Friday, November 27, 2009

Sports: American Football

After watching three games, I have some suggestions to improve American Football. A copy will be sent to the Commissioner of the NFL.

  • Increase the value of the "2-Point Conversion". You've just scored 6 points for a touchdown. Now, you try to do it again - but only get 2 points? That makes no sense. No wonder teams only try the 2-point conversion when they're desperate. Make it 3 points and now you've got some very interesting decisions!
  • Run, Throw or Punt. What's the most exciting play in Football? The punt return. Let's give the Offense an extra option - the quarterback can punt the ball. Whoever catches the ball, keeps it. This will revolutionise the game.
  • Negative Yards. What's the least exciting play in Football? When a Running Back gets stopped at the line of scrimmage because he foolishly runs into a pile of big fat men. Let's penalize teams for these plays that go nowhere. If you only gain 2 yards, you're sent back to the line of scrimmage (so you've just lost a Down for nothing). If you gain one yard, you're pushed back 2 yards from where you started. If you gain zero, you lose 4 yards. This guarantees we'll see more throwing (or punting).
  • No Injury Timeouts. There are too many timeouts anyway. Let's scrap them when a player is down and can't get off the field. Just throw some temporary barricades around the player and the medical staff. This area is off-limits to both teams until the player can be stretchered off at the next (real) timeout.
  • Better Names. Every team must have at least one player with a Football-appropriate name.
  • Real Grass. All stadia (even indoor ones) must use real turf - until they come up with an artificial turf that can break apart into clumps that stick in players' helmets. That is always so cool.
  • Coors Light Ads. Those ads that edit actors in with actual coaches' press conferences? They can only use the Romeo Crennel ones. The others are too mean, but Romeo is so jolly, he seems to be in on the joke.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

TV: "The X Factor"

What an awful week for Ireland! First, cheater Thierry Henry cheats us out of the 2010 World Cup by cheating. Then he runs onstage during Jedward's performance on the X Factor live show, causing them to be eliminated. Shame on you, Thierry Henry!

Please sign the petition asking ITV to re-run the show. It's the only fair way to resolve this. We're having a march in Clones on Friday. Tell all your friends.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Radio: KXT 91.7

I've been analyzing the playlists at KXT after their first work week and I see a disturbing trend. (And it's not that I have too much time on my hands.)

But first, I want to talk about the timing of their launch. Is it a coincidence that they waited until after the KERA Fall pledge drive was complete? I can imagine some potential Public Radio donors would say, "Wait a minute, if the parent company of KERA can afford to set up a sister station during an economic downturn, do they really need my $60 in exchange for a Diane Rehm Tongue Depressor?" Man, you really miss Al Brumley at a time like this.

Back to KXT. (Not KTX, or KXTX, and it's at 91.7, not 97.1 - and that's from one of their own DJs. This station is a nightmare for DFW dyslexics.)

KXT describes itself as "an incredible selection of acoustic, alt-country, indie rock, alternative and world music, hand-picked just for you - the real music fan." That sounds great - right up my alley. So I set my alarm for 6:59am on 11/9 to hear the station premiere with...Santana's "She's Not There". That song (as fine as it is) does not fit into any of KXT's self-proclaimed categories. After all the time they had to prepare, that was the best they could come up with?

Robert Wilonsky at Unfair Park was being polite when he called it "probably a little too classic-rock for a new-station kick-off". Pete Freedman at the same blog expressed his incredulity: "Explain that to me. Please." But hey, Steve Blow liked it, so I guess that's okay.

Later that first morning, KXT played Queen's "Somebody To Love" (this after Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix had already been played). Why is this station playing "Classic Rock" when we already have radio stations that play that stuff?

I saw a comment praising KXT for playing the Stranglers' "Golden Brown", and yes, it was good to hear it. But it made me realise that "Golden Brown" is my generation's version of Classic Rock. It's hypocritical to praise KXT for playing "Making Plans For Nigel" and then slam them for playing Paul McCartney and Wings. If you want Classic Indie, go to WOXY Vintage. (Thanks, Robb.)

The real problem is that KXT plays the same songs over and over again. ("Golden Brown" was played four times this week.)

There may be "joy in repetition" but there's no joy when you hear the same songs twice a day. There were 49 songs played twice in one day, and 4 songs played three times!

The most-played song was "Little Lovin'" by Illinois artist Lissie. It was played twice on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and THREE TIMES on Wednesday and Friday. It's a catchy song, but it's no H1N1.

KXT loves Devendra Banhart. They played his "Baby" twice a day, every day. And they acknowledged he has released at least one other song. "Foolin'" was played twice.

The following songs also got got two plays per day, every day:

These are inoffensive songs (apart from the insipid Matisyahu song - it reminds of some fake reggae song that might have come out of Luxembourg in the '90s). Ingrid Michaelson with the horrible, "Grey's Anatomy"-ready "Maybe" just missed out on going 10-for-10.

KXT has a nasty habit of reducing everyone to "One Hit Wonders". I count 41 artists who were played three or more times, but had the SAME SONG played every single time. This includes artists with long careers and many albums to choose from: Bryan Ferry, Grant-Lee Phillips, Pearl Jam, Ray Davies, Rhett Miller, Rosanne Cash, Yo La Tengo.

Overall, KXT played about 647 tracks from Monday to Friday: 334 artists and 373 unique songs.

By the way, I didn't count the times that KXT played unscheduled excerpts from John Cage's "4' 33"".

As for the DJs, Gini Mascorro still seems a little nervous. And do I detect a little wheeziness in her voice? As an asthmatic, that makes me uncomfortable. I really hope she loses the habit of saying we just heard a "little bit of" some artist. This is technically untrue (unless she has been hitting the Def Leppard drummer's arm off the microphone). Joe Kozera seems altogether more at ease.

So what have we learned? I think Shell put it best: "The occasional classic rock song won't kill them. Having a rotation will ruin both them and the songs they overplay." KXT is definitely a good thing (especially for the exposure to local bands), but needs a LOT more variety to keep me listening.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Music: Tori Amos

Who knew that Tori Amos had such boring taste in music? Her fantasy band would have Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar? Is that hack still going? Anyway, Tori should get back to what she does best: grinding her crotch into piano stools.

For what it's worth, my fantasy band would feature:

Or you could just have Prince do everything.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TV: Midseason Replacement Shows

Why are the midseason shows always better than the Fall shows?

  • "Briers' Remorse - genial English actor Richard Briers apologises for all the terrible, terrible things he's done through the years ("Spice World", this Polaroid commercial, killing a hobo).
  • "America's Next Top Hat" - young milliners compete to design a "Topper" that will make this headgear fashionable again.
  • "Camo Mile T" - contestants must catch Mr. T before he travels a mile-long course dressed in camouflage.
  • "Beck And Caul - arch-conservative Glenn Beck and ultra-liberal Simon Caul debate the issues of the day. (Need to find an ultra-liberal named Simon Caul first. Or Billy Caul. Or Cawl or McCaul.)
  • "Chippendale's Sketch Survivors" - Jan Hooks, Kevin Nealon and Mike Myers, as the last surviving cast members of the cursed comedy sketch, sit around waiting for the inevitable.
  • "Camo Meal T" - Mr. T tucks into a hearty three-course dinner dressed in camouflage.
  • "Jay @ 25" - NBC tries to save face by moving Leno's show to "25 o'clock", and explains that viewers need a special TV antenna and time-space continuum to watch it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Soundalikes: Peter Gammons

Anyone else think ESPN's Peter Gammons sounds like TBS's Buck Martinez?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Music: White Stripes rip-offs

Have you seen the ad for the Honda Insight with the song that sounds like a parody of "We're Going To Be Friends"? Apparently, it's a band called Rabbit. (Google returns two other Rabbit bands, so I would think a name change would be in order - if I thought they had any future. I think this kid has more potential.)

This Magnum ice cream bar ad is a more obvious rip-off (this time of "My Doorbell").

On a happier note, here's the new video for The Dead Weather, "I Cut Like A Buffalo" - with a B. P. Fallon cameo! Truly the Zelig of rock & roll.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Music: Blacklist

The Rich Girls Are Weeping recommend Blacklist - and I definitely hear the Cult and the Church in there.

More videos of Blacklist on YouTube, including one of them covering a band I'd never heard of, Asylum Party - definitely in the same zip code.

Speaking of the Church, Steve Kilbey has collaborated with fellow Aussie Martin Kennedy - the songs on MySpace sound great.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Advertising: AdSense

Google's worst ads ever - when AdSense's contextual advertising misfires. The funniest is the non-Google "severed foot" one.

And this is old, but you can kill those sponsored links in Gmail by adding a few words about death and other tragedies.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Music: Storybook Lovesongs

Prompted by the death of Willie DeVille:

At least three of these singers are dead now, so David Cassidy should be worried.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Art: Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali on "What's My Line" - what a card! And Dali in three commercials.

Documentary (part 1 of 3) about Glasgow's acquisition of "Christ of St John of the Cross".

Trippy Dali-influenced video of uncertain provenance.

It reminds me of visiting the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida with my parents. My mother dashed around the exhibition while I moved slowly from painting to painting. She came up to me and asked, "Do you think he was a bit mad?"

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Film: John Hughes

RIP, John Hughes. It does make you wonder if there was a curse on "National Lampoon's Vacation". First John Candy, then Imogene Coca and Eddie Bracken, and now writer John Hughes. Not to mention Chevy Chase's career.

Great scene from "Some Kind Of Wonderful", with the hottest tomboy in movie history. "Break his heart and I'll break your face."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Baseball: Improved Initials

There's been something I've been meaning to blog all baseball season: the dumbness of the Texas Rangers' decision to have multiple uniform colours. I caught a bit of the St. Louis Cardinals on EPSN - 90% of the fans were wearing red to support their team. What a great sight. Then I flipped over to the Rangers game, where there was a mess of blues and reds (in among the burnt orange, khaki, yellow...) Pity the poor Rangers fan who wants to support his team and dons a blue shirt - only to find the team playing in their alternate red uniform.

But that's not why I'm here. There are some MLB players whose last name demands that they have a certain first initial. Sadly, in all cases, they have a less funny actual initial. Still, here's hoping they name their offspring appropriately, and raise them to follow in their footsteps.

  • Tampa Bay's Willy Aybar should be Gary Aybar - G. Aybar.
  • Detroit Tiger Brandon Inge should be Marlon Inge - M. Inge.
  • Rangers reliever Darren O'Day should be a Tom or Ted - T. O'Day.
  • L.A. Dodger James Loney should be B.A. Loney.
  • Chicago White Sock Jim Thome should be Albert Thome - A. Thome.

Honorable mention for Lyle Overbay for almost being "Loverboy".

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Meteorology: Clouds

Eerie "popcorn" clouds were seen in the NY skies this week - apparently, they're Mammatus clouds (and, yes, "mammatus" is from the same root as "mammary").

The Daily Mail has amazing photos of another new cloud formation, Asperatus clouds.

Check out Flickr for more photos of Mammatus and Asperatus clouds. I love this one. Ooh, I think I caught someone cheating on Flickr - here's one of those Daily Mail photos (by Ken Prior) being passed off as her own!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Music: Jim James

Jim James of My Morning Jacket is going by the name Yim Yames for some side projects, including an album of George Harrison covers. You can download "Behind That Locked Door" in exchange for your email address. (You can also preview it on his site.) He is also in Monsters Of Folk, a supergroup with M. Ward, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis.

Bonus: live cover of "The Rainbow Connection".

YouTube: Michael Jackson Covers

Michael Jackson was a sad, twisted, horrible person, but we can still enjoy other people singing his songs.

And here's a playlist of all the songs, for your convenience.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Music: Songkick

The New York Times had a piece on Songkick, a website that allows you to track your past (and upcoming) concerts. I dug out my diaries from 1988 and 1989 and started adding some that I attended. I couldn't believe how many "gigs" (as we used to call them) I went to when I was a lad. In 1989 alone, I saw Neil Young, Kelly Willis*, Cowboy Junkies, REM, Tanita Tikaram, the Go-Betweens, Jonathan Richman, the New Bohemians (with Steve Forbert supporting), the Cure and the Pixies. That's sick!

By the way, I added the Pixies for October 21, 1989. Someone else had added the Pixies for the same date in London. This fan page shows October 21 free, between London and Austin dates, so if they flew over in time for the Dallas concert, they must have been a little jet-lagged.

* Kelly Willis was lead singer for a group called Radio Ranch, who supported the Wagoneers.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Humour: John Hodgman

John Hodgman roasts Barack Obama - good stuff. But get a load of those stony-faced Radio and Television Correspondents in the audience - what a shower of dullards.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Media: Sana Syed

I saw a very cute reporter on Dallas-area CBS affiliate, KTVT, the other day - Sana Syed (watch the Six Flags bankruptcy video). Much as I enjoyed seeing her, it wasn't even close to the ecstacy experienced by this OKC blogger:
"There was so much beauty pouring out of her I didn’t know where to look...Her hair was on its game, gleaming like wet black silk, flowing down in Sana’s patented little S-curve as it hit her shoulders....Her skin was as beautiful as if someone had airbrushed her with a light caramel-colored satin. Her lipstick was exquisite."

Then again, he talks about all the female news people this way, gushing over their beauty and fashion. I'm guessing he has a well dug in his cellar, with a little news desk at the bottom. He lowers makeup in a bucket and says, "It puts on the eye shadow and it turns to Camera 3 to recap the headlines."

Methinks Sana got out of Oklahoma just in time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

MP3: Magnet Magazine

Magnet Magazine has some great free MP3s:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Advertising: Photo Shenanigans

Toronto city guide photoshops black guy's face into stock photo of what looks like a Latino family (and did it really badly too). This was caught by someone using TinEye, mentioned here recently. Toronto is still using the photo.

What is it with Canadian tourist boards and their lack of visual ethics? Recently, they were promoting Alberta with film of kids on an English beach. What makes it worse is that Alberta is landlocked.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Media: Fox Business News

Amusing clip of Fox Business "reporters" playing "pass the parcel" with breaking story none of them knows anything about. Expect a Daily Show parody tomorrow.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Music: Delays

Pardon the, uh, delay, but may I recommend Delays? I usually don't like male singers with high-pitched voices, but I'll make an exception here. You may hear echoes of the La's, Fleetwood Mac, the Hollies, the Cocteau Twins, the Charlatans, the Posies..

Upon further review, I can only recommend these three videos from their first album ("Faded Seaside Glamour"). The later stuff is a bit too discoey for me.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Music: Rae Spoon

Please just listen to the streaming album from Rae Spoon before doing any research on this Canadian artist.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lyrics Quiz: We Are...

  1. "We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving."
  2. "We are young. Heartache to heartache, we stand. No promises, no demands."
  3. "We are young, we run green. Keep our teeth nice and clean."
  4. "We are two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl."
  5. "We are the goon squad and we're coming to town. Beep-beep. Beep-beep."
  6. "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden."
  7. "We are agents of the free. I've had my fun and now it's time to serve your conscience overseas."
  8. "We are ugly but we have the music."
  9. "We are, we are, we are but your children, finding our way around indecision. We are, we are, we are ever helpless. Take us forever."
  10. "We're one, but we're not the same. Well, we hurt each other, then we do it again."
  11. "We are flying down to Rio."
  12. "We are the pretty petty thieves. And you're standing on our street."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Advertising: Stock Photo Models

Funny/cute story about how a simple trip to the park when she was 19 resulted in this woman seeing her face all over the world. (Forgive her the spelling of "Spainard".) (And don't bother downloading the accompanying MP3 files. Wet Hair sucks.)

There is another ubiquitous model, the "Everywhere Girl", but she is an actress/model, so I don't think it's quite as interesting.

But that story does link to a search engine called TinEye, which allows you to search for websites that use an image - and it doesn't have to be an exact match. For example, I input the address of one version of the infamous Ruby shoots Oswald photo, and it found 7 others that were cropped differently. It also allows you to compare images, by toggling back and forth between overlays. A search with the James Brown mugshot found a version in black & white (that impressed me) and a version with Tom DeLay's face.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bicycling: Boris Johnson Near-Miss

This is an amazing accident caught on CCTV, never mind that the Mayor of London was almost killed.

Lyrics Quiz: Machines

In honor of the new "Terminator" film, a lyrics quiz about Machines. Songs 10-12 have "Machine" in the title.

  1. "Oh, can't you see me standing here? I've got my back against the record machine. I ain't the worst that you've seen."
  2. "He likes to keep his fire engine clean, it’s a clean machine."
  3. "I saw him dancing there by the record machine. I knew he must have been about seventeen."
  4. "The Telex machine is kept so clean, and it types to a waiting world."
  5. "She was a fast machine. She kept her motor clean."
  6. "Here comes Johnny Yen again, with the liquor and drugs and the flesh machine."
  7. "Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground."
  8. "The Rangers had a homecoming in Harlem late last night. And the Magic Rat drove his sleek machine over the Jersey state line."
  9. "We got a thousand points of light for the homeless man. We got a kinder, gentler, machine gun hand."
  10. "Get up (get on up). Get up (get on up). Stay on the scene (get on up)."
  11. "You've been in the pipeline, filling in time, provided with toys and Scouting For Boys."
  12. "I - I just took a ride in a ------ -------. And I'm still feeling mean."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Music: Saturday Mix

Friday, May 15, 2009

Music: In Bb 2.0

Very clever - in Bb 2.0, an array of 16 YouTube videos of various musicians playing in B flat. Start and stop each randomly. It's like the greatest Sigur Ros song ever!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Irish Politics:

New web site (in Beta), Kildare, allows you to search Irish parliamentary debates (Dáil Éireann and the Seanad), among other things.

A search for "Jesus" found this gem during a debate on gambling legislation:

Dermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail):
The FOBT issue is a tiny aspect of the overall matter. As someone who has hardly placed a bet in my life, I would like to have the knowledge of——

Pat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour):
The Minister probably played the little baby Jesus in the nativity play.

The same query also found:

  • Liz McManus: "Jesus, you are fierce cranky, there is no doubt."
  • Ruairi Quinn: "Single party Government, no thanks. Jesus Christ."
  • Martin Cullen: "Jesus, Mary and Joseph."
  • Ruairi Quinn (again): "I draw the Taoiseach’s attention to a last minute 'Jesus we forgot something, we’d better get it in quick' instance."
  • (The winner) Joe Higgins: It further beggars belief that he could not give it back. Did the Taoiseach ever hear of a bank draft? This morning it took me two minutes to draft the letter the Taoiseach could send with it: 'Ah Jaysus lads, you’ll have me in huge trouble if you don’t take back the €50,000.'"

I found another good quote from Pat Rabbitte, "Sometimes one gets the impression that the Minister for Transport, Deputy Brennan, gives the same amount of thought to policy initiatives in transport areas as Britney Spears does to marriage."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Music: Irish Artists On MySpace

Some current Irish acts on MySpace, with a recommended track for each:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Actors: Quiz

What do the following actors have in common?

  • Tim Roth
  • Eric McCormack
  • Denis Leary
  • David Spade
  • Mandy Patinkin

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Video: Facial Muscle Stimulation

Four Japanese guys with their faces twitching in time to "music". How long before some band (Blur?) copies this for a music video? The top right guy looks like the most fun. They all favour thick black spectacles.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Law: Crazy Lawsuits

D Magazine's Front Burner has a PDF of a crazy lawsuit filed in Dallas, "Corolone Inc., Barack Obama, Osama bin Laden, and Buddy Busch v. Mahmound Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Rod Blagojevich, Donald Trump, and James Goodnight." Among other things, it lists Osama bin Laden's address in Jacksonville FL (which happens to be the same as Corolone Inc.). It accuses someone of playing grab-ass with the First Lady. Oh, and features really atrocious spelling, punctuation and grammar.

In other crazy lawsuit news, moderately well-known lady singer Santogold had to change her stage name to Santigold after a lawsuit from the star of bizarre 1980s infomercials (and terrible dancer), Santo Gold. (His web site has a 'NEW "Hilarious" FUNNY SONG, SUNG BY SANTO GOLD Himself, Titled: "YOUR FIRED".' I'm glad it's both hilarious and funny.) You can read the entire press release, with really atrocious spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Media: The Irish Times

If you accessed The Irish Times on a mobile device recently, you would have seen the odd juxtaposition of two unrelated ads: "Find Your Ancestors/Dating Service". Made me smile every time.

I can't find it on the web edition, but I did find an article by Kate Holmquist, wife of Rocky De Valera. Rocky de Valera and The Gravediggers have a new video on YouTube: "Baby Don't You Worry Bout A Thing", shot in beautiful downtown Howth. (I've been to that Centra!)

Young people today don't realise how scandalous it was for Ferdia Mac Anna to name himself after Dev. And now he looks like an old TD (although very few TDs wear an eyepatch).

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Music: Fabchannel

Dutch website Fabchannel, host of many great live concerts, is going out of business on Friday, March 13. Enjoy it while you can.

I'm currently listening to Elbow. Watched Bettie Serveert yesterday, and plan to watch Midlake and Spoon later.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

An Awesome Attempt At Humour

I have a sock that's in the Guinness Book Of Records for having been repaired the most times. It's the darnedest thing!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Internet: Rickrolling

Have you heard of Rickrolling? A prankster sends a link that purports to be anything other than a Rick Astley video, but turns out to be Never Gonna Give You Up". What japes! Even Hitler got Rickroll'd! I like Obama's version - which led to McCain getting BarackRoll'd.

RickRolling can soothe crying babies.

Rick Astley took part in a live RickRolling at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2008.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Literature: Samuel Beckett

The Irish Independent reviews a book of Samuel Beckett's letters.
One of his correspondents was his Dublin friend Mary Manning whom he kept informed as to the progress of his tour, the latest rejections of his novel 'Murphy' and the inexorable development of a boil he had "between wind and water".

That's the classiest term for the taint that I've ever heard!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Movies: Academy Awards 2009

Stray thoughts while watching the Oscars.

  • I loved the Tina Fey/Steve Martin bit, because I love anything that sticks it to Scientology. Scientologists are idiots!
  • Jeers to ABC for showing Brad & Angelina while Jennifer Aniston was doing her schtick.
  • Did the audience laugh when the Art Direction guy said David Fincher was a wonderful human being?
  • That "Duchess" costume guy seemed a bit of a jerk - "We had great music by Rachel Portman but that's not it."
  • The Ben Stiller bit had great potential but went nowhere.
  • Even Baz Luhrman looked embarrassed by that dumb musical clusterfudge.
  • Joel Grey is tiny! I'd like to see the "Man On Wire" guy balance him on his chin.
  • Danny Boyle = Morrissey
  • Oscar song mash-up!
  • Kate Winslet is a big old fake. She is demeaning Hollywood with her fakeness.
  • Did Sean Penn say we elected the Elephant Man president? Just when you have him pegged as a bleeding arse liberal, he goes and insults Barack Obama.
  • Why do we have to see clips from former winners to appreciate this year's nominees, Stephen bloody Spielberg? It's all this montage crap that causes the show to run so bloody long.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Internet: Wikipedia Names Your Band

Here's a fun time-waster, courtesy of the internet.

  1. Go to Wikipedia. Hit "random". The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
  2. Go to Random Quotations. The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.
  3. Go to flickr and click on "explore the last seven days". The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
  4. Use Photoshop or similar to put it all together.

There's a group of these album covers on flickr.

Here's my contribution. Band name = Surberg (municipality in Bavaria). Album title = "Administered With Subhuman Inefficiency". (Quote from Eric Ambler.) Cover is a beautiful black and white shot of an elderly lady walking through a rain-slick town square at night, with head down. I suspect Surberg are a post-industrial German band, who make experimental "found sound" collages, live in a squat, but go home to get their laundry done.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lyrics Quiz: Making Love

Just in time for Valentine's Day! (#9 and #10 have "Making Love" in the title.)

  1. Cast my memory back there, lord. Sometimes I'm overcome thinking about making love in the green grass, behind the stadium.
  2. Moving forward, using all my breath. Making love to you was never second best.
  3. Making love in the afternoon with ------- up in my bedroom. I got up to wash my face. When I come back to bed, someone's taken my place.
  4. We can funk until the dawn, making love 'til cherry's gone.
  5. I crawl like a viper through these suburban streets. Make love to these women, languid and bittersweet.
  6. A force from above, cleaning my soul. Flame on burn desire. Love with tongues of fire. Purge the soul. Make love your goal.
  7. Making love with his ego.
  8. A woman's love can lift you up, and women can inspire. I feel like buying flowers and hiring a celestial choir. A choir of castratis to serenade my love. They'd sing a little Bach for us and then we'd make love.
  9. If I had those golden dreams of my yesterdays, I would wrap you in the heaven 'til I'm dyin' on the way.
  10. And I know the roads to riches, and I know the ways to fame. I know all the rules, and then I know how to break 'em. And I always know the name of the game.

(2/21) And one more I forgot:
Drying up in conversation.
You will be the one who cannot talk.
All your insides fall to pieces.
You just sit there wishing you could still make love.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Radio: "The Story"

Heard a fascinating radio piece tonight from American Public Media's "The Story". When she was 7, Andrea Richardson Stowers lost her military pilot father in an air crash. She has tried to uncover details of his secret government work, but the power of the story lay in the smaller dramas of loss, guilt and coping.

There is more about the USAF crew (and what they were doing) at the Arlington Cemetery site.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Safety: Level Crossings

I challenge you to watch this video without exclaiming "Jesus!".

(Thanks to Neil for the link.)

Here's an Indian level crossing, and it's just as you would imagine.

This US video looks fake to me.

And finally, a brutal PSA from Australia.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

TV: Game Show Ideas

  • "Family Freud" - two families must psycho-analyze each other.
  • "Deeley Or No Deeley" - contestants must decide whether the show's hostess is, in fact, Cat Deeley, or one of the hundred other English people currently presenting US game shows.
  • "Cash Hansom Cab" - the History Channel's first game show. Contestants are transported in a horse-drawn carriage while answering questions about the 19th century.
  • "Depardieuy" - quiz where contestants must deliver their answers in the form of a Gérard Depardieu impression.
  • "The Leakiest Wink" - Wink Martindale competes against other people named Wink to see who has the best bladder control.

And a separate set of suggestions for BBC Northern Ireland:

  • "Countydown"
  • "The Newry Wed Game"
  • "Win, Lose Or Dromore"

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Advertising: Cheers & Jeers

  • Jeers to AT&T for their Pepe Le Pew commercial showing him being pursued by the female cat. He's always the one pursuing her! (Okay, maybe not always.)
  • Jeers to H&R Block for a series of ads showing shlubs bragging "I've got people". (Thus breaking my #1 rule for ads: never show unattractive people using your product.) This sauna one is the worst, because we have to look at the fat bald guy wearing only a towel. (It also really annoys me that I recognize him from somewhere - another commercial?)
  • Jeers to Budweiser for being Budweiser.
  • Jeers to for their annoyingly repetitious ad from Superbowl XLIII.
  • Jeers to Pizza Hut for their series of "hidden camera" spots where "ordinary people" (aka unemployed actors) are amazed that the crap they just ate came from Pizza Hut. (These ads are better backwards because you get to see the patrons spitting out the food.) The ad I hate most is where Chef Elisabeth has her hipster friends try "The Natural". It's her hand motions that annoy me most. Folgers were doing this back in the '70s.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Film/Physics: "The Italian Job"

"The Italian Job" problem solved. (How do they get the gold from the end of the bus (which is hanging over a cliff)?)
I agree with the commenter who wrote:
"So... once they've deflated the tyres and drained the fuel tanks (presumably over the edge of the cliff) how do they drive away with the gold? The winning solution has just replaced one problem with another."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

YouTube: Wolves and Foxes

I've created a couple of music video playlists for bands who are named after or sing about wolves or foxes. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Music: Country Lyrics

Do you ever see or hear something so strange that it makes you think that either the world has gone crazy or you have? I had that sensation when I saw the TV ad for Snuggies. Truly a WTF moment. (And now I just saw the Slanket video.)

Driving home tonight, I heard "Mental Revenge", as performed by Waylon Jennings. Something about the lyrics struck me as just a little off. "So all in all, if the curtain should fall, Lord, I hope that it falls on you." That's stupid but funny, I suppose. "Well, I hope that the train from Caribou, Maine, runs over your new love affair. You walk the floor from door to door, and pull out your peroxide hair." Bitter! And then the chorus: "I will have sweet, sweet, sweet mental revenge. I will have sweet, sweet, sweet mental revenge." I'm not sure what "mental revenge" is. How does it differ from non-mental revenge? I think it was just my frame of mind, but at the time, this song struck me as completely nuts.

Shouldn't be surprised by the repetition of "sweet" considering the song was written by stammering Mel Tillis.

That song was immediately followed by Randy Houser's "Anything Goes", and that has great lyrics (written by Brice Long and John Wiggins). "Anything goes when everything's gone." It represents what I like best about country music - clever yet meaningful wordplay.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Music: U2 Cover

Pitchfork reports that the cover of the new U2 album is a photograph that was previously used by some "sound artists". (They sound like white noise to me.) I'm sure this was an innocent move by U2, who, like the rest of us, had probably never heard of these pretentious tossers.

Didn't U2 get into trouble for "The Unforgettable Fire" photos by Anton Corbijn, because he was copying the technique of another photo artist? Now they actually pay to use the original photo and get (very minor) flak.

My only objection is that the album is called "No Line On The Horizon", and the photo very clearly has a line on the horizon.

Pitchfork mentions this happened before to Bob Dylan and Luna.

The same photo was also used by Fountains Of Wayne and The Flamingoes.

You can hear the new U2 single, "Get On Your Boots", on their site. I like the "sexy boots" line but "Kinky Boots" would be better. In fact, "Zip Up Your Mickey" would have been a better title for the song.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Music: "Running With The Devil"

I've actually never heard Van Halen's "Running With The Devil" before, but someone must have leaked Dave Lee Roth's isolated vocal track, because it's all over the internet.

There's a Diamond Dave soundboard. Not sure if you could really make a prank call with it. (Although Howard Stern did one with an impersonator.)

Now someone has put the vocals to an auto-generated backing track, and it's awful. The software that created the music, Microsoft's Songsmith, has a cheesetastic promo video.

The DLR vocals have also been used in mash-ups with
the Beatles, Queen, Michael Jackson, and (the best of a bad lot) Stevie Wonder.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

TV: "Countdown"

I'm looking forward to seeing the new host of "Countdown", Jeff Stelling, on my next trip home. (I liked Des O'Connor more than I expected, Des Lynam was terrible, and Richard Whitely was a lovable idiot.)

Stelling is a sports presenter in Britain, and his Wikipedia page lists some of his "Dad" jokes, like "it looks as if Jellyman has thrown a wobbly" and (when Guy Branston was sent off) "he got himself in a pickle". He comes across as a nice chap in this Guardian interview.

The official photo of Carol Vorderman's replacement, Rachel Riley, doesn't do her any favours. Looks far too prim and proper. The Daily Mail has a high school photo for comparison. Then again, Carol had some awful '80s looks at the start.

Their first show is tomorrow, January 12.

Sports: Appropriate Names

New York Giants DE Justin Tuck has an appropriate name. Did they create the Tuck Rule for him? Either way, he gets to start his vacation early.

And here's a cryptic crossword clue for Eric:

QB Pennington may scramble (6,7)

Music: Bonnie "Prince" Billy

The stand-out track on Bonnie "Prince" Billy's latest album, "Lie Down In The Light", has to be "Missing One", particularly for anyone who has lost a parent. You can hear it at this blog.

Will Oldham played some acoustic concerts with his brothers in 2006. It seems to have been a tribute to their father, who had died recently. Mostly traditional songs. You can hear most of it at Aquarium Drunkard.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Music: First Aid Kit

Charming video of Swedish duo First Aid Kit covering "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" by Fleet Foxes. (And it's a bit late, but they also do a great "Blue Christmas".

(There's also a Nova Scotian band called the First Aid Kit (who don't exactly stand out from the crowd), an extinct post-punk band called First Aid Kit from Connecticut, and a Spanish electronic-ish band called First Aid Kit, who are actually quite pleasant.)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Crime: Mug Shots

2008 Mug Shots Of The Year from The Smoking Gun. #16 is an excellent example of gurning. #8 is a model father-son relationship. But #7 is the most poignant - a single tear barely visible below the shades.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

YouTube: Hank and Townes

A piece in the Irish Times yesterday reminded me that Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt both died on January 1 (1953 and 1997 respectively). Here are some YouTube highlights.