Songs du semaine: Blue Man, Alanis, GNR

Seemed only fair to do three, since I haven’t done one of these in a while. Also, I accidentally ran down my iPod battery, so I listened to one of the CDs I’ve had in the car since … hmmm … probably since I got an iPod a couple of years ago.

The first three songs are an interesting, eclectic, upbeat mix. I can’t explain why they fit together — I’d never be a great DJ — but to me, they do.

Blue Man Group, I Feel Love (2003)

Yes, you recognize the title. It’s the Donna Summer-Giorgio Moroder disco classic, remade here with the Blue Men’s large tubular thingamabob standing in for the synthesizer. And instead of Donna Summer, we have Annette Strean of the intriguing techno-ish group Venus Hum. She looks a little like Lisa Loeb but seems like she’d be much more fun.

If you prefer to see it with the full glory of the Blue Man light show (and a couple of fun gags before that), try this:

Alanis Morissette, Eight Easy Steps (2004)

If there’s one valid criticism of Alanis Morissette, it’s that she sometimes gets just a little too wrapped up in her own personal dramas. The overenunciation, the semi-shrieked melodies … sure, she goes overboard sometimes. But the saving grace is that she does indeed have a sense of humor about her whole image, and it comes across in this three-minute blast of up-tempo rock.

Guns N’ Roses, Garden of Eden (1991)

I don’t really care if Chinese Democracy or whatever Axl eventually calls it is released. I’ll just enjoy this one and hope that one day Slash, Duff and the gang can find a lead singer who writes lyrics on this level of brilliance and isn’t a black hole of ego and personal problems.

Write like the wind

In addition to my usual soccer stuff, I did this story this week. And the gallery, and most of the timeline. Then the packaging for this. And I finished this redesign.

It’s good to be busy, though. For one thing, I get to ignore inane political arguments like the Malkin-Ray flap, which I won’t bother to describe in the interest of minimizing the number of people subjected to it. All I can say is that it proves why 99 percent of political blogging is about as useful as According to Jim fan fiction.

So all I have here is this stream-of-consciousness ranting, which gives me a good opportunity to mention the terrific generational warfare piece that lots of people seem to be saving at Basically, I fully agree with the notion that my generation has been forgotten between the narcissistic Baby Boomers and the tech-savvy Millennials. It starts with a really funny story about a guy who calls in sick to work, then posts a picture of what he was actually doing to Facebook. The boss busted him with wonderfully wry wit.

And finally, I love this brief take on Twitter.

Time to sleep. Cheers, all.

50 Greatest Commercial Parodies

Just finding all sorts of stuff while waiting for the little ones to wake up.

This one is at Nerve magazine, and yes, it’s heavy on SNL. But the first entry from MadTV isn’t bad, either.

It has all the memorable ad from SNL original cast, plus the classic Hooks-Hartman-Carvey ad for Compulsion by Calvin Kleen.

One missing ad, though I also can’t find video for it: Kelly Ripa sending up her own smiling ubiquity with an ad for a shampoo that contains just a little bit of crack cocaine. I gained enormous respect for her after that one.

After AfterM*A*S*H

Great curiosity find from TVSquad: A few years after M*A*S*H, several of the actors reunited for a series of commercials for a product that did not age as well as their show. Remember IBM’s PS/2 computer? And is it ironic to watch a video on a computer of an ad that brags about 256 colors “at the same time”?

TVSquad makes a big deal out of the different eras represented in the ad, but really, it’s the Season 4-5 cast with Wayne Rogers instead of Mike Farrell.

Two of the four ads they dug up are in this video:

TV couples: Jim and Pam are not Sam and Diane

A cautionary note here for anyone who happens to be a writer or producer for The Office:

Many of the iconic TV couples thrive on relationship drama. Sam and Diane on Cheers. Dave and Lisa on NewsRadio. Ross “We were on a break!” and Rachel on Friends.

Jim and Pam are not one of those couples.

All those other couples were as funny and charming on their own as they were together. Sam and Diane had a wonderfully complex “can’t live with, can’t live without” relationship. Dave and Lisa were amusingly dysfunctional.

Few viewers could’ve been too disappointed to see these relationships fail. Sam and Diane were just too different to work out in the long run, and Shelley Long’s decision to leave the show freed the writing staff from an awkward situation. Dave and Lisa’s relationship really couldn’t be taken seriously — they were the kind of couple who would prompt wedding guests to start pools on how long the marriage would last. Ross and Rachel both found decent relationships elsewhere and only stuck together when their history became so overwhelming that no one else could’ve fit into the picture.

You could argue that NewsRadio, more of a farce than a sitcom or “dramedy,” didn’t need to treat its relationships realistically. On Friends and Cheers, which aimed for the heartstrings as well as the funny bone, the relationships were believable. Everything made sense.

But “dramatic” is not the same as “realistic.” And if The Office wants to keep its status as a funny yet sympathetic view of ordinary life, it shouldn’t be tempted to twist a realistic relationship into something else.

Sometimes, staying together is more realistic than the alternatives.

Really, does anyone think Pam would be tempted to stray from Jim by Toby? If it were some sort of casual relationship with a new co-worker, maybe. Not in this case.

Yes, I see myself in Jim. I was thinking marriage early in the courtship of Mrs. MMM, and we’ve had an easy road together. As Harry said in When Harry Met Sally: When you’ve decided to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Hollywood often wants us to think “realistic” means “dramatic.” That’s not always the case. And the beauty of The Office is that it finds beauty in unglamorous locations. That’s why the upbeat theme song works so well.

Don’t be The Simpsons, which now threatens to break up Homer and Marge a couple of times a year even though that storyline hasn’t been really funny since the bowling episode 17, 18 years ago.

Jim and Pam can still have difficulties. But they don’t have to face difficulties within the relationship. Couples find plenty of drama outside the relationship, and they face it together. It can be funny. And it’s uncharted territory for most comedies.

Please, folks. Give it a try.

Live-blogging Launch/Yahoo

Since I keep yakking about how I still can’t make the leap from Launch to, seems like a dueling live blog is in order. Yes, it’s social Net radio THROWDOWN … sorry, I’ve been writing some mixed martial arts stuff lately. had its turn a couple of weeks ago. On to Launch …

Quick reminder — the way Launch/Yahoo works is that you rate, rate and rate again. The more music you rate, the better it drills down to your personality. That could get dull, but you can always trick it by rating something a little out of your wheelhouse.

Better Than Ezra, Good: I’m surprised that I’ve never rated Better Than Ezra, one of those bands that has never moved me to write a 15-part blog essay but is generally a pleasing listen. I have good associations with several of their songs, particularly hearing Extraordinary while walking up Park City’s main street at the 2002 Olympics on a beautiful Utah morning. These guys deserve more recognition.

Clannad, Farewell Love: 2004 release. Never heard it before. Launch tells me it’s “popular in my key genres.” I went through a brief Clannad/Celtic phase in college, well before I actually went to Ireland and saw no sign that anyone there actually listened to this stuff. Well, I shouldn’t say that with any certainty. Perhaps Ireland has a few pretentious folks who want to put on airs of being globalized … wait a minute … how could someone in Ireland pretend to have a broadened world view if he’s listening to music that’s supposedly Irish? Would that person appear more sophisticated than his fellow Irishman by listening to music that isn’t really Irish (not many synthesizers in your average old-school pub) or global? I’m confused. The song isn’t that bad, but it’s just a bit overproduced and not a bit interesting.

Elvis Costello, Alison: A legit classic. Not much else to say.

Simple MInds, Capital City: Interesting. This is another 2003 release I haven’t heard. It’s light years removed from their 80s pop heyday and their brief 90s revival (She’s a River). It’s trance-rock with a complex arrangement — brooding bass and playful keyboards. Not sure what Jim Kerr’s trying to do with the vocal, but I could listen to this again. It’s almost inverse prog-rock — a pop band stretching out musically rather than a prog band trying to distill its meanderings into a pop single.

The Cardigans, Been It: Love the band so much that I rated them 100. They’re especially charming in two respects — they’re stylistically all over the place, and they have a good dry, biting wit in their lyrics. This isn’t one of their best, but it’s not one of their occasional misfires.

Coldplay, The Hardest Part: I’m thinking that if I haven’t heard a Coldplay song a million times on the radio, it’s probably not a good Coldplay song. To my relief, it wasn’t one of their dreary offerings. They’re always going to be a melancholy band, but this one is reassuringly uptempo, a little like Speed of Sound but lacking a truly memorable hook.

Falco, Der Kommissar: Ahead of its time. Someone should do a remake with loud guitars replacing all the synths while preserving the rock-rap.

Flogging Molly, The Rare Ould Times: I rated it a 90 because I love the punk Celtic vibe, but I’m a little wary of the “ould times” here. I could very easily see a bunch of pseudo-punk assholes using this as an anti-immigration anthem, which I’m sure wasn’t their intent. What’s Left of the Flag is better, anyway.

Leona Naess, One Kind of Love: In 2000 and 2001, Leona Naess released some terrific alt-pop. No pretenses at all, just a bunch of great songs with powerful hooks and an attitude that suggested she was laid-back but wouldn’t be trampled on. In 2003, she split from Ryan Adams and released an album of slow songs with swooping strings and no reason at all to get interested, as if she were Diana Krall doing cover versions of Fiona Apple’s weakest material. Calling was the only salvageable song.

The Alarm, Strength: Plays to their … well, strengths — searing guitar and their best lyrics. Stands up better than most of their work.

Los Lobos, Peace: Wonderful song. Good acoustic blues riff repeating throughout, with a good electric guitar counterpoint. It’s a simple singalong full of respect for our basic good nature.

Triumph, Allied Forces: Not one of their best. Allied Forces of Rock and Roll? Some attempt to redoing 2112? Fight the Good Fight was much, much better.

Carbon Leaf, Paloma: One of the bands I discovered through Launch, though this is an atypical song for them. They’re close to jam-band territory, mixing a folk-rock approach with some unusual instrumentation and world-music rhythms, but they seems a little less self-indulgent. And therefore a little less ordinary.

Dubstar, Just A Girl She Said: I’ll have to break down and buy some Dubstar CDs. Their songs just aren’t available anywhere else. Stars at least has a video that I can usually track down on YouTube or somewhere else. This song is equally gorgeous, with a lilting melody over a pleasant swirl of acoustic guitars and dreamy synths. The lyrics are from the angry-feminist school, but the soft setting somehow gives them more impact.

Oasis, Little by Little: Bleah. Not much left in the well here.

But that’s not a bad hour of music. Some songs I’ve heard over and over outside Launch, some I’ve heard over and over because I used to listen to Launch every day at work, and a couple I hadn’t heard before.