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SOUNDTRACK: THE BANANA SPLITS-“The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)” (1968).

traOf all the bubblegum pop songs, this is probably the one I know the best.

I was surprised to discover that the song and TV show were from 1968, because I used to watch it all the time.

But I see that the series originally ran from September 7, 1968 to September 5, 1970, but then it was in syndication from 1971 to 1982, which is when I watched it.  Amazingly, it was in syndication for 11 years and there were only 31 episodes made.

Is there anything catchier than a bunch of people singing tra la la, la la la la?

And then the lyrics couldn’t be simpler:

One banana, two banana, three banana, four
Four bananas make a bunch and so do many more
Over hill and highway the banana buggies go
Coming on to bring you the Banana Splits show
Making up a mess of fun
Making up a mess of fun
Lots of fun for everyone
Four banana, three banana, two banana, one
All bananas playing in the bright warm sun
Flipping like a pancake, popping like a cork
Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snork

This was the theme song for the TV show.  It was a minute and a half and is insanely catchy.

The Dickies did a punk cover in the 1970s, which doesn’t sound very different from the original, expect that instead of bright keyboards, the music is all guitars and drums.  It is faster-paced and yet longer because of a guitar solo and some extra sing along parts.

For those unfamiliar with the show, the Banana Splits were:

  • Fleegle — A greenish-brown dog wearing a large red bow tie, black buttons, brownish-orange chucks, with his tongue is always sticking out. He plays a guitar and sings.
  • Bingo — A nasal-voiced orange gorilla wearing white glasses and a yellow vest, featuring a toothy grin. He plays drums and sings.
  • Drooper — A lion with a very long tail wearing yellowish-orange glasses, spats on his feet, and speaks with a Southern drawl. He plays a bass guitar and sings.
  • Snorky — A mute furry elephant wearing pink glasses. He becomes a regular elephant in season 2, wearing a green vest with yellow stripes. He communicates through honking sounds akin to a clown horn, and one of the other Splits would translate what he is saying. He plays a keyboard.

What a great time to be a kid.

[READ: June 8, 2020] Bubblegum Week 5

Over at the Infinite Zombies site, there was talk of doing a Quarantine book read.  After debating a few books, we decided to write about a new book, not a book that everyone (or some people) had read already.  This new book would be Bubblegum by Adam Levin.  Many of us had read Levin’s massive The Instructions which was not especially challenging, although it was a complex meta-fictional story of books within books.  It was kind of disturbing, but also rather funny and very entertaining.

So I’ll be posting weekly ideas on this schedule

Date Through Page
May 11 81
May 18 176
May 25 282
June 1 377
June 8 476
June 15 583
June 22 660
June 29 767

A Fistful of Fists is a Handful

After the academia and “high brow” thoughts of Triple J’s essays, this week’s transcription of Triple J’s film A Fistful of Fists: A Documentary Collage is rather tough reading.  It reminded me of reading something like David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men or Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (The Part About the Crimes) in that there’s some really horrible things to witness but their inclusion serves to prove a point and even to further the plot and fill in some gaps.

A Fistful of Fists is a collage of twenty-seven short films all about the joy of killing cures.  The transcription is a print version of what is seen on the videos, sometimes in graphic detail.  Scenes of it reminded me of some of the “torture porn” stories that were trendy a while back. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FUN AND GAMES-“Elephant Candy” (1968).

indexI’d never heard of The Fun and Games before looking up this bubblegum pop song.

Amazingly there were six members of the band (and none of them were cartoons).

The band members and name were constantly in flux and they released only one album, Elephant Candy in 1968.

“Elephant Candy” is a two and a half minute pop delight.

The main music of this song sounds almost like the music of a merry-go-round–a kind of sugar-coated pipe organ.

The song opens with the preposterously catchy “elephant elephant candy did you know that elephants can be fun eating candy on the run.”  The second go-round features backing vocals of a steady “Ahhahahh” that sounds simultaneously unsettling and catchy: kind of like a fun house mirror.

The verse seems like its just an opportunity to pause in between the next appearance of the chorus.

If that weren’t catchy enough, the song moves up a step so it’s even more treacly. Somehow, the song even has time for two keyboard solos.

[READ: June 1, 2020] Bubblegum Week 4

Over at the Infinite Zombies site, there was talk of doing a Quarantine book read.  After debating a few books, we decided to write about a new book, not a book that everyone (or some people) had read already.  This new book would be Bubblegum by Adam Levin.  Many of us had read Levin’s massive The Instructions which was not especially challenging, although it was a complex meta-fictional story of books within books.  It was kind of disturbing, but also rather funny and very entertaining.

So I’ll be posting weekly ideas on this schedule

Date Through Page
May 11 81
May 18 176
May 25 282
June 1 377
June 8 476
June 15 583
June 22 660
June 29 767

Sometimes One Looks Like The Other, Bad Taste and Stupidity

This weeks reading was really intense.  It also showed things that I never imagined would come up.

  • A lengthy and carefully edited suicide note.
  • A lengthy treatise on transgendered persons/prostitution/homosexuality
  • Academic papers that are simultaneously well-written and yet obviously the work of a child.

Part Two, Section 5 of the book is called “Letters and Facts.”

This was an interesting place to stop/resume reading because, although they reference the same incident, the beginning of this section differs from the end of the previous section.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OHIO EXPRESS-“Chewy, Chewy” (1967).

The name Ohio Express sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember why. Turns out that they did “Yummy Yummy Yummy” (which I could have put here, but “Chewy Chewy” seems more bubblegum-apt).

What I was fascinated to discover though, was that (according to Wikipwdia)

“Ohio Express” served as a brand name used by Jerry Kasenetz’s and Jeffry Katz’s Super K Productions to release the music of a number of different musicians and acts. The best known songs of Ohio Express (including their best scoring single, “Yummy Yummy Yummy”) were actually the work of an assemblage of studio musicians working out of New York, including singer/songwriter Joey Levine.

Several other “Ohio Express” hits were the work of other, unrelated musical groups, including the Rare Breed, and an early incarnation of 10cc. In addition, a completely separate touring version of Ohio Express appeared at all live dates, and recorded some of the band’s album tracks.

So basicaslly, Ohio Express were like The Monkees, but without a cute public face.

In fact, if Wikipedia is to be believed, (and sure, why wouldn’t it), Ohio Express has a fascinatingly complex and questionable history.  Almost worth a novel in itself.

This song opens with a high -pitched “doo doodoodoo do” as the main verse breezes along in quite a familiar bubblegum style.  You can absolutely hear “Yummy Yummy Yummy” in the pedigree of this song.

It’s bouncy and catchy with the appropriate keyboard bops.  The biggest surprise comes at a minute and forty five seconds when the song throws in, inexplicably, the guitar riff from “Then He Kissed Me” for two measures as a kind of instrumental break then returns to the main melody.  This is no where near as catchy as “Yummy Yummy Yummy,” but it has its moments.

The album that this song comes from Chewy Chewy is remarkably annoying.  It’s under 30 minutes but it is just full of “comic” bits.  “Nothing Sweeter Than My Baby” opens with over 30 seconds (of a song that lasts 2:52) with one guy saying “Oh Bonnie” (or bunny) and the other guy in falsetto saying “Oh Clyde” over and over and over.  I don’t even assume it was funny back then.  “So Good So Fine” opens with a 30 second “skit” about Superman being stuck in a phone booth.  The full song is 2:10 and has nothing to do with Superman, phone booths or anything of the sort.

“Yes Sir” opens with a person saying “Hi, I’m chicken little.” The angry reply is, “I don’t care who you are get your beak out of my popcorn.”  What?  The song is practically a children’s call and response song.  “Little Girl” opens with a “dialogue” that includes a fairly lengthy backwards spoken section which is apparently the person talking?  The hilarious punchline is that the person is from Poughkeepsie, New York.  You know it’s funny because there is a silly fake cackle.  The ensuing song is pretty catchy though.  There’s even a pop version of “Simon Says.”

I guess writing pop hits isn’t as easy as it seems.

[READ: May 25, 2020] Bubblegum Week 3

Over at the Infinite Zombies site, there was talk of doing a Quarantine book read.  After debating a few books, we decided to write about a new book, not a book that everyone (or some people) had read already.  This new book would be Bubblegum by Adam Levin.  Many of us had read Levin’s massive The Instructions which was not especially challenging, although it was a complex meta-fictional story of books within books.  It was kind of disturbing, but also rather funny and very entertaining.

So I’ll be posting weekly ideas on this schedule

Date Through Page
May 11 81
May 18 176
May 25 282
June 1 377
June 8 476
June 15 583
June 22 660
June 29 767

Lacing up my rhinestoned shirt in Vegas or: Finking wrecks fun

Part Two of the book is called The Hope of Rusting Swingsets

So if you thought the swing set murders were not going to be revisited, you’d have been wrong.

Part 2 Section 1 is called “Look at Your Mother.”  It concerns Stevie Strumm.

Belt has had a crush on Stevie for a while.  She’s the only girl that he can comfortably talk to.  Stevie had once given him a mixtape because he liked her Cramps shirt.  Stevie, the second youngest Strumm, invited Belt over to destroy their rusted swingset (number ten in his murderous spree).  She was babysitting her younger sister while the rest of her family was at a G N’ R show.

The end of the second paragraph promises two events that we haven’t seen and may or may not.  He has a vertiginous feeling that he will feel “while dressing at the foot of Grete the grad student’s bed and after reading No Please Don’t‘s first review.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2014] John Oliver

oliverI have loved John Oliver for a long time.  I have been delighted to see him go from the British guy on the Daily Show (when he replaced Jon Stewart, he was really fantastic) to the British guy on Community and now the British guy with his own HBO show (which I have never seen since I don’t get HBO).  When I saw that he was doing standup in New Brunswick I had to go.  Our friends Eleanor and Liz went with us and we had a lovely night in good ol’ New Brunswick (strangely enough there was literally no one in the parking garage where we parked yet every restaurant was packed).

Sarah and I were worried that the stand up would reference his show, but it didn’t.  It was topical and funny and weird and funny and political and funny and very very funny.

The show opened with an Indian woman stand up.  Nothing is more thankless than being an opening act for a comedian.  For starters, we didn’t know there would be an opening act.  Then we didn’t find out until we saw in tiny letters on the tiny marquee in the foyer that there would be an opening act.  And we pushed through the doors so quickly that I never saw her name.  And of course they announced it, but I don’t remember what they said her name was.  And even worse I can’t seem to find it online anywhere (searching for “Indian female comedian” did not help believe it or not).  And we never got a program (if it was indeed listed in there).

[UPDATE: April 9, 2015] So I wrote to The State Theater and learned that our mystery comedian’s name is Aparna Nancherla.  You can see a clip of her on Conan where she tells the dog poop joke (and yes it is still funny).  But stay for the end to see the insane size difference between the two.

But she was very funny.  Her jokes were observational with some delightful nearly whispered punchlines that undermined her set ups.  She did an amusing but about drug store receipts.  There was a funny bit about going to customs in Australia and having to explain her occupation of “comedian.”  But a lot of her jokes were about making it in New York City.  There was a rather amusing dog poop joke and a very funny human poop joke.  The human poop joke was more about apartment hunting with a hilarious and disgusting premise that she claimed was a requirement for living in a new apartment (it was hilarious whether true or not). (more…)

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2013 has been cruel to TV that I like.  Between the shows that have been cancelled and the shows that are ending, there’s not much to look forward to for the Spring.  Ben and Kate is gone, the US version of The Inbetweeners is gone, Don’t Trust the B—- is done (but we had stopped watching anyhow), 30 Rock is done, The Office is finishing up, Parenthood & Bunheads have budget issues which means there is some amount of question about their future and The Mindy Show is awful.

And yet, after that introduction, it’s not like there’s nothing on.

So here’s what’s on our schedule as February draws to a close.  I never bothered to tally shows by network before but let’s see:
NBC: 4  FOX: 3   CBS: 3  Comedy Central: 2  FX: 2   PBS: 2  ABC: 1  Lifetime: 1 SyFy: 1  IFC: 1 (more…)

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tobo3SOUNDTRACK: iMOGEN HEAP-Speak for Yourself (2005).

heapI really liked Heap’s first album i Megaphone, but I didn’t really think to much about her after that.  Sometime last year I heard a track she was in with Frou Frou, which I liked.  So I thought I’d get this album which was highly regarded.

The problem with it is that I have listened to it a bunch of times, often several times in a row and it really just never sticks with me.  I keep relistening to see if it ever does but it’s just a kind of nebulous dancey pop.  Heap has an interesting voice–she can hit major highs, but she can also do a raspy voice that is unusual and intriguing.  But I suppose the problem is that there’s so much going on that she is effectively lost in the sound.

The standout track is “Hide and Seek” but that’s because her voice is manipulated by a vocoder, making her sound like a machine. It’s a very cool effect, especially when she hits a very high note, but it can’t really be a good sign that the most memorable track on the album is the one where you sound like a machine.

This is not to say that the album is bad–there are a number of interesting moments on it, unfortunately there aren’t a lot of great songs.  When I was looking this disc up to see other comments about it, I see that it was very highly regarded in the dance genre.  And maybe given those parameters I should revise somewhat as well.  As dance music this is more interesting than your average four on the floor stuff.  I can see how it led to the duet of Frou Frou.  And yet, compared to i Megaphone, I fear that it’s a lot less exciting.

[READ: January 12, 2013] The Dangerous Animals Club

I don’t often read autobiographies or memoirs.  I really never even look for them.  But I was waiting online at the library and this book jumped out at me.  I don’t really know why.  The title is kind of interesting and catchy.  And the author’s named seemed, if not familiar, then at least compelling in a very-long-and-Polish-or-Russian way.  So I started flipping through it.  And it sounded interesting.

But who the hell is Stephen Tobolowsky?  Well, if you have seen just about any movie or TV show, you have seen him.  He has been in a ton of things.  He was in Groundhog Day, he was in Heroes, he is in Glee, he was in The Mindy Project briefly.  Community? yup.  The New Adventures of Old Christine?  you bet.  Deadwood for a lot of the show.  That 70’s Show for one episode.  He was in the unaired pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He was even in a 1976 movie called Keep My Grave Open!

So who is he?   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MICHAEL HAGGINS-“Daybreak” (2004).

If you’re a fan of the show Community, you know that they play around with all kinds of conventions.  If you follow Community closely, you know that there are many recurring gags.  If you really pay attention, you may have heard a recurring gag.  There’s a song that has appeared in a number of episodes and each time it is heard, it is because a cast member is singing or hummng it.  The first time I encountered it was in the Halloween Episode where Abed is telling a story.  In his version, the kids turn on the radio and rather than hearing an immediate late breaking news story (which would never happen in real life), a song comes on the radio.  When they flash back to Abed telling the story, he hums the tune that goes on longer than you might think.  [I love that someone created an looped version of it].

The song appears again in various spots including at the end of an episode where Annie is on Troy and Abed’s show and she rearranges their bedroom.  Troy puts up a technical difficulties sign and hums the song too.

Well, it turns out that it’s a real song.  Forbes magazine (!) describes it as a relaxing number that could easily be played on any adult contemporary or smooth jazz radio station across the country.  It’s by Michael Haggins and it’s called “Daybreak.”  In the pillow forts and blankets episode when Real Neal plays the song over the radio, he announces it as “Daybreak,” which I guess is the real clue people needed to finding out the song (I assumed it was just something the staff made up).   So the next time that someone on the cast whistles or hums a song, there’s a good chance it’s this.

Here’s a clip of all the uses of the song on the show:

[READ: November 20, 2012] Hand Glider & Mud Mask

Brian McMullen is the guy behind the McSweeney’s McMullens childrens book imprint.  And this is his first book (I have no biographical info on Jägel).

This book has a terrific gimmick.  It was bound like a letter S, so there is a front cover, a middle cover and a back cover, but when you get to the back cover, because of the design, it is once again a front cover.  In other words, there are two short stories in this book Hang Glider and Mud Mask and when you get to the end of Hang Glider, the cover has turned so that you can now begin Mud Mask (no flipping necessary).  And the stories are connected, so it all works together very nicely. (more…)

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I was planning to wait until the season finales before writing about our spring/summer TV watching.  But then this week, NBC announced that they would be either not renewing or renewing in a very limited capacity 30 Rock, Community and Parks and Recreation.  Wow, talk about throwing a bomb on your programming.  Thursday night NBC has been a powerhouse for the last few years with 5 shows, (yes, five, with their crazy programming flip flops) that were strong.  Interestingly, The Office, the only show not chopped, has been the weakest of the bunch.  I wanted the season with Michael Scott to be good but it really wasn’t.

Since I first wrote that some more details have emerged and it seems that all three shows have been picked up for 13 episodes–with, as I gather, room to expand if the new shows that NBC tries to fill their shoes with suck.  If you want a positive spin on this, read the A.V. Club dude’s take on it (at the bottom of the post, final bullet point, although the whole post will tell you why it is such a good show if you’re not watching it.).

When I posted about TV last, Karen left a comment that we watch a lot of TV and that has stuck with me. I still don’t feel like we do…  We watch a lot of shows, but we don’t channel surf, we don’t just have the TV on.  We have appointment TV, is how I like to think of it.  And, of course, while there a lot of titles, many drop off the list (by us or the networks) and quite a few are only 13 episodes long.  But man, there has been a serious drop off in numbers after this season.

So let’s see what has been removed from the last post: (more…)

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I was planning to write this post early in the TV Season.  I found out that the TiVo website rather helpfully includes a page of all the premiere dates of shows, which in addition to telling us when shows started, has also turned out to be a good way to keep track of the shows that were cancelled already.  Our goal is basically to get every good show cancelled so that we can watch our poor Netflix DVDs (which now that we had to change our policy we have mercifully fewer discs that we are not watching).  Um, thanks for the hike Netflix?

Anyhow, it’s now  about seven weeks into the season and we’ve already lost a number of shows–some as quickly as two weeks in…which, really?  I mean why bother.  Surprisingly, none of the FOX shows were cancelled yet.  That’s probably because FOX didn’t pick anything cool or interesting enough for me to want to watch–that’s actually not true, they have some good new shows this season, but nothing like Arrested Development.

So, this time I’m breaking it down by day of the week (which is silly since we TiVo everything and watch it whenever).  And this time red shows are shows we have given up on and Green ones are ones that we’re still enjoying. (more…)

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I usually try to do a TV post once a season, just to remind myself of what I watched.  For some reason I didn’t write one in the beginning of the year, so I’m catching up now with season enders and mid-season replacements.  And yes I am pointedly writing this just after finding out that several shows (four of them brand new) that I enjoyed quite a bit were cancelled for good.

So I’ll start with the shows that we watched (or tried to watch) that have been cancelled. (more…)

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