Why I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy

One reason, and one reason only: The music.

Not the hip adult alternative songs demonstrating each week how much their musical tastes overlap with Zach Braff’s. I’m talking about the grating instrumental background music.

Here’s the thing — the music is also a major irritation for me in Desperate Housewives, though the breaking point for me with that show was the fact that Felicity Huffman, Emmy or no Emmy, is totally wasted in that one-note role. In DH, pizzicato strings are the rough equivalent of porn music. (Yes, “womp-chickabomp-BOWWW” music.) They cue the strings, and we hear Mary Alice talking about death and psychologically scarred kids like she’s gossiping about someone’s cleavage-baring dress. (“We all have our secrets … whether it’s that dress we tried to return for store credit after getting it dirty … or the fact that we’re harboring a cannibalistic serial killer in our basement …”)

I believe Grey’s Anatomy has added a celesta to the pizzicato strings. Or maybe it’s all just a synthesizer with a random bell added to some lame string sound. It sounds like someone is trying to do a production of The Nutcracker while we’re all wondering if George will ever get laid again after Meredith burst out crying in the middle of their premaritals. (Wow, seriously — that’s harsh. It’s a bit of a blow to the male ego to know that whatever you’re doing provides such scant distraction from whatever else is going on in someone’s head. On the other hand, Paris Hilton spent most of that tape practicing silly poses for the camera, blissfully oblivious to the act in progress, and yet that guy seemed to think the tape was flattering. Some men really are that clueless. OK, where was I?)

So anyway — the music just doesn’t work for me. I find it so irritating that it keeps from watching a show I otherwise would watch. Is that crazy?

Background music also was a factor in my shunning of The X-Files. Just a bit creepy for my tastes.

Note to Matt and Trey

Guys, you can probably make funny jokes about Al Gore. He does it pretty well himself. But just having him repeat the word “serial” when he means “serious”? I didn’t get it the first time. What makes you think I’d get it the next 100?

Funny Cartman storyline, though.

Ladies and gentlemen, my 200th post!

Random notes

1. For the first time, I’ve been contacted by an artist whose work I’ve mentioned in this here blog. Fortunately, it was someone who got a positive review, and the person was as down-to-earth and flat-out nice as I could’ve hoped.

2. I’m becoming a Rachael Yamagata fan. The playful 1963 is climbing into the Top 20 on my iPod and will likely reach the Top 10. I bumped her up to 100 on my Launch station and found a couple more songs worthy of my 99 cents. She sounds a lot like Fiona Apple and shares the same problem — her slower songs drag. But Apple rarely, if ever, records any midtempo or uptempo songs as engaging as Yamagata’s. Like Apple and a few other female piano-based vocalists (Norah Jones, even Tori Amos at times), Yamagata has distinct jazz influences, and she sings with a sultry voice. On 1963, at least, she does it better than the others. She could probably sing the phone book and make it sound sexy. Fortunately, she’s a better songwriter than that.

3. Speaking of my Launch station — why do tech geeks drool over every online musical offering except this one? My Launch station is interactive in the sense that I can rate songs and artists I want to hear more often, and it’s “social” like deli.cio.us and all those other shared bookmarking sites that probably make sense to 15-year-olds but make little sense to me. If it were owned by Goooogle instead of Yahoo, you know the self-anointed hipsters would be all over it.

And finally some slam-book silliness for you (I hate the word “meme”):

Accent: Slightly Southern. Slight enough that it surprises people to hear I’m from Georgia.

Booze: Killian’s, Bass, various other pretentious beers in moderation. Occasionally wine.

Chore I Hate: Weeding. I spend 15 minutes in a painful crouch, then look back and find that they’ve all grown back.

Dog or Cat: One good dog, but I grew up with both. In fact, I had a dog and a cat as recently as 2002.

Essential Electronics: Computer, TV with digital cable.

Favorite Cologne(s): I’m more of a Borussia Moenchengladbach fan.

Gold or Silver: White gold.

Hometown: Same as Keith from the B-52s.

Insomnia: On occasion.

Job Title: Special Projects Editor. For all the sense that makes.

Kids: Yep.

Living arrangements: 2,800-square-foot two-level split-foyer house.

Most admirable trait: Willingness to do thankless jobs that sink my career.

Number of sexual partners: Let’s put it this way. I figured out high school dating after I graduated. I figured out college dating after I graduated from there. I figured out adult dating … well, never. It’s a miracle that I reproduced.

Overnight hospital stays: None, unless you include being a spectator at delivery.

Phobias: Idiots and/or fanatics with access to weapons.

Quote: “Everything I say is a lie. Except that. And that. And that. And that. And that. And that.” – Peter Griffin

Religion: Episcopalian

Siblings: Three older half-siblings

Time I wake up: 6:45 a.m. 7 a.m. 7:10 a.m. 7:25 a.m.

Unusual talent or skill: Coin-snatching.

Vegetable I refuse to eat: Brussel sprouts, most mushrooms, asparagus, artichokes.

Worst habit: Empty calories, though I’m getting better about my soda intake.

X-rays: Three broken fingers (all at different times). Teeth.

Yummy foods I make: Chili — the secret is yellow bell pepper to add a subtle sweetness. I’m also pretty good at stir-frying. I also do corn on the grill, occasionally with success.

Zodiac sign: Aries.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign …

I got home today to find that our lawn service had visited the house. They left a note on a stake in the middle of the lawn. I walked up to see what it said ….

“Please stay off grass until dry.”

So I used my limited telekinetic powers to raise my body, formed my shirt into the shape of a sail and let the breeze carry me back to the sidewalk.

Nooooobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, er, Intervention!

Web search of the day: I could’ve sworn Tina Fey and company have attempted an intervention on Lindsay Lohan before. …

And my memory is correct! They did, as told in this story adding more details to Intervention 2: The Revenge.

Lohan isn’t a bad SNL host by any means, and I appreciate her gift for self-parody. But she has hosted an inordinate number of times at a young age, almost as if Michaels and Fey are trying to keep tabs on her. It gets a little distracting when SNL doubles as outpatient care.

Rush revisited

Here’s what funny about Rush, the band that accounts for the largest block in my CD and iTunes collections: The music recorded at the height of their popularity is the music least likely to mentioned in a “best of” collection or a current Rush set list.

This is evident on VH1’s Hangin’ With series, in which Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson talk about the band’s history and VH1 rolls a bunch of videos from the early ’80s, all of which were MTV staples at the time but have been pretty much forgotten.

The early ’80s were a collision of things for Rush. They recorded their biggest album, Moving Pictures, just as MTV was coming into its own. And as we all know from watching MTV in those days, this was the heyday of the synthesizer. So they recorded synth-driven songs on Grace Under Pressure and Power Windows, and they made videos that were just as slickly produced as anything else from that era. Their earlier output was a staple of rock radio at the time, particularly all the songs from Moving Pictures and its predecessor, Permanent Waves. (Think Tom Sawyer, The Spirit of Radio, Limelight, Freewill, etc.) Part of the spectacle of a Rush concert in those days was seeing Geddy Lee juggle his bass and synthesizer duties, often standing with a bass behind two stacks of keyboards with his feet on a sprawling array of pedals, perhaps wishing he had more hands.

So why is that it takes a VH1 special to air all those old videos, why has that music disappeared from the radio (while the Moving Pictures/Permanent Waves material lingers), and why does Geddy Lee spend a bare minimum of time anywhere near a keyboard?

Yes, it’s a little dated. The same tinny sound that dragged down many a Depeche Mode song in that era drags down Rush songs. The synth riff in Tom Sawyer works because it has a little bit of nastiness to it that fits the song. The synth effects in Distant Early Warning, The Big Money and Mystic Rhythms — well, perhaps if they re-recorded them today with different sonic textures …

Sometimes, the songs continue to work in a new context. If my memory of my 2002 Rush concert experience is true, Distant Early Warning was one of very songs from the 1982-1999 era played at the show, and it was perhaps more powerful then than it was back in the old days. The song title clearly refers to an old Cold War nuclear fear, and the video hits the same theme. But much of the song resonated in a post-9/11 world as well.

But that’s a rare exception from the ’80s. And in hindsight, I’d agree with AllMusic’s assessment that Rush slid downhill during the decade, relying too heavily on synthesizers and Neil Peart’s electric drums. Perhaps it’s no wonder that such electronics featured less heavily on Rush’s output in the ’90s and are barely visible onstage now.

(I can hear one objection — the electronics aren’t as prominent on stage because the technology is better. Peart can use one drumpad to replicate most of what he did with an entire electronic kit as he had in the ’80s, back when he would switch from acoustic to electric on a drum riser that rotated. And there’s no reason for Lee to have more than one keyboard on stage when he can grab any sound he needs.)

So the synth era is less fondly remembered than the classic rock era or the modern, guitar-driven era, though that’s when Rush got the most media exposure of its career.

But wait … apparently the new “R30” DVD/CD set includes forgotten synth-era favorite Between the Wheels.

Should’ve asked for that for my birthday, though I think Mrs. MMM doesn’t like to encourage my Rush fixation. Something about Geddy Lee’s voice. And probably those cheesy synth sounds.