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Archive for the ‘Pac Man’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: December 20, 2021] Weird Accordion to Al

After writing the “Weird Al” biography, with “Weird Al” himself, Nathan Rabin dug even deeper into his “Weird Al” fandom to write a detailed account of, as the subtitle says, “Every ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Album Analyzed in Obsessive Detail.”

“Weird Al” wrote the (short) introduction and then Nathan drops the needle on “Weird Al” Yankovic, Al’s 1983 debut album.

Nathan goes into varying degrees of detail on each of the songs.  Nathan was a rabid “Weird Al” fan from when he was a little kid.  And when he talks about how much he loves Al, you can see his deep abiding appreciation for everything Al has done.

Some songs get a paragraph, nut most get a page or so.  He usually talks about how much he likes (or loves) the song (and occasionally dislikes).  There’s nostalgia in the older songs and jokes and observations about contemporary things as well (Rabin’s politics poke through once in a while.  Good thing he’s a smart guy.

Because he did the Al biography with Al, he presumably got a lot of insight into the man and his work.  So although sometimes his insights seem like maybe he’s reading too much into a goofy parody, perhaps he’s on to things.  Maybe Al’s depth is deeper than rhyming Sharona with Bologna.  Which is not in any way to diminish Al’s intelligence.  He’s obviously very smart, especially as his later songs indicate.

Rabin’s tone throughout the book is smart and snarky.  He talks about the songs and the video (if there is one).  He talks about the production quality (or lack thereof) on the first album.  He references Dr. Demento (because the Dr is essential to Al’s career).  He also references Don DeLillo’s White Noise and says things like “Al is in deconstructionist mode.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ROCK & ROLL DUBBLE BUBBLE TRADING CARD CO. OF PHILADELPHIA-19141 – “Bubble Gum Music” (1968).

19141I thought it was a very clever idea posting about bubblegum music for this book.  If only I had known how much music was actually mentioned in the book and, ultimately, how inappropriate these songs are to the book–in tone and content.

However, I have really enjoyed discovering some of these songs that i’d never heard of before.  Like this one.

This might be may favorite bubblegum song of all.  In addition to being catchy (obviously) with a simple swinging horn melody, the lyrics are hilariously self-referential.

A bubblegum song about bubblegum songs which mentions some of the most popular bubblegum songs.

Since most of the bubblegum songs were written by the same few people (under different band names), it’s very likely that they are singing about some of their own songs.

The stupidly catchy chorus:

Give me more, more, more Of that bubble gum music
Makes me feel so good Oh, I never want to lose it
Let me dance, dance, dance To that bubble gum music
If you really want to turn me on

which is of course repeated about ten times.

But then come the lyrics which mention a while bunch of bubblegum hits

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wonder what she`s doin`
While the Monkees are singing for Valleri
Simon says take you down to LuLu`s
You`re gonna feel yummy, yummy, yummy

The second verse is even funnier because it turns into a kind of diss track

Well the Grateful Dead just leave me cold (ooo!)
And Herbie Alpert makes me feel too o-old (feel too old)
I can groove to rhythm and blues (rhythm and blues)
But if I had to choose, if I had to choose If I had to choose,

All of this wrapped up in one of the most ridiculously lengthy band names ever.

Spectacular.

[READ: June 29, 2020] Bubblegum Week 8

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

Hitting Back on the Brickhorse

With this week, the book comes to an end and I can’t help but feel disappointed by the ending.  At some point a few years ago I realized that endings are often the worst part of a book.  Endings can’t ever do what the reader really hopes will happen, especially if the reader has a different idea of what the book is doing.  I must have had a very different idea of what this book was a bout because I left that last page with so many questions–questions that Levin clearly had no intention of answering.

Like what if the entire book from after Belt gets his cure until the very end is all in his head.  He is just crazy and none of these things happened.  There are no cures.  Everything that seems off about his world is because his perception is skewed.  He has the wrong date and perpetrator of 9/11.  He misunderstands The Matrix, he believes he was given hundreds of thousands of dollars from the creator of The Matrix.  His father is dating the mother of the wife of an author that he likes.  But really he’s just in Costello house imagining he’ll meet up with Lisette someday.

I don’t really think that’s what happened, but there’s so much left out after the ending, that I have to fill it in somehow.

I was particularly interested in this first section being called AOL.  There has been no real explicit nudge from the author that there is no internet in the book, but this title was clearly a wink at us.  Particularly since Belt doesn’t know what it stands for either. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NEIL YOUNG AND THE INTERNATIONAL HARVESTERS-A Treasure [NY Archives 09] (2011).

Continuing with the randomly numbered Archive releases, Neil Young has released A Treasure, the sixth release (which is labelled #09) in the Performance Series.  This is with the Neil Young band called the International Harvesters.

I had never even heard of this iteration of a Neil Young band–they toured during 1984/5 for the Old Ways album.  This is an album that I barely knew but is one that Sarah loved, so this one is more for her than me.  The band is a very country band–fiddles and slide guitars and all that.  Neil’s even got a twang in his voice.  But even with that, (it’s not my music of choice), this album has a lot of great stuff on it (including five previously unreleased songs).

There are a number of real country songs on this disc–“Amber Jean” and “It Might Have Been” are straight-up country.  Although “Are You Ready for the Country” (which has some major country trappings like that fiddle solo) is actually a bit more of a countrified Neil Young song than a country song per se.  “Nothing is Perfect” is a kind of group sing along.  The kind of song that you might hear at the end of the night at a pub.

Despite this being the Old Ways tour, there are only two songs from that album here.  “Bound for Glory” is the song I knew best from this era.  And it is indeed a very country song (that steel pedal guitar!). “Back to the Country” is the other one, and it, too is a true country song.

“Let Your Fingers Do the Walking” and “Flying on the Ground is Wrong” are different takes on country songs.  The funny thing is that “Flying” (which was originally a Buffalo Springfield song) has a very Neil Young guitar progression built in, during the “I miss you” parts.  He does this very simple chord progression which he uses quite a lot in his songs.

“Motor City” is (another) song about cars.  He may have more songs about cars than Springsteen.  This one is all about his old cars and how “there’s too many Toyotas on the road.”  It’s super catchy, even as I listen to it in my Prius.  “Southern Pacific” is another song that gets a good honky tonk treatment.  It’s seven minutes long with lots of solo.  This is the kind of country-style music I prefer and this one is great with wonderful runs from the fiddles.  Both of these songs appeared on Neil’s Re*Ac*Tor album.

“Soul of a Woman” is more of a blues song, with some country inflections.  And the final song “Grey Riders” is a wonderful stomping track.   It has a great riff and the strings really complement the song.  After all of that country, this song has some awesome screaming guitars on it.  And if you like your Neil rocking, it is absolutely worth it for this song.

The newspaper article that’s included with the set refers to a show during this tour and, not to grouse about a record, but the show it describes sounds awesome–a few old Neil classics at the end of the set which really whetted my appetite for some of those other songs with this band.   But this seems to be a truncated version of that set list.  Nevertheless, as I said, this isn’t my favorite era of Neil’s music, but the band sounds really great.  And these songs shine very nicely.  It’s an enjoyable and unexpected addition to his archives.

[READ: October 20, 2011] Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever

I managed to get on the promotional mailing list for this book and so in addition to the free pencils (awesome!) and posters (3 in my son’s room), I also received an email update about the release almost daily.

I was a little less than 100% happy with the previous Wimpy book.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it as much as the first couple.  But man, this one came roaring back on all cylinders and it is one of the best in the series.

Three things really work to make this one so great:

One:  the return to school and a host of new school-related problems.  Although it’s funnier for me since my son is in school now, the issues are general enough that anyone can really laugh about them.

Two: the return of Rowley.  I feel like he was sorely missed when he and Greg were fighting.  He’s not a great character on his own, but he rubs Greg the wrong way enough to bring out some great humor.

Three: The increasing power of Manny.  I don’t understand Manny at all, I don’t even know how old he is.  He’s like a really really tiny kid, which makes me think that he’s a baby.  And yet he is so smart and totally has the run of the family.  That has been obvious in the past with the tantrums he threw to get what he wanted, but now he is combining his evil genius with a sophisticated mind to really wreak havoc on the Heffley household (he changes passwords all over the house, for instance).

So this book is all about Christmas break and snow (hence the title).  I love that it starts with the Heffley version of Elf on a Shelf (but this one is even more creepy because it’s a homemade doll from Greg’s mom’s childhood). (more…)

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originalSOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS-Race for the Prize (1999) & Waiting for a Superman’ (1999) singles.

race11race21When these singles were released, Zaireeka was out of print; these discs were the only way to get any of the tracks.  So, each of these singles has two track from a Zaireeka disc as a B-side: “Riding to Work in the superman1superman2Year 2025 (Your Invisible Now)” & “Thirty Thousand Feet of Despair.”   “Race for the Prize” (1 and 2) have the tracks from Zaireeka discs 1 and 2, and “Waitin’ for a Superman” (1 and 2) have the tracks from Zaireeka discs 3 and 4.  The singles aren’t really worth hunting down at this point since Zaireeka is now available, but at the time, they were worth it.

[READ: January 18-Feb 5, 2009] Schott’s Original Miscellany

This is the book that started the Schott empire!

Ben Schott wrote this book (the origin story will appear shortly) and it was so successful that he wrote 2 more volumes (all reviewed here).  This led to his annual almanacs/miscellanies. There are different versions of the annual almanac for England and the U.S. (and Germany too!) and I can’t help but wonder just how different they are.  So if any one has an old UK edition of a Schott’s almanac that they want to send me, let me know!

For all your miscellany needs, check out  http://www.miscellanies.info/. Lots of information here! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GNARLS BARKLEY-The Odd Couple (2008).

So “Crazy” was Gnarls Barkley’s ubiquitous and fantastic single from 2006. The rest of St. Elsewhere was nowhere near as catchy, although it was all quite good. It was funny to see the backlash for this record because there was no “Crazy” on it. And yet, the rest of the album is not too different from the rest of St. Elsewhere. The same themes are there: lunacy, insecurity. And the production feels kind of claustrophobic like the first one did.

“Crazy” was a great single because Cee-Lo was able to unleash his mammoth voice. There are a couple of songs on The Odd Couple where Cee-Lo gets to unleash: “Surprise,” and “Neighbors.” But they’ve also got some great, subdued songs as well: “Blind Mary,” “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul.”

The music from Danger Mouse seems to be busier and more complex on this one, too. There’s all kinds of samples on the record, but they are hard to distinguish from the original music: a true sign of great sampling. There’s a background chorus of some sort on “Surprise” that is just fantastic, and I can’t tell if it’s the sample or not (since I’ve never heard the original).

Perhaps it’s because The Odd Couple is fresher in my mind, by I think I like it better than St. Elsewhere, even without “Crazy.”

[READ: July 1, 2008] “The Perfect Game”

As I said, I don’t usually review articles in magazines. This one, however, had special resonance. (more…)

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