Archive for the ‘Wayne’s World’ Category

wz1 SOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-Off the Deep End (1992).

Weird_Al_Yankovic_-_Off_the_Deep_EndIt was this “Weird Al” album that brought me back into the fold.  His parody of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (“Smells Like Nirvana”) was hilarious.  And the video was even better.  It was enough for me to get this album (the cover of which even parodied Nevermind) and was a huge seller for Al.  This great cover makes the rest of the parodies seem so strangely one-hit wonderish (which is, of course Al’s bread and butter), but when you read the other parodied songs, it’s so amusingly “who?”

We have  “I Can’t Watch This” (“Can’t Touch This,” MC Hammer).  This parody is pretty funny as his TV stuff is usually very good.  “The White Stuff” (“The Right Stuff” New Kids on the Block–really??) is very very funny.  It works on a parody level and it works so well internally including the way the O-O-O-OREO fits in in both respects.  It’s probably his best overall parody for a song whose original I dislike.  “Taco Grande” is a parody of Rico Suave” (does anyone remember that song?).  This song also happens to be a favorite of mine–the way he says “Taco” in an oddly sexy way makes me laugh every time.  And, internally it works really well, too.  “The Plumbing Song” is a parody of Milli Vanilla.  While the plumbing  jokes are good, the actual chorus, the “punchline,” really doesn’t work.  Just like Milli Vanilli.

The originals are quite strong on this disc, too.  “Trigger Happy” is a Beach Boys style parody which actually is quite relevant in the big gun debate of 2013.  “I Was Only Kidding” is one of his anti-romantic songs, in which he says all of these romantic things and then takes it back.  It’s pretty funny, even with the Wayne’s World joke.  Wikipedia suggests that it’s a style parody of Tonio K, but I don’t know who that is or what he sounds like.  “When I Was Your Age” sounds a lot like a song from the UHF soundtrack–that same musical style, I wonder if the band works on the music together. It’s a funny song that’s all about old people yelling about how easy young people have it.  It’s a good one.

“Airline Amy” is an original song about a stewardess which doesn’t really do much for me.  But the final song on the disc “You Don’t Love me Anymore” is just outstanding.  It’s a funny acoustic ballad, an anti-romantic song with some very funny lines.  The video parodies Extreme’s “More Than Words,” even though the original song wasn’t a parody of that song (but since people thought it was he made the video reflect it). The video is awesome.

And of course, the polka medley is wonderful.  There’s such a weird mix of songs, and this one really dates the record (not in a bad way).  The previous medleys mixed a lot of different eras, but the songs in this one are of a very specific time: “Cradle of Love,” “Tom’s Diner,” “Love Shack,” “Pump Up the Jam,” “Losing My Religion” (the second R.E.M. nod from Al), “Do Me” (I don’t know the original but I love that he throws in a yodel at the end of it), “Cherry Pie,” “I Touch Myself,” “Dr Feelgood” and the unforgettable “Ice Ice Baby.”  It May be the only place where Metallica and “The Humpty Dance” play next to each other, too.

In a final nod to Nirvana, Al tossed in a 5 second piece of noise after ten minutes of silence which he called “Bite Me” (because Nevermind had a very noisy song called “Endless, Nameless” after some 30 minutes of silence).  My friend Matt has a very funny story about not knowing that “Bite Me” would come on and getting the crap scared out of him by it.  Al makes us laugh in many different ways.

[READ: February and March 2013] The Weird Zone series

wz2Readers will know that Clark and I love Tony Abbott.  We keep looking for his older, somewhat harder to find series, and this past month the library came through with The Weird Zone, eight books set in the small town of Grover’s Mill.  There’s a Secret Government UFO testing base at the north of the city, a dinosaur graveyard to the west of the city and Humongous Horror Movie Studio to the east.  Living in this weird triangle between these oddities can mean only one thing–Grover’s Mill, is known to the kids as the Weird Zone (their school is even call W.Reid Elementary).  The adults in town don’t seem to realize what’s going on (although, clearly they must) are called Zoners.

The Humongous Horror Movie studio is run by Mr Vickers.  His kids, Sean and Holly, are two of the five protagonist.  Although it’s a little funny that in book one, Sean is away at camp.  Mr Vickers makes a horror movie every week–they are terrible  but he shows them at the drive in and people come (perhaps because of the huge searchlights he waves around through the sky).  But having this crazy creature shop in town means that things are very rarely normal anyway.

In Book One, Zombie Surf Commandos from Mars!, Liz Duffey, Holly Vickers and Jeff Ryan are enjoying a day at the beach of Lake Lake (named after someone named Lake) when a tidal wave surges forth from the water.  Riding that wave are a bunch of Martian zombies.  They march after the kids looking for brains! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BLUE ÖYSTER CULT-compilations and live releases (1978-2010).

For a band that had basically two hits (“Don’t Fear the Reaper” and “Burnin’ for You”) and maybe a half a dozen other songs that people might have heard of, BOC has an astonishing number of “greatest hits” collections.

Starting in 1987 we got Career of Evil: The Metal Years (1987), Don’t Fear the Reaper (1989), On Flame with Rock n’ Roll (1990), Cult Classic (which is actually the band re-recording their old tracks (!)) (1994), and the two cd collection Workshop of the Telescopes (1995).  There’s even Singles Collection, (2005) which is a collection of their European singles & Bsides.

This doesn’t include any of the “budget price” collections: E.T.I. Revisited, Tattoo Vampire, Super Hits, Then and Now, The Essential, Are You Ready To Rock?, Shooting Shark, Best of, and the 2010 release: Playlist: The Very Best of).

The lesson is that you evidently won’t lose money making a BOC collection.

I don’t know that any of these collections are any better than the others.

The 2 CD one is for completists, but for the most part you’re going to get the same basic tracks on all of them.

And, although none of them have “Monsters” for the average person looking for some BOC, any disc is a good one.

Regardless of the number of hits they had, BOC was tremendous live.  And, as a result, there have also been a ton of live records released.  Initially the band (like Rush) released a live album after every three studio albums. On Your Feet or On Your Knees (1975) Some Enchanted Evening (1978) and Extraterrestrial Live (1982) were the “real releases.”

Then, in 1994 we got Live 1976 as both CD and DVD (which spares us nothing, including Eric Bloom’s lengthy harangue about the unfairness of…the speed limit).  It’s the most raw and unpolished on live sets.  2002 saw the release of A Long Day’s Night, a recording of a 2002 concert (also on DVD) which had Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma an Allan Lanier reunited.

They also have a number of might-be real live releases (fans debate the legitimacy of many of these).  Picking a concert disc is tough if only because it depends on the era you like.  ETLive is regarded as the best “real” live disc, although the reissued double disc set of Some Enchanted Evening is hard to pass up.  Likewise, the 2002 recording is a good overview of their career, and includes some of their more recent work.

If you consider live albums best of’s (which many people do) I think it’s far to say that BOC has more best of’s than original discs.  Fascinating.  Many BOC fans believe that if they buy all the best of discs, it will convince Columbia to finally reissue the rest of the original discs (and there are a number of worthy contenders!) in deluxe packages.  I don’t know if it will work, but I applaud the effort.

[READ: October 2009-February 2010] State By State

This is a big book. And, since it’s a collection essays, it’s not really the kind of big book that you read straight through.  It’s a perfect dip in book.  And that’s why it took me so long to get through.

I would love to spend a huge amount of time devoting a post to each essay in the book.  But, well, there’s 51 (including D.C.) and quite a few of them I read so long ago I couldn’t say anything meaningful about.  But I will summarize or at least give a sentence about each essay, because they’re all so different.

I’ll also say that I read the Introduction and Preface last (which may have been a mistake, but whatever).  The Preface reveals that what I took to be a flaw in the book was actually intentional.  But let me back up and set up the book better.

The catalyst for the book is the WPA American Guide Series and sort of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.  The WPA Guides were written in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration.  48 guide books were written, one for each state.  Some famous writers wrote the books, but they were ultimately edited (and many say watered down) by a committee.  I haven’t read any of them, but am quite interested in them (and am looking to get the New Jersey one).  Each guide was multiple hundreds of pages (the New Jersey one is over 800).

State By State is written in the spirit of that series, except the whole book is 500 pages (which is about 10 pages per state, give or take).  And, once again, famous writers were asked to contribute (no committee edited this book, though).  I’ve included the entire list of authors at the end of the post, for quick access.

So I started the book with New Jersey, of course.  I didn’t realize who Anthony Bourdain was until I looked him up in the contributor’s list (I’m sure he is thrilled to hear that).  And his contribution was simultaneously exciting and disappointing,.  Exciting because he and I had quite similar upbringings: he grew up in North Jersey (although in the wealitheir county next to mine) and had similar (although, again, more wealthy) experiences. The disappointing thing for me was that Bourdain fled the state  for New York City (and, as I now know, untold wealth and fame (except by me))  I felt that his fleeing the state, while something many people aspire to, is not really representative of the residents of the state as a whole.

And that dissatisfaction is what I thought of as the flaw of the book (until I read the Preface).  In the Preface, Matt Weiland explains that they asked all different authors to write about states.  They asked some natives, they asked some moved-ins, they asked some temporary residents and they asked a couple of people to go to a state for the first time.  In reality, this decision makes for a very diverse and highly entertaining reading.  In my idealized world, I feel like it’s disingenuous to have people who just stop in to give their impression of an area.  But hey, that’s not the kind of book they wanted to compile, and I did enjoy what they gave us, so idealism be damned.

For most of the book, whenever I read an essay by someone who wasn’t a native or a resident of a state, I assumed that there weren’t any famous writers from that state.  I’ve no idea if that played into anything or not.  From what I gather, they had a list of authors, and a list of states (I was delighted to read that three people wanted to write about New Jersey-if the other two writers ever decided to put 1,000 words  to paper, I’d love to read them (hey editors, how about State by State Bonus Features online, including any extra essays that people may have wanted to write).

From New Jersey, I proceeded alphabetically.  And, I have to say that I’m a little glad I did.  I say this because the first few states in the book come across as rather negative and kind of unpleasant.  Alabama (written by George Packer) comes across as downtrodden, like a place you’d really have to love to live there.  Even Alaska, which ended up being a very cool story, felt like a veil of oppression resided over the state (or at  least the part of the state that Paul Greenberg wrote bout.)  But what I liked about this essay and the book in general was that the authors often focused on unexpected or little known aspects of each state.  So the Alaska essay focused on Native fisherman and the salmon industry.  Obviously it doesn’t do justice to the rest of that enormous state,  but that’s not what the book is about.

The book is meant to be a personal account of the author’s experiences in the state. (more…)

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