Saturday, September 16, 2006

Second Impressions: Survivor: Cook Islands

Scooter’s Note: This post is an extension of my previous post on so check that link out first if you have not done so.

Jeff Probst starts Survivor: Jim CroweThe first episode of Survivor: Jim Crowe Cook Islands has come and gone and there weren’t any race riots in Harlem or Compton because the black team lost so all of you that predicted the downfall of civilization because a reality show divide teams by race can rest a little easier tonight. But racial divide aside, the first episode was your normal start to Survivor where the teams had to find their camp, make shelter, get to know each other, and figure which person of the opposite sex they would be willing to have sex with even if they haven’t showered in a while.

Yep the Hispanics are good at raftingThe challenge of the week which was for immunity and reward was the garden variety that mixed rowing and solving problems (but not at the same time). And what makes this season interesting, I can talk about the outcome of the challenge two different ways, but with the exact sentiment, but one way could offend people, but the other won’t. If I said, “it was obvious before the challenged started that the Blacks would come in dead last because it dealt with water” I’m sure some liberal communist would be up in arms. But if I said, “The producers of Survivor should be ashamed that they choose a challenged that put the African-American tribe in a distinct disadvantage” no one would give a second thought. And on that note who had the Asian dude being the biggest racist on the show in your office pool?

The Black Team voted off the big guyBut not all was lost for the black team as they were able to choose who went to exile this week with the chicken stealer being an easy target. Granted I would have went with the strongest Asian or Hispanic dude as they blew the other two teams away, but that’s just me I guess. Another thing I wouldn’t have done, vote off the strong dude. Someone may be banking on a merger happening sooner than later. But by judge of the preview, it doesn’t look like it will happen next week. I would put good money on at least five weeks before a merger otherwise the whole “social experiment” idea would just be a sham and I bet there will be a few weeks where there will be tribal for the two bottom teams. Speaking of tribal, that whole pirate ship was pretty cool.

Pavarti Shallow: I'd hit thatAs for my preseason predictions, with the Asians dominating, my pick of Becky is looking good. And speaking of looking good, I was totally spot on with Pavarti Shallow being the chick I would most want to have dirty, dirty sex with even if they hadn’t showered in a month award. And for the people who didn’t care for my religion themed tribes for the next Survivor, here’s another suggestion: divide the groups by sexual preference: straights, gay homosexuals, people who play on both sides of the ball, and a-sexual. And don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to watch that.

Verdict: Much like every Survivor past, I will watch like a lemming every week relegating Smallville and My Name Is Earl to VCR duty. If you missed the first episode, or want to see all the racial goodness again, head over to CBS’s broadband station to stream the episode for free (with limited or no ads). Every Friday morning, the latest episode will be available to stream there. Or if you want to download the show for a small fee, check out iTunes.

Apple iTunes

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lyrics Quiz: “Weird Al” Yankovic Edition

Even More Hints Added Below

With the release of Straight Outta Lynwood just days away, I figured that a “Weird Al” Yankovic theme would be appropriate for this month’s lyrics quiz. But since I can’t have all “Weird Al” songs because it would be too easy to guest the artist, instead the next twenty-five songs were all parodied by the accordion master at sometime. As always, put both the song title and artist in the comment section and if you are right, I will un-bold the song and give you credit. As an added bonus, you can get an extra point if you can name the title of the “Weird Al” song parody. If someone guesses the original lyrics but doesn’t guess the bonus, you can steal that point. Now onto the quiz:

7. Speaking of the dude who changes his name every month; The Weird Al song had to do with technology and featured Drew Carey in the video.

1. Watchin' X-Files with no lights on, we're dans la maison, I hope the Smoking Man's in this one. (One Week - Barenaked Ladies; guessed by Lisa; Bonus not guessed)
2. I said, “Can I take you home where we can be alone?” Next we were movin' on and he was with me. (I Love Rock n Roll - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts; Bonus - I Love Rocky Road; both guessed by Angie)
3. We change the world tomorrow; this could be a better place. If you don’t like what I’m saying then won’t you slap my face? (Bad - Michael Jackson; Bonus - Fat; both guessed by TheWatchList)
4. How come everybody wanna keep it like a Kaiser? (Give it Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers; guessed by Dara; Bonus not guessed)
5. Dance to this and you're gonna get thinner, move, slide your rump, just for a minute let's all do the bump. (U Can't Touch This - M.C. Hammer; guessed by Lisa; Bonus not guessed)
6. He needs some cool tunes not any will suffice but they didn’t have Ice Cube so he bought Vanilla Ice. (Pretty Fly for a White Guy - The Offspring; Bonus - Pretty Fly for a Rabbi; both guessed by Lilfunky1)
7. Tryin’ to get my hands on some Grants like Horace. Yeah livin’ the raw deal three course meals.
8. The one she got was sorta rotten and insane, smcould land. all things so sad that birds (Lump - The Presidents of the United States of America; Bonus - Gump; both guessed by Dara)
9. You’re making me laugh out when you strike a pose; take off all your preppy cloths. (Complicated - Avril Lavigne; Bonus - A Complicated Song; both guessed by Lilfunky1)
10. If they can’t understand it how can they reach me? I guess they can’t. I guess they won’t. I guess they front that’s why I know my life is out of luck fool. (Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio; Bonus - Amish Paradise; both guessed by Lilfunky1)
11. Frustrated Incorporated. Well I know just what you need, I might just have the thing, I know what you'd pay to see. (Misery - Soul Asylum; guessed by Dara; Bonus Not Guessed)
12. They want you to be Jesus, they’ll go down on one knee, but they’ll want their money back if you’re alive at thirty-three. (Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me - U2; guessed by Lisa; Bonus not guessed)
13. Out of the doorway the bullets rip to the sound of the beat. (Another One Bites the Dust - Queen; guessed by MC; Bonus - Another One Rides the Bus; guessed by Angie)
14. I’m not dumb but I can’t understand why she walk like a woman but talk like a man. (Lola - The Kinks; guessed by Lisa; Bonus not guessed)
15. New Orleans, Detroit City, Dallas, Pittsburg PA, New York City, Kansas City, Atlanta, Chicago, and LA. (Living in America - James Brown; guessed by Lisa; Bonus not guessed)

16. The phone rings in the middle of the night, my father yells, “What you gonna do with your life?” (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cindi Lauper; guessed by Lisa; Bonus not guessed)
17. Think about direction, wonder why you haven’t before. (Stand - R.E.M.; Bonus - Spam; guessed by TheWatchList)
18. There’s an old man sitting next to me making love to his tonic and gin. (Piano Man - Billy Joel; guessed by Lisa; Bonus - Ode to a Superhero; guessed by Anonymous)
19. Helter skelter in the summer swelter. (American Pie - Don McLean; guessed by Lisa; Bonus - The Saga Begins; guessed by Anonymous)
20. Now everybody do the propaganda and sing along to the age of paranoia. (American Idiot - Green Day; guessed by MC; Bonus not guessed)
21. This world is mine for the taking. Make me king, as we move toward a, new world order. (Lose Yourself - Eminem; Bonus - Couch Potato; both guessed by Lilfunky1)
22. Have the guts, got the glory, went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop. (Eye of the Tiger - Survivor; guessed by MC; Bonus not guessed)
23. You can act real rude and totally removed and I can act like an imbecile. (Safety Dance - Men Without Hats; guessed by Angie; Bonus not guessed)
24. Load up on guns and bring your friends. It's fun to lose and to pretend. (Smells Like Teen Spirit; Bonus - Smells like Nirvana; both guessed by Lisa)
25. There’s a little black spot on the sun today, it’s the same ol’ thing as yesterday. (King of Pain - The Police; guessed by Lisa; Bonus Not Guessed)

Some cool news I just learned that I'd like to pass along. Some already know that U2 and Green Day planned to team up on a cover for the Skids The Saints Are Coming to benifit The Edge's Music Rising fund. Well it was just announced that the bands will premiere the song live on Monday Night Football on ESPN September 25th which happens to be at the Superdome. The performance will then be available fordownload on Rhapsody. Hopefully the studio versions will be available everywhrere soon. (A small hint, both bands are in this lyrics quiz.)

In other U2 news, they have already begun work on their next album with Rick Rubin as producer. How great will that be with those two? Expect the album out next year sometime.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Walk Me Out in the Morning Sun

Nightcrawler - Pete Yorn

At first listen to Nightcrawler, the third album from Jersey’s own Pete Yorn, it is pretty much a let down. His first two albums was a return to root-rock in the mold of John Mellencamp and fellow Jersey denizen Bruce Springsteen but with a modern edge to it. But I wasn’t sold on his previous albums upon first listen either as they both grew on me to become permanent staples in my playlist. And more I listen to Nightcrawler, the more I’m coming around to it.

The main problem with this album is its rocky start, Vampyre is a little too dark and moody to kick of and album even with its weird upbeat outro. Then it moves into For Us (which features Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters the drums) that just doesn’t click well. The album gets on track with Undercover, a classic Yorn song with electric elements but still rooted in rock music. Policies follows it up with a driving ambient which sounds like what Pearl Jam would have sounded like if they listen to too much of The Beach Boys. The Man is one of Yorn’s best, a soft lilting balled with lush harmonies provided by the Dixie Chick’s Natalie Maines. While Maybe I’m Right is right up there will all of Yorn straight ahead rock songs with crushing guitars.

The album does fall into tedium for a few songs until he starts sing about “Michael Jackson in Disney Land” where he’s walking around holding hands with Goofy. Um, yeah, you read that right. Actually Splendid Isolation actually works even with its absurd lyrics. But there are some more sidesteps on the album, Broken Bottle is a little to slow and could put you to sleep, same with Ice Age. Georgie Boy is just a little weird in a British kind of way.

Now apparently this album is the last in a trilogy of albums based on the events of one day. Looking at the album titles, Musicforthmorningafter, Day I Forgot, and Nightcrawler, it makes sense although it never crossed my mind listening t the individual songs on those albums. I’ll have to play all three in sequence and maybe it will click. But if you were to make a trilogy based on the events of a day, the night version shouldn’t be the least entertaining. But then again Nightcrawler may grow on me more like the pervious ones do.

Song to Download - The Man

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Go ‘Head Be Gone with It

FutureSex/LoveSounds - Justin Timberlake

In a measure of full discloser, for the age ol’ debate of who from the boy band era sucked the least, I would always side with the . When it came down to, they were the better group to do karaoke to, and don’t try to tell me you and you’re boys never did a sing I Want it That Way at sometime in a drunken stupor. With that said, I won’t let bias taint my review of former the former member not currently making out with dude (well at least not in public), and his second solo outing .

The album starts out with the title track; well actually it is a little different as the song is entitled FutureSex/LoveSound because apparently the song just has a singular “sound” while the album as a whole has “sounds.” You’re a tricky one Justin Timberlake. The song plays almost like an intro that sets the mood with Timbaland futuristic beats that almost drown out the vocals that just repeat themselves anyways. Granted this intro drags on for almost four minutes, so the mood that is set isn’t a good one. The trend of futuristic beats follow for the next few songs making me feel like I’m in a techno club, but I haven’t taken the required mild altering drugs to make the music bearable.

Then about halfway through the album, the beats slow down and the song become more tolerable starting with the I Think She Knows (Interlude). It’s never a good sign when an interlude is one of the better songs on the album. This is actually attached to Love Stoned and in lies a major a major problem with the album, besides of course the music itself. A bunch of the songs blend into each other on the official track listing. To put it better there are sixteen different songs but there are only twelve tracks (if you are confused, check out iTunes or Amazon and it should make more sense).

Back to the music, once the tolerable arrives, it leaves just as quickly with the arrival of Oscar winners . After hearing this song I have a better understanding why Crunchy Black left group (okay, I really have no clue why left the group, or who Crunchy Black is, but I make it my mission to reference Crunchy Black as much as possible because it’s my new favorite name). And in his pitch to become the least credible rapper ever (which will be hard considering and are still out there) the Antoine Merriwether look-a-like makes an appearance on My Love. Surprisingly his rap isn’t the most annoying part of the song as the intro could easily cause seizers and I would recommend pregnant women not listen to it. Then the once creditable shows up on Damn Girl (and the obscenity only get worse on the album as shown by the Parental Advisory sticker).

Then after fifty minutes of over-sexual music over headache inducing techno beats, TJ decides to make a social statement where he talks about how messed up things are in the world today on Until the End of Time. Ah, but wait, it’s all a rouse because he was using the end in near trick to bed some chick. Classy. And better contact his lawyers because the song blatantly steals from The Beautiful Ones. On the next track Losing My Way, Timberlake makes a social commentary on crack but comes across as pretentious especially after saying, “I’m tired of trying to save the world” in the previous song. Then the song goes into almost parody mode when he brings in the church choir to close the song. I can just imagine JT in the studio thinking, “hey let’s bring in a church choir like on Man in the Mirror.” And we all know what happened to the dude who sang that song.

The album surprisingly ends with an actual song that doesn’t suck. Not surprising that (Another Song) All Over Again is the lone song produced by Rick Rubin who has worked on iconic albums like early ones and ’s American Recordings. The slow song recalls Memphis soul albums from the seventies to much effect. Now if Timberlake would recruit Rubin for his next album, make more songs like the closing track, and stop making inane goals like trying to bring SexyBack, that album may be worth listening to. And to that point, I don’t know why anyone would want to bring SexyBack because as a wise man once said, “It’s hip to be square.”

Song to Download - (Another Song) All Over Again

FutureSex/LoveSounds gets a Terror Alert Level: Low [GREEN] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's Not a Silly Little Moment, it's Not the Storm before the Calm

Continuum - John Mayer

There hasn’t been an artist this decade that has changed more musically than granted he has yet to have a U2 type transformation yet, but the effort is there. Mayer started out his career, to some, as a solo Dave Matthews knock-off. And as much as his major label debut, Room for Squares, was pop perfection, he didn’t rest on his laurels for the follow-up Heavier Things. As the title suggested Mayer moved on from the safe world of pop-rock and made music more in the vain of his guitar idol some of which he even had the chance to play with over the years. To descend even deeper into the blues, Mayer recruited two heavy hitting studio and touring musicians in Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino to form the and tour behind a mix of new songs, cover tunes, and even made some of Mayer songs even bluesier.

Now Mayer is back to being a solo artist with the release of . The album does rehash a couple of the songs that were recorded for the live album the trio made, but Gravity and Vultures sound better now that they are polished up especially the latter which features a more crisper Mayer falsetto. It’s just the Trio again as the cover ’s Bold as Love but this studio version sounds a little overproduced and a Hendrix song should never sound overproduced. The band has done killer live version (you can find a version on a music service not named iTunes from the Tsunami Relief Benefit telethon) and may have benefited from putting a live version on the album instead. And just like its predecessor, the latest album Continuum lives up to its name as instead of making another blues album, this latest outing has much more of a soul vibe to it like on I Don’t Trust Myself where Mayer croons over silky horns and a mellow beat.

Aside from his musical growth, Continuum can also point to Mayer’s growth as a person as he deals with many grown up themes including not one, but two song with political commentaries. First up is the album opener and lead single Waiting on the World to Change. In the song Mayer brilliantly sums up the conscience of whatever you want to call the generation born in the late seventies to the early eighties highlighted by the line “It’s not that we don’t care, we just know that the fight ain’t fair.” Later there is Belief, featuring on guitar, where Mayer sums up all the wars in the world, most over religion, in Belief where he sings, “We’re never gonna win the world, we’re never gonna stop the war, we’re never gonna beat this if belief is what we’re fighting for.” Aside from the state of the world, Mayer takes stock of the state of his own life in Stop this Train featuring a dude from who contributed some acoustic guitars, singing lines like, “So scare of getting older, I’m only good at being young.” I feel ya Johnny, I really hate this whole getting old thing too.

For those who prefer Mayer’s lovelorn songs, just head to the back of the album starting with Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, a song that you will undoubtedly be hitting the back button multiple times until you realized after an hour it would have been easier just to have hit repeat. I’m going to go ahead and call it right now that this song will replace You’re Beautiful from last year (as well as You and Me from two years ago) as the song that every television show plays at some romantic juncture for added effect (just think had Rescue Me played this song at the end of the season finale this year and how much more fitting it would have been). The song also has the potential to be this decade’s token mistake love song (see Crash into Me for the nineties; Every Breathe You Take for the eighties). For all of you that were teenage girls when Mayer first broke and flocked to his shows only to drown out ever word he sang as you shouted over him, prepare to shout, “Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hand,” (Dreaming with a Broken Heart) and “I’m in repair, I’m not together but I’m getting there,” (In Repair) the next time Mayer visits your town.

Song to Download - Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

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

John Mayer on iTunes

Monday, September 11, 2006

Someday We’ll All Be Free

Five years ago I was working as driving instructor. Yeah I have plenty of material from that short experience to write a book, but that’s something for another time. Since school was in session in September, I didn’t start until the schools let out around three o’clock. So like many in their early twenties with nothing to get up fore in the morning, I routinely slept in back then. But on this day five years ago, I was awoken by my roommate who knocked on my bedroom door and told me to turn on the TV. When someone tells you to do as much, you know something is up because if it wasn’t important, someone would have to sell you on it like “turn on Sportcenter, they have the top ten goalie fights in NHL history.”

When I turned on my television, it was already tuned to NBC so it was The Today Show where I saw a picture of on of the Twin Towers with a pillar of smoke coming out of it. Katie Couric and her colleagues were taking about how this was possibly an accident, but I knew better, pilots just don’t accidentally fly into buildings and I doubted that they were even aloud to fly above New York City for that very reason just in case something went wrong. But Couric built her career on optimism, so it’s only fitting that an accident would be the best case scenario. Then just minutes after turning on my television, all doubt were put to rest as we could see live on our sets that a second plane flew into the other Twin Tower.

For the next five hours I sat in front of my television even though there was very little to report aside from another plane going into the Pentagon and a fourth plane that went down in the middle of Pennsylvania that may or may not have been connected. Of course we know now that it was and I even drove out to Shanksville on the first anniversary to see the memorial which was just a makeshift one. For those five hours I remember flipping through the channels of my television just to see how other channels reported the news. Most cable channels switched over to the broadcast station of their parent company such as MTV and VH1 were airing CBS News, USA and Bravo were showing NBC’s coverage, and so on while other channels just went blank. Even though I had no family or friends who

When if was finally time to go to work, I switched over to a radio station, which also simulated its sister station’s new coverage. When I picked up my first student up from school, we called her mother and I gave them two options, I could drive her home or we could go ahead with her scheduled block of driving. She, as well as my other students I had scheduled for that day, choose to go on with their appointment even the one who had an uncle who worked at the Pentagon. I usually don’t let student to listen to the radio as they drive, but I made an exception that day, and the next couple days so we both would be caught up to date.

If there was something good that came out of the days after September 11th was there was it brought the country together for the first time that I could remember. I was a little too young to remember the Miracle on Ice and of course World War II was well before my time. There was even a sense that the materialism of the vapid late nineties and would give way for people to live more meaningful lives. Of course that hasn’t happen as in the last five years Paris Hilton has somehow been able to release a book and album as well as star in a television show and a movie (well two, one of which you can purchase at Best Buy and one you can’t) and somehow her arrest was the biggest story of last week. Even the togetherness we felt as a nation didn’t last long as way too many people make too much money on this nation being divided and just three years afterwards we had the most bitter presidential election ever that is still being argued about two years after the fact making us more fractured then even before that day. And finally after five years, the powers that be just unveiled the plans for what the new World Trade Center plaza will look like, although maybe that would have gotten more press had they not made it public the same week Paris Hilton got her DUI.

For longtime reader, most of you know that the title of my posts comes from lines of songs or movies (or at least I hope you have figured that out by now). But as easy as this post flowed out of me, it took me a while to come up with a fitting title. But while typing this up, I put on the America: A Tribute to Heroes album. If you remember the Friday after, most every network simulcast a telethon to raise money for the victims then rushed out the CD with royalties also going to the fund. On the broadcast Alicia Keys performed a Donny Hathaway song; Someday We’ll All Be Free. Even though the previous paragraph decried how we as a culture have gotten worse opposed to better, I think there is hope that someday we’ll all be free.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I Could Have Another You in a Minute

B'Day - Beyoncé

Things don’t look so good for . She started off the summer inundated with rumors of her man’s infidelity with Rihanna who is basically Beyoncé five years ago. Then her latest album has gotten little buzz as her record label had to rush out a second single after the first failed to make a dent at radio. Of course this may because even the novice listener could tell Déjà vu was a knock off of her first solo hit Crazy in Love except without the great Chi-Lites sample shows us why he should have stayed retired as his flow has gotten anemic (and his verse on Upgrade U isn't much better).

Things don’t get much better for B on the rest of the album which was somewhat inspired by her character for the upcoming Dreamgirls. Keeping with the “heard it all before” theme, the second single Ring the Alarm sounds like a rehash of Caught Out There. Well except Kelis sounded like a woman scorn ready to fight back where Beyoncé just seems made just because some other chick is rockin’ her chinchilla coats (and on that note can someone explain VVS stones to me please). Not to mention Christina Aguilera was more entertaining when she had to “ring the alarm” because Redman was throwing elbows on Dirrty.

Then there is Suga Mama where she uses food as a euphemism for sex, but did that over a decade ago with Food Innuendo Guy, and at least he was intentionally funny. Then Beyoncé tries to add another word to the vernacular, but I’ve used Bootylicious, Bootylicious is a favorite word of mine, and Feakum Dress, my sir, is no Bootylicious.

Not if there is a glimmer of hope for Beyoncé it comes at the tail end of the album. Irreplaceable is up there with anything she has done, albeit solo or with . You can hear the hurt in her voice which cause her to miss a note or two, but that only adds to the mystique of the song. Resentment is also a slow song that starts as an acoustic song that builds making a great capper to an album.

But wait there’s more; there are a few hidden tracks. First Beyoncé talks about how she wants to give her fans a little extra. Well had she not given the “extra” songs the album would have finished at a paltry thirty-eight minutes, so really there should have been a little more anyways. The first song is Listen which from Dreamgirls and is decent even though it definitely has a “musical” feel to it. Then there is an extended mix of Get Me Bodied that somehow manages to be more annoying than the original. Maybe she should have stopped at Resentment.

Song to Download - Irreplaceable

B’Day gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.