Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Barbara Walters

An icon of television.

I started to modify that with "television journalism" but really, she is an enduring force in television, and her 3 Daytime Emmys don't do her justice (she has an additional 22 nominations, but right now she only has 1 more Daytime Emmy win than my old college buddy John Burke, and he has way less experience).

Walters is also a pioneer for women in journalism. She became the first woman to officially co-host The Today Show, the first woman to co-host an evening network newscast, and her high profile personality interviews are world famous.

I wasn't sure I would select her as today's birthday until I read about her reaction to Gilda Radner's depiction of her on Saturday Night Live. Walters is said to have been upset by the parody until Walters's daughter told her to "lighten up." Walters says she regained a little perspective and learned to laugh at it. And here's the part I find wonderful--when Radner died at age 42, Walters sent widower Gene Wilder a note that read: "She made me laugh. I will miss her. Baba Wawa."

Love her for that.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Oh look I made a graph

In honor of Cunt du Jour Eddie Long. See it (and vote) on it here at GraphJam.

Cunt du Jour: Eddie Long

It might seem like I have 2 du jours today, but technically Liz FUCKING Cheney is Friday's, just late.

Saturday's is Eddie Long.
Gay. Just gay. Like narcissistic and gay.
Eddie is a closeted homosexual who is struggling with that aspect of his sexuality.

And as many gay men who are struggling have done, he is fighting it by becoming vocally anti-gay. See also: Ken Mehlman, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Charlie Crist (although his positions keep "clarifying" in such a way that he's less obnoxiously anti-gay, and now just kinda sad and desperate), Roy Cohn, the dude in Florida who offered the black undercover cop money for a blowjob and then claimed it was because he was afraid of black guys, and the conservative dude in California busted for DUI after leaving a gay bar.

Here's a tip secretly gay dudes: the louder you get, the gayer you are. Tell everyone at your next N.O.M. rally.

But don't tell Fred Phelps. I want to watch him explode into a spontaneous rainbow while a choir of Cher impersonators dances around him. I give it 20 months, but it's coming.

Cunt du jour with war criminal/criminal against peace/former prep school cheerleader.
Here's how Ms. Long (hmmm, I wonder how many times he's used that to make some kind of sexual advance, cause I sure as hell would have) summarizes his views on homosexuality: "Everybody knows it's dangerous to enter an exit."

Like a vagina. Babies exit the vagina, right? I mean I looked it up and saw an anatomical diagram, and I'm clear that you don't pee out the vagina, but babies, babies exit that way, right?

So nagger please.

This week's Real Time with Bill Maher

I'm trying to make an effort to watch it on Friday nights--I love Maher and he usually brings an interesting group together. Unfortunately this week he had Andrew Breitbart, a pathological liar whose distortions hurt America.

Or they help America by showing us how shallow and reactionary we are as a society... but he's still a pathological liar and a douche. And I hate that Maher gave him any credibility by including him on the show.

But Richard Tillman was great and I really want to see The Pat Tillman Story now.

And Andrew Breitbart is a fucking liar and a huge douche. And I am pissy he was on and I endured him for an hour.

I was about to embed a clip but I am now deleting it because FUCK ANDREW BREITBART.

About Time: A Project Runway micro-recap (week 9)

Wow, so I'm a little surprised at who was let go, but upon closer scrutiny that was poorly executed work. And while I'm way more forgiving of the 2 designs, the reality is the recent departure's work really hasn't lived up to the aura of quality I'd been thinking of.

And this new departure was one of the few designers I credited as talented.

God this season sucks.

Now this week in Gretchen: people have called me "smug" in the past. Many times in the past.

Many many times.

Becky calls me Smuggy McSmugenstien, I'm pretty sure. Or "Corporate McSellout," I'm not sure which.

My question is this: is what Gretchen's doing on this episode considered "smug" the way I am sometimes considered "smug"? Cause if so, I am a colossal dick.

Which is to say Gretchen is coming off like a colossal dick.

I hope she's being something other than my flavor of smug (please oh please oh please).

Congrats to the big gay wrapping paper design that won, but Andy's designs made me sit up and say "holy fuck!" and mean it in a good way. Andy knocked my socks off this week--you go girl!
Made me sit up and say "holy fuck" in a good way.
Beautiful and really meets that portion of the challenge.

Tracey Thorn and the songs of Amplified Heart

EBTG holds (held?) records, for total weeks in Billboard's Hot 100 chart (over a year), and most weeks at #2 without reaching #1, both for "Missing." I still don't understand the song's success--it was never a favorite of mine and seems an unlikely song to become a monster hit. So we won't be discussing that. If you want to hear it, search for "Mango SNL" and you'll hear it.

I love Amplified Heart because it's a microcosm of EBTG's styles. I got to see EBTG live at least once, but I'm thinking twice, touring to support the album (once in a fantastic intimate venue in Fort Worth--people offered hundreds of dollars for our tickets when we went in--maybe once at a warehouse-y space in/near Deep Ellum). This is more about me trying to sort out hazy 15+ year old history, and less for your edification, sorry.

Lucky me, live x 2, not thrilled with "Missing," it's one of my favorite (top 5 for sure, possibly top 3) albums of the 90s, and the songs play along a spectrum of styles and while fitting into a cohesive piece.

Love the album.

"And we can't run and we can't cheat, cause baby when we meet what we're afraid of, we find out what we're made of"
"We Walk the Same Line" fits nicely into the canon with Worldwide or The Language of Life. Once upon a time I remember singing this to someone (singing along with this, to someone, thinking the song was about us, kinda). That was a million years ago--I got better. And my dogs are way less complex. This one was written by Tracey.

"When your sky falls to minus zero, well some things must disappear. Oh this is my road to my redemption." 
"Rollercoaster" was written by Ben--it opens the album and fits nicely into the Acoustic era (had it been called Acoustic with Horns) or The Language of Life. The lyric "my road to my redemption" is one that caught me when the album first came out, and still I find interesting.

"And if I should start to cry, and I can't begin to tell you why, and I stumble when I begin, it's cause I don't understand anything." 
"I Don't Understand Anything" = Idlewild (to me); Tracey wrote it. I'm probably blithely ignoring Ben's near-fatal illness (Churg-Strauss syndrome--treating the disease required removing a large amount of his intestines, and prior to properly diagnosing the disease, the band, which is Ben and Tracey, who are a couple, had to deal with that; if you at all like the band, read Ben's book Patient: The True Story of a Rare Illness [details here, it's fantastic]). That medical crisis precedes this album. I'm sure there is a lot of trepidation and fear carrying over into these songs... oh by the way. (This is why I am not a professional writer.)

"I watch Saturday kids' TV with the sound turned down. I leave food on the eiderdown. All my thoughts pushed underground."
I hear a lot of Baby the Stars Shine Bright in "Two Star." I didn't know what "two star" meant, nor what eiderdown was. In case you don't, two star refers to low octane petrol--older cars drove on inexpensive, low octane gas; eiderdown is duck down used in comforters (the more you know). This one is Ben's composition. I think this might be my favorite track from the album.

"The wasted time, the money spent, a sign that reads 'For Sale or Rent'"
I'll leave you with a joint composition of Ben and Tracey: "Disenchanted" hearkens to Love Not Money with some of the sophistication of Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This song will make a great country single, attention Tim McGraw or Trisha Yearwood (and you're welcome).

Tracey's birthday is tomorrow!!!

Cunt du Jour: Liz Cheney

Don't call her Liz Perry or even Liz Cheney-Perry, because those names get in the way of making it totally FUCKING CLEAR that she's Dick (war criminal/criminal against peace/war profiteer) Cheney's daughter--she doesn't have time to explain the nepotism she is leveraging, so read her daddy's name and get the fuck out of her way. She earned it by being daddy's little draft deferment (well, daddy's FIRST draft deferment--when fathers of 1 kid became eligible for the draft in the late 60s the Cheneys were "magically" blessed with a second child [the dyke]).

This is a couple days old, but Cheney is a major cunt in an on-going manner, so it still applies. And I know I said I try to avoid "cunt" as a word because it's misogynistic. But I'm intending to use it, the same way I use "dude," in a non-gender-specific manner; it's just a coincidence that my first 2 cunts du jour have been female (if Liz Cheney has a gender and isn't just a spawn of Satan--do those even have gender?).

Tracey Thorn and collaborations

First up, a recent duet with Jens Lekman--they covered Magnetic Fields' "Yeah! Oh Yeah!" (from 69 Love Songs) as part of a Merge Records compilation. It would be really interesting to hear her sing with Stephen Merritt, but for now, here she is singing as Merritt.

I'm double-dipping with this one--she provided vocals on the classic "Over the Rainbow" back in 1993, with jazz musician James McMillan (don't know know anything about him or the album, just that it's been out for 17 years and I only learned of it recently).

Tracey's (and Ben's) interest in dance and electronic music is a little frustrating for me. What other genres of music have so FUCKING many remixes? I've given up trying to be a complete collector, even in the digital age, because holy crap, I don't need the "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe Remix" and the "I After E Remix" and the "Love Will Save the Day Remix" and the "You Have to Blow on it First Remix" and the "Who's Your Daddy Remix" and the "I Didn't Ask for the Anal Probe Remix"--I will take the album version and maybe a radio edit if it omits Jay-Z rapping (this might not apply to Tracey ever, but just in case I'm covering that base). So here's one of like 14 versions of her collaboration with German electronic (redundant) band Tiefshwarz, "Damage":

I am typing this while listening to "Overture" with The Unbending Trees for the first time. They're a chamber pop trio from Budapest--my  father's mother's father emigrated from Budapest, so clearly I am related to someone in the band. It's a beautiful, spare song. Also, love the album's title: Chemically Happy (Is the New Sad).

I found "The Tree Knows Everything," her 1997 collaboration with dance music producer/DJ Adam F, on a used CD single, and I've included it in many workout mixes back 12 years ago when I had a minidisc player and walked 2 miles each way to/from work, AND did an hour of cardio in the morning, AND lifted weights 4 days a week after work. It's actually too fast for any of those things.

And I wrap this with her best known collaboration, a song often mistaken as an EBTG track. "Protection" was one of 3 songs she did with Massive Attack (if you like the music itself, their albums are always filled with interesting collaborations, like Sinead O'Connor, Neneh Cherry, and Elizabeth Frazer from Cocteau Twins. I'm using a live version but the original video was directed by Oscar winner Michel Gondry. Go look for it if you want, the fucking record label won't let me embed it here. Dicks.

Tracey's birthday is tomorrow. But it's not like I'm obsessed.

Ways in which this cartoon differs from my life

First, I don't wear a tie to work.

Second, my cubicle has walls.

Third, my boss has plenty of hair, it's just prematurely gray. That has NOTHING to do with me--it was like that way before he got the joy of managing me.

And finally... um, I don't wear a tie.

Song of the Day: "Dark and Lonely Night"

I'm grabbing another track from the new(ish) Teenage Fanclub. This is one of the bonus tracks from Shadows.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tracey Thorn and cover songs (part 2)

First up, EBTG's take on The Jam's "English Rose"--to be honest, they should have knocked this one out of the park (to use a... baseball(?) metaphor), but not quite. It's a favorite covering a favorite, but kinda falls short. I think it's the tempo on top of crappy audio quality.

They did a better job with The Smiths' "Back to the Old House"

"Love is Strange" was originally a Mickey & Sylvia song, but I think EBTG have attributed their cover to The Everly Brothers (although I could be wrong, and perhaps that noted both artists). A few others have covered it as well, including Sonny & Cher and Buddy Holly. The song was used in a Hummer ad, much to the outrage of Ben and Tracey. Their cover is sweet and simple and charming.

Their cover of "I Don't Want to Talk About It" is EBTG's biggest UK hit. The song is best known in the states from Rod Stewart's 1975 cover. It wasn't on the initial pressing of Idlewild in the US--I actually had to get a later copy to get it (I had it as a vinyl b-side, or maybe as a standalone single, but still, rude). They are firing on all cylinders with this one--perfectly crafted and elegantly sung.

Normally I'd skip a song I've written about before (it's why I'm not including "Downtown Train"), but their cover of Elvis Costello's "Alison" rivals his. It does. I am also amused that, through the power of my mix tapes, Clark thought theirs was the original--but to his credit, he knows WAY more Lady Gaga than me.

We're working our way to Tracey's birthday on Sunday.

Here's Tuareg

Tuareg and Kelly
Tuareg is named for a nomadic tribe in Africa. He is a trainee for Guidedogs for the Blind under the firm tutelage of my coworker and her husband.
Tuareg in my team's monthly meeting

One of the perks of my job is getting to sit next to adorable puppies and undermining their discipline while I become their FAVORITE GUY IN THE WHOLE WORLD (in the office at least--apparently the parking garage guy was hugely popular with Nels).

Here he is--cuteness in action!

Winding Willy up

I love getting Willy all riled up--he runs and spins and runs and spins and starts playing with his sisters. It's great that Midge, who is about 8 or 9 years old, wants to get in on the fun too. We are going on 3 years with Willy and Gracie here, and while I know "mom" Lisa misses them and loves them and would be giddy to have them back (not gonna happen, sorry), they're quite happy and contented here! Yay, puppy love!

Genius in action

Stephen Colbert testifying before Congress today--I'm no C-SPAN-1, but hopefully this gives him a little more exposure.

Song of the Day: "Something Is Not Right With Me"

I wasn't a big fan of this Cold War Kids song from a year or 2 ago (is "shouted mopey rock" a genre?), but Michael Davis from MC5 and D.O.A. (I'm not sure if he's from both bands, OR if he's from MC5 and D.O.A. are playing with him, sorry, that proto-punk stuff is hazy to me) totally gives this song a punk rock urgency that makes it work.

This is part of Dr. Martens 50-year retrospective of rock covers that is suspiciously similar to a Levi's campaign of pop/rock/r&b covers. I can't explain either any better than that, but enjoy this version--it fucking rocks!

Happy Birthday Paul and/or Morgan Hamm

I have no idea which is which
Morgan and/or Paul Hamm are, of course, sports people of some sort. They do a thing where shirts are superfluous. I'm sure there's a name for it. One of those Olympics sports.
Definitely an Olympics thing.
Yes, that's right, they were at the Atlanta Athens Olympics, I'm almost positive. [UPDATE: What, no, I totally remembered it on my own, I didn't go to Wikipedia (here and here) at all.]

Happy Easter, here's your basket... what?

They don't have any EGOT credentials, yet, but I am happy to work with them to coach them on how to win a Tony, Emmy or Grammy. It will require a lot of personal "high touch" consultation, but I'm sure they will find it's totally worth it. Or their money back.

I'm pretty sure they're straight (it is possible)--watch the video. They look like that but keep their shirts on while dancing. I don't know any gay man with abs that does that. Hell, I know plenty without abs that won't keep their shirts on (not me though... is that sighs of relief I hear?). The song is by Daft Punk, by the way.

Happy birthday dudes! Rock on!

Tracey Thorn and early EBTG

I got wrapped  up in the season premiere of Big Bang Theory last night (hysterical)--Mayim Bialik is perfect and really a joy to watch with Jim Parsons (and together with Kaley Cuoco as well--get better soon Kaley). So I didn't get to another Tracey post. D'oh.

Here are 3 favorite songs from the earliest days of Everything but the Girl that AREN'T also covers. Unless otherwise noted, songs are written by Tracey and Ben.
"Cant recall days with regret, Tomorrow remember today and all the rest forget"
 I like "Another Bridge" so much, I used it in the main promo for my EBTG radio special.

"Reassure me when my heart's, Not bold enough to bear her name"
"Fascination" is all Tracey's (in terms of writing). I was surprised the first time I ran into an ex- in Atlanta, and my friend said "did you expect him to fall off that face of the earth when you stopped going out?" That would have been convenient for me, yes.

"Try to show me heaven and then slam the door"
I think "Each and Every one" is their first big single (phrase used lightly).

Tracey's birthday is Sunday--more all week.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hells yes!

It's not all bitchiness and negativity. A coworker tipped me off to a chance to see a favorite band of mine at a house party next month here in Portland. Trashcan Sinatras in some dude's house for 3 hours. Hooray! Just bought my ticket (only 4 left, or so I've been told). This is what I'm looking forward to, and, AND, I get to bring an appetizer (aka a side dish, and you know how much I love that).

Happy Birthday Bruce Springsteen

He's won 20 Grammys and an Oscar. More nominations (and a colossal fuck up over how his song from The Wrestler was used, thus screwing him out of an easy nomination there).

Oh, and he's a living icon of rock music.

I'm not a fan, but I do have respect. I say I'm not a fan because I can't hang with anyone who thinks of themselves that way. "Um, hey, I like that song about getting the fuck out of Jersey," I might say. "Oh yeah, that one," they'd say back.

But I might not know a lot about Springsteen, but I know what I like. For no other reason than a continuation of last night's Tracey Thorn covers (part 1) post, I'm starting with "Tougher Than the Rest."
"Well it ain’t no secret, I’ve been around a time or two
Well I don’t know baby maybe you’ve been around to"

Bruce has been co-opted by this Reagan-obsessed portion of America. Reagan Republicans used "Born in the USA." I don't really like that song, but I like the lyrics. It's worth printing the lyrics.
"I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone"
I mean, I'm sure replacing "Khe Sahn" with "Iraq" or "Afghanistan" wouldn't at all be relate-able to the bullshit wars we've been fighting thanks to war criminal/criminal against peace George W. Bush, would it?

Speaking of George W. Bush (war criminal/criminal against peace), did you know he was President on 9/11? He was. The biggest fucking terrorist attack on US soil, but according to Dana Perino, his former Press Secretary and now a TALKING BLONDE IDIOT on FOX News, there were NO terrorist attacks on US soil during Bush's terms. None. Not 9/11. Not Anthrax.

Bush wanted America to live in terror so he could force his agenda through (and MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED). The very agenda that the mere continuation of which has Republicans branding Obama the worst President ever--Obama's not even the worst President of the last 24 months (but he does suck, it's just the George W. Bush is Satan, wow, I really hate him). Springsteen spoke of the fear and the pain in terms of moving past them, of rising above.
"Spirits above and behind me
Faces gone, black eyes burnin' bright
May their precious blood forever bind me
Lord as I stand before your fiery light"

You know, sadly, Nebraska might be a good album to check out from the library to revisit.
"Now, I been lookin for a job, but it's hard to find
Down here it's just winners and losers and don't
Get caught on the wrong side of that line"

And at the risk of sounding incredibly gay (guilty: incredible AND gay AND incredibly gay), I've been obsessing over "Born to Run" since they Glee-d it up for the Emmys. I'll leave you with this, and a proper Clarence Clemons solo!
"The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody's out on the run tonight but there's no place left to hide"

Happy birthday dude! Rock on! (And sorry to your real fans if I've written something stoopid.)

Song of the Day: "Alejandro"

The song is a few months old. I've only heard it once, back when I encountered its wonderfully excessive video on MTV during a bit of insomnia (OMG, MTV does play videos still, but only at like 4:45 a.m., and only her, Beyonce and Eminem). Today I can't resist playing it in honor of Cunt du Jour: Susan Collins of Maine.

I am celebrating someone who is championing the rights of gay and lesbians of Maine--people Susan pretends she cares about but I guess is too much of a coward to vote against the old boy network run by Rush. The song is about saying goodbye to a lover, and here's hoping that Sarah Palin anoints a Tea Party candidate with REAL conservative values to challenge her when she's up for re-election. It helps that "Alejandro" and "Susan Collins" have the same number of syllables.
"I know that we are young, and I know you may love me
But I just can't be with you like this anymore" (Susan Collins)

If it comes down to me playing Justin Bieber, look out for me carrying a gun.

Cunt du Jour: Senator Susan Collins of Maine

You know what, I don't love Democrats, but I sure as fuck hate Republicans and the way they vote in lock step on EVERY FUCKING BILL THAT COMES IN FRONT OF THEM.

Oh, OH, and the fucking crazy talk over processes that they themselves have done in RECENT years past.

Today we celebrate a woman who is, I'm sad to say, a total fucking cunt for just this reason.

Wah, I oppose Don't Ask/Don't Tell. Wah, I support our troops. But, boo hoo, I couldn't POSSIBLY vote for a bill that has  no opportunity for debate... you know, like that time I did a few years ago when it was Republican-sponsored legislation.  Or maybe Sen. Collins has amnesia--in which case she should seek medical help.

Jon Stewart's got this for me.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Are We Run by A**holes?
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tracey Thorn and cover songs (part 1)

She/they have many. Many interesting, unexpected, and wonderful. I'll start with one that has a special fondness for me--"No Place Like Home" was a familiar song to me when I found it as a b-side to one of their import singles. It's the last song on side 1 of Randy Travis's Storms of Life album (yes, fuck you, I love that album). They're both covering Paul Overstreet, but I still love that continuation.

But the good part is, when I played it on my Everything but the Girl special, I got a call, an urgent call wanting to know what in the hell the song was. I told her to calm down. Years later I sat behind the caller at my first EBTG concert and she recognized my voice--apparently she recorded the special and listened to it with regularity. We talked a little before the show, and again after the show while she waited for traffic to clear; I invited her to come along backstage to meet the band and then she made me some cookies. Years later I went to her wedding and we're still good friends. Of course, she couldn't be bothered to write anything about Tracey, but perhaps this will inspire Pam Sohn of Decatur, Georgia to type a little something. We'll see...

I've only gotten into Velvet Underground in the last 4 or 5 years, so my appreciation for Tracey's take on "Femme Fatale" from 1982 (I have coworkers younger than this song) is warmer now than it was 15+ years ago when I got A Distant Shore on CD.

I have genuinely loved their take on the Pretenders' "Kid" since I first heard it--it's stripped to its essence and soars based on Tracey's voice alone.

OMG there are too many to do in a single post--even if I skip stuff I've included in posts months or years ago, there's too many great covers. So I will wrap part 1 with Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than the Rest."

Happy birthday dude (on Sunday)! Rock on!

Flashback Song: "Got to Keep On" and "25 Miles"

The Cookie Crew,  20+ year old hip hop that we played at the college radio station back in the day.

Which sampled from the 1968 Edwin Starr classic:

Today's Yummy: Violetta

A group of us hit Violetta (here) at Director Park.

I had a damn good burger, the Oregon Blue Burger (Oregonzola blue cheese, caramelized onions & bacon).

So good that I'm going to tell you it was awful, so you don't get the stupid idea to go there and make it crowded.

It's that "bad."

And don't get me started on the Oregonzola fries which are tasty and crispy and fresh and not at all worth you going there to get if you're going to be causing a crowd.

I kinda want to keep this place to myself, so as far as you're concerned, they are also awful. I am told that they, or the sweet potato fries are the ones to get, not the fries with white truffle oil. Whatever, the Oregonzola fries are, blechblechblech as far as you need to know.

Totally NOT worth it if you're going there when I want to go back (like tomorrow, and Friday).

So let's say it's a sunny autumn day at lunch, and maybe I'm not able to go. Then, maybe, you can go. And maybe you'll get a floor show, like we did today. Don't know what dance troop it was, and we didn't get "Hot Lunch Jam" from the movie Fame, but still, free floor show.
Take your passion....
...and make it happen!

Song of the Day: "Shampain"

By Marina and the Diamonds (who is actually Marina Diamandis, in the way Bat for Lashes and Florence + the Machines are also just women)--I love the spelling of champagne, I love the "zombie workout video" segments of the video (especially when people are spinning like a 7-year old in a backyard), and I also like/love the song. So there you go. It might not make my top 50, but every 365 days need to have a 131 or 146.

We need to save our billionaires

(h/t Salon)
From additional burdens. Duh!!!! That's what the Tea Party is all about. Tom Tomorrow explains (click to embiggen or click the link at the top):

Here's what's ultra-awesome--Sarah Palin!!! That name just makes me giddy. She was explaining, just yesterday, that the Tea Party is a movement of PEOPLE (and people who voted for Barack Obama are not people they are _________). And the Tea Party, per Sarah Palin (a person who makes over $10 million a year) aren't the elites (and you need to read the word "elites" in as vague and condescending a voice as you possibly can--who ARE the elites? she couldn't possibly tell you in a way that makes sense since everyone that made her a name outside of Alaska ought to qualify, but she has to pretend she doesn't work with them day-in and day-out).

Why, people in the Tea Party teach our children (socialist union teachers), and serve in the armed forces (totally straight, but many of them are ex-cons, cause that's totally okay), and grow our food (oh, elitist organic farmers, great). And none of those people voted for Barack Obama, or ever need health insurance. Dontchaknow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tracey Thorn and songs to past lovers

It's Tracey's birthday week, and I'm writing about stuff of hers (slash theirs--it's her plus it's Everything but the Girl) I love. The thing that made me love the band was their third album, Baby the Stars Shine Bright. Becky has been listening to it recently (or so this post will lead you to believe) and declared that it's an album about unrequited love (I think that's what she said, if she said anything at all, you don't know me).

But isn't that what like 40-50% of all albums are about? It's like 40% unrequited love, 40% love gone wrong, and 20% is either "God I love you so much right now" or "hey remember back when we were in love, that was good" songs.

And Taylor Swift's album is about boys!

So, sure, unrequited love. For some reason I've decided "Cross My Heart" (which Tracey co-wrote with Ben) from Baby the Stars Shine Bright(ly--I always want to say "brightly" but I think "bright" is grammatically correct since it's the direct object or third person past plu-perfect or some shit... the absolute value or cotangent) pairs nicely with "The Heart Remains a Child" from Walking Wounded (which is credited to Tracey alone).

I think they're both retrospective but not necessarily unrequited. Is it about settling? Regretting? Doubt?

Dunno, it's a little up to the listener, that's part of the fun. I'm including Wordles of the lyrics so take a look and see if you think the themes link? Oh, and I loved the color palates that Wordle gave me--I think they're both intentionally autumnal, so I left them as is (if you like, credit to the Worlde peeps, if not, file a formal complaint for your refund).
"Cross My Heart" by Everything but the Girl
"The Heart Remains a Child" by Everything but the Girl

[NOTE: Weird that this isn't on the youtubes.]
  THRAC by rebelagenda

And don't read anything into this--just thinking about the thematic linkage of the songs, that's all.

Tea and oranges that come all the way from China

Today is Leonard Cohen's birthday. Despite him being something of a force of nature for pretty much all of my life, I didn't really appreciate his particular brand of dark lyricism until I saw the 2004 movie A Home at the End of the World--I left the theater motivated to buy something of his and something from Laura Nyro. Also I loved the movie.

I wrote about one of Cohen's signature songs, "Hallelujah" a few months ago (here) after k.d. lang tore it up at the winter games. So today I want to focus on "Suzanne," mainly because it's the song of his I really love. The song is about an imagined romance with an actual person, Suzanne Verdal, wife of a sculptor (details here), although the lyrics originally appeared in poem form, "Suzanne Takes You Down" which Cohen published in 1966.

Judy Collins had perhaps the biggest hit with the song, but I'm not finding a version I like that is true to the hit version (there's a version with her playing piano, but the pitch sounds wrong, like she's in a different key altogether instead of just up an octave). So here's Collins with Cohen--it's a perfect blending of the sweetness of her voice with the pure dark simplicity of his (and I mean dark in a good way, honest--there is a beauty in that darkness).

There are 2 covers that I'm reading about that I want to include: Nick Cave and Nina Simone. So here's what's annoying--first, the Nick Cave version (here) isn't embed-able. And, AND, I don't get the context but he appears to be singing along with some unseen female vocalist, and he's not keeping up. It's very confusing.

Oh thank Jeebus, the Nina Simone is embed-able, and it fucking rocks! Listen to this shit kids!!!

After recording the song "Hope," R.E.M. gave Cohen co-writing credit, realizing how much the song had been influenced by "Suzanne." Because I love youtube covers by fearless people, here's someone mashing the two songs together:

I'm going to leave you with Fairport Convention's version.

And to Mr. Cohen I say happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "White Knuckles"

When I watched this new video from OK Go yesterday, it had about 74,000 views. This morning it's well past 1 million. These boys know viral--another brilliant video, and an okay song, this time with puppies!!!! And now it's embed-able! Rock on dudes!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A tale of two blondes

(h/t Towleroad here and here)

The first is Meghan McCain, the daughter of once-seemingly-laudable Senator John McCain (R, AZ)--she wants to help transform the Republican party by her advocacy for socially liberal causes along with fiscally conservative platforms. She positions herself as an advocate for gay and lesbian causes (she came to me, I didn't go looking for her). She is 25 years old and has nearly 90,000 followers on Twitter.

The second is Stefani Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga. She is currently one of the biggest recording artists in the world and she is using her influence to help push for an end to Don't Ask/Don't Tell. She also positions herself as an advocate for gay and lesbian causes. She is 24 years old, and has over 6.4 million followers on Twitter.

Meghan McCain owes her entire public existence to her father. Granted her mother is extremely wealthy and McCain could possibly have established herself as a party girl on par with Paris Hilton, but she didn't go that route. She's the political party girl and to establish herself in that role she has traded, completely and unabashedly on her dad. She has spoken out about ending Don't Ask/Don't Tell, it's part of her advocacy.

By dabbling in politics, I'm sure Lady Gaga is ignoring her managers' and advisors' advice--sure a lot of her fans move from love love love to LOVE LOVE LOVE, but she's probably alienating some group as well. Embracing the battle to end Don't Ask/Don't Tell isn't surprising, but the gusto with which she has embraced it, and is taking it seriously, is unexpected. And impressive.

Meghan McCain, who has traded on her dad for her entire career, is really pissed that people are trying to somehow link her to her dad's colossally dickish behavior on the repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell and she wants everyone to know "Obama is worse." By the way, her dad, who is running for re-election, will DIE IN OFFICE IF RE-ELECTED, which is tremendously narcissistic if you ask me. I guess everyone else in Arizona is too fucking stupid to be a Senator, so he's got to do it, even if he'll die in office. Thanks Grandpa. Oh, by the way, McCain was FOR repealing Don't Ask/Don't Tell until he needed the base to vote for him to ensure his re-election so he can die in office. Fucker.

I want it both ways vis-a-vis my dad!!!!

Here's Gaga in Maine today. And here's what motivated me to write about them today, her call to the US Senate to do their FUCKING JOBS.

Recap: McCain, "what, don't blame me, the other guy's worse"; Gaga, "here's how to call your Senators and tell them to do their jobs."

Meghan McCain, enjoy Dancing with the Stars in 2 years. Maybe they will play a Lady Gaga song for you!

And he IS, he IS a war criminal

I know some of you might think I'm bombastic when I call George W. Bush a war criminal.

But Glenn Greenwald (here) has a nice reminder that, in fact, I'm not:
"The claim that Bush is 'a war criminal' has ample basis, and it's deeply irresponsible to try to declare this discussion off-limits..."
As evidence, Greenwald cites Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (now retired):
"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
Seriously people. War criminal.

I assert criminal against peace, drunk, pissy blue blood, and fucking idiot. But can you at LEAST grant me war criminal?!

Yes, motherfucking WHY?!

(h/t Andrew Leonard at Salon)

Republicans are vowing to undo anything that has passed under Obama if when they take back Congress in November.

Mark Thoma, a professor of economics at the University of Oregon, has this to say:
"There don't seem to be any new ideas here, just a promise to undo what's been done since the Republicans lost power. Why would we want to return to the policies that brought us a stagnant middle class even in the best of times, widening inequality, out of control financial markets, the biggest recession in recent memory, declining rates of health care coverage, threats to Social Security and to social insurance more generally, tax policies that reinforce trends in inequality and create big holes in the budget (amid false claims that tax cuts more than pay for themselves), and two wars whose total costs to the nation go far beyond the large budgetary costs that have brought programs such as Social Security and Medicare -- programs vital to middle and low income households -- under increasing financial pressure?"
Your friends and family are working against their own self-interests if they vote for Republicans in November. Unless they are wealthy.

And I hate to be in a single party rut, but oh my fucking God, if Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (both R, both ME) are getting railroaded by their own party for their moderation, I have no options.

Fuck, even Joe Lieberman (I, CT and mega-fucking douchebag self-serving opportunist) is opposing Obama's stance against renewing the TEMPORARY Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Of course since his wife, Haddasah (Hebrew for whore) has been paid by a lobbying firm for undisclosed activities, one can only assume that they have so much money funneled to them that they need to shelter that money. Oh, and he's GOT government-supplied healthcare, so fuck you little people, Joe Lieberman's taken care of, everyone else suck his cock.

Happy Birthday Gary Cole

As the voice of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, had the power of attorney! So naturally, he'd take the case! [NOTE: If you don't see videos below, and you're using Firefox, try a different browser.]

Of course he was always being sent things, so it's good to ask if he got it, that thing, you sent him. (A lot of folks don't seem to get this reference, so pay attention.)

And now you can add "in my pants" to your day.

Gary Cole has done other things, and some of them are also awesome, but nothing is more IN MY PANTS than Harvey Birdman!!!

Happy birthday dude! Rock on! IN MY PANTS!!!

Back-up Song of the Day: "Long White Dress"

It's been a weird series of events here in the music branch of the Rebel Agenda. Yesterday I became firmly convinced that I had inadequately honored Tracey Thorn's Love And Its Opposite with a third song of the day, even though I remembered distinctly writing about "Late in the Afternoon." But I couldn't find it anywhere, so this morning I went to correct that error only to find, BAM, that it was song of the day back in July. And the embedded player was broken. And I said "to busy" instead of "too busy" which means my editor was clearly slacking off then.

So clearly your problems = trivial compared to mine.

Sunday is Tracey's birthday and I intend to spread some love for her out across the whole week. If you don't know her, there's no better time to dive in and listen. The album is about life after 40, so if you qualify (or if you know someone who does), I'm sure you'll find something to love.

Here's what you've missed: "Oh, the Divorces!"--a wry rumination on relationships, in waltz time--here.

"Why Does the Wind"--a dark but danceable track--here

"Late in the Afternoon--the cold edge of the music helps accentuate the warmth of her voice, truly a beautiful song--here

Which brings us to a song about by a woman so upset by the state of relationships in her life that she dreads traditional marriage.

Song of the Day: "Fruitcake"

It's Erin's birthday, and Erin (and Greg) make the BEST* Christmas compilations.

AND I saw the B-52s with them.

AND Fred Schneider has a new Christmas album coming out.

So put all 3 of these things together, and it makes TOTAL sense that a track from Destination Christmas would be today's (Erin's birthday) song of the day. If that doesn't make perfect sense to you, lord, I'm not sure what more you need.

Oh, except maybe the track isn't playing at the embed site? Crap. Here's a link--hopefully this will resolve this morning, stay tuned.

* Of all the people who share Christmas compilations with me. If you make better, prove it. Cause theirs are bad-ass (in the best possible way)--I'm talking laser-cut (or possibly die-cut) sleeves, bitches. Lasers!!! (Or possibly dies!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Darth Vader at the dog park

Well, that's what it sounds like anyway...

"The stars get red and oh, the night's so blue"

Birthday gal/old pal Trisha Yearwood, and the best fucking country band from Miami FL, The Mavericks, doing Frank proud.

Happy Birthday Becky

Here, now shut up!

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Happy Birthday Adam West

His career has 2 distinctly wonderful bookends with my life.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Happy Birthday Carter Oosterhouse

I also have a tough time approaching women. I think Carter and I have the same problem: really low motivation. He should come over and we can discuss.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "We Should Go Home Together"

The second single from your new favorite band, Le Kid. That's how they bill themselves, and who am I to disagree. Unabashedly giddy pop music--you're welcome!

Well, DUH, that's where the blood goes... dumbass

(h/t Towleroad)

A reminder that we ALL need to be watching Bill Maher!!! Ladies and gentlemen, the Sarah Palin-anointed Republican nominee for US Senate in Delaware. Soon to be called Delawhatthefuck!