Archive for the ‘ Chiefs Culture Challenge ’ Category

Chiefs Culture Challenge – Playlist: The Very Best of Rick Astley

Really thrilled I get to review a collection of Rick Astley’s greatest hits.  I suppose this narrowly beat out The Criterion Collection’s Roberto Beningi pack.  Hey, this has four out of five stars on AllMusic.com!  About two and a half more than I expected.

The first track is Never Gonna Give You Up.  I won’t reviews this because everyone’s heard it a million times, but I will link to this video as a bonus.  And yes, this is real.

And that is the only Rick Astley song I’ve ever heard.  Let’s proceed.

Track two is called Whenever You Need Somebody, which I think was an alternate title for Never Gonna Give You Up.  And wait…what is this…it’s the SAME drum introduction as Never Gonna Give You Up!  Am I being RickRolled by Rick Astley himself?  Every lyric in this is a vague cliche.  Brutal stuff.  The chorus starts with “whenever you need somebody”, and I keep thinking he’s going to say “whenever you call me, I’ll be there.”  Similar melody.  Not good.

Track three is Together Forever, which allegedly reached #1 in the U.S. charts in 1988.  Really glad I wasn’t born until the following year.  Searching “together forever” on YouTube gives me two Rick Astley results, followed directly by this, which is definitely way better…

So, back to Rick Astley…guess what?  It’s the EXACT SAME INTRO.  AGAIN.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  Oh, wait, I recognize this chorus!  And yes, Never Gonna Give You Up would fit perfectly into the melody of this one.  I don’t think you’d need to do any kind of editing with the pace at all.  Rick would apparently “move heaven and earth to be together forever with you.”  So many synths.  Yikes.  I have to seriously resist the urge to not sing “never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down” at the chorus.

Next up: My Arms Keep Missing You.  Oh, lord.  The first three YouTube results are for a song of this title by “Danzel vs. DJ FRANK.”  Right.  As for Rick…hey, it’s a drum intro that only partially sounds like Never Gonna Give You Up!  Highlight of the album!  Anyway, this is more totally generic lovey-dovey stuff.  Here’s the chorus:

“My arms keep missing you, who’s been kissing you since you went away?

My arms keep missing you, I keep wishing you’d come back today.”

Cringe-inducing stuff.  There are TEN songs left on this compilation?  Just brutal.

Track five is next and it’s She Wants To Dance With Me, a former Canadian #1 that Astley performed at the 1989 Grammys.  It was, according to Wikipedia, “Astley’s first self-composed single that he released.”  Oh, no.

On to the song…oh my, it’s a synth intro, not a drum one!  Well, the drums kick in after a couple of seconds, so that’s sort of a lie.  More of the same stuff as the first four songs here…if I had a nickel for every time Rick says “she wants to dance” in this song, I’d have a double-digit amount of nickels.  Whoa…is that a saxophone solo at roughly the two-thirds mark of the song?  Yes, sir!  Not horrible, which is high praise at this point.

Track six: Take Me To Your Heart.  I think all these song titles are lines from the movie Top Gun.  If you can guess what two instruments this song sounds with, I’ll give you…absolutely nothing.  This song is way different than the first five in that it has backup female singers in a call-and-response chorus, and…nothing else different at all.  Would it kill you to do SOMETHING else, Rick?

Don’t Say Goodbye is track seven.  I am perilously close to doing just that.  I will listen only if this doesn’t open with a drum/synth intro…

Oh my goodness, it doesn’t!  It opens with Rick’s voice alone!  (Damn it all.)  This is another potential nickel-maker with the phrase “don’t say goodbye, girl.”  I don’t know if I can take any more of this.  We’re only midway through the album, too.  Time for some quick summaries at this point.

Track eight is I Don’t Wanna Lose Her, the only track on this compilation without a corresponding Wikipedia page.  I think every beat and lyric is cut and pasted from another song on this album.  Track nine is Giving Up on Love.  I know I am at the moment.  (Also, I guess Rick lost her.)  This opens with a drum followed by some synthy-bells-type stuff straight out of a Christmas song.  Here are two amazing sentences from this song’s Wikipedia page:

1) “The song notably contradicts the theme of faithfulness to a lover Astley had been known for with songs like “Never Gonna Give You Up“, “Whenever You Need Somebody” and “Together Forever“, causing some to feel betrayed by Astley.”  RICK!  YOU FILTHY BETRAYER!

2) ” Astley later admitted in 2009 that the single was released as a ploy to draw in teenage girl listeners, and that he had not in fact given up on love.”  PHEW!

Track ten is It Would Take A Strong Strong Man, in which Rick claims “my heart’s been hurtin’ when I see you flirtin’, every night out on the floor.”  Is Rick at the club every night?  Or is his girlfriend just talking to the kitchen tiles?  More lyrics here include “my heart starts achin’, my hands keep shakin’”…is he stealing lines from AC/DC?  Track eleven is Hold Me In Your Arms, which must have been a Journey song.  Wikipedia says “it was Astley’s first true self-penned ballad but suffered on the charts largely due to his deteriorating relationship with the UK press.”  Bloody ‘ell, Ricky.  He tries really, really hard to sing this one all meaningful-like.  Doesn’t work.

We’ve now reached the part of the album that no one cares about, since the next song is a cover of Doris Day’s When I Fall In Love.  Once you get to the cover songs on this compilations, we’ve run out of any quality original material.  This song has also been covered by Nat King Cole, and it’s pretty clear that Rick is trying to sound exactly like Nat on this one.  Doesn’t work.

Track thirteen, the second-to-last one, is titled Cry For Help.  Well, it’s a little too late for that.  Amazingly enough, this is the first song off of Astley’s third album – this dude stacked his hits together.  This is some sort of a soulful ballad with lots of piano and choir, a happy and head-bobbing choir.  Not terrible, but totally unmemorable.  The final song is Hopelessly, which was apparently his last single for about eight years, since Astley retired until 2001.  It’s very average, but hey, apparently Rick Astley was a backup singer on Can You Feel The Love Tonight on the soundtrack for The Lion King!  Awesome!

This was bad, but at least I discovered lots of great Rick Astley facts, like the fact that he has only made $12 off of his video’s plays on YouTube since he wasn’t a songwriter.  Oops.

——

All right, JB, ball’s in your court…since you’re such a fitness freak, your goal is to review the latest edition of Men’s Health.  A quick Google search reveals a recent David Beckham cover – sounds right up your alley.

As always, we encourage you to send us your best suggestions at kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com or jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com

Chiefs Culture Challenge: Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen, part II on the Culture Challenge.  Owen Wilson and Woody Allen.  Bound to be cheeky, right?

 

First of all, this is deemed to be a “Sony Pictures Classic” by the DVD main screen.  It was released in 2011.   This is a classic as much as this year’s Super Bowl was.

 

The title of the movie does the trick, but if you didn’t know this was set in Paris, the first five minutes would do the trick.  Lots of scenic France.  I’ve never been, but it looks beautiful.

 

“Why does every city have to be in the rain?” says Rachel McAdams to Owen Wilson, who was waxing poetic about cities and weather.  I’m going to like this.

 

Oh my gosh, the father is a guy from Wayne’s World.  I’ve always wanted to go to Noah’s Arcade.

 

 

 

 

Owen Wilson just killed a moment with a story about “sauerkraut and frankfurters” along with James Joyce.  Nice work.

 

Gil is a former Hollywood guy who is now writing a book.  He is taken with Paris and its culture.  He is also thoroughly offended by McAdams’ friends who seem to be….taken with Paris and its culture.  What’s a Woody Allen without a jug of self-loathing.

 

“Nostalgia is denial….denial of the painful present.”–Golden Age Thinking, according to the self-righteous Parisian friend of Rachel McAdams, Paul.  He is the guy who helps the tour guide.  Or argues with the tour guide.

 

Gil–a few wines above the general limit–just hopped in a car with some random people.  Some of these people seem to be F. Scott Fitzergald and Jean Cocteau.  Now, he’s just met Hemingway who is at a bar quoting A Farewell to Arms.  Fitzgerald just called this woman “old sport.”  This is awesome.

 

 

Hemingway is bringing Gil’s novel to Gertrude Stein.

 

Gil says, as they get into a car, “Are you sure you don’t want to walk in the rain?  It’s our last chance.”  Hopeless romanticism, overboard.

 

“All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well”–Hemingway.  Beautiful.

 

Hemingway just described Picasso as “no Miro.”  Classy.  Art fight.

 

 

“Let’s get some culture”–Gil.  The new slogan for the Culture Challenge.

 

Kathy Bates.  Shouldn’t she be in a tub?  Oh, no, I guess she’s just going to talk about innuendo and implied sensuality.  As Gertrude Stein.

 

Hey look, Owen Wilson just gave Zelda Fitzgerald a Valium.  And then he met Salvador Dali who is babbling about “the Christ face” and the “rhinoceros”.  Can you imagine a knockoff of this where a failed athlete meets old athletes, and the athletes bring the guy’s self-esteem up my making him feel like he’s simply been born in the wrong era.  I can see the millions rolling in now.  For Denzel Washington and Greg Kinnear.

 

Boy, this marriage isn’t working out between Gil and Inez.  Wayne’s World guy doesn’t like Gil one bit.

At the tail end of the movie, there’s an argument over which era was the best to live in.  Some think their era is best, others believe some other era is ideal.  What a divide.

I love a movie that makes me think deeply.  This did.  Tremendous.

Speaking of deep thinkers:

 

Next week on the Culture Challenge, Kevin reviews Rick Astley’s 10th compilation album, Playlist: The Very Best of Rick Astley.  The Culture Challenge gets Rickrolled.

Chiefs Culture Challenge: Annie Hall

I don’t know how I had never seen Annie Hall, either, before you ask.  I’m somewhat ashamed of myself, to be honest, but glad I was forced to remedy this in our latest edition of the Culture Challenge.  An excellent choice by Jason.  My real-time thoughts of the movie are as follows…

——

I like having Woody Allen face us right away. Feels like we’re kind of intimately linked to the character. Is he conscious of the movie of his life?  This is slightly bizarre. Are all the characters now talking straight to the camera?

I know why I like this so far, this is just a 8-minute version of Curb Your Enthusiasm. That must be why Jason picked it.

I totally sympathize with Woody Allen for not wanting to go in to the movie after two minutes. I hate doing that too. Nicely done, Woody.

The dialogue in this movie theatre scene is just exceptional. This is an absolutely amazing scene. I could watch this about ten times over.

“Why are you so hostile?” “Because I want to watch the Knicks on television.” Woody has an early onset case of Linsanity.

So does the kid on the left.

“What’d you do, grow up in a Norman Rockwell painting?”

This initial visit to Annie’s house is just about the most awkward encounter of all-time. In fact, I have no idea why Alvy is still there. Still sort of endearing, though.

“I have bad plumbing and bugs.”  “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Christopher Walken is here! Just tremendous. Woody Allen in a rabbi outfit! Nearly as tremendous.

“Well, I have to go now, Dwayne, I’m due back on the planet Earth.”

The only thing Annie Hall is missing.

Woody stopping random people on the street is amazing. I love when he meets the couple who admits they are shallow and empty.

“Darling, I’ve been killing spiders since I was 30.”

Hapy to see Alvy and Annie get back together. Didn’t think I would care that much about this fake romantic relationship.

It took an hour and seven minutes, but Paul Simon is here and I am thrilled. I saw his name in the opening credits. Paul Simon makes everything better.

I imagine the scene where Woody Allen sneezes and blows the cocaine everywhere was the first of its kind, since I have feel like I have seen that at least three other times.

Woody Allen calling the laugh track “immoral” is amazing. And I totally agree.

Case in point.

I’m not taking many notes because I’m just soaking in all the great lines. But Paul Simon’s character going to the Grammys is a funny little self-aware touch. Speaking of funny, Woody Allen trying to drive.

——

What a great movie.  There is no action here, no great sense of adventure, no plot twist, no one memorable scene, no overuse of music, no slow-motion – just lots of talking.  I don’t know if I’ve seen five movies in my life with better dialogue than Annie Hall.  I certainly can’t think of one off the top of my head.  I was unfairly upset at Annie Hall for a bit since it unfairly beat out Star Wars for Best Picture at the 1978 Oscars (and let’s face it, nothing should have beat out Star Wars) but it’s absolutely a deserving winner as well.I’ll probably buy this one.  Woody’s latest, Midnight in Paris, was my favorite film of 2011, and this is certainy a notch up on Midnight in Paris.  Thoroughly enjoyable.

Hey, speaking of Midnight in Paris

From Woody Allen to Woody Allen we go.  Jason, you get the 2011 version of the world’s most neurotic director for next week.  Bonne chance.

Chiefs Culture Challenge: The Nutrition Diva

Who is that woman playing piano?  Or is it a guy in long hair and heels?  Liberace?

 

Kevin has decided that I, evidently, don’t eat well enough nor do I feel fabulous enough.  This week, my challenge was to listen to a podcast called “The Nutrition Diva:  Quick and Easy Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous.”  Kevin claims this podcast was randomly selected.  I believe him.  It was randomly selected from his iTunes.

 

The most recent episode is the one I caught.  It’s entitled “Mastering the Art of French Eating.”  Creme brulee sounds nice.

 

The diva, whomever she is, seems like a very welcoming woman.  She has a soft voice which very easily could be your tour guide through Tomorrowland.  She’s evidently spent the last few weeks in France.  This has led her to attempt to “adopt the French attitude toward food.”  30 seconds in, all I’ve learned is that the French have a lower obesity rate than we do.  Great.  Low-hanging fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She has just told me–in a very appalled tone–that I am going to be shocked when I find out how much butter and cream is involved in haute cuisine.  Can’t wait.

 

We’re 96 seconds in and the woman has simply called the French pigs.  Nothing with a “little heart healthy icon” on a menu there, according to the diva.  Sorry, self-proclaimed diva.

 

This is the first time anyone has ever uttered the phrase “in my recent episode on coconut oil.” I have a feeling this will start a trend of coconut oil pordcast references.

 

…”you might remember her book ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’”…come to think of it, I don’t.  And I never will.  Who writes these books?  Who reads them?  Who doesn’t burn them accidentally in a campfire?

 

Here’s the deal: The French don’t snack.  Ever.  That’s what I learned.  The art of French eating is to use a lot of butter and never snack.  I feel like a master of French eating. In six minutes and two seconds.

 

So, in order to prepare a French meal for Opening Day, I will:

 

1) Go to the grocery store

2) Ignore the snack food aisle

3) Buy lots of butter

4) Eat what I buy

 

 

Looks fantastic.  Thanks, nutrition diva.  Dig in.

 

 

 

 

Please check out the February 3rd episode, dear readers.  And let us know what you think.  It’s your own culture challenge:  http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com/creamy-mushroom-soup.aspx

 

Next week on the Culture Challenge….

 

We go to the Top 100 Films of all time, according to the American Film Institute.  Kevin fancies himself to be sardonic and irreverent.  And so, he will review a movie that is rather sardonic and irreverent.  It’s the Woody Allen/Diane Keaton classic from 1977, Annie Hall.  Kevin’s review next week….as long as it doesn’t get ravaged by Cossacks.

 

Send us your challenge ideas:  jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com or kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

 

Jason

 

Chiefs Culture Challenge: Subway Pizza vs. Domino’s Sandwiches

Clever selection by JB this week.  And it’s one I was pleased to see – I had already completed half of the challenge many times over, and the other half required me to eat at one of my favorite food places.  Is there any way this could go wrong?  Find out next…on Masterpiece Theatre.

Sorry, wait, where were we?

Oh, right, food.  This week’s assignment was to compare pizza from a sandwich place (Subway) and sandwiches from a pizza place (Domino’s).  This, of course, assumes Domino’s is actually a “pizza” place, which I believe to be a misleading headline.  Domino’s pizza is actually terrible and has been made worse over the past few years, even though the thought of it always tastes good at around 1:45 AM on a Friday night during your junior year.  Then the reality sinks in to the tune of somewhere around 12 dollars.

Anyway, I began searching for an alternative somewhere around those junior years in my four-person Watson Hall suite, and discovered the unbridled joy that is the Domino’s chicken parmesan sandwich.  To the shock and surprise of anyone who has ever ordered Domino’s, these things actually taste like a real sandwich.  A greasy, lathered in unhealthy nonsense sandwich, to be sure, but a real, actual sandwich!  I’ve always found that the Domino’s chicken parm sandwich is best enjoyed with a small bag of Lay’s potato chips and a “dessert” order of CinnaStix.  One word of caution: this is a really bad way to start your night if you have any other plans, because you will not want to move immediately after.

To eat the chicken parm sandwich, I placed an order to Domino’s.  This would have been much easier up in Syracuse, as “Dominos SU” is the name of a contact in my phone.  I think it must be a Domino’s rule that you have to get food delivered – has anyone actually ever been inside a Domino’s “restaurant”?  Has anyone ever sat down and eaten there?  I’ve probably ordered from Domino’s at least 50 times, 49 of which were in college, and never once have I stepped inside an actual building.  For the sake of my personal health, this is probably a good thing.

Hey, is that a Gateway 98 system?

So the Subway pizza was the scary part of this assignment.  My assignment started today, when one of my friends and I were discussing the challenge – but we weren’t sure if the nearest Subway by my house actually carried pizza.  I’ve been to Subway at least 200 times, I’d imagine, and never once have I thought to order a pizza.  In fact, never once have I seen anyone actually order a pizza.  Matters were only made worse when we looked at the subway.com menu to find no evidence of pizza.  Alas, I thought, this half of the challenge might have a shorter lifespan than Rob Gronkowski’s post-Super Bowl shirt.

But onward I trekked to the store (which is basically a 60-second ride, not exactly a trek) to find that yes, Virginia, there is a Subway personal pizza!  (TM)  For the low, low price of five dollars, I could acquire a personal Subway cheesy delight.  I walked up to the counter, still unsure if the food actually existed outside of the poster displaying it, and asked the woman behind the counter “can I have…a…pizza?”  She then turned and disappeared into the back for about two minutes.  I imagine at this point she was doing one of three things: a) trying to conceal her hysterical laughter, b) going into the secret pizza room in the dungeon, or c) crouching under a dresser drawer to dust off the most recent pizza from two years ago.

Either way, the pizza – a round, four-slice personal one – came saran-wrapped.  Good start.  The woman behind the counter (we’ll call her Anastasia, for absolutely no reason at all) then turned on the oven.  Which was an interesting choice…since she didn’t use the oven for anything.  She unwrapped the pizza and put it in the microwave.  Alllllrighty then.

Hey! I paid 5 bucks! What a ripoff!

Two women came up on line behind me, and I then hurriedly ordered a six-inch sandwich, to avoid embarrassment and also give myself an edible option post-pizza.  The pizza came out of the microwave, and Anastasia placed it in a Subway pizza box, which amazingly was not from 2007.  I took it home after walking by the two women, one of whom said to her compatriot “they have pizza here?”  I know, right?

But what of the taste?  Well…it was fine.  The same level of taste you’d expect from a mushy Celeste pizza for one made in the home oven, really.  It reminded me slightly of Pizza Hut, which is never a good thing, because I don’t think I’ve eaten at Pizza Hut since age six.  All in all, I’m still standing, but there was really nothing to recommend about this.  In the category of things I never thought I’d say in any context…advantage, Domino’s.

—–

JB, you’re up next, and it’s on to the podcast world for you.  I know you’re a big follower of This American Life and other podcasts, so maybe we can add a new one to your repertoire, as randomly selected from http://www.podcast.com.  (Actual website.)

Your assignment: let me know how you enjoy the popular podcast The Nutrition Diva: Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous.  Choose from such episodes as “What are Nightshades and Do They Cause Inflammation?”, “Will Eating Breakfast Help You Lose Weight?”, and of course, “Is Chewing Ice Bad For You?”  (Goodness, I hope not.)

Check it out here: http://www.podcast.com/S-1167.htm

Love to hear from you out there as always…shoot over your ideas to kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com or jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com.  Best idea wins an arbitrary prize to be decided later.

Chiefs Culture Challenge: Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

Hello all, Jason here.  We are just about two months away from first pitch on April 5th between the Chiefs and Rochester Red Wings.  Follow us on Twitter @ChiefsRadio for news on the roster as spring training begins….but for now….

For those of you joining the Culture Challenge in progress, each week either me or Kevin selects something for the other to try.  Music, movies, TV shows, food, books.  It’s all on the table.

This week, I’ve been dispatched to Manchester, England circa 1995 to review Oasis’ hit LP (What’s the Story) Morning Glory.  As of seven days ago, I knew–and enjoyed–two songs on this album.  That number is significantly higher today.

First, an aside.  Oasis is–much to Kevin’s sadness–no longer together.  Three years ago, Oasis founder Liam Gallagher found himself at sixes and sevens with the group’s lead guitarist.  That lead guitarist also happens to be Liam’s brother Noel.

Here’s Noel’s account (via the music muckrakers at Huffington Post):

“I’ve never had enough of Oasis. Our own relationship was never as bad as people made out, but it wasn’t, we weren’t like milli Vanilli… what that means, I don’t know. It kind of all started to unravel, if I’m being honest, when he started his clothing label, and demanded that in the Oasis tour program, that he be allowed to advertise it, which I was against. I didn’t think that it was right for him to be flogging his gear to our fans, and there was a massive row about that. And it kind of went back and forth for a bit, as I remember it, and I said alright, and if you want to advertise in the program, how much? And he couldn’t get his head around that…”

There’s more, but the most entertaining portion of the fight is this:

“And on the way out he picked up a plum and he threw it across the dressing room and it smashed against the wall. Part of me wishes it did end like that, that would have been a great headline.”

Not quite....

As an aside, the end of Oasis–and some of the group’s music–is reminiscent of the fate of Charlie Pace and his brother in the television series “Lost.”  Charlie is one of the castaways on the original Oceanic Airlines flight which crashed into the original island on the show.  Charlie and his brother–both British–co-founded an alternative rock band called Drive Shaft.  In the end, the group broke up because of familial infighting between the two siblings.  Charlie’s brother’s name, by the way, was Liam…hmmm….

Liam and Noel are Oasis no more, so fans have to slake their thirst with musical stopping points from the past.   Morning Glory does the trick, I’d say.  Seventeen years later, a review with special emphasis on the lyrics.

For the last few days, I’ve been letting this album play while I do random things.   Let’s face it, listening to an album all the way through is the only way to do it.

When I put the CD on,  I thought “Wonderwall”–one of two songs I knew–was first.  The guitar in the first 12 seconds is rather similar.  Then, a wonky hornish sound blares and the driving beat takes us into “Hello”:

“We live in the shadows and we had the chance and threw it away
And it’s never gonna be the same
’cause the years are falling by like the rain
And it’s never gonna be the same
Till the life I knew comes to my house and says
Hello”

The hard-charging guitar masks some terribly depressing words.  It’s all gone.  Everything.  Until something random happens.  Then it’s back.  Hi.

This is one of the catchiest Track Ones I’ve heard in a while.  It’s one of the top four Stick-in-your-Head tracks on the CD of 12.

Before we go any further, it needs to be said that there are really only 10 tracks on this disc.  Track 6 is called “The Swamp Song (Version 1)” and is 45 seconds.  Track 11 is labeled “The Swamp Song (Version 2)” and is 41 seconds total.  Each is an instrumental.  You know how NPR plays music after its stories to give listeners a chance to digest?  That must be what the Swamp Songs are for.

I'm Robert Siegel...in a hat...

They must not be terribly important–Kevin, the self-proclaimed Oasis “fanboy” doesn’t even have them on his iPod.

On we go….

Track 4, Don’t Look Back in Anger is eminently pun-able.  Plus, it’s got some superb opening lyrics:

“Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don’t you know you might find
A better place to play”

While this could also apply to a team (say the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees), it gives us all individually hope to change our thoughts.  Well done.  Also, there’s:

“Take me to the place where you go
Where nobody knows if it’s night or day
Please don’t put your life in the hands
Of a Rock n Roll band
Who’ll throw it all away”

Prescient.  But, to be fair, Oasis didn’t throw “it all” away.  Just a piece of fruit.

Track 8, Cast No Shadow, is accented by some rather haunting background singers.  “As they took his soul, they took his pride” in the chorus carries along with it some falsetto Dan Brown backup work.  It seems to be both angelic and demonic:

The title track might be the Stick-in-your-Headiest of the bunch that I’d not heard.  It sounds like it could easily be an alternate theme to some little-watched Saturday AM teen dramedy.  Like Hang Time.

Let’s be honest, though.  The reason this album is lovely and memorable is the Pippen-Jordan-esque combo of Wonderwall and Champagne Supernova.

Listen to the eerie but clean run of the vocal in “landslide.”  Spectacular.

“Backbeat, the word is on the street that the fire in your heart is out.”  “Maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me….”

We all want a Wonderwall, don’t we? (Awwwwwww……)

Great album.  If you haven’t listened to it recently (or ever), it totally holds up.  Flip it on.  You’ll enjoy.

As yet, we haven’t tried out any food on the Culture Challenge.  Let’s change that.

Have you all been to Subway recently?  Have you looked in the crannies of the menu?  Subway, in a fit of integration, has decided to serve pizza.

Domino’s Pizza, seemingly to counter, has opted to invent sandwiches.  Rook to E5, indeed.

Who will win?  Subway Italiano?  Or the Domino’s Deli?

Kevin tells us.  Next week on the Culture Challenge!

——

Email us your consumption ideas.  Find us at jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com or kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Chiefs Culture Challenge: The Music from “Cats”

I’m scared about this one.  Jason, for those of you who don’t know (likely everyone), is a musical maven.  We’ve listened to tracks from Rent and Avenue Q and quite a few others on road trips, as Broadway soundtracks make up a good chunk of his iPod.  So when JB told me to review the music from Cats, I figured he, as a musical aficionado, was a fan of it.  Then he said he had never seen the play and didn’t understand why it ran for as long as it did.  Oh.  Well, here goes nothing…

Cats is the second-longest running play in Broadway history.  It is also based off of a T.S. Eliot book, which makes sense in some other world.  I do not recall anyone ever telling me they have seen Cats, however, despite its longevity.  But my mom (it’s a good culture challenge when you defer to your mom for advice) told me the most famous song from the musical was titled Memory.  We’ll start there…

Fun fact: Barry Manilow covered this song!  Therefore, Jason would like it.  It’s easy to see why this is the big show-stopper of the play – it’s sung from the vantage point of a person, er, cat, who seems to be reminiscing about the good old times.  But that’s a universal theme of sorts, and this is a song that has no allusions to cats or feline life or nature.

Would Jason like this? Absolutely.

Next, there is a song on the right side of the page called “Rum Tug Tugger.”  Obviously, I have to choose this next, because when else do you get to listen to a song called “Rum Tug Tugger”?

So this starts with a cat that looks like Mick Jagger jumping out and growling.  He then dances like Mick Jagger.  Here is the first stanza of the song:

“If you offer me pheasant I’d rather have grouse
If you put me in a house I would much prefer a flat
If you put me in a flat then I’d rather have a house
If you set me on a mouse then I only want a rat
If you set me on a rat then I’d rather chase a mouse”

I am continually told that the Rum Tum Tugger is a “curious” cat.  Yep.  Curious works.  This is not particularly good-sounding, and it is hideous to look at.

Would Jason like this? About as much as eating a mouse.

Next, by randomly chosen on-the-side-of-YouTube selection: “Macavity: The Mystery Cat.”

This is a totally different sound from the Rum Tum Dum Dum Tugger Tailor Soldier Spy fellow…the previous one is an upbeat, electric guitar and horn-filled romp.  Not good, but a romp.  This is a slow-burning jazz-y spy-sounding theme.  It has a neat instrumental sound behind it, and the singer is competent and less David Bowie-esque here.  The song rhymes with “Macavity” with “gravity,” which surprisingly works.  I feel sufficiently intrigued about the whereabouts and doings of this Macavity follow after this.  Of course, none of makes sense outside of the musical, but it’s not that bad.

Would Jason like this? On a good day.

Next up, because I can’t believe this is a real title: “Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer.”

Really, do not adjust your computer screen.  Those are words.  (Or at least pretending to be.)

These two, I’m told in the lyrics, are notorious cats.  There’s also a ridiculous British accent that’s employed by one or both of the cats at times.  The tempo picks up after about sixty seconds – and so does the horrendous accent usage.  And then it slows down after 30 seconds.  What is happening here?

Would Jason like this? Oy, ah don’t ratfully thank so.  Et’s blimey bloodey rubbish, et is.

OK, one more…”The Old Gumbie Cat.”  Perhaps this is similar to “My Old Kentucky Home”, or “Old McDonald Had A Farm”, or the theme song from “Gumby.”  Let’s hope it’s the latter.

Well, any hope of this blog post ending in a strong fashion is completely shot after the following opening lyrics:

“I have a Gumbie Cat in mind
Her name is Jennyanydots”

By the way, this is not sung in a wink-wink kind of tone…it is totally straight-faced and dramatic.  Also, this video has 101 likes and 3 dislikes on YouTube.  What are you doing, America?  Oh, another profound lyric…

“She sits, and sits, and sits and sits!
And that’s what makes a Gumbie Cat…and that’s what makes a Gumbie Cat!”

Then a bunch of lady cats join in.  I should mention that first part was sung by a man, which is the first time that’s happened in any of these songs.  I really can’t listen to this one anymore.  It’s quite bad.

Would Jason like this? Did Mitt Romney want to release his tax returns?

——-

In summation, this was a better ratio than I expected: two songs that I enjoyed, three that I really did not.   Now I don’t want to entirely bash the musical because of it, because I’m sure it all makes sense in a connected-story type of fashion.  But let’s just say I won’t be clawing my way to the front of the line for Cats any time soon.

(Get it?  Clawing?  That was a joke.  This is a statement of that fact.)

——-

I’ve been a bit mean so far in the challenge, infiltrating Nic Cage and Rob Schneider on the world: so now I’ll play nice.  Jason, your next task is to listen to perhaps my favorite album of all-time, and one from my favorite band: Oasis’ (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory.  It’s part of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums Of All-Time (#376) and probably a top three album for anyone who lives in Great Britain.  If you don’t like this one, I might work for free this year.  (I say might because you went to law school, and I’m not taking any chances with that one.)

As always, shoot your ideas over.  We want ‘em.  We need ‘em.  kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com or jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com will do the trick.

KB

Chiefs Culture Challenge: ¡Rob!

Thanks for stopping by our blog…..less than 80 days until the opener.  You’re just in time for another edition of the Chiefs Culture Challenge, where Kevin Brown and I select shows, flicks, food, books and music for the other to try and review.

This week, Kevin shipped me off to America’s Most Watched Network.  Or so CBS says.

This review may come off as patently offensive.  But, I can’t really help it if the show I’m reviewing—a show on network television in 2012—is patently offensive.  I really can’t believe this show exists.    On CBS, for the time being, is…..

¡Rob!

The truly outlandish thing is….the title itself is offensive.

Here’s the first line of the pilot:

“If getting married impulsively was a bad idea, Vegas wouldn’t have chapels open at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Spoken by Rob Schneider to his impromptu Latina wife, this sets up a veritable piñata full of stereotype-driven  hijinks.

By the way, we should have known this was coming, what with Schneider’s turn on Saturday Night Live when NAFTA was first birthed?

Schneider does free trade
Here’s the premise:  Schneider marries Latina girl on a whim in Vegas.  A day after they get home, Latina wife wants to tell parents that she’s gotten married.  Schneider is afraid to meet Latino family because he’s as genuinely Mexican as a ballpark churro.


Here’s the list of the jokes that couldn’t exist without some good, ol’ fashioned south-of-the-border flavor:

1)    “These people, they’re all Mexican?”—Rob Schneider, to his wife, just shy of the door at her family’s place.  Evidently, this is a problem for Rob.  As he walks in to meet the family, he is awed by the size of the family.  This leads him to claim that he feels like he is at “a Julio Iglesias concert.”  Most importantly, Rob recognizes that the dip for the chips is called “guacamole.”  A proud moment for all of us American viewers.

2)    Cheech Marin is the father.  Need a Latino old man?  Cheech is available!  He’s become more generic than a daytime courtroom show.   His character claims to have 100 workers at his business, 3 of which “have social security numbers.”

3)    Uncle Hector.  He’s visiting for the weekend (“I’m not leaving.  Ever,” he whispers to Rob).  He also wants to borrow 7200 dollars.  And, late in the episode, he’s found in a room after a party ends nursing a goblet of sangria.  Oh, a freeloader.  I see.

4)    Before the beginning of a dinner party, Rob says “welcome to our casa which means house.”  Cheech notes that the family knows what casa means.

5)    The grandmother doesn’t speak English.  Senior citizen talks only in native tongue.  Low-hanging fruit.

6)    A Selena joke.  As lawyers say, res ipsa loquitor.

7)    Rob asks if the family would like to be called Latino or Hispanic.

8)   Rob drops his phone in the homemade sangria.  That ain’t happening on Family Ties.

Please.  This is utter crap.  Mexican-family-makes Mexican-jokes is more difficult to watch than a Cecil Fielder-John Kruk double steal.

Kevin, once again, you’ve chosen crap for me to consume.  Although, I believe this show would be significantly better with a Nicholas Cage barely-composed entrance (¡Donde esta la biblioteca !  Tell that to the DA!).

I’m going to take the high road and give you something cultured and brilliant to enjoy.  Because I know how much you like musicals, I am going to turn your attention to the longest-running extinct Broadway musical.  Cats.  I’ve never  seen it, but from what I hear it’s right up your alley.  Pets, makeup, dancing.  It has everything.

—————

If you have any suggestions for culture (music, books, food, TV shows or movies) we can forcibly consume, email us at jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com or kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Chiefs Culture Challenge: Cars

Amazingly enough, this is the first time I’d seen Cars – one of just three Pixar movies I have yet to see. The other two – Cars 2 (duh) and somehow, Ratatouille.  Anyway, let’s shut up and drive…

Why does this movie start with a Sheryl Crow song? And why do I know this is Sheryl Crow?

We are introduced to Lightning McQueen, who appears to be our lead character, right at the beginning, when he says something that sounds like “Kuh-ti-chow.” Is that English?

I do love the detail at the racetrack here – Bob Cutlass and Darrell Cartrip as announcers, and the traffic jam at the girl’s bathroom. Plus, Pixar’s cinematography is spectacular, just unparalleled for animated films. The opening car chase scene is astonishingly filmed.

This looks like another Pixar film shot for adults just as much, if not more so, than for kids. The opening race has NASCAR down to a T, right down to the sounds and sights. And I like the heightened intensity and tension that begins this film with the very first scene. Impressive throughout the first ten or so minutes.

Oh, he’s saying “Ka-chow” – I understand now, after it’s been said 26 times in the first 15 minutes.

I’m happy to hear Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway,” especially because the version I downloaded one day randomly skips after a second.

Jeremy Piven voices his agent? Wow, how difficult was this casting? Is there a poor-acting, randomly lucky, fluffy-haired movie star car voiced by Adrian Grenier?

25 minutes in, this may be the least sympathetic main character in a Pixar film yet – I don’t particularly like anything about Lightning. I know that’s kind of the point, but he just seems like a spoiled brat of a car, and the movie has essentially turned into a gag reel here. However – the Jay Limo/Schwarzenegger car-reporter montage immediately after makes it all worth it.

…and then Larry the Cable Guy shows up to ruin everything.

Great court scene, especially with the late, great Paul Newman presiding over it. And Larry the Cable Guy’s car is more amusing than annoying so far. However, why doesn’t Lightning just tell everyone that he’s in a tie for first and has to go to the race? Couldn’t they assign the community service at a later date? Am I overthinking this?

“I think we have too much surplus” is a strong line.

Halfway through, as Lightning continues to fix the town. Impressions so far – funny, beautifully designed, and well-cast. But I’m a bit disturbed by how much Lightning McQueen merchandise is out there – he is a totally unlikeable character so far.

Tractor tipping – what a brilliant concept. As is Mater driving backwards through the Cozy Cone. Can’t help but laugh at the stupidity of that.

Major bonus points here for the use of Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Even if it’s just animation, there are some pretty breathtaking shots here, such as the waterfall on the drive between Lightning and Sally and the view from the Wheel Well. Pixar’s attention to detail in these worlds is second to none. I’m really starting to enjoy this movie – and question how I hadn’t seen it yet.

James Taylor has a song in this movie? Boy, no wonder Jason loves this. I’ll say this – the loss of the town’s viability due to the interstate combined with this song packs the emotional punch I’ve found in every Pixar movie.

How in the world did Lightning fix the neon? I’m going to ignore this plot hole and move right along enjoying the rest of the movie, I hope.
I just realized Michael Keaton voices Chick. Tremendous casting by Pixar – he’s also spectacular in Toy Story 3.

We’ve made it to the climactic race, after Doc *gasp!* tips off the media. I sincerely wonder if Doc’s lesson about turning right to turn left will lead Lightning to a climactic victory here, and I wonder if Doc and/or some of the other cars will show up at the race to help Lightning. I’m just making this prediction out loud right now.

…hey, Doc and the other cars showed up to be his pit crew! Shocking! And the scriptwriters just couldn’t resist a Larry the Cable Guy “Git R Done,” could they?

Well, I didn’t see that ending coming in its entirety, but you figured there would be something different than a mere win.  Which is exactly what the Dinoco guy says at the end.

Satisfying ending, funny characters, beautifully designed film.  Really dug this film, except I could do without the use of “Ka-Chow!” every twenty seconds.  The only thing that could ruin my experience would be an ending John Mayer song…

…NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

——–
Anyway, there’s a new CBS show debuting tonight with Rob Schneider and Cheech Marin in it. This sounds like the worst concept ever, so naturally it’s all yours to review, JB. Your assignment is ¡Rob! – and yes, there are two exclamation points in that.

Don’t forget to send us your ideas at kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com or jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com. I imagine we’ll move away from the TV and movies soon, so feel free to go for books, music or food soon among other things.

Chiefs Culture Challenge: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans

 

Kevin has chosen the movie in the title of the post for me to watch.  I immediately am skeptical of a film with both a colon and a hyphen in its title.  Overuse of punctuation means someone in charge STILL doesn’t know what this movie is actually about, even AFTER taping all of the scenes.

Imagine:

Coca-Cola:  A refreshing–yet sugary–drink:  have a bottle today; gain happiness tomorrow.

That Coke slogan would have kept Crystal Pepsi from flatlining.

 

As a backdrop, here is IMDB’s blurb on this ditty starring Nick Cage and Eva Mendes:

“Terence McDonagh is a drug- and gambling-addled detective in post-Katrina New Orleans investigating the killing of five Senegalese immigrants.”

Gee, sounds like Nick Cage.  Off we go.

The words “feature presentation” just came up.  That’s a stretch.

The opening credits feature a snake slinking through some dark, murky water.  This will, I am certain, become a terrible metaphor or simile.  The snake has now just slipped by a yellow mop bucket.  This leads to the first line of the movie:  “Duffy split.”  Nick Cage sounds positively despondent.

As two men search a locker, the first set of dialogue goes like this:

Cage:  He probably has dirty pictures of his wife.

Other man (searching): He does have dirty pictures of his wife.

Cage:  Yes he does.

Find me a weapon.

In the next scene, Nicholas Cage tells a drowning prisoner that he’s wearing 55-dollar underwear.  Evidently, this movie’s sole purpose is as a referendum on Nicholas Cage’s career.

It’s becoming painfully clear that Andy Samberg’s Nick Cage impersonation is fantastic.

Samberg as Cage

After a while–mostly featuring signs that Cage has the drug problem IMDB alluded to–Cage finds the Senegalese immigrants who have been offed.  He also finds a poem:

My friend is a fish

He live in my room

His fin is a cloud

He see me when I sleep

Read in typical Cagey hushed intensity, this is now my favorite poem, surpassing Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

Next, Cage is at the pharmacy–we can tell because large block lettering above the counter says “prescriptions”–when he gets a call that a drug dealer has been collared.  Cage then goes ballistic on the woman behind the counter, accusing her of making a personal call in some language that the FCC doesn’t appreciate.  After this verbal tirade, he goes on a rather irritated jaunt behind the counter to fill his own pill bottle.  Security is called.  Cage flashes a gun.  Security asks, “If you a cop, then why you actin’ so crazy?”  TNT deems this to not be drama.  They know drama.

“That’s for the DA to decide” is going to be the title of Nick Cage’s biography.   He just said the phrase with such vigor, it’s easy to tell he loves it.  He’s now showing that same energy while being bribed by a street dealer.  Impressive versatility.  Nick Cage is the Rex Hudler of superficial action movies.

 

You know, IMDB mentioned something about a gambling…..yeah, there it is.  Cage strolls into a sports bar and sits at a table occupied by a gray-haired man and his newspapers.  Thank you for all of the hints.  Yes, this is a bookie.

Cage decides on Louisiana -4 against Arkansas.  Seems like an odd bet.  The bookie then says “I got a favor to ask you, my kid got a speeding ticket….”  Cage interrupts and says “I’ll take care of it if you give me half a point.”

This film is filled with “OK, we get it” moments.  It’s got all the subtlety of a Bobcat Goldthwait stand-up show.

Later, Cage enters a room where some other officers are doing surveillance.  Cage sees two iguanas on the coffee table.  He asks why there are iguanas on his coffee table.  He gets this response:  “Ain’t no iguanas.”  This will be the title of my biography.

Please don’t watch this movie.

Now Nick is shaving with an electric razor while interviewing someone.  And now he has taken an old woman’s oxygen away from her in order to interrogate someone else.

When Meatloaf said he’d do anything for love, but he won’t do that….”that” meant watch this movie.

Off to the property room with Nick, now.  He’s been doing too much “cowboy [stuff]“.  Putting drug-stupored Nick Cage in the property room is to a plot what putting Mentos into a soda bottle is to a clean floor.

OK, now Nick has pulled a kid over, taken his marijuana, and bargained with him.  This is the bargain:  The kid’s a college football player for Louisiana.  If the team wins by less than five or loses, the stop never happened.  Wow.

Blah blah blah, shooting, blah blah blah more iguanas, blah blah blah everything works out in the end.  Wait, everything works out in the end?  In this movie?  With the galaxy’s biggest degenerate?  You’ve gotta be kidding me.  He gets a promotion?  Oh my gosh.  That’s like Ryan Leaf being sainted.

This movie gets 0 out of a possible anything.  Kevin says he “loves” this movie.  Kevin will be on culture trial soon.

 

——————-

 

Kevin also claims to really enjoy Pixar movies.  Yet, he hasn’t seen Cars.  This, in my opinion, is a travesty.  Next week on The Challenge, Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater and James Taylor.

 

Send ideas in to us at jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com or kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com.  Tell us what stuff you want us to do….so you don’t have to do it yourself.  Books, TV, movies, food, music…whatever.

 

Jason

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