Thursday, November 25, 2010

7 reasons The Sing-Off is better than Glee

Last winter, I tuned in to NBC's The Sing-Off, for the same reason I do most television ridicule it mercilessly. I was met, however, with a surprisingly good competition show that struck a chord (pun fully intended) with that high-school version of me that used to sing with my friends in the hallways of our school.

Likewise, I am constantly told by some of those same friends that my hatred for the show Glee is just my way of covering up that part of my youth as if I am ashamed of it or something.

So, in order to set the record straight, and do my part to promote a fun show, I present:

7 Reasons That The Sing-Off is Better Than Glee

1) No Over-Production - It's just vocals. Recorded live. No invisible instruments. No phantom background tracks. No "studio-produced" vocal tracks that make everything creepily and unnaturally perfect. The kids on Glee are talented. But, the contestants on The Sing-Off don't get the benefit of Taylor Swift-like post-production to make them sound great.

2) Ben Folds - He makes everything awesome. If he ever actually did an episode of Glee, I would probably have to watch it in its entirety. I pray to God that never happens. Plus, he knows a thing or two about a cappella music.

3) It's About The Singing - I have long maintained that Glee would be great if it were reduced to a 1/2 hour variety show. Lose the stereotypical characters. Forget about the tired and "topical" storylines (see #5 below). Just focus on the singing. 80% of the people who watch Glee will openly admit they only watch for the songs. So, why do the producers keep shilling out the other crap? Because they have to fill the gaps between songs and Jane Lynch punchlines with something. The Sing-Off is just the songs. Those gaps don't exist. It is simply...what Glee should be.

4) No Stereotypes/Gimmicks - The first season of The Sing-Off celebrated diversity. Like REAL diversity. Not the "I'm free to be myself as long as 'myself' is an outcast of some sort or another" type, but real, honest to goodness, variation in humanity. Honestly, I would rather pay attention to the ladies of Maxx Factor (right) or winners (and Puerto Rico natives) Nota (above) than ANY combination of blonde cheerleader, mis- understood drama queen and overly-effeminate gay kid.

5) No Mundane/Forced Storylines - No one on The Sing-Off would ever need to dance like Beyonce to kick a football. I think that about sums it up.

6) The Swan Song - The Sing-Off is smart enough to know when to walk away. The first season was only 4 episodes. Admittedly, that's probably because the producers had no idea if the idea would fly. This season is 8 episodes. The perfect number if you ask me. Get in. Crown a winner. Move on. Leave the audience wanting more. As opposed to, say, coming up with more and more superfluous scenarios, themed episodes and guest stars to throw at the audience to fill 22 shows a year. Come on, Glee. Even the worst offender of all time, Will and Grace, waited a couple of full seasons before it started down that long and winding red-carpet of shame.

7) Sloppy Seconds - Arguably, the best part about Glee this entire season has been the introduction of a new rival school, Dalton Academy....whose background vocals are actually performed by the runners-up from last year's The Sing-Off. So, Glee owes the success of its most interesting current attraction to 4 episodes of a legit talent show from last December.

So, there you have it. Tune in tonight on NBC to see clever arrangements, true group dynamics and, above all, great talent, the way it should be.

Slurpees not included.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

the joys of driving: boston edition

so, tonight, i embarked on a simple driving task. all i had to do was go from beck's work in cambridge ("A" on the map below) to the marriott long wharf in boston ("B").

in short, this is what i tried to do:

(click to see larger version)

...and...thanks to the brilliant layout of one-way roads and hidden ramps, this is the route that i actually took:

this is, indeed, why God invented the subway.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

my musical seen on youtube

when i was growing up, music was a big part of my life. it would go on to be one of driving forces behind most everything i do and, to this day, music remains a cornerstone of my present daily life and my past, cherished memories.

but, as much as i pride myself in the finely-tuned and varied musical tastes i have acquired and held on to over the years...the beginning was...well, frankly, embarrassing.

inspired by a facebook gesture from my lovely wife, a recent search through everyone's favorite online depository of brilliance,, allowed me to rediscover a song i hadn't thought of in quite some time. it was a song that was a staple in my house growing up. and it got me thinking:

"what were the top 10 songs of my childhood?"

of course, it wouldn't be legit unless i stuck to some sort of self-deprecating criteria like "number of times listened to" as opposed to something lame like "favorite."

so, sit back and imagine a 7-9 year-old me sitting in my basement or in my yellow shag-covered living room huddled next to either this:

...or, depending on the level of awesomeness, this:

...and enjoy the "top 10 songs, by sheer number of plays, of my found on youtube."

(in no particular order and with no particular sense of dignity)

10) lionel richie - "you are" 1982

the one that got me thinking about this whole thing. the song is pure, infectious pop-romance. lionel owned my childhood. he was the first concert i ever attended. that said, the only thing more embarrassing than this starting off the the fact that this is only ONE of two lionel songs on the list. of course, the only thing cheesier than two lionel richie songs is...

9) barry manilow - "copacabana" 1978

...two barry manilow songs. the first of which, of course, being the classic and tragic story of lola, rico and rico's diamond earring. i heard this song in a gap at the mall about 8 years ago and was horrified when i knew every word even after not hearing it for more than a decade prior.

8) julian lennon - "too late for goodbyes" 1984

john's little boy produced the second 45 record i ever purchased. i don't know why i loved it...but i did. and i listened to it all the time.

7) kenny rogers - "the gambler" 1978

dad listened to country music on the am radio. real country. he grew out of that shortly after i did, but some of it stuck. to this day, i can't hear "the gambler" without thinking of that 8-track cartridge and my neighbor getting annoyed while babysitting me because i wanted to listen to it again...and again...and again.

6) jeffrey osborne - "on the wings of love" 1982

i have no real comment about this one. it just is what it is.

5) michael jackson - "billie jean" 1982

honorable mention goes to the entire "thriller" album. i wore that thing out. but "billie jean" has been and always will be my favorite mj track. there were millions of white suburban kids just like me all over the country. and for good reason.

4) alabama - "mountain music" 1982

say what you will, the boys from alabama could write a catchy tune. one of the greatest little surprises of combining cd collections with my wife a few years ago was the fact that i instantly owned alabama's greatest hits...something i hadn't had since ronald reagan was in office. grandma and grandpa didn't actually used to play it like this...but it still holds a place in my heart.

3) stevie wonder and paul mccartney - "ebony and ivory" 1982

i was probably too young to know how awesome this song truly was. the former beatle and motown's favorite son combining on an uber-cheestastic ode to racial harmony. how popular music continued on in the shadow of this masterpiece is beyond me.

2) barry manilow - "mandy" 1974

i remember all my life
raining down as cold as ice
a shadow of a man
a face through a window
crying in the night
the night goes into

morning, just another day
happy people pass my way
looking in their eyes
i see a memory
i never realized
you made me so happy, oh mandy

1) lionel richie - "all night long (all night)" 1983

if you listened to this song a million times...not only would you not even come close to the number of times i listened to it, but i also guarantee that it will be impossible for you to have a miserable life. i don't throw around the word "transformative" to often...but sometimes, you just have to call it what it is.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

world cup fever

i have to say i have really been enjoying the festivities in south africa the last 6 days. people have tried to make it a point to complain about everything from the low scores to the new design ball to, of course, the dreaded vuvuzela.

none of these things have bothered me. which i know, given the very nature of this particular blog, seems as foreign as the names on the back of the cote d'ivoire players.

i'm not really going to spend a ton of effort breaking down the matches that have happened or highlight the upsets or the fact that my wildcard (uruguay) is kicking some butt right now. no, the entire purpose of this blog post is simply and hopefully to annoy every last one of you with the new "vuvu-roll." for those of you whose computer volume was already up, welcome to your internet nightmare for the next month or so.

EDIT: if you missed it, go here.

Go U.S.A.! C'mon, England.

Monday, May 31, 2010

how i spent my memorial day weekend

it's been a while. but this belonged here and not somewhere else in cyberspace.

we have officially tackled the last untouched room on the 2nd floor of the house. see previous attacks here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here; not pictured: the painting of the dining room and kitchen.)

clearly, this was small potatoes compared to some of the other projects, but it still took some work. the sunroom needed some love so we could turn it into the new office. the old office, of course, will become the nursery. first, i had to run power to the sunroom since it didn't have any. the easiest way to do that was to cut out a chunk of the back stairwell plaster (vomit!) and run a new line to the basement from there.

a hole was cut in the old wall board of the house and an outlet box was installed and properly insulated (the subtitle of this project is "how to avoid all possible drafts" gets cold in the sunroom in the winter.) and two new breakers were added to the breaker panel in the basement and viola...electricity.

a second outlet was run to the other side behind what will be the new baseboard.

speaking of drafts, something needed to be done about the open seam at the top of the ceiling (at the old exterior wall of the house. it pretty much just goes straight into a crawl space on the third floor and lets anything (bugs, cold, etc.) in.

but, we'll get to that. first, the room needed to be painted.



and now, back to that ceiling seam. well, a nice sealed crown board ought to do the trick.

so, it was mostly just painting and some baseboard work. and the electrical.

either way, we are going to replace the old (unused) door to the stairwell before we block it off with a new bookcase. the computer will move soon and work will begin on filling the nursery.

that's all for now. peace.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

RE: oscars 2010

to whom it may concern,

in a complete unwillingness to overcome the fact that i a) can't bring myself to care, even remotely, about most of this year's oscar nominations b) cannot even express how ridiculous it is to have 10 best picture nominees c) will not be able to see more than a handful of the nominated movies anyway and d) won't even be watching this year's telecast....i will not be doing any oscar predictions this year.

the only thing that interests me at all about this year's show is steve martin and alec baldwin. and the fact that i will be missing them, saddens me slightly. also, that christoph waltz should and will win for best supporting actor.

other than that, you're on your own.

we apologize for any inconvenience. better luck next year.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

stop & shop is killing the planet

our nearest grocery store is a stop & shop. stop & shop is one of the 3 main chains in this area and is widely regarded as the middle of the road option (not the most expensive, not the cheapest, etc.) i really have no issue with them as a corporation or a business. they have recently installed a system where you can scan the items in your cart as you go and then just pay on the way out. saves time. super-convenient. they do alright.

but i have always hated one thing about shopping there. that is, simply, their receipts are ludicrously and unnecessarily long. i mean, it's truly ridiculous.

for example, today, we went in and picked up a bag of these:

...and one of these:

...and, in return, got this:

a little much, don't you think, stop & shop?