December 25, 2008

Hark to the World

I'm not very Christmas-centric. Partly it's to do with being an atheist, although that's not a deal-breaker -- religious types like to complain about how people forget the Reason for the Season, but the rest of us know that it's a feature, not a bug, that it's possible to manage one's own Christmas experience to be more Christian, more pagan, or more about enjoying Christmas lights. The thing I dislike the most about Christmas is the ubiquitous damn holiday music. Seriously, I went into three stores one day this month, and I heard "Feliz Navidad" in EVERY SINGLE ONE. This is not okay.

There aren't many holiday songs in heavy retail rotation that I can abide, really. I'm not sure when "Linus and Lucy", the awesome instrumental from "A Charlie Brown Christmas", became considered a holiday radio standard, but I wholeheartedly approve of it. I never get tired of that one. And sometimes I enjoy even the most familiar carols, if they're given an interesting spin...but usually what I consider "interesting" isn't the sort of thing that most stores are going to play. For instance, this rocking klezmer version of "Joy to the World" or this shambling cover of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" by the Fall. Or this sort of thing.

In non-music matters, last night I got recognized by one of my blog readers while putting my name on the waiting list at Joe's Shanghai. That was kind of cool; I briefly felt like a web celebrity. So thanks for that, Sara (or Sarah); raise your hand if you're a fellow blogger and would like a link back! Feel free to do the same, should any of you other readers happen to spot me on one of the brief occasions when I leave my computer. (If you're one of the high percentage of my blog readers who I already know personally but you still wish to contribute to my feeling-like-a-web-celebrity project, you can do so by acting like I'm probably too big to talk to you now that I'm such a big shot, and waving awkwardly as we pass in opposite directions.)

Posted by Francis at 10:40 AM | Comments (9)

December 19, 2008

Half Asleep (and something to wake you up)

I hope you've been enjoying doing things under your own volition so as to be fresh and ready to Do What I Tell You Do and listen to this song by School of Seven Bells, a band I'd never heard of until I downloaded some of their songs from some blogs, and which is a band formed by people who left two other bands I'd also never heard of. (Well, one of them, Secret Machines, was a band I'd heard of but never listened to, does that count?) The songs are dreamy and a little distorted in a My Bloody Valentine vein, but with sweet two-part harmonies driving the songs instead of crushing guitars. I haven't bought as many albums this year as I usually do, but of the ones I have, this is a standout.

School of Seven Bells, "Half Asleep" (click through for download link)

Buy School of Seven Bells' "Alpinisms".

Now that you've been lulled into a state of bliss with that little number, might I also suggest wandering over to Calendar Geeks to purchase yourself a 2008 calendar, featuring Lorinne as June's Knitting Geek and me as the offscreen voice of the cameraman saying "Gorgeous, just gorgeous! Now toss your head back and smile! You're a star, baby, a star!"

Posted by Francis at 03:31 PM | Comments (4)

December 17, 2008

Talking 'bout bad, bad girls

Here's a poster I see every day as I'm exiting my subway station, promoting what looks to be an awful reality show of some sort:


I have a few thoughts about this poster -- well, mostly about the tag line, "Bad just got good."

I think I might be done with tag lines. Just done with them. Does everything in the world need a hacky, punny subtitle? Because obviously we've reached the bottom of the barrel with this. "THING just got OPPOSITE OF THING." I can just see an ad writer somewhere typing that up and leaning back with their arms folded, thinking, "Damn, Gender-Inspecific-Name-Such-As-Avery-Or-Sandy, you are good! No one's going to see that coming."

(Also, I'm pretty sure most heterosexual guys throughout history have always, always considered "bad" to be an appealing adjective when applied to women.)

The tag line did get me thinking about other ways to use the same lame construction, however. I'm envisioning a reality show where a bunch of handymen (and -women) have to drill holes in many different types of wood, and they're judged on how straight they drill, how quickly, and (most importantly) for style. Obviously the name of the show would be "Drill, Baby, Drill" -- but what would the tag line be? (Get ready.)

"Boring just got exciting."

Damn, I am good. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments, which I reserve the right to steal and pitch to weaselly cable executives.

Posted by Francis at 10:09 PM | Comments (10)

Great moments in Freudian slips

AP article today: "Bush says he didn't compromise soul to be popular."

President George W. Bush knows he's unpopular. But here's what matters, he says: "I didn't compromise my soul to be a popular guy."

"I compromised it for power, obviously," he did not go on to say.

Posted by Francis at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2008

Wicked Things

Hello -- I was out of town on Friday, but I'm back to tell you what to do, in a very indie-cred-establishing fashion. That's right, not only is this a song from an obscure band (Prefab Sprout, which only sounds like it must have been named after a fake band from a Monty Python sketch, unlike Toad the Wet Sprocket, which actually was), but it's from an obscure album by that band ("Protest Songs", their sort-of-third, sort-of-fourth album, recorded in 1985 but not released until 1989, and barely promoted; it's currently out of print in the U.S.). It's not my favorite Prefab Sprout album (that'd be "Swoon"), but I do love the track "Wicked Things", which inhabits a strange netherworld between "soothing" and "relentless". It's the fourth track on the album, fulfilling the Elvis Costello rule, as stated in the list he wrote for Vanity Fair of his 500 favorite albums, about which he commented, "I decided to also name the tracks that make these albums special to me. So, if nothing is written, head straight for the title track or assume that the whole damned thing is irresistible. When in doubt, play Track 4 -- it is usually the one you want."

Prefab Sprout, "Wicked Things" (click through for download link)

Posted by Francis at 02:22 AM | Comments (1)