis utilizing the “I knew Jack Kennedy” routine to roast Ryan Adams – vaguely amusing, but not impressive. Don’t blame the kids, Jim – blame the parents (or the corporate overlords parenting their media decisions). And, hell, even if Adams isn’t worthy of even lancing Jeff Tweedy’s sabacious cysts, he’s a sight better than that awful tart pop & immoral gun-toting hip-hop, yeah? Shyeah – like I need to convince NYLPM of that!
2) Ryan Adams calling DeRogatis on the phone to pitch a bitch about the bad review – vaguely amusing, but not prudent, and unfortunately not unexpected nowadays. Also feeds into the DeRo theorem regarding the Love / Adams similarities. (Damn you critics and your hipster thoughts!) (And damn you hecklers, too!)
3) DeRogatis countering the Adams misstep by playing said message on his radio show so folks like me can be amused by the foibles of misunderstood artistes – vaguely amusing, but just about as classless as the actual message. (I will give Adams credit for hiding the vituperative and vindictive nature of his call with the friendly & casual “just calling to say hi” greeting. Well played, kid.) (MP3 over here for a limited time.)
4) “Ryan Adams” posting on one of “his” fan sites to address the DeRogatis maneuver – oh, Calgon, take me away already. Downplaying the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES as just a “local paper”, pulling the 4th Grade Punning for Dummies book off the stacks (cf. Jim Derogatory) (yeah, and may your hair grow inward), the “I write my own songs” argument (as if “what we are up against now” is the Popstar), invoking the names of Dave Matthews and John Mayer as a DEFENSE, and all this because the word of one critic obviously carries more weight than the multitude of fans willing to PAY to see the show, fans willing to write DeRogatis and tell that dull old square who’s what, fans that are actually willing to buy 5 of your CDs in one calendar year, never mind quality control, market saturation, creative dry heaves, cholera, grass stains, little bunny foo-foo … FIVE DOLLARS? getouttahere…
I’m sorry, I had a point in there somewhere.
5) WFMU’s Tom Scharpling spending 15 minutes dissecting this bulletin board post – take a guess. (MP3 over here for a limited time. Belated thanks to Fluxblog for their assistance in these trying times.) Oh, wow, jokes about bad grammar and spelling in Internet bulletin board posts – hey, did you hear the one about the chicken and the road? And where the HELL did the Steely Dan hate come from? Reel in those ears, Doctor Wu! I should give this chucklehound a call. Fucking stupid bullshit, man. Fucking stupid bullshit.