Irrelevant Troubadour

Something I Just Realized
February 25, 2011, 1:49 am
Filed under: music, ridiculousness

According to Wikipedia, Joanna Newsom has been in a relationship with Andy Samberg since 2007.  This means that there’s a good chance that she may have written the love songs on Have One On Me (a great album, by the way) about him.  This means, in turn, that said songs are now retroactively hilarious.

If you don’t get why, listen to this:

while looking at this:

That is all.


I’m Giving Up Blogging
February 22, 2011, 8:33 pm
Filed under: internet nonsense, live action tv, ridiculousness

I’ve just found the best website on the internet.  I’m never going to be able to top it, so why bother?

I present to you:

Fuck Yeah, Whose Line Fanart!

a steamy showertimeIt’s been real.

Frank Zappa, Zoot Allures
February 20, 2011, 5:55 pm
Filed under: music

Bluh bluh TV Tropes Album Exchange Club bluh bluh Zoot Allures by Frank Zappa bluh bluh listen to it.

There are many sides to Zappa. There’s the doo-wop loving soul man, there’s the high-minded classical composer, there’s the irreverent rebel prankster, there’s the wild jazz-rock berserker, there’s even the purveyor of hooky pop songs. Unfortunately, this album is mostly devoted to those sides of Zappa I most dislike: the technical guitar geek and the pointlessly crude, sleazy, and misogynistic novelty singer.

Having said that, I quite like this album—I’d say, in fact, that it’s the best bad album that Zappa ever made. Is it comparable to Freak Out! or Weasels Ripped My Flesh! or Burnt Weeny Sandwich or Roxy & Elsewhere? Nope. But taken on its own merit and disregarding just how much better Zappa could be when he applied himself, this thing’s awfully enjoyable.

Why is this? Well, quite simply, the songs are catchy. The rollicking “Wind Up Workin’ in a Gas Station” and the glam-rock “Disco Boy” are tons o’ fun (even though I rather dislike the chipmunk backing vocals), the moody “The Torture Never Stops” is great if a bit long, and loathe as I am to admit it, I even sometimes get “Ms. Pinky” and “Find Her Finer” stuck in my head, though I have to pretend I don’t know the words.

And that brings us to the lyrics, always the most divisive thing about Zappa’s rock albums. Yes, I know they’re satirical and goofy, but the fact is that to me, they’re just plain not funny. They’re just kinda…gross. And the fact that he kept returning to these kind of lyrics over and over again throughout his career doesn’t help matters. “But Irrelevant Troubadour, what about Zappa’s instrumentals?” no one asked. Well, I usually love ’em, but on this album? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong, “Friendly Little Finger” is great, but “Black Napkins” and the title track to me sound like the dullest sort of guitar wanking.

The general impression I get from this album is that it just plain isn’t one Zappa cared that much about. I’ve read that his rock albums from this time period mostly served to finance his classical compositions, and if so, it would make sense that this album is so half-baked. Now don’t get me wrong, this album is good at what it does—unfortunately, what it does isn’t much.

I must give this album some extra credit though: “Ms. Pinky” is probably the second best pop song about a blow-up doll ever written, after Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home a Heartache”.

George Crumb, Unto the Hills; Black Angels
February 17, 2011, 7:03 pm
Filed under: music

Some people like gentlemen’s clubs, some people like turkey clubs, some people like billy clubs, but me, I like The TV Tropes Album Exchange Club.  This one’s a review of George Crumb’s Unto the Hills and Black Angels, which I’m evaluating separately since they’re separate pieces.

The one adjective I can think of to describe Unto the Hills is “spare” (that and “not on youtube”).  Spare like empty, treeless hills at midnight under a full moon; spare like a burned-out Appalachian ghost town. Spare, yet haunted: this is piece that is dominated by silence and negative space, and the sounds that stand out—the percussion, dissonant chiming, piano, vocals (which I quite liked; they seemed very pure), eerie strings, and occasional Scare Chord—seems like ghosts, barely at the edge of perception. This piece is like stepping into an abandoned house and hearing, in the back of your mind, the music that once played there. As such, the interpolation of the Appalachian folk songs really works, making the piece seem like a sort of a requiem for this rapidly vanishing culture.

As for Black Angels? I’m torn. I probably enjoyed this more than Unto the Hills as a piece of music, but it lacks the thematic import the other piece had. Perhaps I’m simply lacking context. George Crumb certainly realizes just how versatile a string quartet can be, using is as everything from a percussion ensemble to a punishing noise attack to a barely-audible musical sigh. Yet these disparate elements really didn’t come together as a whole for me. While I could appreciate, say, the dissonant noise assault that opens the piece or the mournful yet defiant hymn at around 10:30, I really didn’t know how to connect them to each other. I also wasn’t much of a fan of the shouted interjections; they seemed like a cheap shock than a real musical element. But then again, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t have the liner notes; it could be that the only reason I’m missing the thematic relevance of all of this is because I don’t know it. Then again, I don’t have any background material on Unto the Hills either, so I really don’t know.

Professorial Percentages
February 12, 2011, 1:54 am
Filed under: occurances
  • Percentage of my professors this semester that have facial hair: 80%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester that have funny accents: 40%
    • Percentage of said professors that teach psychology: 100%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester with glasses: 40%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester that wear sweaters: 40%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester that wear truly horrifying Hawaiian shirts: 20%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester that enjoy inserting pop-culture references into their lectures: 60%
    • Percentage of said professors who do it because they legitimately enjoy the things they reference: 66%
    • Percentage of said professors who do it in a rather transparent and desperate attempt to look cool: 33%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester with rather obvious personal agendas: 60%
    • Percentage of said professors who don’t even bother trying to hide it: 33%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester who actually seem to know how their class Blackboard sites work: 40%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester who I regularly run into outside of class: 20%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester who have played the part of Albus Dumbledore at a public event: 20%
  • Percentage of my professors this semester whose classes I am really enjoying: 100%

Nurse With Wound, Rock ‘N’ Roll Station
February 12, 2011, 1:40 am
Filed under: music

Everybody loves the TV Tropes Album Exchange Club, right?  And everybody also loves Nurse With Wound’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Station, so this is bound to be the most popular post on this site.

This has to be the least rock ‘n’ roll album ever to have the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll” in the title. I mean, the only rock-related thing I could hear here was a short sample of surf guitar at two minutes into “Two Golden Microphones”. Where’s the pedal-to-the-metal, balls-to-the-wall R&R action I’ve come to expect from those masters of down ‘n’ dirty blues and boogie-woogie rawk Nurse With Wound?

Speaking seriously, this album seems to me to be a deconstruction of electronic dance music. It’s built around urgent, pounding, repetitive beats, but they’re beats that have been so simplified as to no longer be at all danceable. These rhythms wind in and out of each other, and sound less like music than some sort of ritual drumming or the workings of dark industrial machinery. Yet in some cases this experimentation fails, such as on “The Self-Sufficent Sexual Shoe”, which sounds less like a deconstruction of dance music and more like a failed attempt at it.

This isn’t to say that this is purely a rhythm album; there are lots of interesting things going to top of the beats. My favorites would be the deadpan yet absurd narration and chopped-up crowd noises in the title track and the ticking, whirring, and occasionally didgeridoo-ing insanity that is “Two Golden Microphones”. Also worth mentioning are “Finsbury Park, May 8th, 1:35 PM (I’ll See You In Another World)”, which is as close as this album comes to pure noise, and “R+B Through Collis Browne” which sounds like a less forceful version of what was going in “industrial” music (a genre Nurse With Wound arguably pioneered) at the time.

This album is unique and fabulously intelligent; having said that, I highly doubt that I am going to listen to it again after this review is up. It’s an experimental album in the purest sense of the world. It would be more apt for me to say that I was fascinated by it than to say that I enjoyed it. I suppose this music just arrests different parts of my mind than I usually desire to stimulate with music.

Let’s Get Metaphorical
February 7, 2011, 1:32 am
Filed under: literature, ridiculousness

In which I explain some jokes and in so doing deprive them of their humor.

You know what I find hilarious?  Bad metaphors.  It’s one of the few sub-categories of bad writing that’s consistently amusing and very rarely dull or off-putting.  They way I see it, you have four kinds of bad metaphors:

  • The basic mixed metaphor.  Simple and often effective. From the sports column of the New Jersey Star Ledger: “He was marooned in the jaws of a human minefield, and with every step the noose grew tighter.”
  • The forgotten metaphor, or “metaphorgotten” to quote the perpetually pun-happy TV Tropes.  Writing a metaphor is like riding a bull, see: you have to be careful not to let it get away from you or you’ll end up lying on the sand at a fairground in New Mexico while a bunch of snot-nosed kids laugh at you and then you’ll get puked on by a drunk clown.
  • The absurd metaphor.  It works, but the thing it compares the event it describes to is so outlandish that it draws attention to itself, something that in my mind metaphors shouldn’t do unless they’re begin deliberately silly.  It’s something like this, from the often hilarious LiveJournal community weepingcock: “And then he was fully socketed to her, like a pipe wrench in a crock of warm chili.”  Although thinking back on it, I kind of think “socketed” is much worse than any number of pipe wrenches in chili.
  • The completely literal metaphor.  I had to go to the Lyttle Lytton Contest to find this one: “The boat moved through the sea like wood through water.”  If you don’t get it, read it again.

And before you say it: yeah, I know all of these are similes, but I’ve never really cared for that distinction.  In closing, I hope you enjoyed reading this completely pointless post as much as I enjoyed writing it.  It’s been real.