Monday, May 12, 2008

Reminder: I've moved

Come over and visit me here. Update bookmarks, blogrolls, blog readers.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Newspaper sites = troll magnets

Check out the unadulterated, inhuman crap being posted at the Sun-Sentinel after Springsteen postponed his show in the wake of ... oh, just the death of his bandmate and friend of 40 years, Danny Federici.

Here's an idea: Let's use the IP addresses and track these people down, then have them stand before a live national TV audience as we read their comments out loud. Wonder if they'd still call Springsteen a liberal crybaby.

(Obviously, I'm not speaking for my employer. Nor do I really think that's the best way to handle Web trolls. It'd be fun, though, wouldn't it?)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Live-blogging Last.fm

It's been a while since I live-blogged anything, in part because I'm no longer idle on weekdays and in part because we finally pulled the plug on XM.

But I'm giving Last.fm another chance. I've even downloaded the player and "scrobbled," which I still think is a hip way of saying "uploaded all of your marketing preferences and occasional accidental stumbling onto porn sites to a database shared by a giant telemarketing firm and Homeland Security." But anyway ...

Hmmm ... chose an artist or tag. I'll choose "rock." And we get ...

Alanis Morissette, You Learn: The song from which her staggeringly popular debut Jagged Little Pill takes its title, but not even the top half of the songs from that release if I ranked them. Cute song with a few good hooks, but overproduced like some old Tiffany release.

Counting Crows, Round Here: Hate the band, love this song. Adam Duritz could sing anything from Louie Louie to Close to the Edge and still come across as the pretentious college-DJ type who hooks up with a succession of the campus' most eligible women because they all think they'll be the one to rescue him from those dark clouds following him. (Yeah, those dark clouds? They're the stench of erratic bathing and pot smoke.) Except on this recording, where he gives just the right emotional lift to an enigmatic, interesting song.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Wind Cries Mary: Like You Learn, this one isn't bad, but it's a little flimsier than some of the vital work produced by the same artist. Surely a good change of pace for a live show.

The Troggs, Wild Thing: I'd much rather hear the Hendrix version. Or the Sam Kinison version.



Yes, that's Jessica Hahn, of Jim Bakker scandal fame, in the video.

OK, so where was I? Oh, right ...

Toto, Selfish: For some reason, I want to work in some sort of joke along the lines of "Kansas? I don't think we're in Toto anymore." Surely Steve Morse managed to be in both bands somewhere along the way. I have no idea where to place this song -- clearly years and years after the band was any semblance of its platinum days -- so I'm relying on Popdose to fill me in. Really, it's what you'd expect -- a vocalist screaming to try to get some sort of attention while everyone else is focusing on the endless noodling of the overly skilled musicians in the rest of the band.

Billy Idol, Sweet Sixteen: When is Billy going to pull a Rod Stewart or Brian Setzer and start paying homage to the 40s and 50? He could pull it off, and it'd be better than utterly forgettable 80s relics like this.

My Chemical Romance, Welcome to the Black Parade: I don't know. Maybe if I were 19, getting rejected by all the women who were hanging out with Adam Duritz-type DJs, looking forward to financial independence even if I had no idea what to do career-wise, reading tedious academic prose and all that, I might appreciate this with the correct level of irony. Since I'm now officially 2x19, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to feel sympathy for the unfortunates mentioned in the song or to view them with cynical detachment or what. I just maintain Natalie Merchant could kick all their asses.

I'll have to wrap there for now. Interesting mix of music, at least.

Song du semaine: The Donnas, "Fall Behind Me"

Just a clinic in rock guitar playing here. Poor video, unfortunately, almost as badly synced in places as the old Joy Division clip for Love Will Tear Us Apart.



And to my great surprise, it almost works acoustically. I say "almost" because it really needs drums and a more emphatic vocal. The guitar, though, is still pretty good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Firefox and punctuation

Anyone else wonder if the reason this movie is getting so much play on cable these days is that people might think, "Hey, someone made a movie about a Web browser!"?

That sentence leads me to a grammar point. I have trouble with quotation marks because I studied a considerable amount of logic in college, and the rules on quotation marks ain't logical.

Problem 1:

"The comma goes before the quotation mark," he said, realizing that the rule makes no sense from a logical standpoint. The quotation is a complete expression. The comma separates it from a descriptive clause.

Problem 2:

Eric said, "My team will be ready to play Saturday." The comma is grammatically correct and logically unsound. The quotation is the object. Eric said X. Imagine other sentences with an object.
Mark threw the ball.
Not:
Mark threw, the ball.
So take note, English majors. This is why philosophy majors are laughing at you.

"But there are plenty of reasons to laugh at philosophy majors" is a perfectly valid response.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Questions I can't answer

Today in the car ride home ...

MMM Jr.: What song is this?

MMM: It's an old song by R.E.M. called Can't Get There From Here.

MMM Jr.: Where is he trying to go?


Um ... Philomath?

Friday, April 04, 2008

The new journalism career

1. Go into journalism straight out of college.

2. Work for a decade or two, building yourself up as a prominent voice in a particular niche.

3. Take a buyout or just find a better-paying job, then set up a blog/site/podcast that takes advantage of the expertise you built up in journalism.

It makes perfect sense. Journalism will continue to exist, but if you're under 40, your chances of promotion to a family-supporting job will be minimal. You'll eventually face pressure to head out the door because, even though you're making less than your similarly educated peers in other fields, you're making more than the kid they can hire for your job.

And that's why I'm happy to see a talented TV critic like Ed Bark embracing the change.

I don't mean to sound like a negative nabob while there are so many good people gathered in Durham to talk about the Next Newsroom. I see this career path as a positive. Perhaps journalism will lose a lot of good people when they hit age 35, 40 or 45, but that's better than leaving them in unfulfilling jobs. And perhaps this sort of path will attract a few good people in the first place.

(Note to USAT folks: No, I'm not leaving! I'm just starting to have fun.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Song du semaine: Velvet Revolver, "Fall to Pieces"

We all knew Velvet Revolver wouldn't last, right? Weiland hasn't learned self-control in any sense of the word by this point, and it may never happen.

And that's a shame, because in his better moments, he's a talented singer willing to open up to startling self-examination about his drug-riddled past.

Fall to Pieces is a good, solid rock song -- pretty guitar figures from Slash and Dave Kushner, building to a stirring chorus as Weiland sells the drama.

But the video is remarkable as well. It has a sweetness you don't usually see from rock clips, with Weiland laying bare his reliance on loved ones and bandmates to get him through the tough times. It's all believable -- you get the impression this isn't the first time Duff has had to wrap up a trashed bandmate and let him thrash it out.



Pity no one was able to keep talking sense into these guys.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mindless cynicism du jour

Hate Disney World if you must. Fine. It's a small world, but there's still room for diverse opinions.

Just have a reason for doing so other than thinking you're just too cool for the whole experience.

At Slate, Seth Stevenson takes a shot at the land of the Mouse:

After spending the past five days here, I've come to the conclusion that Disney World teaches kids three things: 1) a meaningless, bubble-headed utopianism, 2) a grasping, whining consumerism, and 3) a preference for soulless facsimiles of culture and architecture instead of for the real thing. I suppose it also teaches them that monorails are cool. So there's that.

Except that he doesn't develop any of those points.

He sees "bubble-headed utopianism" in the "It's a Small World" ride but concedes that he finds it charming. "It's an unassailable message, and there's also something comforting in the ride's retro simplicity."

The rest of his complaints:

1. Disney World sells packages to people who go roughly once a year. Isn't that excessive? People buy time shares near warm-weather golf courses all the time. Think of Disney World as some great golfing that happens to have a few amusement parks within a shuttle or monorail ride, and is it really so strange?

2. Had Disney lived longer, his utopian vision might have mutated into something like L. Ron Hubbard's. OK. And if Jim Morrison had lived longer, the Doors might have become a Christian rock band. Lots of historical determinism there, and it has nothing to do with the park itself.

3. Disney World is like a church of Disneyism! Just look at all the weddings in the Magic Kingdom! Weddings, you say? That's a sign of religion? If that were true, shouldn't we all pray facing Vegas?

4. Between the Mickey/Minnie gender roles and the princess/pirate split among kids, Disney World reinforces gender stereotypes. OK, sure, the storytelling in Disney films can be a little old-fashioned. But plenty of kids have favorite characters who aren't so easily pinned down. What the hell is Stitch, anyway?

5. Everything is so sanitized. The fireworks always start at exactly 9 p.m. The berms hide the Dumpsters. Concealed trash? Fireworks starting on time? Those freaking Nazi bastards!

Look, if I want to see Dumpsters, I'll walk out behind my local grocery store. (It's not in front? Those freaking Nazi bastards!) If I want to see a little utopian fantasy land, I'll go to the Magic Kingdom.

And he doesn't even scratch the surface of what you can actually see in Disney World. Animal Kingdom's safari ride gives you the closest view of wild animals you could possibly want. If you're tired of the "Small World" utopianism, take your pick from the rides at any of the parks.

He briefly mentions Epcot -- "Mightn't it be better to broaden your children's horizons just a tad? Like, maybe visit Canada—instead of just the Canada pavilion in Epcot?"

Notice that he mentions Canada. Notice how different -- and how elitist -- this sentence would read if he had said, "Like, maybe visit Japan -- instead of just the Japan pavilion in Epcot?"

Those of us who have neither tens of thousands of dollars nor eight weeks of annual vacation to travel the world with our kids appreciate the chance to go culture-browsing at Epcot. Even if we had all the time and money in the world, we might still take the Epcot highlight reel.

We don't live far from the National Zoo, but we still check out the panda cam on occasion. If we use a shortcut like that instead of packing up and driving 30-40 minutes, would we really pack up and fly to Mexico every time we want to see something vaguely Aztec?

Essentially, this guy's arguments boil down to some what-ifs and some complaints about consumer behavior. If people take Disney World as something more than an occasional escape, if they buy time-shares, if their girls dress as princesses, if they only see international culture at Epcot and if they get married at the Magic Kingdom ... then they might have warped views on gender roles and garbage collection.

When he takes Disney World for what it is rather than what obsessed fans with no sense of reality make of it, he enjoys it.

But how unhip a story would that be?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Two questions of taste

1. Should a story on Poison's drummer facing rape charges included an embedded video for Talk Dirty to Me?

2. Yes, Wikipedia has the same info, but does anyone else think Rikki Rockett might have fabricated his "real" last name?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

500!

I've made it to my 500th post!

So should I switch to WordPress now?

Song du semaine: Sara Bareilles, "Love Song"

I hear the response already: "Are you kidding me? Even in this era of unlimited choice in which a big album might sell 40,000 copies in a week, everyone knows this song already!"

Yes, that's true. But I think this song actually deserves its national earworm status, and that's worth celebrating.

Besides, it's brilliant that she wrote something that works equally well as a jab at her record company and a demand for a boyfriend's respect.

R.I.P., XM

On the day the Justice League said XM could merge with Sirius, we let our subscription lapse. I loved it, really, but we just weren't listening to it enough to justify the money.

Now if someone can convince me that Pandora or Last.fm is worth another shot ...

(Still a Launch subscriber, but I might let that go soon.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"It reminds me a joke I once heard about upper-middle-class people ..."

Poor Celia Wren. It seems that her writing career took a wrong turn somewhere, and she was forced to earn money doing a Washington Post theater review that forced her to be sequestered in a room with the sort of person who would find historical and literary farce amusing.

This blogger, also a professional journalist, should warn you that the review to which I've linked describes a situation so desperate that you may be unable to stop weeping. If you're especially sensitive to the plight of reviewers stranded among uncouth men and women of the evening who watch comedy, do not click that link. Just limit yourself to a sampling of her words ...

At the Lansburgh Theatre, you once stood a good chance of encountering a classic drama. Now, though, it's playing host to the Reduced Shakespeare Company, a troupe that has built a cottage industry out of undergraduate-quality literary sendups. ...

Judging by the gales of laughter that greeted performances Saturday, many theatergoers find this sort of thing hilarious. ...

In an era when even HBO is taking the Founding Fathers seriously, "The Complete History of America" might seem nearly as sacrilegious (as "The Bible"). ...
The horror ... the horror ...

It's important for Ms. Wren to take a stand against such "entertainment." Why, we could end up like the British, where students at Oxford and Cambridge traditionally perform "skits," often in drag," and the ones who are deemed good at it turn professional! One young man was doing research on Chaucer and ended up doing some sort of nonsense in which people bang coconuts together and search for the Holy Grail!

( /sarcasm )

This is the sort of condescending crap that makes the world hate journalists. I'm unabashedly elitist, with very little patience for stupidity, and yet the Post sometimes cranks out content that can't possibly appeal to anyone other than D.C. residents (not those curious people over in Virginia) who are pretentious and have no sense of humor. Government workers generally aren't pretentious, so they're out of the target audience. And the popularity of Reduced Shakespeare -- not to mention the big theaters' tendency to book big-time comics -- proves that someone here must have a sense of humor.

So perhaps we really should pity Ms. Wren and her editors. Their demographics aren't good, and they're too full of themselves to enjoy a good laugh. That's sad.

Song du semaine: Journey, "Faithfully"

The spoilsports at Sony disabled embedding, so I'll just link to the video and give you some screen captures of the most embarrassing grimaces caught on tape. Then I'll tell you what a beautiful ballad this really is.

First, the grimaces, not exactly enhanced by the poor picture quality I'm delivering here ...


Forget Randy Jackson -- I'm Ross Valory, bitch!


I never really felt like part of the band.


Star Trek XLII: The Wrath of Schon


Should we tell Jonathan Cain his mike isn't plugged in? Does he think he's singing, or is this some sort of Liberty DeVitto tribute?


The guy from Guster never contorted himself backwards in pain and exhaustion after crashing a couple of cymbals, and he hit them with his hands. Is this why Steve Smith eventually went back to jazz?

Or maybe it was the video for Separate Ways, in which Cain steals the show by re-inventing the art of air keyboards.



All very silly. And yet this song is brilliant. It builds from a solid hook on the piano that carries through into the vocals and Schon's guitar work.

The lyrics blow away the typical power-ballad crap. Maybe you have to have been in a 10-year relationship to appreciate it, but "Two strangers learn to fall in love again / I get the joy of rediscovering you" is dead-on, and Perry's delivery is powerful without sounding like some melismatic monster on American Idol.

Rather than re-mastering their old stuff, Journey should probably just reshoot the videos. The songs are fine.

I'm back, baby

Check out the story I wrote on my first day back and the blog I cranked up on my second.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sounds like my high school band

The Onion has an audio report on the latest from the music scene.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Does jazz suck?

I do feel a little guilty asking the question. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, having grown up in an area in which "jazz band" meant you played Booker-T and the MG's or the Hawaii Five-O theme. I played one semester in the Duke Jazz Ensemble but clearly couldn't keep up. Besides, we should all be celebrating jazz after Herbie Hancock's stunning Grammy, right? (For an album of Joni Mitchell covers??!!)

But not all is well in the jazz world. "Smooth jazz" is dying. Some might not lament that -- no one I know will ever admit to liking Kenny G, but I never minded hearing George Benson and Norah Jones when I was giving blood. (A few months ago, they switched to one of the local "urban" stations. You know, "urban"? I guess it's shorter than "African American," but it seems even less accurate.)

Then there's the stuff they play at Panera. I suppose you might call it "postbop" or maybe "hard bop" (but not "Mmm-bop"). Or the name I call it, "music that featured in Manos, the Hands of Fate."

Good jazz exists. We played some good stuff in jazz ensemble, even my fingers never quite caught up to the notes on the page. I have some albums by various Marsalis brothers, including the truly excellent Black Codes (from the Underground). That album has memorable hooks and a sense that the talented musicians in the group were connecting. The crap they play at Panera sounds like a bunch of guys went into the studio at different times, played erratic phrases on an unfamiliar instrument while stoned, then patched it all together. And yet someone deemed it worthy of recording for posterity and foisting on Panera diners as if it were listenable.

When I was growing up, Wynton and Branford had substantial followings. Musician magazine covered jazz almost as thoroughly as it covered rock.

In these days of fragmented media, you're not likely to find a magazine that covers jazz and rock. With the decline of "smooth jazz," you won't hear much that falls under the "jazz" umbrella unless you seek it out on XM or the Web.

So perhaps the question isn't whether jazz sucks. Maybe it's just dying, despite Hancock's Grammy?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Song du semaine: Velocity Girl, "Sorry Again"

Just a good fun song about apologizing from a local band. (Aside to Wikipedia -- College Park and "Washington DC area" are not two different places.) I wish I'd known lead singers like that would be in bands with geeky guitarists like me when I was 23 or so. My glasses were never that geeky.

Enjoy ...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Progress report

I've written roughly 70,000 words, completed 15 interviews. I'm expecting to do four more in this final week of leave, and then I'm back to the grind.

I don't usually apologize for a lack of blog activity, but it's pretty obvious that if I've written this much while shopping the book around to publishers and preparing to go back to work, I haven't had much power left in my brain or my laptop to write anything coherent about music or media. It's been a while since I've had a spare hour to live-blog VH1 Classic or XM. But I'll get back to it. I promise. Especially once someone agrees to publish this thing.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Quick review: "Unhitched"

Rashida Jones deserves better.

Told you it was quick.

Friday, February 29, 2008

SNL and one-joke sketches

One-joke sketches on Saturday Night Live aren't inherently awful. "It's Pat" wasn't exactly complicated. Tom Hanks did well as "Mr. Short-Term Memory." Even The Coneheads and the wild-and-crazy Festrunks didn't exactly match the complexity of a classic Seinfeld or Arrested Development. Nothing wrong with that.

But when a debate sketch, so often SNL's bread and butter, resorts to one joke, that's a missed opportunity.

That's why SNL's otherwise excellent return to the air last weekend had a slow start.



OK. We get it. The media have been fawning over Obama recently. Just as they fawn over every front-runner. Say, Hillary Clinton, three or four months ago.

That's really not enough for a debate sketch. Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis are left with little to do but caricatures. (I especially feel for Wiig, who gets stuck with a lot of these characters for some reason -- the new woman in the cast, Casey Wilson, is already getting better parts. In the evening's best sketch, a parody of birth-control pill ads, Wiig is seen making out with a dog.)

The classic SNL debates have layers of jokes on all the candidates. Dana Carvey's memorable Bush vs. Jon Lovitz's pained Dukakis. Carvey's Bush vs. Carvey's Perot vs. Phil Hartman's Clinton ... a trifecta of brilliant characterizations. Then the best of them all -- Darrell Hammond's overbearing Gore vs. Will Ferrell's borderline illiterate Bush, which was heavy on Gore but still introduced "strategery" into our vernacular.

The whole racial question over Fred Armisen playing Obama is overblown -- both men have family trees that look like Benetton ads. Maya Rudolph had no problem playing characters of any ethnicity. Neither should Armisen.

The blame here is on the folks who were on strike all this time -- the writers. Come on, folks. These people are funnier than that.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Song du semaine: Anna Nalick, "Shine"

Yes, it's a current song. New territory here at MMM.

It's so new that I don't see an actual video for it yet, just a couple of things at YouTube. One is apparently an official release of some sort, though it's just a bunch of pictures of the handwritten lyrics (with unfortunate apostrophe errors included). So as you're reading, you can watch that or just listen at her official site.

Nalick's breakthrough -- spurred along by Grey's Anatomy, proving that something good can come from that piece of dreck -- was a few years removed from the Great Young Woman Invasion of 2000-2002. You remember those days -- Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton and Avril Lavigne all hitting it big while a bunch of oppressive male critics lumped them all together. I have vague, possibly hazy memories of people claiming you couldn't tell them apart, which is about like a critic in 1966 saying you can't distinguish Roger Daltrey from Mick Jagger.

(Unrelated TV quiz: Name the show that made reference to "the Rolling Who.")

All three of these women were tagged as "anti-Britneys" because they clearly took their music more seriously than their image, refusing to sell themselves as mere teen lust fodder. That was before Branch and Lavigne posed for Maxim. Carlton was apparently one of Jane's "11 people you'd most like to see naked," which was an odd stance to take for a magazine allegedly marketed to young women. In any case, I don't know of any evidence that she took anyone up on the "offer."

And all three brought something different to the radio (or Launch player, in my case). Branch delved into several pop-rock styles, from overt Beatles references to modern dance beats. Carlton had sort of a retro piano-rock vibe. Lavigne was to postpunk rock as Liz Phair was to classic rock, recasting all the standard themes from a female perspective.

Not that they were polished and brilliant. All three needed some work on the lyrics. But they were far better than anything I was writing at age 17. I'm just glad YouTube wasn't around when we recorded the R.E.M.-style video for Let's Rock and Roll 'Til We Get Herpes and Die. I always dreamed of being a rock star and was actually a little jealous of Debbie Gibson, but the 20 or so people who've heard the recordings of my high school "band" would surely tell me I made the right career choice. Sniff.

But instead of progressing, all three declined. Carlton's later singles were listenable but not particularly memorable. Branch released a second album with several solid singles, married her bass player despite a rather substantial age difference, formed a country-ish duo and has a daughter who's more than a year older than my second son. Lavigne, despite heading to the altar as well, seems to be getting younger, creating the unnerving duality of a tween-oriented signer flouting her sexuality from a magazine rack.

That leaves Nalick as the great hope for those of us who like to hear women on the radio and can't wait an eternity between Sarah McLachlan albums. Those of you who have read this blog for more than 30 months know I have a soft spot in my heart for Nalick because she sang in a Rush cover band.

And she has the best voice of this group, by far. She puts it great use here. At times, she sounds like Kate Bush in places, but less pretentiously ethereal.

The lyrics aren't bad, either.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lindsay Lohan sheds clothes, not cynics

This isn't so much about the Lindsay Lohan nude photos (NSFW) as it is about the predictable blog reaction:

Spoiled Pretty: "what baffles me is why legendary photographer Bert Stern chose Lohan to recreate the shots that Marilyn Monroe made famous. Makes you wonder who turned him down before Linsday jumped at the bit."

The FiveForty: "As we mentioned yesterday, probably everybody expected Lohan to pose nude eventually, particularly in light of her declining career—so the fact that she posed nude isn't surprising."

Feministing: "I am appalled. Not because Lohan is pictured nude - to each their own on that front - but because there seems to be no awareness whatsoever about how this spread fetishizes the death and downfall of women in the public eye." (Some of the commenters in a rather intelligent thread point out that it's not so different from James Dean and River Phoenix fetishes, and I'd add Jim Morrison to that list. "He's hot, he's sexy, he's dead," indeed.)

If You Write It: "As has been noted elsewhere, Lindsay Lohan is no Marilyn Monroe. Even a nude Lindsay Lohan is still just Lindsay Lohan. Except for that drugged out look of the-end-is-near in her flat eyes , she has none of Marilyn Monroe's charisma." (So, wait, the drugged out look was part of Marilyn Monroe's charisma?)

Kottke (et tu?): "This photo shoot of Lindsey Lohan as Marilyn Monroe only serves to underscore how unlike (and inferior) Lohan is compared to Monroe."

(OK, the Gawker limericks are pretty funny.)

Those of you who know me know that I love to tweak conventional wisdom. So here goes ...

1. Two words for those who want to write off Lohan at this stage of her career: Drew Barrymore. And Drew hadn't done half as much substantial work as Lohan before she went into her wild years. By the time Mean Girls came out in 2004, Lohan was a well-regarded teen actress. She was also damn good on Saturday Night Live.

2. Monroe, on the other hand, was a model who had some "work" done before she broke through as an actress.

To recap so far: Lohan was a well-regarded actress who became known as a "babe." Monroe was a well-regarded babe who became a well-regarded actress.

3. Read the story, and you'll see that Lohan is well aware of the Monroe history and is determined to avoid living the last few months of it.

4. If you ask me, the more control a woman has over her nudity, the less it bothers me. This isn't a desperate Dana Plato turning to Playboy and some questionable films.

5. And it's not quite as hypocritical as, say, Avril Lavigne on Maxim.

No, the Lohan portfolio isn't some iconic piece of art, though it's certainly the most interesting nudity I've seen since ... I don't know, some dance performance in college? But neither should it be an excuse to trot all sorts of overly romanticized notions of the past. This isn't Tawny Kitaen reprising Meryl Streep's role in Sophie's Choice (or even the underrated Postcards from the Edge). It's not Pink attempting Barracuda. It's a troubled, frequently downloaded actress recognizing history.

And we say kids don't care about history these days.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1989

My hometown of Athens, Ga., isn't the hotbed of major musical acts that it once was. But isn't it great to hear such strong singles from R.E.M. and the long-dormant B-52s?

Has Gen Y simply given up trying to produce anything that can compete with this stuff?

Records meant to be broken


While I'm waiting for a few interview callbacks ...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wars not make one great

So says Yoda, but in some perusal of the Star Wars "expanded universe," I'm finding wars are just about all we find.

Just read what Luke and company had to deal with after a few decades of mopping up the remnants of the Empire: "The Yuuzhan Vong war was possibly the most devastating crisis the galaxy had faced. The cost in lives were staggering; the number of deaths over the known galaxy were estimated at about 365 trillion sentients."

Wow! Can Lucas make that movie?

The theme that makes the Star Wars saga more than a bunch of cool light sabers, funny droids and bad-shooting stormtroopers is the complex struggle between good and evil. Lucas realized that this struggle takes place internally just as easily as it takes place between governments and armies. I don't buy the notion that Episode III was an allegory of the Bush administration, but I think Lucas' vision would necessarily expand our notions of good and evil into something a little more complex than the typical neocon would allow.

Which is why the only part of the "expanded universe" I've found compelling is a somewhat recent comic book series on the life of a Skywalker several generations down the line -- Cade Skywalker, who trains as a Jedi but turns to drug addiction and wonders, reasonably, what's the bloody point.

From a panel in which he confronts the ghost of Luke: "I've read the histories! Time and again, the galaxy -- which we served -- turned against us! And we keep coming back for more! That's real clever of us, isn't it?!"

Now that's a movie I'd want to see.

Book reviews: "The Code," "Chess Bitch"

While writing, I've been seeking inspiration by reading some books I've long had on my wish list, trying to get a sense of what does and does not work as I move from the world of 700 words to the world of 70,000.

I got plenty from these two books.

The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL by Ross Bernstein (Amazon)

Great topic, isn't it? Everyone who knows a little bit about hockey knows the existence of "unwritten rules," but few fully understand them. Why not investigate and write them down?

This book doesn't quite deliver because the author gets too close to the subject. He doesn't seem willing to explore the areas in which the rules are unclear or disputed, and he doesn't want to ask tough questions of his sources. The result is less of an honest examination of hockey's physicality and more of an ode to the "enforcer" -- the guy who deals out the big hits and drops the gloves.

Most hockey fans know that enforcers are rarely brutes off the ice. Paradoxically, they tend to be well-educated, charitable guys who do their jobs and shrug it off. That's worth stating in print, but it doesn't put their art above question. The endless fawning over the enforcer's art ended up turning me against it -- I came out of it less convinced that fighting is a necessary part of the game.

One related flaw: The book is organizationally all over the place. Each chapter diverges from its stated topic and return to the central theme: "Enforcers are great."

This Amazon review nails it: "Most quotes read like this: 'Blah blah positive comment about fighting in hockey. Blah blah some anecdote about respect. Blah blah one time I did this, and here's why I beat this guy's face. Blah blah that's what the code means to me.' That's great, and I get the point. But do we need 119 quotes that all sound alike."

Flaws aside, this is still a fun read because Bernstein gets so many great stories. My favorite: Two buddies are compelled by the code to drop the gloves. One gets a decisive upper hand. The guy getting the worst of it pipes up:

"Loser buys the pizza."
Response: "Well, I guess you're buying."
"Yeah, but winner buys the beer, asshole!"


This book must have done pretty well for Bernstein, because he's writing something similar: The Code: Baseball's Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct. Baseball's rules are considerably dumber than hockey's, but you have to love the cover photo of Nolan Ryan pummeling Robin Ventura.

Hockey's code deserves a thorough examination, but at least Bernstein got a few good stories out of it.

Which is the opposite of this book ...

Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport by Jennifer Shahade (Amazon)

The cover and title are misleading. This isn't a book about the steamy, sordid stuff that happens in the chess world, like some Led Zeppelin bio heavy on the groupie exploits. It was published before the "Anna Kournikova of chess" was at the epicenter of a possible love triangle that turned into a nightclub brawl.

What we get instead is a thoughtful look at the history and sociology of women in chess, examining how different cultures and philosophies have created different approaches to gender and competition.

Sure, that sounds like a grad school class most of you would rather avoid. But even if you're less inclined to masters-level discussion of gender roles, you'll be interested in this question: Why do so few women appear in the ranks of the world's top chess players?

Chess isn't a physical activity, though Shahade digs up an old Sports Illustrated cover with a female chess player on the cover. It's not about speed, size or strength. There's no physical reason why men should be better at chess than women. So why are they?

Women are usually conditioned to approach competition differently than men do. Anson Dorrance, the dean of women's soccer coaching, discovered this trait early in his career and learned how to adapt to it. Shahade gives an illuminating examination into this issue, wondering if this is something that can be or should be overcome.

She also finds herself on both sides of the issue of women using their looks to market themselves. She's not completely comfortable with it, despite her come-hither look on the cover. But she's not quite comfortable judging others who have no objections.

If you're looking for tales of wild partner-swapping in luxurious hotels, you won't find them here. If you're not up for some intellectual exploration, you'll find this a little tough to read, though Shahade's writing is far livelier than the typical academic gibberish. But if you're at all interested in culture, gender and competition, enjoy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Song du semaine: Heart, "Barracuda"

All together now: Dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-duh-duuuuh ... braaang ... bwaaayayayayaya ...

(Yeah? YOU try to take harmonics whammy-barred into submission and represent it in letters. Up next, Alex Lifeson's solo from Subdivisions.)

Heart was a hot band in the '70s and '80s for entirely different reasons in each decade. In the '80s, Heart was "hot" in the sense that they had four freaking top-10 songs off one album, and in the sense that video directors kept diving toward Nancy Wilson's cleavage like X-wing fighters attacking that trench on the Death Star.

In the '70s, they were "hot" in the sense that two good-looking sisters with guitars and powerful voices ("sternum-shattering" was the best description I've read) were a rarity in music in those days -- any day, for that matter -- and they rocked.

Heart built up a solid catalog of songs on their debut Dreamboat Annie -- Crazy on You was a showcase for Ann Wilson's voice and their three-guitar attack, Magic Man had a good groove, and the titletrack was a nice change of pace. This one took them to another level, with Ann Wilson snarling over a ferocious wall of guitars.

You know the song. Enjoy the video.



To see where the band would end up, go back to my old post on Nothin' At All, in which the director makes Nancy look too cute for words, hides Ann's weight gain, makes the poor drummer keep time on a railing and hints that the Wilsons don't have much of a problem dating guys with sister fetishes. Ewwww.

Hard to begrudge a deserving band a fair share of commercial success, but which song would you use if you were making a movie soundtrack today? Yeah, I thought so. Dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-dum duh-duh-duh-duuuuh ... braaang ... bwaaayayayayaya ...

Progress report

Today, at Starbucks, around 1:30 p.m., I finished Chapter 11 of my MLS history book (rough draft). At 62,200 words, I have now written a viable nonfiction work.

All that remains of the rough draft is a conclusion, which I may not write in detail until I've done some interviews -- already underway -- and gone back through the book.

I feel exhausted and really, really happy. I wasn't sure at first that I could do this. Now, whether this book ends up selling 100,000 copies for a major publishing house or 10 through self-publishing at Amazon, I know I will have written a decent book. I'll spend the rest of my mini-sabbatical making it better.

The funny thing -- since going on this final roll, my Freecell skills have seriously deteriorated.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Streak

From the Freecell game I've been playing a lot while home all week with a flu-ridden kid:



I'm getting nervous about the next game.

Update: The game went just fine, as did the next. The next two were a struggle.

Got one more, but then it ended.

The final record:

How out of touch am I?

Are my tastes completely out of line with everyone else's?

Consider the following:

Music: No, I don't know much of the current Top 40. But in today's fragmented media landscape, that's not so unusual. The days of a band like the Beatles stretching into every demographic are long gone. The bands I like are all relatively popular within their various niches. I get a pass on this one.

Reality TV: Every TV blogger seems sick of American Idol's audition phase and is excited to see the show heading to Hollywood. This is the point at which I tune out every year. The parade of American narcissism and comeuppance, mixed with a few heartwarming tales of the truly talented, is over. Now we get the tedious task of narrowing it down to 12 people who will be asked to grit their teeth through a variety of styles, many of them unsuitable, and then sit through the weekly "results show." People watch this, apparently.

I do think it'd be amusing if figure skating adopted the "results show" model. Let the judges sound off for a while, then have the skaters stand and smile through 30 minutes of "Sasha and Kimmie are in the bottom two" nonsense.

Scripted TV: I'm used to it by now. Popular shows like Grey's Anatomy grate on my nerves. My shows, from NewsRadio to Arrested Development to Friday Night Lights, live on the verge of cancellation. Only The Office has worked its way into pop culture.

Sports: You all know I'm a soccer guy. But did you know I watch biathlon? You won't be seeing highlights on SportsCenter any time soon. (Granted, I like almost all sports -- it's not as if I skip the Super Bowl.)

Food: I finally found a food at McDonald's that was relatively nutritious and genuinely tasty -- the Southwest salad. Don't look for it on the menu. It's gone.

Children's TV: I've just learned that The Upside Down Show has not been renewed.

Politics: Don't ask.

Perhaps my tastes are actually better than most people's. Maybe I appreciate true quality while others don't make the effort to do so.

Elitism, though, is no comfort. Not when I keep get attached to things that disappear because no one else is interested.

So perhaps I need to start a movement. The Campaign to Bring Back The Southwest Salad, Renew The Upside Down Show, Save Friday Night Lights, Revamp The Two-Party System and Put Biathlon on ESPN. Who's with me?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Song du semaine: Fiona Apple, "Fast As You Can"

With all the time I've been spending in Starbucks and Panera recently, I've been subconsciously exploring the depths of the adult-contemporary-alternative-sort of-jazz genre. Panera actually plays a lot of really bad self-indulgent post-bop that makes you want to go back in time and strangle the guy who invented the saxophone. Starbucks plays a mix of Sinatra, Norah Jones, mellowish alt-rock, etc. I'm starting to hear the same songs over and over again, but it's generally inoffensive stuff. Both are OK for background music -- the Panera music is awful but forces me to concentrate on the work I'm doing, which is the idea.

With both styles of music, small doses are good. I went through a brief jazz phase, but it didn't take, apart for a couple of excellent albums by various Marsalises. The Starbucks blend, so popular it has its own XM channel, is fine but occasionally needs a tempo shift and some quirkiness.

Which brings us to this wonderfully quirky, time-shifting effort from Fiona Apple. She's often stuck doing meandering piano-and-vibe songs that don't stick in your head, as if some record exec or producer got the word "chanteuse" stuck in his head and forced her to record whatever he thinks a "chanteuse" would record. Not here. This song is wry and witty, propelled by the great Matt Chamberlain on drums.

Wikipedia goes a little overboard in praising the video, directed by then-boyfriend Paul Thomas Anderson. Some of the camera angles aren't particularly flattering, and the obsession with keeping her face on-screen all the time smacks of a video directed by ... well, her current boyfriend.

But it's not bad, and it sells the song as it should. Embedding is disabled, so follow the link and enjoy.

Explaining The Simpsons to a 4-year-old

"Daddy, why did Moe drive past the hospital?"

"Well, sometimes Moe is mean. In fact, Moe is usually a bad guy."

"But he gives people beer. What makes him bad?"

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Now that's what I call avant-garde classical music!

If you have a good nerdy sense of humor about classical music and want to laugh yourself silly for 30 minutes, check out BBC Radio 2's Blaggers Guide.

Some of the would-be snark demons on VH1 specials should take note. This is funny.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tonight's American Idol thought

I frankly think they've given up this season.

I've seen maybe one singer tonight who deserved to go through, and they were cheating when they sent him up -- he used to be in some sort of boy band.

They've sent through several people who had no clue. The last one took an interesting approach -- add a bunch of notes to the melody, and you increase your chances that at least a couple of them must be right.

And now they've got someone who just screeched all over a classic Aretha standard. Simon's just sitting there with a look of resignation. He doesn't care any more. They just seem like they don't want to fight with relatively nice people, and the people coming up are at least nice. Or cute.

If you watch beyond the audition rounds, you might want to adjust your sound settings so the higher frequencies don't come through. Be warned.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Song du semaine: Pretenders, "Brass in Pocket"

Chrissie Hynde has said on more than one occasion that she didn't like this song. She's allowed to be wrong on occasion. This is a rock and roll standard, deservedly so.

Brass in Pocket was an atypical early Pretenders song in many respects. For one thing, Chrissie didn't let any naughty words or single entendres fly. This one's a little mellower than Precious, Up the Neck or Tattooed Love Boys. Sure, Stop Your Sobbing was an unabashed pop song, but Hynde's then-boyfriend Ray Davies is responsible for that one. Kid (interesting version with Michelle Branch trying way too hard to match Hynde's voice here) was a brilliant ballad from a kinder, gentler vein of punk emotion, but James Honeyman-Scott's evocative guitar shone through on whatever Hynde was writing. If you listen to that Branch clip, note that the guitar solo is a note-perfect rendition of Honeyman-Scott's original. It's too perfect to change.

This one is a little different. The guitar jangles but is more subdued -- in a couple of live versions I've seen, Hynde isn't even playing, letting Honeyman-Scott (or Robbie McIntosh, or anyone else who followed) handle things solo. It's built on a bass groove, two words you don't often find together in a genre of music that unleashed Sid Vicious upon the world. OK, sure, we'll give you Greg Norton on Husker Du's Powerline, but as one review put it long ago, the Huskers long ago seceded from the Mohawk nation.

It's timeless. Like Amy Winehouse's Rehab, you might think you've stumbled into the oldies station. (If you still have an oldies station -- we in the D.C. area do not.)

The video, which Wikipedia says was the seventh ever played on MTV, is one of those great low-budget, low-concept takes. Judging by the car, the gang must have hopped across the pond to Hynde's home country. The rest of the budget probably went toward propping up Hynde's decidedly un-punk hair. I'm not sure drummer Martin Chambers really bought into the concept, but bassist Pete Farndon has fun playing "the cool one," and Honeyman-Scott has a goofy good time smiling and making out with his girlfriend.

It's just enough of a concept to make the viewer pay attention and let the groove sink in. And that's all this song needs. Enjoy.



How did Chrissie not realize how wonderful this song really was? Hard to say. But she and the original group went on to produce two mostly spectacular albums before drugs took down Farndon and Honeyman-Scott, robbing us of a versatile bassist and a uniquely excellent guitarist. Hynde and Chambers did a couple of sessions with a group including future Big Country bassist Tony Butler, who provided the groove on My City Was Gone, then regrouped with McIntosh and Malcolm Foster to produce another classic, Learning to Crawl. After that, Hynde ran through band members as if she'd shifted to prog-rock, effectively killing the band's momentum.

She brought Chambers back for the 1994 comeback Last of the Independents, featuring the driving rock of Night in My Veins and sappy balladry of I'll Stand By You. Guitarist Adam Seymour joined up then and has lasted a remarkable 15 years in the band, third behind Chambers' two stints and Hynde herself.

There's no perfect introduction to the Pretenders. Hynde was always equal parts foul-mouthed vixen, fiery feminist and sensitive nurturer. Brass in Pocket is particularly interesting because it showed Hynde's mastery of older rock motifs even as she subverted them. No matter what style of music you're playing, a classic groove goes a long, long way.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Great Simpsons episode

He who is tired of Weird Al is tired of life.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

And while you're arranging the sodas, let me share a story from this time in Germany ...

If you haven't checked out The Smoking Gun's collection of touring musicians' requirements in a while, now is a good time.

Ladies and gentlemen, Iggy and the Stooges.

It's a little long because they apparently don't cart a lot of their own gear with them (I'm imagining the Rush rider is something like "a bunch of water and some oil for Neil's motorcycle"), but the roadie writing it goes to great lengths to make it entertaining. I wish people did that with all official documents.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Song du semaine: Simple Minds, "Alive and Kicking"

Inspired by 94.7's theme of positivity for MLK Day today, this week's selection is an inspirational masterpiece ...



A handful of '80s songs had the perfect sonic mix of synthesizer and guitar, propelled by a non-mechanical beat. This is one of them. Jim Kerr does a terrific job with the vocals here, selling the drama (to borrow a phrase from another great rock vocalist) without histrionics. He sounds like someone you wouldn't mind hanging out with as well as taking inspiration from, along with other prepositions you shouldn't end a sentence with.

But the star here, along with Don't You (Forget Any of These Riffs, Ever), is drummer Mel Gaynor.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Giant snowflakes


Forget the hat -- I want a helmet!
Posted by Picasa

But you can't tuna fish ...

Gibson has a "robot guitar" that tunes itself. Neat stuff.

Hat tip to AllMusic Blog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

American Idol question

Is it just me and Mrs. MMM, or have we seen one woman in each city with erratic behavior who bears an uncanny, even suspicious, resemblance to Amanda Plummer?

Chris Wylde pranked AI a couple of years ago, and morning radio shows always have some wind-up frat boy to give it a whirl. Amanda Plummer wouldn't do that. Right? She was in two great films of the '90s. Right? Right?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

American Gladiators vs. American Idol

I watched my share of American Gladiators in college. It was good campy entertainment, perfect for those early weekend afternoons before we either flipped to basketball or did something constructive with our time.

The revamped and regally hyped remake is interesting ... for five minutes or so.

The problem is pacing. For a show that thrives on action, there's entirely too much waiting around while people with nothing interesting to say attempt to convince you that the next bit of action is going to be really intense. Then you wait some more while the referee checks to make sure the contestants and gladiators are ready.

He does this before every ... single ... event.

I guess it's supposed to build tension, but it just sounds like a pilot going over a preflight checklist. Perhaps I shouldn't give the Gladiator gang any ideas, lest we hear this: "Helmet ... check ... armpads ... check ... shoelaces ... check ..."

They've also kept some of the most boring games. Once you've seen a gladiator firing tennis balls at a hapless contestant trying to fire back with some unwieldy contraptions, you really don't need to see it again.

The "Pyramid" is pretty good -- contestants climbing a big stack of gym pads with gladiators chasing them, and it's perfectly legal to fling the gladiator back down to the floor. The final "Eliminator" obstacle course is disturbingly hard now that contestants have to swim under an island of fire. Didn't the Village People sing something about that? Or Johnny Cash?

Anyway -- Gladiator just isn't prime-time fare. It's good cheesy Saturday afternoon fun if you don't have anything to do at the moment. Nothing more.

American Idol, on the other hand, continues to serve a valuable and necessary role in our public discourse. The early rounds of the show are an important reminder of the perils of self-delusion. Mrs. MMM reminded me of the one word that sums up the auditions -- entitlement. These people honestly think they deserve to be the next Kelly Clarkson just because they want it to be so.

Sure, MMM Jr. thinks the same thing, but he's 4. These people are old enough to vote.

In every drama I see, I demand to see comeuppance for the idiots and jerkwads. That carries over to Idol, and that's why it's the only reality show I'll watch.

Besides, tonight's episode made me break into a Howard Jones parody ...

Don't try to wax your chest in one day / Don't go yank your hair away ...

Howard Jones, incidentally, is on an acoustic tour. This is the guy who was so reliant on synths and sequencers that a reviewer once wondered if the show would go on if he keeled over mid-song. Nice to see him sticking around and shaking up the old image.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Star Wars: Behind the blasters

VH1 interviews the gang:

C3PO: "Well, we started to have our doubts about Kenobi when we investigated the Jawa transport. He said the blast marks were too precise for the local sand people and could only have been made by Imperial stormtroopers. Excuse me? Imperial stormtroopers? Those guys couldn't hit the Jawa transport if it were just on the other side of the Death Star's thermal exhaust port. I walked right through a firefight before we landed on this dump, and I'm not known for my bravery, sir."

SAND PEOPLE: "Yeah, we actually attacked the Jawa transport. Instead of riding single-file to hide our numbers, we rode side-by-side to make them think Imperial stormtroopers did it. Can't believe Kenobi bought it."

SCANNER CREW, DEATH STAR: "Wait a minute. You mean we can scan a escape pod that took off from Leia's ship and determine instantly that it has no life forms, but a ship winds up in our tractor beam bay, and we actually have to go into the freaking thing to see if anyone's there? And we're not even wearing body armor. What if someone's in there? Good thing they forgot about me and I was able to stow away on the ship and join the rebellion. I'm on Hoth now -- I just signed up as a rear gunner on Luke's speeder."

TIE FIGHTER DISPATCHER: "When the Millennium Falcon took off from the Death Star, I radioed four fighters to intercept. Well, no one told ME Lord Vader had put a freaking tracking device on the ship. If those guys could shoot worth squat, rest their souls, we'd STILL be looking for the rebel fortress. So they canned me, tossed me on a Tie fighter and told me to take off for the nearest planet. Turned out to be a big break for me, since the Death Star got blown up and all, but I'm still a little pissed. You think they could've used four more Tie fighters in that battle? I bet the guy who forgot to tell me about the tracking device feels pretty stupid right now."

X-WING FIGHTER DESIGNER: "You know, I wanted to install a rear-facing blaster on that ship, but noooo. They all laughed. 'As if a Tie fighter is ever going to be chasing us down a trench in which we can't maneuver,' they said. Dumbasses."

PORKINS (appearing as hologram from the netherworld): "In retrospect, do you think maybe the second team of X-Wings should've flown into the trench behind the Tie fighters and shot 'em down from behind rather than just flying around and watching us get blown up here?"

HAN: "So we show up at the medal ceremony, and I'm thinking it's just going to be four or five of us since no one came back from the battle except me, Luke and that Wedge guy. But then they have hundreds of pilots in formation. Why were they giving me such a hard time about attacking the Death Star? Did these guys have notes from their doctor? What are they going to do back at base, fling themselves in front of a planet-destroying beam from the Death Star?"

LEIA: "Well, as it turned out, we couldn't pay Han much of a reward. We checked my father's will, and all he left me was a bunch of real estate on Alderaan, so ..."

WEDGE: "Not to complain or anything, but when did R2D2 and 3PO become Luke's droids. 3PO clearly said he belonged to Captain Wedge Antilles. They were a gift to my father from Senator Organa when he was taking one of these two twins to Alderaan while Obi-Wan Kenobi was going to Tatooine with the other ... hey, wait a minute ..."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Song du semaine: 1990s, "See You At the Lights"

So I'm debating whether to keep my XM subscription, given the effective counterprogramming on a couple of our local stations (quick aside to 94.7 The Globe: Love you guys, but do you have to play so much 1980s Bowie?) and my iPod and my Launch player. And the lack of satellite reception now that we've installed windows that aren't paper-thin.

I perused one of the newer music channels and found an indie-pop gem that so effectively leaped into my head that I immediately downloaded it. It's so catchy that I find myself singing it whenever I'm not listening to it.

The video doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and the lyrics range from cheeky ("Put on that dress tonight / the one your mom don't like") to nonsensical ("Get out like a blonde gets out of a car"? Huh?).

This one won't get any deep analysis. It's a fun, catchy pop song. Enjoy.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Tai-rony

Paraphrasing my Tai Chi teacher at our first class today:

"The goal of Tai Chi is to focus mind and body through slow movement, so that we concentrate and develop mental discipline and ... um ... sorry, lost my train of thought ..."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Media criticism worth watching

"That what wrong with the media today. All they have is questions, questions, questions. They never have cookies!"

Popdose is here

The "supergroup" model never worked out too well in prog rock. Asia had a couple of good moments -- the sheer musicianship of the former Yes, Crimson and ELP guys involved had to shine through at some point -- but the songwriting was generally an afterthought. GTR quickly imploded. The eight-man version of Yes was never going to last.

But in blogging, the "supergroup" model is perfect. It's working well for AOL's FanHouse. And now we've got something even better.

Welcome Popdose. Everyone stop by and say hello.