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OK… let’s catch up on this 30 Day Song Challenge Thing…

day 07 – a song that reminds you of a certain event

Song: “I Want An Alien For Xmas”

Band: Fountains of Wayne

Event: Solstice party, my parents’ house, annual event/Christmas Eve, same

I first heard this song in college.  I don’t remember where – it was either something Matt and Jeremy played on U Maine campus radio station WMEB, 91.9 (“Redefining ALTERNATIVE!”) or it was on Napster.  Ah, Napster.  Anyway, it was around Christmas, end of Fall term, I was probably wearing a big long coat and driving to Dysarts.  I know that I definitely *did* come home for Christmas that year with a tape (yes, a tape) of alt-rock and folk Christmas songs that I taped off my computer, which we played while we trimmed the tree. And “I Want An Alien For Xmas” was one of them.

My parents do Christmas really well – they perform music at church and have a big caroling party every year, on Dec. 21 (the winter solstice.)  Everyone hangs out and plays music and drinks hot cider.  If the dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland, the dream of the ’60s is alive, for one night a year, in Westford.  One year – I don’t remember which – I played “I Want An Alien For Xmas.”  The kids loved it.  The grownups loved it.  Somehow, it became The Song I played every single year.   Well, that and “The Christians and the Pagans”, which has become another wonderful tradition.

But I hear “Alien For Xmas” by Fountains of Wayne and I think of my godfather’s kids, Rebecca and Maria and Sandra, jumping up and down and asking me to play it each year with joy and wide-eyed wonder in their eyes and hearts.  It should be noted that Rebecca now works for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Sandra has a MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and Maria is a college sophomore.  I kind of accidentally started a tradition.

I also think of my grandmother – I definitely played it for her for the first time in December of 2001.  She adored it, and every year, on her birthday, which happened to be December 24, she insisted I play it.

day 08 – a song that you know all the words to

song: “We Didn’t Start The Fire”

artist: Billy Joel

really?:  yep.

No real story here – I’m just bragging.

By the way – this song might sound like just a list of stuff, but it’s way better written than you think it is.  You know why Billy ends the first verse with “Satayana, goodbye!”?


OK, so,  Billy’s doing the typical baby boomer thing of thinking it’s all about him and his generation, so he’s listing all the historical and cultural events he can think of since the year of his birth, 1948.  By the end of the first verse, it’s 1952, Billy’s four years old, England’s got a new queen, Rocky Marciano’s the champ, Liberace’s a star, and Satayana’s dead.

Who the hell is Satayana?

George Satayana.  Spanish-American writer and philosopher.  Came up with that immortal phrase “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Which is the whole point of “We Didn’t Start The Fire.”   Billy’s intentionally dropping an obscure reference he hopes you’ll look up, and when you do, you’ll figure it out, man.  And he gets there at the end of the first verse! Pretty cool.

day 09 – a song that you can dance to

song: “Borneo”

artist: Firewater

can you dance to it?: Totally. And so can you.

day 10 – a song that makes you fall asleep

song: “Neon Sky Rain”

artist: Vector Lovers

sleep in a good way?: Oh yes.  This is wonderfully calm, blippy, ambient electro.  Enjoy.

day 11 – a song from your favorite band

song: “Sing”

artist: The Dresden Dolls

First saw them in 2003,  the year they won the Rock and Roll Rumble.  Thought that, with Amanda’s songwriting and Brian’s drumming and the whole aesthetic, they had the potential to be cult heroes.  Saw them with an audience of about 50 people at the late, lamented SkyBar.  Saw them with an audience of about 30 people playing a radio show.  Saw them in the basement of the Middle East back when you could smoke in bars in Cambridge.  Saw their CD release party at the Paradise.   Saw them play bigger and bigger venues, like Avalon and The Roxy.  Two years later, saw them open for Nine Inch Nails at the Orpheum.  The year after that they were touring the world.  Amanda Palmer released one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2008 on her own, became a social media icon/genius, and married Neil Gaiman.

There’s something really gratifying about being right.
day 12 – a song from a band you hate

song: “She Loves Me Not”

artist: Papa Roach

For some reason, I can’t access any of my original comments from Facebook past Day 20, but I think I said something like “the perfect song to listen to you while you lurk in a trailer park with a sock full of pennies because that b***h owes you money and tonight, she’s gonna pay, man.”  Which was icky and violent, but totally sums up how I feel about this band: they always seemed to me like they were about to go beat their wives.

day 13 – a song that is a guilty pleasure

song: “Part Of Your World”

artist: Skye Sweetnam

Oh, come on: this cover totally rocks.  Sure, it’s from Disney Mania 3 or some such evil thing, but holy crumbs it’s good.

(to be continued)

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Posted by on March 12, 2011 in music, self-aggrandization, youtube


30 Day Song Challenge: Day 6 – A Song That Reminds You Of Somewhere

Day 6

Theme: A Song That Reminds You Of Somewhere

Artist: Guster

Song: “Parachute”

Where: Exploration Summer Program, 1995 and 1996 (or Explo ’95/’96)

Already wrote about this song here.



30 Day Song Challenge: Day 2 – My Least Favorite Song

Day 2

Theme: Your Least Favorite Song

Artist: Aaron Neville and Linda Rondstadt

Song: “I Don’t Know Much (But I Know I Love You)”

“I don’t know much, but I know I love yooooou…”

After writing a dissertation about my favorite song, I was going to keep my comments on my least favorite song down to just one word.  And I really, really tried, but the only word that came to mind wasn’t a word at all – it was more of a low, guttural noise that sounds like I’m barfing up my own vocal chords.  Coincidentally, that’s the exact noise I make whenever I hear this treacle-stuffed ode to stupid people in love.
Also, Aaron Neville’s voice has always bothered me.
“I may sing like I have suffered a chronic head injury, but I know I love yoooou…”

Ugh.  This song is bloody awful.  “Look at these dreams/so beaten and so battered.”  Dreams aren’t physical objects.  If you’re referring to them as such, you’d better have a pretty solid metaphor to hang it on.  Shattered dreams works.  Beaten and battered just doesn’t.   Oh, and they just repeat the damn chorus over and over and over and over and ARGH!

“I may be a low-functioning adult, but I know I love yooou…”
I never liked this song.  Ever.  This song always made me want to punch things.  I’m sorry.

This song came out in 1989 – the absolute worst year for pop music in history, ever.   You people think it’s bad now?  1989 was infinitely worse.   You know what the #1 song of 1989 was?  “Look Away” by Chicago.   The top 40 songs of the year featured four – count ’em, FOUR – songs by Milli Vanilli.

However, the fact that a black guy and a white girl are singing a love duet to each other here says a lot about how far we’d come as a society, even then.  Just ten years before this song came out, you couldn’t have shown this performance in certain parts of the south.  It says a lot about us as a people that, today, the only thing that bothers us about this song is that it fucking sucks.


30 Day Song Challenge #1: Your Favorite Song

This is a Facebook meme, but I’m posting commentary here (for as long as I remember to do so or feel like it).  Every day, you post a song based on a pre-determined theme.  The rules are over here.  My notes, and the song, are right here.

Day #1

Theme: Your Favorite Song

Band: The Cure

Song: “Doing The Unstuck” (live)

I used to hate The Cure.  That just looks wrong, doesn’t it?  Andy used to hate The Cure.  It’s like saying Coke once wanted to taste more like Pepsi, and Ricky Gervais used to sing in a bad pop band.  And yet, these things are all true.

My first exposure to The Cure was when I was nine, and I saw the “Lullaby” video.  It freaked me out.  The video features Robert Smith, lying in bed, while a big furry thing eats him and the rest of the band play olde tyme instruments dressed like Civil War soldier ghosts, bedecked in cobwebs.  Meanwhile, Robert sings about how the spider man is having you for dinner tonight, and how his tongue is in your eyes and oh god it was weird.  This was not your friendly neighborhood spider man he was talking about.  I hated the Cure.

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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in 30 day song challenge, music, nostalgia, youtube


songs you don’t know: Hatsume Miku, “World Is Mine”

The song isn’t important here – it’s basically random Japanese pop.   The clip, however, is.   It’s a rare day when one actually catches a glimpse of the future – and, for better or for worse, this is probably the future.  The horrible future.  The horrible, hideous, no-good future.

No, seriously, watch this.

Yeah.  I know.

However, just imagine the possibilities if this technology was ever used for good.

By which I obviously mean: George Harri-Gram and John LennonBot.

Oh, who am I kidding?  You know who the first dead celebrity’s gonna be that they drag, kicking and screaming back from the grave to dance for our pleasure?  I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

Apparently, Michael Jackson had his body scanned during the ’90s, and I don’t mean by the police, looking for “identifying marks” 0n his naughty bits.  No, he had his body literally turned into a hologram.   There was even a rumor, last year, that the big series of concerts MJ was supposed to play in London before he died would happen after all… in holographic form, anyway.

Whether you think watching Holo-MJ dancing with Real Justin Timberlake would be an awesome way to spend an evening or not… I think it’s safe to say that the future has landed with a horrid thud.




niiice!: Atari commercial with Santa Claus (1984 or so)

What, you’re back?  It’s been TEN MONTHS.  Were you ever going to call?

Yeah, well, I got wrapped up in stuff.  Whatever.

Oh.  STUFF.  I see.  What in HEAVEN’S name were you doing this whole time?



Now, really, what I *shoulda* gone and done, is written one of those posts that said “Well, we’re taking a break from the action here at ol’ Geek USA….” but that takes time, and really, I had MUSICALS to write and RADIO PRODUCIN’ to do.  Things have calmed down somewhat, I’m back, etc.

Now, then…

Job willin’… (I gave up saying “God willin'” a while ago because, if God had intended us to blog, He would have added an eighth day onto the week – “and on the Eighth day, ye shall wallow in self-indulgence and fruitless nostalgia”, and really, it has nothing to do with God and everything to do with Job.  No, not “Job”, like the guy whose wife got turned into a salt lick.  JOB, like the thing you do to make money.  Although a lot of crap happened to “Job”, and when a lot of crap happens to you, it’s really hard to set aside time to blog about it.  Especially when a lot of stuff happens to you at your JOB.   Which is why, coming full circle here, if God had intended us to blog, He would have set up Bloggerday, right between Friday and Saturday.  You could also use Bloggerday to sometimes recover from Friday night without wasting all of Saturday in bed.   Taking a day off to recover from a hangover is probably the most self-indulgent thing anyone could possibly ever do, with the exception of taking a day off to masturbate.  As the only people who’d ever take a whole day off to masturbate are kind of gross and pervy anyway, and I don’t want them reading my blog, I’m not going to indulge them with anything more than the teensiest mention.   Go away, sketchy people.  Eww.  Where was I?)

Job willing… I should be able to do my annual Christmas special thingy again this year.  Until then, I’d like to treat you to the following commercial.   It’s a Christmas themed Atari commercial that takes place on a futuristic spaceship in the future.   Apparently, Santa Claus can find you anywhere, even in the somber chill of deep space.  In space, no one may be able to hear you scream, but Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake, Spaaaaaaaaace Cadet.  (Yes, that was an Alien/Burl Ives/Gorf reference.  I’M BACK, BABY!)

You’ll note how this is secretly a commercial for the failed Atari 5200 console.  You’ll also note that the sets and special effects are at least twice as good as Doctor Who’s were in the mid-80s.


Posted by on November 8, 2010 in games, nostalgia, Uncategorized, War on Xmas!, youtube


songs you don’t know: “Apologize (Revolutionary War version)”

Some amazing people, with too much time on their hands and access to some nifty costumes, did this parody of the OneRepublic tune “Apologize”, but, you know, about the American Revolution and stuff.   Enjoy.  Happy day-after-the-4th!

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Posted by on July 5, 2010 in history, music, youtube