Monday, April 30, 2007

Mixtape Monday!

Naturally, with all the talk of covers lately, that is the theme of today's Mixtape Monday. This was challenging for me to compile. Ideally I would want to do a more tightly thematic list, i.e. Really White Covers of Hip-Hop or everyone's favorite Crap Pop Songs Covered by Bands With Indie Cred, but unfortunately, I didn't have 5 solid songs in either category. So here is a smattering of both, with a dash of straight-up Actually Good Covers. Enjoy!

Bitches Ain't Shit - Ben Folds
Baby Got Back - Jonathan Coulton
Here we have the first category covered, and I think you'll enjoy these. Ben Folds has such a lovely, sincere delivery on lines like, "That's some real conversation for your ass". And Jonathan Coulton gives BGB the Jordin Sparks treatment - making it more of a song than you ever realized it could be.

Since U Been Gone - Ted Leo
Worth it for the "cover art" pic of Ted and our girl Kelly Clarkson. Bonus: he goes in to "Maps" in the second half, then brings it back on home.

Cry Me a River - Lost Prophets
Don't let the Gregorian-chant intro throw you - this is appropriately angsty and rocky and definitely worth sticking with.

It should be noted that neither of these songs in their original versions actually qualify as Crap Pop Songs. But for whatever reason, I didn't feel like including Ben Gibbard's take on Avril's Complicated. Oh, ok FINE. At least it's definitely a Crap Pop Song, whereas Since U Been Gone is maybe our generation's Good Vibrations - an indelible contribution to the pop music landscape, elevating the artist beyond previously reasonable expectations of quality, up into The Next Level.

Whew. Only room for one more song, and I'm already being generous given the bonus track above. But I love to share (take that, only-child-stereotypes). So my one contribution in the Actually Good Covers category:
Brand New Key - Betty Dylan
How good is this cover? Well, it won't change your life or anything, calm down. But, I used to HATE this, wait, let's back up. Like many of you, I suspect, I had never heard the original Melanie version until Boogie Nights came out. And then I heard it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. For two whole weeks, thanks to the girl on my floor at Buckley who also borrowed my copy of Spaceballs and never returned it. (Bitch.) So at this point, I hate the song. I'm not going so far as to say that this cover rescued the song for me, after a certain point you have to let things go and it is a hilarious and dirty song. But I find myself really slow-jammy-rocking out to this Betty Dylan chick.

That's it for today kids! According to EW, it is Adrian Pasdar's b-day and he is another year of awesome. I also caught up on Grey's Anatomy over the weekend, and what is UP with that show? I would throw in a Seriously?! there, but I don't want to give them the satisfaction. Alan Sepinwell of the NJ Star Ledger has it about right here. Shut Up, Izzie, is really all I can say. I can honestly say I am not really looking forward to whatever crazy shit they have planned for sweeps. Was Denny's death already last May? Huh. And yet the rage at that ridiculous turn of events feels so fresh.
I hate to leave things on such a crabby note, so...Explorer's Club! Again! Tell me you don't love this song!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007

From the Archives

April 19, 2006:

AI was surprisingly good! Chris did better than I expected him to, especially with a really overdone song. Not a huge fan of Ace with the ponytail, but I thought he sounded good. For him. I will be sad to see him go when he does, but he’s definitely the weakest vocally. Elliot is just too weird looking. He makes the most uncomfortable faces, with his eyes all bugged out. I totally agreed with Simon’s assessment that personality is a big factor tonight. Basically, these are really romantic songs and Elliot just can’t sell romance. Kellie, poor, stupid Kellie. It started out ok and just got worse as she went on. She had some really, truly pretty notes and some really wonky ones as well. I still don’t see her going home. They have sold her so hard and I'm guessing she has a solid fanbase as a result. Taylor was unremarkable, totally meh. I hope he’ll be in the bottom three with Elliot and either Ace or Kellie. My prediction to go home is Elliot. I sense that he’s like VM in a way – a fiercely loyal but unfortunately tiny fanbase. Anyone else notice that Simon has a total hard-on for Kellie, but he resists pimping her too much lest people believe she is totally safe? All of the Grassy Knoll theories on the AI boards are hilarious, because no matter what happens, someone has an explanation for how TPTB are working to guarantee a victory for TCO. Except no one can really agree on who TCO is. I guess the general consensus is that it’s Chris, b/c they want a white male to win this time and he’s pretty sellable. But some people will say it’s Kat or Kellie and then explain how praising/criticizing other contestants plays into the conspiracy. While I stand by my belief that they manipulate the bottom 3, except for the actual lowest-vote-getter and I certainly see them favoring certain people with loads of screen time (i.e. Kellie) I don’t think it’s quite the vast plot some make it out to be. First of all, there are laws against rigging game/reality shows, so they can’t legally boot off someone they don’t want to win. Secondly, given the paltry record sales of every winner except for Kelly, I think they realize the money is in making the show interesting. Lastly, in this day and age of spoilers and the internet, details of something that orchestrated and involved would leak faster than Grace’s water bra.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A totally original idea...

Gather round, kids, we’re going to play iTunes Roulette. Here's how it works: you take your entire iTunes library, put it on shuffle and record – HONESTLY – the first 10 songs that play. Those are the rules of iTunes Roulette and they are unflinchingly rigid. In the interest of full disclosure, please note this is my work computer where I mostly have random songs from mp3 blogs as opposed to full albums of my own crap. Here we go!

Hallelujah – k.d. lang
Wow, this certainly makes my earlier comment about MOKB's Covers Project seems oddly prescient. Wish it had been one of my 5+ versions of There is a Light That Never Goes Out, ideally the Joseph Arthur one. Hallelujah is tricky – there is no question it is overused in TV/movies and not just by Josh Schwartz. There are some arguably great covers of it out there. (I suppose anyone other than Leonard Cohen is doing a cover version). But as Captain Obvious as it may be, the Jeff Buckley version is still not only far and away my favorite, it is one of those songs that makes you wonder what life was like before you knew that song existed. Weren’t you just a little bit less until that song came into your life? Heady stuff – I could do a whole post just on that, but we haven’t the time or space here. Moving on!
Skyway – the Replacements
FANTASTIC – love this song. Instant 4-stars for me. Wow, we are off to a reasonably promising start.
Creep – Brandi Carlisle
Slap me if you must but when this started I was confused, though not disappointed, wondering when I got a Dilana track in my iTunes? Yeah, sorry, this song just reminds me of Rockstar: Supernova.
Umbrellas – Sleeping At Last*
Based on this song and "Ships" by Umbrellas, I created an entire playlist where words jump from song titles to band names (and sometimes back again). Most useful words: stars and eyes. If only there were more songs with Wolf in the title.
*hmm, seem to have misplaced the link, sorry about that
Put Your Hands on Me – Joss Stone
What the H happened to this girl? The gross look-at-me hair and skanky outfits; I’m just not down with any of it. I can’t quite fathom why I have this song. Though I might still like Fell In Love With a Boy.
Forever – The Explorers Club
AAAA – OMG – I – words – font too small – cannot express – breathe – ok, ok, I think I’m back.
I BEYOND LOVE this song. When I first heard it, ok, well, this guy had the exact same thoughts so just read it there. It’s both an accurate and precise description. I could listen to this OVER AND OVER AND OVER. If there is only one song you take with you today, let it be this one. To get this song in iTunes roulette is like…I don’t know, I’m just too happy for words.
Fireworks – Whitest Boy Alive
Well, this is a nice break for me. Nothing at all to write about this song.
Miss You Now – Stereophonics
Um, sure, this is fine too.
So Nice (Summer Samba) – Astrud Gilberto
Why yes, Pottery Barn, I would LOVE a mojito right about now.
Baby Fratelli – The Fratellis
While not nearly as kick-ass and catchy as Flathead, this is still a nice slice of garage rock with some Beatles-circa-Help!-esque vocals.
All in all, a VAST improvement over the time I played iTunes roulette on my home computer. Yeah, that was a wealth of embarrassment which I will naturally share with you some Friday in a From the Archives.

I'm sure it was a whole wheat donut...

Fights Obesity on 'Rachael Ray'
Former President Bill Clinton appears on an episode of "Rachael Ray" today
to announce a partnership with the popular chef to publicize various
anti-obesity initiatives, the New York Times reported yesterday. Clinton used
his surprise cameo in Ray's television kitchen to publicize the collaboration
between her nonprofit Yum-o Organization and the Clinton Foundation's Alliance
for a Healthier Generation, founded in cooperation with the American Heart
Ray's nonprofit Yum-o Organization is intended to educate
consumers about healthy, easy-to-prepare foods through a variety of channels,
including show segments, a dedicated Web site, scholarships and related media
exposure. (The name is taken from Ray's frequent exclamation of culinary

Nice timing, considering that I just saw Ray Ray in a DUNKIN’ DONUTS commercial this morning, where she grabs “her regular coffee and donut to go”. Real brand synergy there.

Edited Friday 4/27: Ok, fine, I saw the commercial again this morning and it's actually a "bagel and coffee", not a donut. Marginal improvement. Still! Anti-obesity initiatives + Dunkin' Donuts = false equation.


Darn, and I was doing so well! Sorry to have skipped yesterday, especially considering that as I was caught up on Heroes, Gilmore Girls and AI, there is no excuse not to have posted. PLUS, I have an iTunes roulette all loaded and ready to go that promises to be fun for all. So I’ll just share a few thoughts on Heroes for now, and if I get inspired (read: bored) later in the day, maybe come back with the AI thoughts.
Heroes was predictably great – I’m so happy NOT to be involved in any fandom for this show. It’s infinitely more enjoyable to just sit back and let the fun wash over me, rather than jumping in with timeline and characterization nitpicks. So with that in mind, my main observations:
WTF is the deal with Malcolm McDowell’s beard? If you look closely at it (NOT RECOMMENDED) it’s like the Target bulls-eye with a circle of hair, and then a circle of clean-shaven lip and chin and then his mouth. Ok, I’m really skeeving myself out here. Point being, dude needs no help turning the Creep-O-Meter up to 11. When Eric Roberts is on your show and you’re STILL the scary one….
Could Adrian Pasdar rock any harder? Answer: no, he could not. Plus he’s married to Natalie Maines, y’all! I love his voice – it’s almost high-pitched and gravelly at the same time. Petrelli for president, no doubt. Well, except maybe for that whole blowing-up-NYC thing. Not so much down with that.
Finally, I am so psyched for 5-years-from-now-Claire’s brown hair! What, I told you I just sit back and let the fun (and the pretty) wash over me. You want deep, analytical insight, Erin is your girl.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This Week in: Crushes


If I was a totally awesome, dedicated blogger, I would pull up all the dreamy pictures of Max Crumm that currently adorn my laptop at home and make some kind of cute collage. But (SPOILER ALERT) I am totally lazy. Sorry about that. Next Tuesday's "This Week in: Crushes" will be totes better. Right now, John Krasinski is the scheduled Crush, though if I hear another whiff of the alleged pairing with Renee Zellweger, he will be bumped indefinitely.

Speaking of spoilers, I didn't get a chance to watch Heroes last night, which means I basically have to ban myself from the internets today so as not to accidently read something revealing. GREAT. That won't be a problem for me AT ALL.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin

Wonder if these folks are feeling guilty, or giddy, at the news?

Mixtape Monday!

Week #2 of Operation Make Blog Less Sucky is off with a bang! I happily present to you Mixtape Monday, where I will post 5 songs along a theme of mine - OR YOUR - choosing. Seriously, make requests in the comments and I'll do my best to accommodate. Naturally, the weirder the better. Today's theme is Chirpy Chicks, in honor of the OUTSTANDING weather we are experiencing today:

1.) The Pipettes – Pull Shapes
This song best encapsulates what I was aiming for with this week’s theme. So freakin’ cute and catchy.
2.) The Weepies – Gotta Have You
Not as upbeat as I might have preferred, but I love the song.
3.) Rilo Kiley – the Frug
Hmm, same problem as above. I love Jenny Lewis’s voice though and AFAIK this is about as close to bubbly as she really gets.
4.) Lily Allen – Smile
I only have this here to make a point…
5.) Lady Sovereign – Love Me or Hate Me
Which is that I wish Lady Sov would go ahead and kick Lily Allen’s ass. I do not get why Allen is such a big freaking deal and Lady Sov is still relatively unheralded. She is the biggest midget in the game, people! There is no competing with that! She wouldn’t need to pay some dodgy gang to beat up her ex and trash his apt – Lady Sov would handle that shit herself. She might even kick my ass for including her in a list titled Chirpy Chicks. But I’m willing to risk it, in order to bring you, dear reader(s) some peppy tunes on this lovely Monday.

Friday, April 20, 2007

From the Archives

Something I'd like to start as a regular Friday feature, when I'm clearly too lazy to post new content: From the archives - the best of my ramblings, rants and observations from the past year or so that never made it to the pages of My Life as a Latte. For today's inaugural FtA, cast yourself back to May 2006, when the once brilliant, twisty and addictive Alias brought the crazy, broken-down roller coaster to a completely ridiculous finish:

Just finished watching the last 4 eps of Alias ever...yeah...there were some problems:

a) Tom and Rachel plot = WORSE than Wallace and Jackie. And that's saying A LOT. Maybe if I had seen the beginning of this season and had the faintest inkling of who they were, I might have cared. But I doubt it. Did she sleep with Sark earlier in the season? Lucky bitch.
b) OMGIRINAISEEEEEVIL = not so much, JJ. Seriously, this is your big "twist"? Your shocking "reveal"? I'm sorry; did we go back three years? Who the hell is surprised by this anymore? Oh, wait, I know – NO ONE.
c) My motto for the last, oh I don't know, four hours of the show: FUH. KING. SHOOT. HIM. (or her) Sydney has Sloane at gunpoint. Or her mom. Vaughn has Sark at gunpoint. Even when SydAnna had real Sydney trapped under the car wreck. WHY WOULD SHE LIGHT THE CAR ON FIRE INSTEAD OF JUST SHOOTING HER???
d) Rambaldi's big secret = eternal life. I don't have a font big enough for this – DUH. What the hell else would it have been? Just, duh.

Only Jack was truly awesome, no surprise there. And Erin is right; the Vaughn baby faces were amazing. I do have to give props to Garner and Vartan, they still have great chemistry despite their off-screen issues.
One last thing about Alias and then we are moving on (because we are people with lives. Hee. As if). I ruined an entire load of laundry not by “soiling” it, as I’m sure Kristin would say but because my ears started BLEEDING when Sydney was all, “That’s the last time I trust/stick up for/give a millionth chance to Sloane/my mom. I believed him/her before but I’m not going to make that mistake again because…” and that’s all I got because my ears were filled with BOILING HOT BLOOD. Know when that would have been a good idea? THREE FUCKING YEARS AGO. Now, I love me some Ron Rifkin and he and Victor Garber have some kick-ass chemistry/tension in their scenes. But it is simply beyond any plausibility that Syd and Jack would have gone back to work for Sloane this whole time and then they’re like, well, shit, turned out he WAS bad all along. Our bad. TOTALLY not going to make that mistake again. For real, you guys.

If you squint...

Y'all I do not know how to format this text correctly, so bear with me. While I know plenty of other people have made the connection between sensitive rocker Sea Wolf and comdedy-hottie Michael Ian Black, I also feel (and maybe it's just this pic) that Morgan Stanley memoirist Dana Vachon could be Older cousin?

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Yo, I am working on this whole posting mp3s to a blog deal. Music blogs are a recent fixation of mine - I'll add some of my favs to the links list. It's just so awesome - free, cool music! For free! Much like an open bar or apps at a fancy party, free music tastes better. So I'm hoping to share some of my new discoveries (read: stuff hipsters tell me is cool) with a Mixtape Monday feature. This here today is my first test at getting a song on the blog at all, and it's a unique situation:
I downloaded this song from...somewhere. I usually tear through three or four music blogs at a time, right-clicking willy-nilly and then going back into iTunes and adding the songs to my library. They almost always have at least the song title and artist and very often the album title as well, when available. Not this track. This is only "Track 2". So I listened to some of the lyrics and skipped on over to Google. The reverse look-up has always worked for me before but no luck this time. SO, I turn to you, dear reader(s). First person to identify the artist of the song posted below gets a $15 iTunes gift card. No, totally for real. I know I was a bad, bad blogger before and I'm pulling out all of the stops to get my loyal reader(s) back. You tell me who the heck is singing and I'll hook you up with enough iTuneage to get Avril's new album with change to spare.

Track 02

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

as promised

Chris R is like that one friend of your boyfriend (read: Blake) who you can’t stand. Eventually, he wears you down to the point of tolerance, and occasionally forgetting why you ever hated him in the first place. Then he gets way too drunk, per usz, at a party and it all comes rushing back. You’re not surprised at his obnoxious behavior, but you are a little mad at yourself for being so generous in your earlier assessment. And then, just when your opinion of him is its nadir, he goes and hits on your younger cousin.
Happily, your boyfriend chooses this opportunity to sing pretty much your favorite song ever to enter the orbit of Country Night on American Idol, so all is forgiven. Seriously, when I heard that Blake was doing “When the Stars Go Blue”, I gasped so loud that I hiccupped. Sure, the vocal wasn’t awesome, but an argyle sweater vest goes a long way towards making everything wonderful.


In other news, I caught Grey Gardens on Broadway last night. Good news: I had bitchin' seats that were free. Bad news: zzzzzzz. Christine Ebersole is great, I guess...Matt Cavenaugh is still wicked hot...and that wraps up today's portion of Broadway Theatre Performance Dramatical Review. Tune in next week* for my stirring critique of two shows sure be duking it out for Best Revival: Chorus Line and Company. Dancers who can't really sing vs. Singers/musicians who can't really act. Tough call!

*not really. Well, please do tune in, but not for that specific topic.

Nasally is a form of singing

And dickweed is a common species of reality-show contestant. More on Chris R to come.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Later, schmater

You waited a long-ass time for any kind of updates, so who am I to be coy? Here then is the David Brent vs. Michael Scott deliberation, only a year or so too late to be timely:

David Brent vs. Michael Scott: Would You Rather…?

Here is the basic timeline of my Office-obsession: Had watched and enjoyed the BBC version on BBC America back in the day. Definitely found it funny, awkward, etc. Even back then, I remember observing that it got better upon rewatch because when you know what’s coming, you can sit back and just laugh. Knowing exactly what horrible, offensive, racist, sexist (or special combination of all of them) thing David was going to do or say took the edge off.
Then came the American Office. Blah blah blah sacrilege, hopeless, didn’t-they-learn-from-Coupling-cakes. Turns out it is a-MAY-zing! (TM Kelly Kapoor). I bought both S1 and S2 DVDs after Thanksgiving last year and burned through them in less than 2 weeks. Then I bought all of the S3 eps I had missed on iTunes. And the addiction was born. I will spare you the true force of my shippiness; suffice to say that in my world, JG = Jammy Goodness and it is something I require soon (PAGING GREG DANIELS). But that is not what this post is about.
Clearly, they made conscious choices with the America Office to differentiate it from the BBC version. Arguably, the biggest deviation is the portrayal of everyone’s fearless leader, Michael Scott. Go back to S1 and he has more of the jerky, self-centeredness that was David Brent’s core. Since then he has evolved into an awkward, oftentimes clueless schmuck who nevertheless has good intentions in his heart. Almost everything he does, from embarrassing routines through almost ruining Phyllis’ wedding, comes from a desperate need to be loved and validated. Because we are shown this soft underbelly and the occasional, unexpected moments when Michael actually does not fuck something up, we root for him. Steve Carrell is simply too nice a guy to believably play an irredeemable asshole for any extended period of time.
I’m absolutely in favor of this tonal shift; I think it makes the show funnier overall and certainly more palatable for American audiences. However (OMG, a point to all of this) because we root for Michael Scott, it makes it *worse* knowing when he is about to do or say something awful. I promise you, I wouldn’t willingly sit through Gay Witch Hunt again without fast-forwarding through the Michael-Oscar kiss. In fact, 99% of the time when I rewatch an episode (which is at least once every week and sometimes more than once) I have to skip the Michael bits.
I recently re-watched Series 1 of the BBC Office and found myself actually looking forward to the worst of David Brent. He is such a spectacular trainwreck, and Ricky Gervais just owns Un!Comfortable! like no one else, that it is more fun to root against David. Not in a vindictive, hope-he-gets-fired kind of way, but in a gleeful, my god, what else could possibly happen to make this worse way? Which is I think ¾ of the appeal of Sanjaya.

I know you miss me blind

Srsly, you guys, I am back. I know, I know, I've made this promise to both of us before and failed miserably, but I think this time it could be different. That, or you won’t hear from me again till July. But, let’s be glass half full for now, and jump right in to the good stuff:
General update: Veronica Mars = down the crapper. Rob Thomas, I trusted you. I believed in you. I freaking flew to Texas for you. And what do I get in return? A wasted premise, the disappearance of previously-vital characters (Where’s Wallace?) and a lame, desperate premise intended to “reboot” the show for a 4th season. Let’s hope not. MOVING ON!
The Office = my current obsession. You knew I would have at least one. OMG JAM SQUEE, etc, etc. I am also re-watching the BBC Office and have a longer David Brent vs. Michael Scott theory to post…later. Remind me.
Also still fixated on: Max from Grease: You’re The One That I Want. (Boy is that ever annoying to type out). Loved the show, natch, though would have enjoyed more actual showtunes and less Austin Miller. Now that Max is bouncing around NYC, I am DETERMINED to meet him. It will happen.
It is me, or is everyone obsessed with cover songs lately? SPD, my blogger crush, has started a regular Under The Covers segment. MOKB has their insane Covers Project, where they post every available version of one particular song. Because you need more than, say, 5 versions of Hallelujah in your life. Maybe it’s like how once you learn a new word, you start seeing everywhere, or how certain commercial actors will be in 5 different spots all at the same time, but now that I have covers on the brain, it seems I can’t get away from them.
Just so you know, my plan is to start posting brief recaps after shows I watch. I figure it will at least get me back in the habit of recording my inane ramblings. Hey, so far I have managed to stick to my New Year’s resolution of bringing lunch to work instead of buying every day, so there’s hope! Fine, complete disclosure: I only started doing it last week. But so far, so good!
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