Friday, November 30, 2007

Cowboys, Itunes, freeway philosophy

The road to the Super Bowl goes through Dallas
NOC Thursday night cheering section.

Some of us had to work Thursday night and didn't get to enjoy the Cowboys' victory over Green Bay. That's ok; if things work out like most of the analysts are predicting, I'll be enjoying Cowboys football well into January, and possibly even a Super Bowl showdown with the hated Patriots. I still don't think Dallas is good enough to beat New England, but I think I'll like the Cowboys' chances against them in February better than I did in October.

Hopefully, the Dallas coaching staff was paying attention during the New England - Philly game a couple Sundays ago, because Philly had actually figured out how to move the ball against them. I don't think the Dallas "D" can stop the Patriots' Brady and Moss and Welker, but the Cowboys might be able to keep pace if they throw a lot of passes up the middle to Jason Witten.

instant gratification

Do you like itunes as much as I do? Ive really been impressed with how easy it is to organize my music with Itunes -- and I'm working with a catalog of thousands of songs. I can set up no end of playlists, not only to install on my ipod but to burn to cd's. And then there's the itunes store, where I can purchase and download music for around 99 cents per song. Beats the hell out of plunking down 18 bucks for the new Foo Fighters cd just to get the one or two decent songs I really want to listen to. And their music selection is nothing short of amazing. I've found songs there that I couldn't find anywhere else. Think of a song -- any song -- and chances are, you can find and download it from itunes.

On Wednesday something prompted me to recall some songs I heard on KTCU, our local college station, a few years ago. One was a cover of the Beastie Boys' "Fight for your right (to party)" performed in a "jazz / lounge music" style... the other was a version of the Oasis song "Wonderwall", covered in similar fashion. (Yes, I'm a big fan of the cheesy cover, whether it's the Dead Kennedys taking on Johnny Paycheck's "Take this job and shove it" or Siouxsie and the Banshees handling "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles. The more overdone and outrageous, the better. ) The thing was, I didn't know who performed them. No problem... a quick search, first on Google, then in the itunes catalog, turned up exactly what I was looking for: "Fight for your right" by lounge-cover guru (ahem) "Richard Cheese", and "Wonderwall" by the Mike Flowers Pops. Ironically, I hated the Oasis version of "Wonderwall" (along with everything else Oasis ever did), but the Mike Flowers cover is kind of catchy and hip -- they make it sound as if it was written to be played in "lounge" style. I just wish I could get their video to this song out of my head... I never should have watched this on youtube, and you shouldn't either....

As far as the Richard Cheese stuff, how in the world did this guy escape my attention all these years? His name is certainly reflective of his work; it's hard to get more "cheesy" (or ridiculous) than his cover of, say... "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot. Check out a few samples on itunes and you'll see what I mean -- if you don't laugh yourself silly. His lounge covers run the gamut from "Like a Virgin" (Madonna) to "Creep" (Radiohead) to "Enter Sandman" (originally by Metallica, with the background harmony from the 1950s classic "Mr. Sandman" added as a twist) -- all of which I'm proud to say are now installed on my itunes.

Anyway, even though it took me a few years to get around to trying to find these songs, when I finally got the ball rolling, the actual process -- from initial search to sound samples to downloads to listening to the complete songs on my own computer -- took no more than about five minutes. If only everything in life were that simple.

Still, and somewhat inexplicably, Itunes doesn't always have everything I'm looking for. But if I can't find a song on itunes, I'm usually lucky enough to find it on ebay. I've been trying to bulk up my collection of early-1990's college / alternative tunes, the stuff I remember hearing during my freshman year of college on KDGE when they actually played stuff more "cutting edge" than Blink 182 . A couple of songs, "Number One Dominator" by Top, and "Here at the home" by Tribe, were unavailable on itunes, but I found both of them on ebay (conveniently with "buy it now" options). A couple of clicks, a payment to Paypal, and three or four days later the cd's were in my mailbox. Not exactly instant gratification, but easier than driving to a half a dozen specialty music stores trying to find the right cd's. How did we ever get by without the internet?

philosophy at 75 mph

Heading back to Massachussetts? Northbound on I-35W...
How do others perceive north Texas? I was pondering that one day a couple weeks ago when a van with Massachussetts plates passed me heading north on I-35W. I was on my way home from lunch; they might have been on their way home, too -- a dozen states away. And I wondered -- does north Texas (its landscape, its people, its roadside scenery) seem as different and strange and wonderful to them as Boston or Wyoming or southern California seemed to me?
np: Reel Big Fish - cover of Duran Duran's "Hungry like the wolf"
nr: John Steinbeck - East of Eden

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