"Friday Night Lights," Season 2?

It’s looking more likely.

I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Of the 17 episodes they’ve aired so far, I’d say half have been outstanding and the other half have been very good. But where do they take the characters from here? It would take an abrupt U-turn to make Jason stay in Dillon, and Lyla ought to be getting out to go to college.

I’m still enjoying it, but I want closure, too. I’d hate to see them come back for a second season and then pull the plug after a few episodes a la Boomtown.

What will happen on Grey’s tonight

I’ve watched a couple of episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, and I’m aware of the current plot situation.

Here’s what I foresee happening tonight:

1. Meredith will survive, but the brain functions governing her ability to reason will be severely damaged.

2. No one will notice.

(This might be my last post — Mrs. MMM may be quite angry when she reads this.)

Recommended or not?: Bloc Party

Theoretically, blogs are all about the wisdom of crowds. So I’m asking the crowd here to weigh in:

If you’ve heard the band Bloc Party, what do you think?

I heard the song I Still Remember nine days ago and promptly downloaded it at iTunes. It has since attached itself to my brain like the worms in that Futurama episode where Frye eats the egg salad sandwich from the men’s room. I got the “Brokeback” theme on the second listen — I can’t directly relate, but as Seinfeld says, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So I went to AllMusic and iTunes to get a recommendation for a second song. I settled on Banquet, from their previous album. It’s equally good.

I tend to think two good songs aren’t a coincidence. They’re a trend. Especially if those songs have aspects that aren’t flukes. These guys can write good pop hooks, but those can come and go. They also have intriguing lyrics and a great guitar-pop sound. Good drummer, too.

Anyone else with an opinion of Bloc Party? Should they join Carbon Leaf in the small pantheons of new-ish bands I like?

Viagra for babies

Sounds snarky, I know, but it’s one of those inspiring stories you read all too infrequently in the cynical media. We journalists tend to focus on things that could kill us if they mutate just perfectly so that they attack the body in completely different fashion while still being lethal and easily spread. (I’m looking at you, bird flu hype-mongers.)

A baby in England was born 16 weeks early. He didn’t have much chance of surviving, and the usual treatments weren’t pulling him through.

The doctors told the parents they were out of options but wanted to try something experimental. They gave him Viagra.

He’ll turn six months old this month, at home with his parents.

The Telegraph has more on the story.

Best bass riffs OR Weirdest pop hits, No. 3

I had a lot of time to listen to the radio today (thank YOU very much, idiot drivers of Tysons Corner and Gaithersburg), and one of our local radio classic-ish rock-ish stations cranked up Green-Eyed Lady. Hadn’t heard that one in so long that I’d forgotten who recorded it. (The answer is: Sugarloaf, which also recorded another candidate for this series — Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.)

I’d forgotten much of this song. I remembered the verse “Green-eyed lady, passion baby …” I didn’t realize that verse and the second (very similar to it) are roughly one minute out of 6:49.

And now I’ve forgotten most of it again, just a couple of hours later. What lingers is that bass line. Stuttered arpeggio, three-note riff, stuttered arpeggio, three-note riff, stuttered arpeggio, three-note riff, then walk it on back. It punches its way into your brain.

Little wonder it popped up on a Blogcritics list of rock’s greatest bass riffs.

I’m glad someone started the discussion, and I love the Barney Miller and Spinal Tap shout-outs. But like all these lists, it’s a conversation starter.

So let’s start adding:

Rush, Tom Sawyer. I agree with the distinction between soloing and riffing, and most of Geddy Lee’s best work is the former. But even people who think Lee’s voice puts the “grrr” in “grating” can get into this bass line. (One of many worthwhile bits in The Knights of Prosperity — the gang adopting this as their theme song.)

Our Lady Peace, Naveed. Yeah, I know. No one’s heard it. Yet if you heard it, you’d swear it was a classic of FM radio. It’s a concise distillation of foreboding and uneasiness that sets the tone for the song.

Allman Brothers, Whipping Post. Blues-based songs need a sturdy bass line to let you know that the lead singer’s laying down some serious shit. Most blues bands can’t deliver because the bass player is too shit-faced. But these guys were serious about their music, even shifting this one through 11/8 time for that added dose of urgency.

U2, New Year’s Day. The Wikipedia entry on Adam Clayton makes a big deal of Clayton’s long-delayed formal training on the bass (circa 1996). BFD. Clayton is the perfect example of a guy who knows his place in … hey, I’ve covered this before. He should appear in this list several times — Bullet the Blue Sky, Two Hearts Beat as One … even the four-note drone of With or Without You.

Belly, Feed the Tree. Yeah, it’s doubled by the guitar, but so is the riff on Sunshine of Your Love in the original list.

The Breeders, Cannonball. Hear that? Pretty cool, huh? And again? And then we go … WHOA! Bet you thought it was in that first key, didn’t you? Ha ha ha ha. And Kim Deal didn’t even play this one. She’s busy singing something that sounds like “Pinochet.”

Carbon Leaf, Paloma. Active, with an air of mystery. Another one that sets the tone — it’s the first instrument heard and the most important.

Concrete Blonde, Bloodletting. Ominous, but with a little swing to it. Perfect for a tale of vampires and New Orleans.

The Cure, Let’s Go to Bed. Just plain fun.

The Dazz Band, Let It Whip. Fun and funky.

Deep Purple, Hush. Yes, I know it’s a Joe South song, but I have no idea if the original bass line was as emphatic as this one.

The Doors, Riders on the Storm. Technically a keyboard part, given Ray Manzarek’s ability — rare for a rock keyboardist — to use two hands. (That’s my subtle Spinal Tap reference du jour.)

Edgar Winter Group … Do I even have to name the song?

Fleetwood Mac, The Chain. Second half of the song, obviously.

Foo Fighters, Everlong. Sounds like a distant radio station keeping you company on a lonely drive through the night.

Go-Gos, We Got the Beat. Everyone do the Belinda Carlisle shimmy to this Kathy Valentine bass riff.

Husker Du, Powerline. A rare moment in the spotlight for Greg Norton. He’s now a chef and restaurateur.

Kasabian, Club Foot. Wow. Might be the best of the millennium so far.

Led Zeppelin, Immigrant Song. Jonesy doubles the guitar through the verse than shifts into overdrive on the chorus. I guess that’s technically two riffs.

Living Colour, Wall. The most righteous smackdown of barriers — racial, political, religious, whatever — leads with a punch to the gut from Doug Wimbush, who had filled the large shoes of Muzz Skillings. (Interesting trivia according to Wikipedia: One bassist who was considered for the vacated spot was Meshell Ndegeunspellable, and King’s X bassist/vocalist Doug Pinnick filled in on vocals during a recent tour while Corey Glover was busy playing Judas in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar.)

Midnight Oil, Beds Are Burning. And the bass line is churning.

Aerosmith, Sweet Emotion. In case you’re wondering why I mention it here — yes, I’m going alphabetically through my iPod. And you’ve heard the Mighty Mighty Bosstones double-speed version of this song, right?

Motorhead, Ace of Spades. Weirdest bass style ever — Lemmy strums like he’s a freaking rhythm guitarist. Not sure how often it works, but it does here.

Primus, Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver. Tough to pick just one Claypool line, but I’ll go with this one.

R.E.M., South Central Rain. Again, could go with several Mike Mills riffs. Like John Entwistle, he was essentially the lead instrument at times, with the guitarist playing rhythm.

Rare Earth, I Just Want to Celebrate. Doubled by the guitar at times but a classic bottom-end riff nonetheless.

Temptations, Get Ready. I’m surely forgetting many great riffs from this era because (A) I haven’t covered it at iTunes and (B) many of them weren’t recorded quite as well as this one.

Young MC, Bust a Move. I believe this was Flea. (Quick check at Yahoo.) Yep, it was.

Smashing Pumpkins, I Am One. Have I ever mentioned that Gish is essential listening and should be in the classic-rock and alt-rock canons?

Smithereens, Blood and Roses. Stuck it in your head just by mentioning it, didn’t I?

Pretenders, My City Was Gone. Trivia quiz — name the bassist and the band for which he’s more famous … AND name the solo artist with whom that bassist and his longtime rhythm section partner rose to prominence.

Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping. It’s basically a rap song, right? And what’s a rap song without a good bass line?

XTC, Mayor of Simpleton. One of many great Colin Moulding efforts.

Yes, Roundabout. And Tempus Fugit. Chris Squire falls into the “soloist” category most of the time, but these two qualify as great riffs.

So that’s … yikes. That’s 34.

OK, folks — it’s up to you. Let’s push it to 50.

Weirdest pop hits, No. 2

I’m guessing most of you are already regular readers of Jason’s “Mellow Gold” series. I have roughly six readers, and they include Jason and three of his many regulars, so the math is simple.

If you’re not a regular reader of Mellow Gold, you’ll want to catch this one. Jason unearths one of those songs that makes you stop and think, “Oh yeah! That was on the radio all the time. (Pause.) What a weird song!!”

They don’t get much stranger than this one without the involvement of Manfred Mann — Starbuck’s Moonlight Feels Right.

First of all, I’d long forgotten that the band name was “Starbuck.” I wonder how many confused Battlestar Galactica fans thought Dirk Benedict had recorded a solo album. (OK, so technically, the band came first, then the show.)

Jason focuses mostly on the unsubtle pick-up aspect of it. But he, like all good musicians, has to give it up for the freaking marimba solo. I played my share of marimba in college, and this shit makes my jaw drop. I’m trying to figure out how he played all those triplets. Seriously — try to imagine where your hands would go.

But Jason isn’t the only person to recap this watershed moment in laid-back pickup lines and marimba soloing. He found a like-minded blogger who dug up the history, some taken from the presumably official Moonlight Feels Right site. Both bloggers note that the whereabouts of marimba whiz Bo Wagner (no relation) are “unknown.”

Wagner also gets tagged as a werewolf, but that seems like pretty typical ’70s music-man hair to me. I can picture Will Ferrell in a studio yelling, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but we don’t have a lot of songs that feature the marimba!”

I’m intrigued with the Moonlight Feels Right discography, listing the other recordings of Starbuck and lead singer Bruce Blackman. (He looks nothing like Starbuck, by the way. Not even the Sci-Fi Channel’s cute blonde female version.) One of the last Starbuck songs is called The Full Cleveland. Now that sounds icky.

It’s one thing for Jason and a couple of bloggers to poke gentle fun at a song that surely made Mr. Blackman a Mr. Richman. But check out the listing at AllMusic.com, which generally offers calm and objective assessments of where each song fits in the artist’s musical growth chart. This one: “An impressionable child in the summer of 1976 might have come to the conclusion that Starbuck’s Moonlight Feels Right had been created in outer space by aliens who had been studying the conventions of mid-’70s AM radio pop but had gotten many of the details slightly but tellingly wrong.”

I don’t think any of us are saying this is a bad song. It’s catchy and … interesting. Seriously. You may laugh, but you can’t help but listen.