Saturday, February 19, 2011

"...time is the space between me and you"

Seal's second album was an important part of the soundtrack to my first trip to Portland back in 1994. "Kiss From a Rose" went on to win the Grammys, but I never grew tired of this, the first single. And it's Seal's birthday (full name: Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adelo Samuel; 3 Grammys, no Emmys, Tonys or Oscars) today

Happy Birthday Sir Smokey Robinson

Whitney Houston once publicly proclaimed then-husband Bobby Brown as the king of R&B. Which was some crack 'ho bullshit if ever I've heard it (and I have).

Ladies and gentlemen, today we celebrate Sir Smokey Robinson, the Poet Laureate of Love.

Before we do, a shout out to Ronald White (co-founder of The Miracles with Robinson, and a notable Motown songwriter); also to Pete Moore, Clarence Dawson, Claudette Rogers, Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, Pete Moore and James Grice--these are the original Miracles as far as I can tell (there's a mix of "founding" and "original line-up" listings). Many more have come and gone, and so far none of them has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Smokey was inducted as though he was a solo artist throughout his career. So show a Miracle some appreciation today. You know what, let's make February Miracle Appreciation Month.

But Smokey's the birthday boy, and if we can all pretend that he didn't have something to do with leaving his peeps behind, then we can appreciate that in addition to the silky smooth voice, he also wrote some iconic songs. Beyond songs written for The Miracles, Smokey wrote or co-wrote "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "My Girl," and "Ain't That Peculiar."

Let's start with the first #1 for SR&tM, "Who's Lovin' You"

All of a sudden I'm awash in The Big Chill nostalgia that is, itself, now 25+ years old. Sigh. Here's "You Really Got a Hold on Me"

I will declare "The Tears of a Clown" their most iconic hit. Listen to the intro music.

Now listen to this music... iconic!!!

One more with The Miracles, and then we're going Diana Ross all over the place (solo grand-standing), here's "Tracks of My Tears":

Here's Smokey as a solo artist, singing the theme from the Al Pacino movie of the same name, "Cruisin'"

Here Smokey rocks a Lionel Richie look and oooooh that sexy early 80s sax. A sax that seems straight from Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" (I am dying to know if it was the same session musicians or secretly someone notable, like Dave Grusin).

Smokey went on Sesame Street and revealed America's most under-appreciated vowel as a stalker. Genius! Also I believe he was w-a-y into cocaine at this point. You could not (cough) tell.

Speaking of cocaine, Smokey + Rick James = "Ebony Eyes"

I will leave y'all with Smokey's only Grammy win, from 1987, "Just to See Her":

Now contrast this with Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative," "Humping Around" and that Ghostbusters II song. Gosh, it's so hard to decide.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Firework"

I know I've complained about the mediocrity of the music of Ke$ha Lady Gaga Katy Perry before. But there's something about this song that stirs me. See if you can figure out what it is. (Yes, I'm just that shallow... h/t to Clark.)

Song: "Firework"
Artist... um person whose name is on the label: Katy Perry

Friday, February 18, 2011

"We used to waste hours just walking around"

(h/t Clark)
Apparently non-readers of my blog (there are some) don't know The Arcade Fire, nor why they won the Album of the Year Grammy. This has pissed off several long-time fans of The Arcade Fire (I have BOTH their CDs, they will say to ensure their bona fides [note: I think there are like 3 full-length albums, and several EPs, and I've confused them with Bloc Party, We Are Scientists and Arctic Monkeys for like 4-5 years now, but I honestly and truly love "No Cars Go"]).

The real question is, if The Arcade Fire album is so fucking good, why did it lose to The Black Keys in the Alternative Album category. Riddle me this Batman.

Meanwhile, here's another track from The Suburbs.

And here's "No Cars, Go" from years earlier.

Happy Birthday Yoko Ono and Fauxko Ono

It is 2-time Grammy winner Yoko's birthday. Therefore it is also Twitter doppleganger Fauxko's birthday as well. Here are some recent tweets (click to embiggen).

If you can't see the picture next to Fauxko's tweets, it's the signature sunglasses.

Happy birthday dudes! Rock on!

"Embrace the cookie cutter in Duloc"

It's Chris Seiber's birthday. If you don't know Chris, he's John's future husband (I believe he will be number 7, fortunately John is cool with polygamy [it's just so efficient]), and a 2-time Tony nominee (maybe more), and I tipped him $20 when John and I went to Broadway Bares back in like 2007. He (Chris, not John) was wearing fireman's pant and nothing else (I am nothing, if not charitable)--he looks much better out of the Lord Farqaad costume. He gave John a hug (it was John's birthday present, or something, months later). [UPDATE FROM JOHN: "Chris Seiber kissed me on the lips, bitch! Get it right!"]

If you aren't impressed by his voice, at least consider how much work it is to do all that on your knees... or so I've heard. This is the number from Shrek: the Musical I liked the most. It's also the number from Shrek: the Musical that I like.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on! And see you at your reception.

"Cry in the night if it helps"

I'm in the mood to celebrate some older songs and I just had this eerie notion that, having purchased a few "greatest hits" albums (it's just so efficient), that I'm in this horrible mid-life phase where I'm getting into classic rock (ohgodno). If you live in a city with a Dave-FM or Jack-FM or Charlie-FM, stations that claim to play everything (and yet so far, no Yoko Ono, no answer machine messages from my mother, and no recordings of Prince ordering from the KFC drive-through menu [also fuck Prince]), it's the world of iTunes shuffle taking over our lives. That's what this is. It's not classic rock. Oh god, I hope it's not classic rock.

"I'm too alone to be proud"

It doesn't seem like this album is 17 years old. Or is that what old people say about everything? Here's solo Tom Petty from Wildflowers.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"In my woody I would take you everywhere I go"

This wonderful cover of "Surfer Girl" by Phranc with the fantastic Syd Straw (love love love Syd) is out of print. Enjoy before it gets zapped.
  Surfer Girl by rebelagenda

I love Allison Janney

She is also age appropriate for Liam Neeson's wife (but not as traditionally hot as Rene Russo). Even if Mr. Sunshine is beneath her, it's still fun to watch her.

The FBI, FedEx and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

These are just 3 of the entities sending me very short emails with attachments informing me of payments, fund transfers, and job offers! And that's just from the last 5 days.

Check this shit out at my other blog, Luckiest Dude in the World.

Happy Birthday Rene Russo

Rene Russo. Fuck. She would have been PERFECT as Liam Neeson's wife in whatever the fuck Liam Neeson's movie is called. And, AND, totally age appropriate.

And, AND, hot. Like seriously, the woman is hot. Hot for her age. Hot for my age. Hot for your age. I'm not talking about the actresses your age, I'm just talking about general population your age. Don't believe me? Check out the People of Walmart.

She. Is. Hot.

What she's not is busy working on projects. She'll break a 5-year dry period with roles in Thor and Frank and Cindy. If January Jones wants some good karma, she should convince the producers of Mad Men to give Russo a guest role as a powerful woman immune to Don Draper's charm. I still won't watch (probably won't), but it will be nice to have Russo thank me when she accepts her Guest Actress in a Drama Emmy. No, wait, if she wants that she needs to appear on Law & Order: SVU.

She fantastic in Get Shorty, and that's the best movie she's been part of (that I've seen). It's got a fantastic ensemble, some fun and funny dialog and crisp direction. Russo plays the straight man to an array of quirky characters, so it's her best movie but not her best showcase.

Her best showcase, the movie that really lets her be smart and sexy and glamorous all at once is the sudsy remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. A glossy B-movie that's so engaging you forget to ask why she couldn't just go back to the older tapes to see him plant the brief case (thank you Becky).

But I leave you with a movie that I still haven't actually watched (I caught part of a few months ago and realized it wasn't as bad as I feared, although reviews are pretty bad): The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. If you don't know that I love the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons of the 60s, I LOVE THE ROCKY & BULLWINKLE CARTOONS OF THE 60S. But I love them so much that I dreaded them being tainted and never saw it, until HBO-7 or something over Christmas. Didn't suck that much. And, AND... Randy Quaid. I KNOW! How was it not a hit? Russo plays Natasha Fatale, which is nice casting in my book.

January Jones, say you're sorry. Producers of Hollywood, give this woman a juicy role.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

"...the only place where you can leave your doubts"

Sometime over the past few days I started thinking about "Snow on the Sahara," the title track of the 1998 album from Indonesian singer Anggun. KINK-FM used to play it a lot here in Portland, but I don't think I've heard anything else from her since (although she's continuing to record, so this is me being limited in what I listen to, not her fault).

The song caught my attention because I initially thought it was Annie Lennox; but beyond that, its charms are plentiful. If you were a fan of Deep Forest or Enigma, give a listen (and if not, go fuck yourself... told you I'd take my insomnia woes out on you).

Song of the Day: "He Gets Me High"

(I hope you say thank you.)

I have insomnia this week. Yesterday when I needed to get up at 4:15 I couldn't wake up. This morning, wide awake since like 2:30. Hooray.

So I will take my insomnia woes out on you and the inter-tubes.

First up, song of the day from Dum Dum Girls who I figured took their name from a Talk Talk song. Not so. It's derived from an Iggy Pop song ("Dum Dum Boys") and an album called Dum Dum from The Vaselines (or so Wikipedia leads me to believe).

Kinda like Sareena-Maneesh last year, this one hints at The Bangles meeting Sonic Youth. It's a bit more pop than S-M, so maybe it's The Go-Go's/Sonic Youth, or just later Bangles, when CBS wanted to make it the Susanna Hoffs show (that went well, didn't it). Anyway, jam on it!

Song: "He Gets Me High"
Artist: Dum Dum Girls

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How does one ironically wash hands?

In rest room of a bagel place where I killed time during my business trip

Song of the Day: "Shell Game"

Proof that I don't plan my songs of the day or birthdays in advance: yesterday was Conor Oberst's birthday. D'oh.

New music from Bright Eyes, who I confuse with Broken Social Scene. I'm sure you've seen enough of my various confusions of bands to know not to read much into this. They're either from Omaha or Canada, does it matter which?

How do  you know Conor doesn't have an MBA? He sings of changing the paradigm. Silly rabbit, paradigms are for shifting. When I took the job with a start-up back in 1999 I told them they couldn't use the term paradigm more than twice a month. Or play classic rock in the office.
Song: "Shell Game"
Artist: Bright Eyes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Return of the 10-year rule, OR 26 years difference... really?

What the fuck?

I am watching January Jones, whose work on Mad Men is unknown to me; [UPDATE: she was not married to Fred Arminsen, that was a different MM actress... she did date Jason Sudekis, Josh Groban and Ashton Kutcher who told her she wouldn't make it as an actress; thanks to J-rod for pointing this out] but her marriage to the ever-annoying Fred Armisen makes me think that she's missing something critical. Or Armisen is really well endowed. Or both.

Oh, and I guess she's my cousin. Wait, a Jones with "issues" and a size-queen... never (cough) happen.

Anyway, Jones just turned 33 (... hey, me too). She plays the wife (or is she) of Liam Neeson who will turn 59 this year.


Just... no.

Here's a quick list of age appropriate actresses for Liam Neeson: Cybill Shepherd (yes, he's THAT OLD), Heather Locklear, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anne Archer, Carrie Fisher, Laraine Newman (you think she was too busy?).

Bridget Fonda, Faith Ford and Kirsten Johnson are all too young and are still 10 years older than Jones.



Happy Birthday Amber Riley

She's not getting a lot of story time this season on Glee—the writers and producers have been working to integrate new characters and raise the profile of others, and still give quality time to the bullying storyline, so hopefully she'll get a story arc of her own in season 3. Maybe we can meet her family.

And while I have no doubt that the audiences that see her in her inevitable various productions of Dreamgirls, it would be awfully nice to give her more options. Just listen to this voice.

I can get behind her tackling any number of roles, just listen to her tear up this Rufus track. Chaka who? (No disrespect to Ms. Chaka Khan, whose birthday has to be coming up soon.)

Yes, The Wiz, that's obvious. How about The King and I? Grease? Listen to her knock Diana Ross to pieces.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on! And on!

I am getting too old for this shit

Code required to validate comments at Towleroad
I was leaving a comment at a story at Towleroad--Donald Trump doesn't believe gays should be allowed to marry (here). It's awesome that Trump, who is working on his third divorce and has too many failed businesses for me to be bothered to count, has an opinion on my rights. But Trump makes Newt Gingrich seem almost (*almost*) respectable, so I don't give a rat's ass about Trump's opinion on gay marriage rights.

I do, however, have a problem with the security code thingy I had to enter to prove I'm not a spam-bot.

What in the hell is that between "g" and "e" above?! It's like back-to-back, overlapping check marks.

"You can’t see up when looking down"

All this talk of gospel music and Gospel Music made me want to post one of my all-time favorite gospel songs (granted, it's got the "Funky Drummer" groove going on, so if you don't pay attention you might never know [just like vegetables in the sloppy joe's]).

Sounds of Blackness from 1991 (20 years, wow)--I miss having friends at record labels; I never knew what would come my way next.

Song of the Day: "Automobile"

Gracie decided that 4:00 a.m. was an appropriate time to get up, so 4:30 counted as sleeping in, and here I am, around 5:15, coffee brewing, typing my first post. I usually start with song of the day (I've got a list, and don't often write much, it's a ramp up into bitching), but sometimes things are confused, complex, better served by waiting. Which I don't but that's a whole other annual review issue.

Case in point: Gospel Music. It's not gospel music as Sunday's song of the day was (although that didn't sound like gospel music).

Gospel Music is a side project from a dude from Black Kids, who are (mostly?) white, and who may also have started as a church band, which possibly undermines the name Black Kids and also my statement about this not being gospel music (but really, unless I missed Paul's letter regarding the Honda, it's not).

Duettes features (wait for it) singers from a variety of hipster indie bands and a French solo musician paired with BK dude in duets (there it is). And the minute I tell you one of those singers is Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, it will all start to make sense. But this is more Jonathon Richman than Camera Obscura, so, you know, there's that. Enjoy.

Song: "Automobile"
Artist: Gospel Music/Tracyanne Campbell

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quote of the day

"Nobody said being cheap was easy"--Words of wisdom from J-rod

Look, I got a Valentine

From Clark... my reply "guess we'll never know"

Happy Birthday Thelma Ritter

I have no illusion that Ritter is a great actress with a broad range of talents. But OMG she was funny as hell, and managed to upstage many a film icon with her modest delivery of some truly great lines of dialog.

This isn't the real trailer for Rear Window, but it gives Thelma more screen time.

Ritter's film career didn't start until age 45, and in 20 years she picked up 6 Oscar nominations (tying her with Deborah Kerr for most nominations by an actress without a win), 1 Emmy nomination, and a Tony win for New Girl in Town. She even co-hosted the Oscars with Bob Hope.

I wouldn't mind being Thelma Ritter either. But she was kinda a bitch, at times... and I love me some bitches.

Happy birthday dude! Rest in peace.

Song of the Day: "Angry World"

Neil Young picked up his second Grammy ever last night (his first, last year, for helping design his Album Package, so this is his first for music), for Best Rock Song. I'm hearing it for the first time right now and I'm not feeling it. I mean, it's certainly crunchy and all; post-post-grunge? Le Noise was produced by Daniel Lanois, so I might just pick it up from the library to give the whole thing a whirl.

Song: "Angry World"
Artist: Neil Young

Notes on the Grammys

You're so lucky you are regular readers of my blog, so you already knew who Best New Artist winner Esperanza Spalding is (here), and you totally impressed the other people watching the Grammys with you. "Yes, her, jazz musician from Portland, I've know about her for years" (since 2010 through 2011 count as years).

And you were totally expecting an Arcade Fire win (here)--okay, you were totally expecting a Rosanne Cash win for Album of the Year, then Janelle Monae, THEN Arcade Fire. And it's okay if you got freaked out when The Black Keys beat Arcade Fire in the Rock categories.

Cee-Lo's reincarnation of Liberace gave me inspiration for Halloween, and the man pretending to be Bob Dylan continues to make it past security at these events. I feel like he works as a Vincent Price impersonator by day, Dylan by night, while the real Dylan lives on a ranch outside Santa Fe or something.

From what I watched, the tributes to Aretha and Dolly were the best performances: apparently it's not possible to have a Grammy broadcast without John Mayer participating in some kind of all-star line-up, and I think we need to consider Keith Urban just as bad. But Florence Welch and Yolanda Adams got to introduce the world to their stunning voices (and maybe Xtina learned that you don't always have to screech)--all 5 women were great.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Notes on Blue Valentine

I wasn't planning on seeing Blue Valentine, but I was eager to see Ryan Gosling, well, take his clothes off, and Michelle Williams (luckiest actress in the world) is nominated for Best Actress, so it did further my quest to cover Oscar nominations. The story is small and depressing, but Gosling gives a great performance and Williams isn't horrible. I feel like Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Mila Kunis, Milla Jovovich, Mena Suvari and Natalie Portman could have taken on the role with at least equal results.

I liked the cinematography and art direction a lot, and thought the hair and make-up were solid (for Gosling, whose look really seemed to span 10 years).

It's not a pleasant movie, so do not make it a Valentine's Day date night movie tomorrow.

"Alfred Hitchcock had it easy; me, I've got it hard"

Happy birthday to Kim Novak, here's a sweet little something from Phranc. God it's been 20 years for this album.

"Even Rock Hudson lost, his heart, to Doris Day"

Once again it's Stockard's birthday. I think John is still sitting on the bootleg of the revival of Pal Joey so for now, you'll need to settle for another piece from Grease.

Song of the Day: "Beautiful Things"

Denver band Gungor are nominated for 2 Grammys tonight, including 1 for this song. Listen first, then we'll discuss.

It's got a nice sophistication to it. Of course, I don't listen to a lot of Gospel music, so maybe this is typical of that category, maybe it's not (oh yeah, they're nominated for Best Gospel Song and Best Gospel album tonight).

I was going to post the new Lady Gaga today but a couple of things happened. First, I heard this. And second, I heard Gaga's new song twice AND another song of hers, during the hour or so I had the dogs in the truck yesterday (dog park, bank, Starbucks, pick up something from the library), on the same station (I was bored with whoever was on NPR)... it's possible I got burned out on the song within an hour of first hearing it. [UPDATE: Clark explained that, in fact, the station was PLAYING the new Lady Gaga song every hour, which explains hearing it twice, but not why the felt the need to play "Bad Romance" as well, not that I'm complaining.]

Ultimately I don't know if I'll treasure Gungor or not, but it deserves a listen, even just once.

Song: "Beautiful Things"
Artist: Gungor