I can’t stand cooking shows and I hate reality shows but I love Kitchen Nightmares. The food part is largely incidental, so it’s not much of a cooking show, really, but it shares a lot of DNA with reality shows with words like housewives, top and boss in the title. Nightmares offers up the same personality traits featured on those shows: vanity, self-importance, lack of self-awareness, penchant for drama. The core difference—what makes the show watchable—is that those personality traits are squashed instead of celebrated. Continue reading
The other night, I was thinking about how much I liked the theme song to “Taxi.” Once you get past the misdirection of the overly sweet opening flute theme, it’s a mellow, lightly moody Fender Rhodes keyboard workout that subtly picks up momentum as it goes along.
I hadn’t heard the song in years, but I remembered how it made me feel (a little sad but content, fond of Andy Kaufman and Christopher Lloyd). Its title is “Angela” and its composer/performer is Bob James. Light internet research showed James has the unfortunate habit of being described as one of the founders of smooth jazz, one of the most correctly reviled forms of music there is.James’ music doesn’t sound like the frictionless muzak I know of as smooth jazz. Take “Nautilus,” one of his two other hits. It’s atmospheric, bordering on sinister.
And then there’s “Take me to Mardis Gras.” I don’t want to give anything away, but the opening 30 seconds or so made me jump out of my chair. Yeah, it’s the same guy who wrote the theme from “Taxi.” He’s been in the background, playing music for decades now.
I quit smoking about five years ago. In those five years, I haven’t wanted a cigarette once, which is a fact that surprises me every time I think about it. When I smoked, I dreaded quitting, imagining that it would be a state of always wanting to smoke again. When I stopped, I realized I love not smoking. Every single day as a non smoker is better than being a smoker. Once you get over the first month or so of going without smoking, it’s really great and you won’t miss smoking at all. I have no idea why they haven’t made an anti-smoking commercial that just says that.
So while all that’s true, I wanted to take a moment to point out some hidden upsides to smoking. None of them are compelling enough to make me want to smoke again, but they are real and they have an undeniable significance. Continue reading
I fell into a deep Beatles rabbit hole in the last couple of months and only recently emerged. I had all these observations and thoughts on the Beatles and wanted to write them up while the effects of the spell were still somewhat recent. The first was a definitive list of the worst Beatles songs. But while that’s an interesting, if not original, idea, I realized the more surprising observations were on what weren’t the worst Beatles songs once I started looking for them.
A couple months ago, I came to the conclusion that Al Pacino is the worst actor in the world while watching Heat. Today, I saw Dog Day Afternoon for the first time and I changed my mind. Continue reading
AKA: what happens when I’m alone in the room with a flip video camera and an early 80s digital keyboard.
So I checked the Billboard chart on a whim today, expecting to have some nice cringe in when I played the top selling single in America. I was pleasantly surprised to when I heard the song itself.
Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” is surprisingly great for the following reasons and probably more.
- The verse sounds a little bit like “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love Tonight” by The Outfield. But not enough to be a rip off.
- As the video demonstrates, it would be possible to actually replicate this song with a five or six piece band (one dude would be pressing a button on a sampler).
- It starts pleasantly but modestly, and escalates in intensity before peaking at the chorus.
- It goes right to the shores of dubstep but never actually dives in.
- Dope clean fender strat guitar sound throughout.
- Nice tempo change in the last chorus.
- It’s an original lyric idea that’s both odd and sad. The girl makes him feel like he’s been locked out of heaven for too long; I don’t even know exactly what that means but a pretentious part of me wants to invoke Paradise Lost’s Lucifer.
Anyway, the number two song is some garbage by Taylor Swift that was as bad as I hoped the number one song would be, so everybody wins.