My Smile Is Stuck

I have not been this excited to receive a compact disc in the mail for some time. Don’t get me wrong. I received many many very nice presents for the War on Christmas. Very nice. It was quite the bounty. However, I had the opportunity to redeem some Barnes and Noble funny munny and decided it was time to stop fucking around and buy “Trout Mask Replica” by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. I am listening to it in my office andfeeling fortunate that not many of my workneighbors are in the office today. It is, one could say, an acquired taste, like, oh, anchovies.

I had a nice War on Christmas, thank you. I went back to New York hoping for snow (yes, believe it or not, I was hoping for snow), but we had none. I managed to stay in my pyjamas all day Monday anyway. It was a fine accomplishment. Little Brudda got Vol. 3 of the Beavis and Butthead CD, so we spent a lot of time watching that. There was a bit of last-minute shopping since some packages did not arrive on time, so he will receive yet another present a bit late.

I am still waiting, nay, hoping, for some coworker to poke a nose into my door with the look on her face of one who’s just smelt bad milk, and to say, Aaron, what the hell are you listening to? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Oh, yea: I’ve turned off the comments for now. Too much time sorting through spammers and not enough time approving nice comments from all of my loyal readers. If you want to make a comment,drop me a line and tell me which entry you want to spice up. Boing.

Portable Player Factory Headsets

It’s a known fact that the headsets and/or pods that are included with the typical portable player are designed to be thrown into the back of a junk drawer for six months or so and then to be thrown away. They are not, I repeat, not meant to be USED.

No. It's Not Memorex. It Is Most Definitely Not Memorex.

Here’s what a grumpy old man I’ve become or, more likely the case, have always been: The first time I heard Gwen Stefani’s “Wind It Up” was when she performed it on Saturday Night Live. I had literally never heard it before then, because most of my listening time these days is spent on Air America Radio, This American Life, “The Man From Utopia,” and XM52 The Verge. It’s good that I hadn’t heard the song before because it provided for an interesting observation.

Having not heard the studio recording of this song before, I had absolutely no point of reference for the live performance. I didn’t know what the song was supposed to sound like, and so, to me, what Gwen was doing up on stage looked lookedand sounded like tweaking kabuki. Once she had performed the song, I still didn’t know what the song was supposed to sound like; I couldn’t hum it to youto save my life.

Since then, I’ve heard the song, and I find it of no wonder that when the “music” industry nowadays is literally an “industry,” that when songs are created as products and not as artworks, that I can’t pick a tune out of a lineup when it’s performed live because it was created in a laboratory probably before anyone ever thought of performing it in front of human beings, and no wonder that, within that factory are created little girls like the Simpson sisters, both of whom have had rather public meltdowns when they’ve tried to take to a formidable stage. Jessica Simpson couldn’t hack the Kennedy Center because she’d not played enough honky-tonks.

Gwen, certainly, has plenty of playing out under her belt, but it would seem that these days she is choosing to keep it there. The Interweb rumor churners say she’s angling to retire to be a full-time mommie, so I suspect she’s bankrolling as much ‘tween money as she can get, and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that Gwen and her ex-band No Doubt were one of those musical memories to me where you remember exactly where you were the first time you experienced it.

It was 1995, and I was in Greenville, N.C. The video for “Spiderwebs” came on, and they were playing the ska, but differently, and it was being sung by a girl, not a girl, actually, more like a space alien who came from a very, very nice planet. That was the first time I experienced No Doubt. I became a semi-fan, loving on “Trapped in a Box,” which is just brilliant.

Anyway, I digress. I just have this weird idea that musicians should not take to recording music in the studio that they can’t pull off live in front of people. Gwen doesn’t care and apparently isn’t caring all the way to the bank, but it’s one of those things that tempts me to send a few dimes to one of those groups that supports education in the arts or something, one of those things that further supports my notion that America is being gobbled alive by its own capitalism and doesn’t really seem to mind.

Come On and Zoom Zoom Zooma Zoom

My latest radio obsession is a little show called “This American Life,” which I record on the Inno each morning for later consumption. I’ve always been a fan, especially of Sarah “Goth Becky” Vowell, but I haven’t been able to make the time for them until the XM. They tell the best stories.

This morning’s installment was “lies at 10 years old,” Act I being the story of a kid who was cast for the first season of “Zoom,” but then was cut. He’s apparently dealt with this loss by continuing to tell people all his life that he was in the cast. Sad.

Anyway. Damnit. Now I have that song in my head.

And now you do, too.

Nerds Are Sad Today

It’s weird, the stories that touch ya. I’ve been for the past few days crossing my fingers for James Kim, who until recently has regularly shown up on my Tivo and shown me gadgets.

In case you hadn’t heard: Kim and his wife and his two young kids were traveling in Oregon and their car got stuck in the snow. He left the car to seek help while his wife and kids stayed. They were rescued. His body was found today in the snow.

What a nice nerd he was.

Hungry Freaks, Daddy

Frank Zappa died 13 years ago yesterday. My apologies for harping on the Frank Zappa thing, but he was, after all, The Man. I’ve been back into him lately. He was a great American, in fact, I think of Zappa as the prototype for what any American should strive to be, how d’ya like that?

So no matter what I do today or what happens, it can be a good day because the Singing Jesus Asian Man got onto my train car today. Right?

The Man From Utopia

It’s been a long time since I’ve put a record on that I couldn’t stop listening to. Leave it to Frank. I can’t stop listening to The Man From Utopia. As usual for Frank, there are things on this record that make me wonder how the heck he did that. Well, how did he and Steve Vai do that. Damn.

Over the TurkeyDay, I read Barry Miles’ biography of Frank. It is not at all very flattering. It says he was a control freak, that he cheated on his wife numerous times, that he screwed Janis Joplin for goodness sake, that he screwed the Mothers, and that he became weirdly obsessed with musical precision in his later artistic life.