Monday, March 16, 2015

Attention shoppers: It's the Ramones

I understand that everything three decades old or older is considered pretty anodyne from a cultural standpoint, regardless of how controversial it may have seemed in its heyday.

Still, to hear (as I did on a recent evening) the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" playing in a Vons grocery store seems like something that should hold at least a tinge of being a tiny bit taboo.


There are other Ramones' songs where the lyrics are such that your grandmother wouldn't balk while shopping ("I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"—another of their "I Wanna…" tracks), but "Sedated" is not sedate enough to be acceptable for all contexts.

I'm not suggesting that most people are actually paying any sort of attention to the music playing over the public address while shopping; it's merely filling in the background sound so it isn't eerily quiet. I get that. I'm among the tiny minority who notices such things at all. I know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Getting grungy with 'Fresh Off the Boat'

In a recent episode of the new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat ("Success Perm"), the main character, Eddie, sees his cousin when the family visited. This cousin had turned him on to N.W.A. years earlier (the show takes place in 1995), which led to Eddie's love of rap. So when the cousin showed up, now into grunge, puts in a CD by Live and plays "Lightning Crashes," Eddie thought it was crap. (Eddie was right.)

The cousin dismissed Eddie's criticism as him being too immature to appreciate the emotion of grunge.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pondering the sexism in the Oscars (and other awards)

As we made it through this recent "awards season" I was struck by the thought: Is not the notion of men and women being segregated into categories by gender a holdover from a much more sexist era? In the so-called progressive twenty-first century were equality of the sexes is supposedly the aim, is it condescending to suggest that women would not be able to compete were they in the same category as me for the acting roles? There aren't gender distinctions when it comes to directing or writing or sound editing, but for those who appear on-screen the fact a century ago it was the case women were separate seems to suggest they still require that special status in order to get any awards.

It is the case that Hollywood is still as much an old boy's club—and a white old boys club at that—where if "the fairer sex" didn't have a separate category for the acting awards the trophies would still be largely doled out to those with the XY chromosomal alignment—and not because men are inherently better actors but (let's face it) because men would have a harder time voting for women over men. Not all men, of course, but enough who have the vote who remember those days when a dame was a dame.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Saying goodbye to Jon Stewart (so we both can spend more time with our kids)

It was announced yesterday that Jon Stewart will not be staying on with The Daily Show after this year. Having seen every episode except one of the sixteen years of his tenure and an avowed fan (I've mentioned it in posts more than a few times) I will miss him, but I understand the desire to move on.

But I'm not as sad as I would be were I not a parent.

As it stands, since our son came along, I have found myself often recording a week's worth of episodes and having to squeeze them in on the weekend. When Stephen Colbert stepped away from "the Report" last year I was sad, but that was time I would need to devote to other pursuits.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Useless Super Bowl XLIX thoughts

Yesterday's Super Bowl pitted the established dynasty of the Patriots versus the emerging potential dynasty of the Seahawks. The latter got to the big game with a remarkable and improbable comeback over the Packers, where they really didn't play that well until the last five minutes.

So if you heard Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson didn't complete a pass until well into the second quarter, that they lost one of their starting cornerback to injury in the first half, and a starting defensive lineman had to leave in the second half due to concussion, you'd think the Seahawks would be well behind when the fourth quarter started. However, they actually had a ten-point lead at that point, and their vaunted defense had not given up more than seven points in the fourth during their past eight games.

So when you hear they surrendered 14 points to New England in that quarter you'd think it was pretty much over, but through a remarkable catch they were in a 2nd-and-goal position at the Patriot's 1-yard-line with about 30 seconds left, where punching it in for a touchdown would almost certainly guarantee back-to-back Super Bowl victories. They were in another improbable situation where they had not played as well as the other team but with last-minute heroics (or dumb luck) they could win.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Born Day

As my toddler had me up at the wee hours one recent morning, and we were due to attend our first birthday party of his best buddy at daycare, the following occurred to me about the term "birthday."

On the anniversary of people's birth we call that their "birthday," but generally I don't hear people refer to it as the day they were "birthed"; it's the day they were born. Giving birth is more what their mother did (and probably for many hours prior to the actual emergence out into the world which is considered the moment of birth, as though all that traveling through the birth canal up to that point was unimportant).

So conceivably the expression instead should be "Happy Born Day," with "Happy Birthday" being what you would direct toward the person who actually did the birthing.

This is why I shouldn't think at such an hour.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Oh, those Eighties

A few weeks back I was up somewhere around 1 a.m., and flipped around channels in those wee hours. On VH1 Classic they had somewhat resurrected 120 Minutes—which is to say they programmed old alternative rock videos for two hours in the same midnight to 2 a.m. slot that was the spotlight for such videos back when it was an MTV show in its heyday.

As one who well over two decades ago used to videotape (yes, set the VCR) to watch that, I paused on the channel for a few minutes. Coming back from commercial the first one was the Psychedelic Furs' "Heaven." It was fascinating to be reminded of the production values that sometimes were applied back in the mid-80's, especially given the extremes to which the medium would eventually go.