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In a Perfect World: September 9th Would Be National “Talk About the Beatles” Day

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 9, 2009


As most of you probably know already, today was a pretty big day for the Fab Four. The band’s entire back catologue has finally gotten the remastered treatment that the band’s cult has been eternally crying for, and the boys became the first musical artist to get their very own entry in the Rock Band catalogue. I’m having friends over to play the game tonight, and I’m certainly pretty excited for it and may or may not post something about it later if I find that I have anything new or interesting to say. But more than the game, and certainly more than the reissues (I might notice the difference, but I really might not–I suck at audiophilia), there’s something else that’s really gotten me pumped today–the fact that just about everyone in the world who seriously cares about music is, for one reason or another, talking about The Beatles.

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Posted in In a Perfect World, Tradition | 4 Comments »

Tradition: 22 for 22

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 23, 2008

It’s not so bad to stay at home

So it’s my birthday today, and while I’m partying by myself because I’m such a special guy, you can either read about the best birthday-related song in music history or dig on the following underrated songs from 1990:

The Field Mice – “So Said Kay”
Bell Biv DeVoe – “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)”
Ice MC – “Cinema”
Swervedriver – “Kill the Superhoeroes”
The House of Love – “The Beatles and the Stones”

Here’s to another year of quality blog posting and minor self-indulgence.

Posted in Tradition | 1 Comment »

IITS’s Seven Days of Xmas / Livebloggin’ / Tradition: 15 and a Half Hours of Christmas Day TV

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas, you old internet

So as any British streetrat worth his salt no doubt knows by now, today is Christmas Day. And I for one, plan on celebrating, the only way a goyim left alone at his parents’ house loaded with the full arsenal of digital cable–watching TV. Watching a lot of TV. In fact, in what I plan on making a tradition, I plan on doing absolutely nothing but watching TV today–with perhaps minor deviations from schedule to pick up one of my transportation-less friends, and at least one WaWa run, of course. But besides that, I plan on taking advantage of the best But besides that, I have some 600 channels and a barrage of On Demand movies at my disposal, and I plan on using them. Why should today be any different from any other day, I supose?

11:42 AM: Watching the end of The Illusionist after either leaving or falling asleep in the middle two days in a row. Now I understand why whenever I try to talk to someone about The Prestige, they go “Oh, is that the one where…, or is that the one where…?” This movie is such a blatant poor man’s Prestige it makes it somewhat difficult to actually pay attention to what’s going on in the movie–Jessica Biel even looks exactly like Scarlett Johansson does in Prestige, except significantly less attractive. And Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti’s accents are both terrible. What’s the deal? I heard reports of a good twist ending, though, so I guess I’ll have to ride this one out.

12:30 PM: Meh.

12:35 PM: Ah, 24 hours of A Christmas Story on TBS, right in time for the leg lamp scene. I’m always left a bit colder than I should be by A Christmas Story, considering its somewhat unassailable status as a kiddie Christmas classic–most easily explained by the fact that I somehow managed to avoid seeing it all the way through until I was at least in middle school. And even then I never actually watched the movie from start to finish–I just finally caught enough pieces of it over the course of Christmas that it actually added up to the whole thing. Frankly, I prefer TNT’s unofficial 24 Hours of The Ref marathon–more alcohol and sarcasm, if nothing else (although apparently The Ref isn’t on at all today–what the fuck???)

12:50 PM: Flipping between ACS and a 1987 Christmas game between the Knicks and the Pistons on NBA TV. Always fun hearing announcers say retrospective LOLers like “It looks like Thomas could really be a star one day” and “Pitino’s not sure if this Ewing guy is gonna make it as the Knicks’ center,” although not as much fun as seeing super-freak Dennis Rodman as, y’know, just an above average defensive player. Info says that the Pistons go on to win the game 91-87 (honestly, do you have to put the final score in the info for the game?), but I guess Billy Donovan is sleeping much easier at night these days than Isiah, so it evens out.

1:09 PM: Anyone ever hear of a CBS Afterschool Special called The Writing on the Wall? Apparently Peter Billingsley was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as an anti-semitic teenager taught the importance of tolerance by rabbi Hal Linden (Barney Miller). And now he’s an exec producer on the upcoming Iron Man movie? I had no idea Ralphie went on to be so prolific. He probably watches Scott Schwartz’s pornos every Christmas and cackles to himself.

1:40 PM: Not like those “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials have ever been any sort of standard for excellence, but the animated ones with the two singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” plumbs new depths of mind-numbingness. Not even so bad is PC’s ad-lib of “So you’d better buy a mec and not a PC this holiday season or any other time, for goodness sake,” or is his oh-so-clever-lyric-tweaking of “he knows when you’re in sleep mode.” Mostly I’m just annoyed by the choice to have it be an animated ad, even though otherwise it’s basically no different from any of their other commercials. Like John Hodgman and Justin Long had anything better to do?

1:46 PM: You know, I think the Pink Rabbit Suit Ralphie gets in this movie gets sort of a bad rap. I’m not saying I’d wear mine outside of the house or anything, but when it comes to clothing, I’m all about economy, and why bother owning a bathrobe, pajama pants and slippers when you can just take care of all three in one warm, comfortable-looking suit? I suppose there’s no way to wear something like that around others in this day and age and avoid furry connotations, but I think I’d enjoy watching TV in it by myself. Maybe I’ll order one for Christmas next year.

1:53 PM: I always kind of wish that Ralphie actually does shoot his eye out at the end. I think I just don’t like 10-year-olds being retrospectively narrated by old dudes–kids are know-it-alls enough as is without having to add aged wisdom bullshit to everything. I have similar problems with Kevin Arnold. Oh, and while we’re at it, if my family ever cooked a Christmas Turkey, I’d be praying some neighborhood animal got to it so we’d be forced to go out for Chinese instead. Turkey’s like the most boring meat there is.

2:00 PM: Family Feud marathon all day on GSN. I had flipped to it a few hours ago and Richard Dawson was hosting, but unfortunately it looks like we’ve moved on to the Ray Combs era. Oh well, at least I caught it before they got up to Louie Anderson. “Well, I brought my voluptuous sister Annie,” one of the team leaders explains to Ray. Who the hell refers to their sibling as “voluptuous”?

2:08 PM: For my money, Ray Combs belongs in the Short People Hall of Fame. Every day on his game show, he has to stand next to at least ten people that are almost undoubtedly taller than he is, most of which are even standing on higher ground than he is. Yet he hosts with the confidence and charisma of a Dick Clark or Bob Eubanks, and uses no trick sets or photography to try to hide his height disadvantages. Kudos to you, Ray, you suicidal paraplegic.

2:42 PM: Why is MTV Hits showing an entire MTV Live Hellogoodbye concert? They had a top 20 hit earlier this year, and I’ve already practically forgotten who the hell they are. And the lead singer looks too much like Ben Folds.

2:45 PM: “Walk Hard: Now the winner of two Golden Globe nominations!” YOU CAN NOT WIN A FUCKING GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATION THAT IS WHY IT IS CALLED A NOMINATION

2:52 PM: Heat vs. Cavs, in part one of an ABC doubleheader. And in part one of our “Sports Dudes who Sort of Look Like Pop Culture Dudes” segment today, I present to you:

Heat Coach Pat Riley

Special Agent Lundy from Dexter

3:41 PM: Shaq nearly single-handedly brings down the backboard with a dunk. So maybe this guy is as washed up as everyone says, but he still looks like he could beat up the entire defensive line of the Chicago Bears were he called on to do so.

3:44 PM: So, singing along to “Hang on Sloopy” is like, a thing in Ohio sporting events? Since when are the McCoys such a midwestern institution? Someone really needs to do a definitive article documenting all these bizarre musical appropriations in pro sports.

4:09 PM: An animated So So Def remix video of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” on MTV Jams? Jermaine Dupri, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! Not that a Betty Boop’d out animated Mariah is a bad look or anything, but some perfection you just don’t mess with.

4:13 PM: Cinemax is really coming out swinging today: Night at the Museum, The Matrix Revolutions, Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, V for Vendetta, The Last King of Scotland, Brokeback Mountain and King Kong all on at the same time? I’m only but one pop culture fiend, thou vile temptress! Not that I would flip to most of these even in the most dire of TV droughts, but still…

4:21 PM: Archival 2006 Phils game against the Mets. It’s nice watching these games in Philly for once–usually I’m in New York, where I know that no matter what game I’m watching, no matter what the score or situation is, the much-hated Yanks will inevitably come back to win. This time, though, I know that even though the Mets are up 10-9 in the bottom of the 8th and Ryan Howard just went down swinging, the team I actually like is gonna battle back to win it. Unless, of course, Philly’s loser streak runs even deeper than I thought.

4:25 PM: To think, it was only two years ago that “Oh boy! A Monk marathon on USA!” would’ve been my likely reaction to an all-Shalhoub weekend schedule on America’s channel.


4:57 PM: Sports Dudes Who Sort of Look Like Pop Culture Dudes, Pt. 2:

Cavs Forward Anderson Vaerjao

Puerto Rican Pro Wrestler Carly “Carlito” Colon

High School Musical Star Corbin Bleu

5:07 PM: The “White Light / White Heat” Art Rock segment of the much-ballyhooed Seven Days of Rock miniseries is on VH1. So far so good, but I had no idea that Dennis Hopper was the narrator for this thing. Always great to hear his voice, but he sounds so barely restrained in his anger and bitterness discussing Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground, like any minute he’s gonna burst out “FUCK THIS SHIT!!! I DON’T FUCKING CARE!! I WANNA DO MORE SHITTY COMMERCIALS ABOUT THE 60S!!

5:26 PM: Suns vs. Lakers. Does anyone remember the Grant Hill Drinks Sprite commercial from the late 90s? Ahead of its time, I say.

5:28 PM: Nice bowtie, Phil Jackson!

6:00 PM: Of all the people to have nabbed as the franchise cast member for all the American Pie straight-to-video releases, why the hell did it have to be Eugene Levy? Doesn’t he have Christopher Guest movies and Samuel L. Jackson buddy comedies to be doing somewhere? Meanwhile, what the hell are Thomas Ian Nicholas and Eddie Kaye Thomas doing with their time that’s any better than this?

6:18 PM: Despite how much I enjoy watching Steve Nash play for the Suns, I’d like to see the NBA create a law that requires Nash to play a minimum amount of games in his career for every team in the league. It only seems fair that every pro basketball player should get to play with him as a teammate for at least a little while.

6:57 PM: This is one of the best NBA games I’ve watched all year, easily. The amount of one-upmanship is just getting nuts.

7:08 PM: Who is this bald, old, British dude that VH1 always gets to talk about metal? I demand to see his qualifications before I hear what he has to say about the visceral thrill of British Steel one more time.

7:14 PM: Gotta love the organized version of “Bennie & the Jets” that’s playing throughout the game.

8:06 PM: Goddamn Lakers. They seriously looked like one of the elite teams tonight, though–and Kobe wanted to be traded why, exactly? Like he’d have been better off with the fucking Bulls?

8:18 PM: Watching the first couple episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with friends. It’s weird how a couple of them actually pretend to care about seeming like good people in the show’s early days. And it’s weird that that’s weird.

8:51 PM: Autumn Reeser makes a seriously great super-Christian nymphomaniac. Wonder what she’s up to these days.

9:06 PM: The “Hundred Dollar Baby” episode of this show is really starting to seem like an all-time classic. Top 20 of the decade for me, maybe. Non-stop hilarity, though it’s a shame that it’s so obvious this is as good as the show is getting.

9:50 PM: Trailblazers and Sonics. How the hell did this team win 10 (soon to be 11) in a row? Don’t get me wrong, I like mediocre Northwestern teams pretty well actually, but 11 in a row?? I just hope it turns out to not be a total fluke–how awesomely unexpected would a Trailblazers playoff drive be in this day and age? Almost as awesome as being named Travis Outlaw, I’m guessing.

10:01 PM: Rocky IV on Spike. Spike TV seems to need less of an excuse to show one of the Rocky movies than Bravo needs to show one of the Godfathers (which, of course, there’s a marathon of right now). What percentage of this movie isn’t montage, exactly? 30% And does anyone remmeber what actually happens in that 30%?

10:21 PM: Fargo on FLIX. “Unguent! I need unguent!” Gotta love a movie that uses words that have probably never been in any movie ever before.

11:10 PM: Most underrated scene in Fargo–Steve Buscemi’s having sex with a prostitute, when Shep Prowlfoot (the pissed off Native American dude who hired him) picks her up off of him and tosses her off. “Shep, what the fuck are you doin’?” Buscemi pleads with him. “I’m bangin’ that girl!” As if Shep either didn’t realize that Buscemi was having sex with the naked prostitute who was riding his body, and/or his expression of annoyance at Shep’s disruption would cause him to go away.

1:00 AM: “Jesus, kid, when I was your age, I didn’t need no fucking gorilla. And I wasn’t as big as one of your legs. Four kids beat me up one time and I went crying home to my daddy. You know what he did?”
“He made it all better?”
“No, he kicked my ass. You know why?”
“Because you went to the bathroom on Mommy’s dishes?”
What?? Fuck no!”

Bad Santa = Best Christmas movie of the last ten years, so easy

1:55: Skinemax’s new series Co-Ed Confidential almost seems close to being the first working example of my intersection between Primetime Soap Operas and Cinemax wish. From what I’ve seen so far, though, the acting isn’t quite as good as I’d like, the tone isn’t nearly serious enough, and the sex itself is only OK. Plus, no chance for character development in a half-hour show where half of it is devoted to sex anyway. Still, a couple of the girls are pretty hot, so I’ll rate it above Sex Games: Cancun but below Sin City Diaries.

2:15: Sportscenter says that the Giants might rest their starters against the Patriots next week. I really like the Giants, actually, and even Eli Manning, depsite his continual drive to prove himself the least competent QB in the league (much less one already in the playoffs), but if they do this, and not even try to make the Pats earn their immortality, I’ll have no choice but to root for another 18-52 performance from Manning and a bad case of the measles for Brendon Jacobs and Osi Umenyiora come January.

2:45: Based on their interviews in The Wire: Odyssey, the HBO doc about the first four seasons of the series, the five actors that seem the most different from the characters they play:

Deirdre Lovejoy (Rhonda Perlman–actually Irish, surprise surprise)
Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty–actually British, which I actually do find as kind of a surprise)
Robert F. Chew (Prop Joe–hard to explain the difference, but he’s not nearly as aloof as I’d expect)
Larry Gilliard, Jr. (D’Angelo Barksdale–kinda sounds like a geek)
Gbenga Akinnagbe (Chris Partlow–sounds like a not-entirely-evil human being)

No Idris Elba (Stringer Bell) or Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale), though, which bums me the fuck out. God I can’t wait for season five, though–might need a week’s worth of IITS for commemoration.

Posted in Livebloggin', Seven Days of Xmas, Tradition | 6 Comments »

Tradition, Tradition! : 69 Love Songs on Valentine’s Day

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 14, 2007

At three I went to Hebrew School, at ten I learned a trade

Though it’s rarely anything but depressing, part of me still definitely likes Valentine’s Day, if only because it’s one of the two days a year where I’m guaranteed to feel genuine emotion (the other being my birthday, June 23rd in case you want to buy me a six-pack or something). It’s not very nice emotion–usually a mix of loneliness, regret, nostalgia and self-pity–but it’s legitimate, and writers don’t get too many chances to feel legitimate emotion. It reminds me that I’m at least partly human, which is nice to be reminded of from time to time.

Since 2001, when I heard it for the first time, my soundtrack to Valentine’s Day has been The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs. For the rare bunch of you left out there who haven’t been persuaded to listen to it yet from one corner or another, 69 Love Songs is the brainchild of Field mastermind Stephen Merritt, who released it as a three-disc box set in 1999. It’s exactly what it says it is–69 songs about love, in one form of another, spread out 23 songs for each disc. And it’s arguably the greatest artistic accomplishment of the 21st century.

The thing that always impressed me the most about 69 Love Songs is the scope. It tries to cover everything, and for the most part it succeeds. That includes:

  • Perspective. Boys sing about girls, boys sing about boys, girls sing about boys, girls sing about girls, boys sing about animals, girls sing about musical instruments, boys pretend to be girls singing about boys, girls pretend to be boys singing about girls, and so forth. No gender, orientation or identity crisis is left out.
  • Subject matter. Songs about first love, last love, passionate love, autumnal love, unrequited love, undesired love, impossible love, unnecessary love, lost love, how wonderful love is, how horrible love is, how novel love is, how difficult love is, how irritating love is, how cliched love is, how important love is and how stupid love is. Songs about being still crazy after these years, and songs about being actually crazy after all these years, songs about love making you want to die and songs about love making you want to live. There’s nothing about love that isn’t there.
  • Tone. Songs are gushing, nostalgic, bitter, annoyed, sarcastic, wistful, horny, tired, excited, caustic, romantic, frustrated, pleased as punch and mad as hell. However you’re feeling, so is 69 Love Songs.
  • Genre. Synth-Pop, Folk, Jazz, Soul, Country, Dreampop, Punk (sorta), Tin Pan Alley, Singer/Songwriter, Experimental, Baroque, Reggae (UB40-style anyway) and a capella. Just about everything apart from hip-hop and metal.

It’s ridiculously ambitious–possibly moreso than any other album in history–but it holds together beautifully. Even the album’s most ardent fans wouldn’t claim that every song is a winner, but like most masterpieces, the flaws are just as endearing as the gems, and even unqualified failures like “Punk Love,” “Very Funny,” “Love is Like Jazz,” “Fido Your Leash is Too Long” and “Experimental Music Love” add to the feel of the whole album, and I can’t imagine it without them. Together, these 69 songs do the impossible–they provide the definitive word on the love song. It’s the totality of the experience.

And I continue to listen to it on Valentine’s Day for that reason. Hopefully some V-Day not too long from now, I won’t need it anymore, but for now, it’s like the romantic equivalent of good porn–the closest to the real thing that you can get while still on your own. And for that, I’m thankful.

Posted in Tradition | 3 Comments »