Tonight, while playing guitar I turned on Sunday night’s episode of the Simpsons. I don’t usually tune in much anymore to the once-great show. In some ways its a shadow of its former glory, but still funnier than most other dreck on TV (see: Family Guy, American Dad et al).
But then something stood out. In the opening scene, Marge, Homer and Bart are shopping at a really crappy used bookstore at a rundown shopping mall. As Homer picks up an unwanted DIY carpentry book, I noticed another book behind them on a shelf; a book that very distinctly was titled Kansas City Royals: Forever Champions.
Someone on the Simpsons must be either a) a Royals fan or b) an embarrassed, self-depricating Royals fan. Only someone familiar with the perpetual woes of the Royals would be able to perfectly mock Kansas City’s often pathetic grasp of 1985 nostalgia…and only fitting for that book to show up in a rundown discount mall bookstore. The Simpsons might not be what it once was at its peak, but I have to say that even in it’s 18th (!!!) season, it still manages to bring great moments of pop culture satire.
To see the clip in context go here.
Tonight I am off to see Yo La Tengo at Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club. Even though I have only known and listened to them for about four (or five?) years, they have been a staple of the indie rock community for nearly twenty years. AND(!!?!) they’re one of the top bands on my list I have never seen, so I am looking forward to their eclectic mixture of noise rock and sweet sonophorus melodies.
… and if you cannot go, try to dig up a copy of their 2000 album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out or their new (like 2 week old) album I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.
This made me think two things: 1) What are other people’s lists of bands they are dying to see live, but never have? 2) What are other really long album titles out there? Send your comments to us at email@example.com
UPDATE: Two nights ago, Yo La Tengo proved why they have been one of the most respected band in indie rock for so long. Pulling heavily from their new album, the band had a diverse set of short sweet pop tunes and long fuzzed out noise rock. Right off the bat, they opened ‘The Weakest Part,’ then segued into the epic ‘Story of Yo La Tango’ (misspelling intentional), which stretched out into a slow-building improv section well over 15 minutes long. It normally would have been a set closer of a song, yet the band pulled it out before anyone had even opened their beers.
It’s nice to see a band willing to improvise and stretch their songs and make each show special. When so many bands play their well rehearsed 45 minute sets verbatim, it can get stale and doesn’t really encourage much repeat attendance. Yet Yo La Tengo was obviously comfortable in their own skin, changing up a fan-favourite arrangement and pulling out a nice cover songs, such as the Arthur Lee tune, ‘Luci Baines’ or Velvet Underground’s ‘She’s My Best Friend.’ My only complaint was a short stretch where about four songs in a row were uptempo hard rockers and I was dying for a breather with a more mellow song, but based on the rest of the crowd energy I might have been in the minority on that one. But all in all a great show.
Sometimes we really have to look deep inside ourselves and admit we have problem. We all have vices or an obsessive love for things. But as Cookie Monster ponders, does that really make you a monster? Take a look at this confessional commentary from the Muppet himself, as found on the brilliant literary site McSweeney’s. My favourite portion?
How can they be so callous? Me know there something wrong with me, but who in Sesame Street doesn’t suffer from mental disease or psychological disorder? They don’t call the vampire with math fetish monster, and me pretty sure he undead and drinks blood. No one calls Grover monster, despite frequent delusional episodes and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. And the obnoxious red Groverâ€”oh, what his name?â€”Elmo! Yes, Elmo live all day in imaginary world and no one call him monster. No, they think he cute. And Big Bird! Don’t get me started on Big Bird! He unnaturally gigantic talking canary! How is that not monster? Snuffleupagus not supposed to existâ€”woolly mammoths extinct. His very existence monstrous. Me least like monster. Me maybe have unhealthy obsession, but me no monster.
Read more here.
David Cross, of Mr Show and Arrested Development fame, reviews Yo La Tengo‘s new album by simply reading the song titles alone. Found via eMusic.com. Brilliant, especially considering it might be the best album title of the year.
My favourite portion?
Yo La Tengo’s debut CD, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass: The Florence Nightingale Story is filled with the cranky meanderings of today’s new nu rock. Forged in hubris and leather, this New Jersey (and Brooklyn!?) trio consisting of the fat guy and two Jews are quite capable of taking us on one wild and wacky ride through the debauched underworld of the “Indiers.”
Sue recieved a letter in the mail from unicef a month or two ago. It looks like a pretty standard solicitation for donations except for one angle that I hadn’t seen before. The inclusion of a shiny new nickel on the inside. The nickel is placed so that you can see a little part of it through the address window on the front. I know its not everyday that an organization that is out there helping people has time to send cash money to random people, so this must be one special letter. On the right side of the address window with the previously noted shiny nickel is a blue box with an arrow pointing to the shiny nickel that says ” This Nickel could save a child’s life!” , below which our other roommate wrote the ever so witty phrase, “Then why did you give it to Sue?” Which brings up an interesting point, because Sue has un-willingingly accepted this nickel, she has prevented it from saving a child’s life. So way to go Sue! …maybe we need to lay low for a few weeks until the heat from this blows over…
I was at the good ol’ Cub foods last night, really itching to find that perfect product that defines me as a person. Not just any item will work, mind you, as I am constantly on the lookout to make that “deep” connection with companies and their products. I want to have a personal relationship with the items that I use in the consumeristic world that is my life, because if I cant have personal relationships with other people (not true), then why can’t I have personal relationships with all the wonderful companies out there. I mean they have my best interest at heart, so I decided a long time ago that if its printed on a box, it is most definitely true.
I needed something to cover up my leftover meals, and for baking cookies , and keeping out the aliens from my brain. So I scoured the store, searching for that PERFECT product that can truly define me as a person, and lo and behold, I found it.
I feel more like a man now.
Last night, President Bush pontificated to a national audience to commemorate the five year anniversary of the September 11th attacks and it did not take long for him to segue into his politicizing of the event.
Bush quickly brushed off the actual tragedy and clumsily transitioned into his status report for this ‘difficult road ahead.’ Delivering his stock catch phrase keywords about ‘spreading freedom’ and ‘struggle for civilization’ and ‘fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations,’ he had an odd crooked grin, almost as if he thought he had never uttered those ‘brilliant’ words before.
I can’t say I am suprised by his typical cookie-cutter theatrics- why should we expect anything different? There is that pesky mid-term election coming up in November. But despite all the bad press and sinking approval ratings, the president confirmed we are in fact, um..winning the war on terror: 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth. But I might have been distracted by the ESPN sports news crawl at the bottom of the screen.
Could it be that the Chiefs’ season was over before it started? With the team getting battered around today, and with quarterback Trent Green pile-driven into a motionless heap on the ground, (and possibly out for the season) it seems like Kansas City’s string of choking sports teams continues where the Royals left off. When was the last time a Kansas-related team won it all?
I mean, Kansas basketball has been great, but never going all the way, nor Kansas State football. Certainly not the Chiefs who can never put together a solid team on both sides of the line. And lets not further mention my pitiful Royals. So when was the last Kansas national champion? The 1988 Kansas Jayhawks basketball team. Before that? The 1985 Royals. Ugh. Let the “theres always next year” concessions begin.
The other day, NPR had a vaguely familiar face pop up. Okay so it wasn’t in DC, but rather NYC, but still he popped up on my screen. I reckognized him but couldn’t place it. Then it hit me. It was John Hodgman. Name doesn’t sound familiar? You might know him from his occasional segments on This American Life. No? Perhaps you might reckognize Hodgman from his appearances on The Daily Show as resident ‘expert.’
No? Then more than likely you know him from his series of ads, playing the lumpy and awkward PC in the recent Mac commercials.
Turns out Hodgman was on All Things Considered this week cracking up Robert Siegel promoting his book The Areas of My Expertise, in which he expounds on “matters historical, matters literary, matters cryptozoological, hobo matters, food, drink and cheese (a kind of food), squirrels and lobsters and eels, haircuts, Utopia, what will happen in the future and most other subjects.”
Hodgman’s bookish, tweed and square glasses-wearing persona is quite hilarious and while I have not finished the book yet, it is one of the best books I’ve read all year. Take a listen to the interview, check out his Daily Show appearances, listen to This American Life or buy a Mac.
Even the most basic of internet searches will show the large musical output of singer-songwriter Jason Molina. Since retiring his former band Songs:Ohia, Molina has grown increasingly prolific in the past few years, recording and touring extensively under his own name and his full band, Magnolia Electric Co.
That band’s latest, and third, record Fading Trails serves as a natural and logical extension to his past. This band has always conjured that 70’s Neil Young and Crazy Horse southern rock sprawl, but this album pares away at the power and intensity of previous work. While still simmering in their distinctive brooding country dirge, Fading Trails Molina and company tighter and more restrained.
The moods and instrumentation vary from track to track. Sometimes the songs are simplified down to vocals and solo guitar or piano and can be opaquely confessional. At other times they pile on the layers of sound, weaving a dark wall of Fender Rhodes keyboards, prepared pianos, pedal steel and driving bass accompanying Molina’s lamenting voice and biting guitar. On songs such as “Lonesome Valley,” the group interplay proves an integral part in the songs development; they are dynamic and elastic to provide some flexibility to the music.
And though most of these songs are beautiful and reserved, you cannot help but try to imagine what they might sound like live in concert when they have some room to breathe. No doubt a few would stretch into heroic epics in the live repertoire in typical Crazy Horse-fashion.