Saturday, November 21, 2009

Best of the Week vol. XXVIII

Quote of the Week: Well, actually he’s the idiot, he fell in love to a break up song. (Izzy LaFontaine, Modern Family)

Song of the Week: True – Spandau Ballet (Modern Family)

Big News of the Week: A Melancholy Happy Trails to Ken Ober: Every once and a while you hear about a death that makes you feel like part of your childhood died with them. That happened a couple of weeks ago when Captain Lou Albino passed away, and again this week with Ken Ober. I doubt there are many people younger than me that even recognize that name, but he was host one of the top five programs MTV ever produced, Remote Control (a show I could have been the Ken Jennings of if I were old enough to be on it). To give an idea of how great the show was, it featured then unknown comedians Colin Quinn (as co-host), Denis Leary and Adam Sandler. Ober would later appear in a triad of Blues Travelers videos, including Hook below where he appropriately sat around flipping his remote control.

Free Download of the Week: Free Download of the Week: Death to All but Metal – Steel Panther (iTunes) Usually I have to give something a listen before I download a song, even if it is free, but just the title alone made me want to grab Death to All but Metal, and it didn’t disappoint. A must download for any metalhead and even non-one can find the song entertaining.

Deal of the Week: Save at Least 40% on Recent TV Hits (Castle, Eli Stone, Scrubs)

Video of the Week: Who knew at the beginning of the week, there would be some many great musical moments, Modern Family was mentioned above, and Community had their tribute to An American Tail, and not only did The Big Bang Theory bring back Soft Kitty, Penny made Sheldon sing it in a round.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Thursday at 9:00 AM on NBC: Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. This year features artists I have actually heard of including Carly Simon, Cyndi Lauper, The Roots, Ziggy Marley, Gloria Gaynor, and Katharine McPhee. Also expect an oversize Pillsbury Doughboy stroll down the streets of New York City.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Around the Tubes vol. XXX

I have gotten a plethora of cool press releases have been flooding my inbox recently that you may find interesting. This post will include blurbs on Chuck, Christmas in Rockefeller Center, WWII in HD, The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination, When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs, Caprica, and Delta Blues.

Chuck returns January 10

- I was never a fan of the idea of Chuck returning before the Olympics and it looks like NBC will be fumbling its return more than I thought. Hopefully I am the one that is wrong and it because NBC’s most watched scripted show (which actually shouldn’t be that hard). So Chuck is slated to premiere its third season Sunday January 10 at 9:00 before settling in on Mondays at 8:00. Hopefully NBC reminds viewer’s ad nausea during the NFL playoffs as so they are Pavloved into remembering it. And let me start with this preview clip introduced by Zach Levi (and features the Token Hot Chick dancing):

Chuck Returns

- In other Zach Levi news, he, along with Jane Krakowski will be hosting this year’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center special that will also feature performances from Michael Bublé, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Barry Manilow, The Roots and Shakira with apperences from Brian Williams and Mercy’s Taylor Shilling and James Tupper.

- For those that have been enjoying WWII in HD or want to catch up, it is currently available on iTunes and Xbox or you could head over to for more information.

- With the anniversary of the JFK assassination coming up this weekend, The National Geographic is premiering The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination this Monday at 9:00. The program features no narration, no after the fact interviews, no conspiracies, just real time news footage and photographs, some never before seen, starting from when John Kennedy touched ground in Dallas and ending with Lyndon Johnson’s first speech in front of Congress as president.

- In other National Geographic Channel news, their Expedition Week ends tomorrow at 9:00 with the awesomely titled When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs. Here is a preview if the title along can’t get you to tune in:

Preview: When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs

- It is not every day when someone sends me a picture of a hot naked chick (but feel free to do so if inclined) so I thought I’d share the new Caprica key art. Imaging Greater indeed.

Some naked chick promoting Caprica

- Another new show coming to Syfy soon, as in December 8 at 9:30, is Outer Space Astronauts. Below is a sneak peek:

Outer Space Astronauts:Sneak Peek

- Delta Blues, TNT’s latest pilot, has got a leading man, Jason Lee who will be playing a Memphis cop by day and Elvis Impersonator at night that still lives with his mom. No word yet if he will have a massive mustache and of list of wrongs he wants to make right and a shrewd ex-wife who lives in a trailer park with her new black husband. Here’s hoping he does.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Want My Music Television vol. LXIX

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart - Alicia Keys

A slightly better song from Alicia Keys than Doesn’t Mean Anything, although the superpowers thing in the video is a little weird.

Russian Roulette – Rihanna

Remember when Rihanna sang silly little pop songs? But in the last year or two, her hair kept getting shorter and shorter, her songs got darker and dark to the point where she scares me like she is a modern day Grace Jones.

Low Rising – The Swell Season

You might remember The Swell Season as the duo that won the Oscar two years ago. They become a couple while filming Once, then broke up, then recorded this most recent album. Hey it worked for Fleetwood Mac. But I am sure touring with an ex may feel like it is raining on you all the time.

Staying in Love – Raphael Saadiq

Just another great song from Raphael Saadiq. And a cool stylistic video worthy of a comic book translation. Have I ever mentioned that my very first concert was MTV Party to Go Tour featuring Tony! Toni! Toné!? I’m sure you will need that information if you are ever on Jeopardy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It’s Been a Long Time Since Twenty-Two

Battle Studies by John Mayer on iTunes

Remember the Funny or Die video John Mayer did about a year ago (featuring celebrity music tester Kristen Bell) that took a day in the life of Mayer as he tries to write a song (if not click here to view it, or not if you want to avoid hearing Mayer and/or Bell curse like sailors at each other). The video got a “funny” because, despite his tabloid fodder for celebrity bed hopping, attempts at standup comedy, and incisive twittering, the music stands up with his three successive albums getting better than the one before.

But I bring up Mayer’s contribution to Funny or Die because it is hard not to think of the skit when listening to his latest album, Battle Studies. With lines like “I don’t remember you look any better but then again I don’t remember you” (Who Says) just sounds like something else that someone who would ask his writing partners to come up with a song about sleeping with a supermodel to make another supermodel jealous would say. And with all the song out relationship, it is hard not to wonder which songs are about Jennifer, Jessica, Minka, Jennifer #2, or any of the other random hot chicks Mayer has been linked to.

Your mind drifts to pondering which starlet is linked to which song because of how mediocre they are. Where Room for Squares was one of the greatest pop albums of the decade, Heavier Things was his blues album, and Continuum was his foray into blues, Battle Studies just sound what you think a clichéd John Mayer album would sound like. Heartbreak Warfare sounds like Mayer just thought of the title sounded cool and forced to write a song about it if it turned out to be good or not. Things just don’t fare much better with titles like All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye, Perfectly Lonely, War of My Life, and Do You Know Me are depressingly sad as their title suggests.

The few times Mayer tries to break out of the mold of the album, he just falls flat. Who Says just sounds like a retreat of Stop This Train, but with a clumsily pot metaphor. Half of My Heart, featuring Taylor Swift, is his attempt at an eighties style duet, but it comes close to parody and barely constitutes a duet as Swift is just resigned to backing vocals to the point you wonder why even bother. Then Friends, Lovers or Nothing just sounds like an extension of In Repair.

His Robert Johnson cover of Crossroads is the lone non-relationship to the point it just sticks out like a sore thumb. And top of it, it just isn’t a very good version with it heavy organ thump and it would have been a better choice to have included his take on Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire (which is an iTunes bonus track with Battle Studies) which is the better cover and would have fit in better with the album thematically.

Thanks not to say all of Battle Studies is a disappointment. Assassin sounds different than anything else on the album and is the one love is war metaphor that works on the album with a not so shocking lyrically twist at the end. And even though Edge of Love starts out slow, it kicks into gear when Mayer lets loose on his guitar. But the two songs just can’t keep Battle Studies from being the weakest of Mayer’s career. So John, the next time Kristen Bell tells you that your song sucks, please take her advice and go back to the drawing board and avoid songs about making supermodels jealous.

Song to Download – Assassin

Battle Studies gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Mind’s Racing from Chasing Pirates

The Fall - Norah Jones

Norah Jones gets a rap of being overtly mellow. And for the most part it is warranted. But a funny thing happened on the way to your mother’s record collection: she somehow becomes a favorite among rappers. She sang hooks for Outkast, Wyclef Jean, Talib Kweli, and Q-Tip and was named checked by Kanye West. While her fourth album The Fall doesn’t feature any hip hop beats, Jones has expanded her musical palette from her regular mellow jazz.

Although she may not have those rappers directly to thank for her new exploration on The Fall, but Jacquire King (Kings of Leon) who produced the disk which moves away from piano based tunes with more songs based around guitars and organs. Of course the one thing that has stayed constant is Norah Jones’ voice, still silky as ever even if there are guitars distortions accompanying it. And the new sound mix together well with her classic voice.

The tone is set nicely with the first song on The Fall (as well as the first single) Chasing Pirates with its marching organ chords. While It’s Gonna Be features organs so funky it sounds like they come from a Booker T. album. Then the closing number Man of the Hour manages to sound like old school soul and modern day Fiona Apple even though it is a song about choosing her dog when her only other suitors are a vegan and a pothead. And for those that want classic Norah, check out Back to Manhattan.

The best of the album includes Young Blood, a driving tune that seems to build up to something but you know Jones would never let the song break. But she lets the guitars let loose on Stuck which may be the closest Jones ever gets to a straight up rock song even though her vocals grounds the song. But despite her turn in musical styles; The Fall should still keep your mother’s content if you still need something to buy her for Christmas.

Song to Download – Young Blood

The Fall gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Previewing the Second Annual Expedition Week

As a history buff, last year’s Expedition Week on the National Geographic Channel was thoroughly enjoyable. Last year relied heavily on Egyptian related programming which is lacking this year, but still plenty of watchable specials. Some of those have recently been uploaded to Hulu (presumable this year’s will also end up there at some point if you miss them). Here is a list of what you can expect with each program starting a 9:00 on the days listed below starting with tonight.

Monday: Expedition Great White
Not the most interesting program of the week (but I tend to find the social scientists more interesting than the biological one) but it does feature an inexplicable cameo from Paul Walker (yes the dude from Fast and Furious) as one of the deckhands.

Expedition Great White

Tuesday: Hunt for the Samurai Subs
History is fill with a lot of “What If’s (did you know Hitler won by one vote, what if one person decided to go the other way?). Here is one “What If” I never knew existed. During World War II, the Japanese had developed subs the length of a football field so advanced they could go around the world one and a half times without refueling or coming up for air and housed three fighter planes in air lock holders. The Japanese had planned to take them half way around the world to land a surprise attack on New York City and Washington DC. Luckily the US was able to capture them before they left the Pacific and then sank them to keep the Russians from developing the technology to build their own. Here, scientists try to locate those sunken subs.

Wednesday: The Ballard Gallipoli Expedition
The guy who discovered The Titanic moves to the Mediterranean where Dr. Bob Ballard is looking for warships off the peninsula in Turkey where one of the most bloody and controversial battles of WWI took place.

Thursday: Mars: Making the New Earth
Most expeditions are about uncovering the past, but here is a possible expedition that could take place in the future. It is a simple concept of if we are warming this planet without even trying, could we warm up Mars to the point it is habitable to humans? After watching this, it seems plausible. But the show leaves out one very important variable that isn’t even mentioned once: how exactly do we get to Mars? Check out a preview below:

Friday: The First Jesus
Despite centuries of fighting, Islam, Christianity and Judaism all have the same roots. It is just Muslims consider Mohammed is a prophet, Christians believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, and the Jews believe neither. A newly discovered tablet may make things even more muddled as a newly discovered tablet may have discovered a new Messiah that predates Jesus by a few years. It just that one very important letter has become illegible over time and some scientist try to figure out what it was.

Saturday: When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs
C’mon, with a title like that, do I really need to elaborate to get you to turn in? It’s about prehistoric crocodile who ate dinosaurs for dinner complete with CGI recreations.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lyrics Quiz: Mystery Theme IV

Every November I make the Lyrics Quiz a little tricky and not give you the theme of the month. You have to guess the lyrics and then try to see what ties them together. Whoever does gets three extra bonus points and as always you need to put both artist and title in the comments section (along with the theme if you think you know it), or e-mail me, and if you are correct I will un-bold it and give you credit. The Lyrics Quiz is for entertainment purposes only so please do not use anything besides your own meandering mind to help you up with the answers. Now onto the quiz:

1. It’s too high to get over. too low to get under. You're stuck in the middle. And the pain is thunder. (Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' - Michael Jackson; guessed by Taylor Blue)
2. Use the body, now you want my soul. Ooh, forget about it, now say no go, yeah. (I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) - Hall and Oates; guessed by Rebekah)
3. Every time I hear how you never want to live a lie. How it’s gone too far and you don’t have to tell me why.
4. I give you all a boy could give you. Take my tears and that's not nearly all. (Tainted Love - Soft Cell; guessed by Rebekah)
5. A man in a silk suit hurries by, as he catches the poor old lady’s eyes. Just for fun he says, “Get a job.” (The Way it Is - Bruce Hornsby and the Range; guessed by Rebekah)
6. No one on the corner has swagger like us, hit me on my burner, prepay wireless. We pack and deliver in UPS trucks. (Paper Planes - M.I.A.; guessed by Doug)
7. Now Watergate does not bother me. Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth. (Sweet Home Alabama - Lynard Skynard; guessed by Rebekah)
8. Put your pictureon my wall. It reminds me it is not so bad, it’s not so bad. (Thank You - Dido; guessed by Taylor Blue)
9. 38-24-37; you and me honey are a match made in heaven. (Bonita Applebum - A Tribe Called Quest; guessed by Doug)
10. There’s nothing wrong with me loving you. And giving yourself to me can never be wrong if the love is true. (Let's Get it On - Marvin Gaye; guessed by Rebekah)
11. John Brown always hated me, for what I do not know. (I Shot the Sheriff - Bob Marley; guessed by Rebekah)
12. No I’m not a sucker sitting in the House of Pain. And no I’m not the butler, I’ll cut you. (Check Yo Self - Ice Cube; guessed by Doug)
13. The first kick I took is when I hit the ground. End up like a dog that’s been beat too much. (Born in the U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen; guessed by Doug)
14. When I had you to myself, I didn’t want you around. Those pretty faces always make you stand out in a crowd. (I Want You Back - The Jackson 5; guessed by Doug)
15. It wasn’t my intension to mislead you. It never should have been this way. What can I say? (Toy Soldiers - Martika; guessed by Rebekah)
16. Dissipation. Race Relations. Consolation. Segregation. Dispensation. Isolation. Exploitation. Mutilation. Mutations. Miscreation. the evils of the world.
17. You could have a Big Dipper. Going up and down, around the bends. You could have a bumper car bumping. This amusement never ends. (Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel; guessed by Doug)
18. Sing with me, if it’s just for today. Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away. (Dream On - Aerosmith; guessed by Doug)
19. She gives me money when I’m in need. Yeah she’s a kind of friend indeed. (I Got a Woman - Ray Charles; guessed by Doug)
20. How does it feel to treat me like you do? When you place your hands upon and told me who you are.
21. Dear Daddy, I write you in spite of years of silence. You cleaned up, found Jesus. Things are good also I hear. (Say it Ain't So - Weezer; guessed by Doug)
22. See my old man’s got a problem, lives with the bottle, that’s the way it is. He says he body’s too old for working. His body’s too young to look like his. (Fast Car - Tracy Chapman; guessed by Taylor Blue)
23. If you say run, I’ll run with you. And if you say hide, we’ll hide. (Let's Dance - David Bowie; guessed by Rebekah)
24. Chewing on a piece of grass, walking down the road. Tell me, how long you gonna stay here, Joe?
25. Just like the white dove sings a song sounds like she’s singing… (Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks; guessed by Rebekah)

(Scooter Update: I just realized I made an oops and #12 does not actually fit with the theme of this quiz directly. I fully regret this error. So here is a hint: four of the lyrics above (#6 being the first of them) should make the theme absurdly obvious. And the reason why #12 does not fit the theme is because it is backwards.)