21 July 2010

Shuffle sessions, 21 July

Shuffle #1 (11AM) 5 songs that pretty much reveal the diversity of my playlist.
- Hall & Oates: "Kiss on My List" (Voices, 1980) *1980s, pop, East Coast (Philadelphia)
- Fleetwood Mac: "Landslide" (Fleetwood Mac, 1975) *1970s, acoustic, rock, UK
- The Notorious B.I.G.: "Me & My Bitch" (Ready to Die, 1994) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Alice in Chains: "No Excuses" (Jar of Flies, 1994) *1990s, alt/indie, grunge, West Coast (Seattle)
- The Black Dahlia Murder: "When the Last Grave Has Emptied" (Unhallowed, 2005) *2000s, death metal, Midwest (Waterford/Detroit, MI)

Shuffle #2 (1PM) organized by genre and (!) ethnicity (3 straight songs from African-American artists; then 3 straight rock songs). Two British songs.
- Pink Floyd: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Pts. 6-11" (Wish You Were Here, 1975) *1970s, progressive rock, UK
- Ray Charles: "What'd I Say" (What'd I Say, 1959) *1950s, jazz, soul, rock, African-American, South (Leesburg, GA)
- Jimi Hendrix: "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (Electric Ladyland, 1968) *1960s, rock, psychadelic, African-American, UK
- Lil Wayne: "A Milli" (Tha Carter III, 2008) *2000s, hip hop, South (New Orleans), African-American
- She & Him: "I Was Made for You" (Volume One, 2008) *2000s, alt/indie, West Coast (Portland, OR)
- Staind: "Just Go" (Dysfunction, 1999) *1990s, post-grunge, alt metal, East Coast (Springfield, MA)
- Maroon 5: "Makes Me Wonder" (It Won't Be Soon Before Long, 2007) *2000s, rock, West Coast (Los Angeles)

Shuffle #3 (4PM) all but 1 were hip hop, and mostly from the 90s
- Public Enemy: "911 Is a Joke" (Fear of a Black Planet, 1990) *1990s, hip hop, political, East Coast (Philadelphia)
- Steve Miller Band: "Baby's House" (Your Saving Grace, 1969) *1960s, rock, West Coast (San Francisco)
- Public Enemy: "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" (Fear of a Black Planet, 1990) *1990s, hip hop, political, East Coast (Philadelphia)
- Kid Cudi featuring Kanye West and Common: "Make Her Say" (Man in the Moon: The End of Day, 2009) *2000s, hip hop, Midwest (Cleveland; Chicago)
- Nas featuring Dr. Dre: "Nas Is Coming" (It Was Written, 1996) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC), West Coast (LA)

Shuffle #4 (5PM) Now all but 1 were metal (from outside US)
- Lacuna Coil: "Our Truth" (Karmacode, 2006) *2000s, goth metal, Italy
- Soulfly: "Back to the Primitive" (Primitive, 2000) *2000s, alt metal, Brazil
- A Tribe Called Quest: "Buggin' Out" (The Low End Theory, 1991) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Kataklysm: "Cripped & Broken" (In the Arms of Devestation, 2006) *2000s, death metal, Canada

20 July 2010

More adventures in shuffling

Shuffle #1 (around 11AM): bounced between the '90s and '00s and all from the Eastern or Southern US
- Death: "Symbolic" (Symbolic, 1995) *1990s, death metal, South (Orlando)
- Anti-Flag: "The Project for a New American Century" (For Blood and Empire, 2006) *2000s, punk, East Coast (Pittsburgh)
- The Notorious B.I.G.: "Unbelievable" (Ready to Die, 1994) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Shadows Fall: "Destroyer of Senses" (The Art of Balance, 2002) *2000s, thrash metal, East Coast (Springfield, MA)
- Eminem featuring Dr. Dre and 50 Cent: "Encore" (Encore, 2004) *2000s, hip hop, Midwest (Detroit), East Coast (NYC), West Coast (LA)
- Wale featuring Weensey and Gucci Mane: "Pretty Girls" (Attention Deficit, 2009) *2000s, hip hop, East Coast (DC), South (Atlanta)

Shuffle #2 (lunchtime): majority being 2000s; bounced between rock and hip hop for a while; all from West Coast/East Coast/Midwest
- Game featuring Bilal: "Cali Sunshine" (LAX, 2008) *2000s, hip hop, West Coast (Los Angeles)
- Bruce Springsteen: "Devils and Dust" (Devils and Dust, 2005) *2000s, rock, acoustic, East Coast (New Jersey near NYC)
- Jay-Z featuring Drake and Timbaland: "Off That" (The Blueprint 3, 2009) *2000s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC), Canada
- System of a Down: "Prison Song" (Toxicity, 2001) *2000s, alt metal, West Coast (LA), political
- Alice in Chains: "Rooster" (Dirt, 1992) *1990s, grunge, West Coast (Seattle), political
- Nas: "Sly Fox" (Untitled, 2008) *2000s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC), political
- Nine Inch Nails: "Survivalism" (Year Zero, 2007) *2000s, alt metal, Midwest (Cleveland), political
- Santana: "Black Magic Woman" (Abraxas, 1970) *1970s, rock, psychadelic, West Coast (San Francisco)
- Smashing Pumpkins: "Cherub Rock" (Siamese Dream, 1993) *1990s, alt/indie, grunge, Midwest (Chicago)

Shuffle #3 (afternoon ride home):
- Jay-Z featuring UGK: "Big Pimpin'" (Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter, 1999) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC), South (Houston)
- Chops featuring Raekwon: "What's Fuckin' Wit' Us" (Virtuosity, 2004): *2000s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Snoop Dogg featuring B-Real: "Vato" (Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, 2006): *2000s, hip hop, West Coast (LA)
- The Beatles: "Yesterday" (Help!, 1965): 1960s, rock, acoustic, UK
- The Black Dahlia Murder: "A Vulgar Picture" (Miasma, 2005): 2000s, death metal, Midwest (Waterford/Detroit, MI)
- Foxy Brown featuring Jay-Z: "I'll Be" (Ill Na Na, 1996): 1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Hall & Oates: "Kiss on My List" (Voices, 1980): 1980s, pop, East Coast (Philadelphia)

14 July 2010

More broad-brush sweeping by the PTC

I have pointed out in previous posts that the Parents Television Council, an organization that advocates cable channel choice, has based its campaign on broad-brush generalizations of cable channels simply because the channel has one offensive show (usually on a late 10PM or later slot):
- In 2008, the PTC recommended "every parent who receives BBC America to look into blocking the channel" because BBC America showed the British drama Skins, which was rated TV-MA and shown at 9PM or later slots generally. However, PTC never addressed other program[me]s on the BBC America network (of course these all being UK-produced shows) that would not be seen as corrupting to youth such as Top Gear, Cash in the Attic, and World News America.
- PTC is no fan of FX's original late primetime shows. Go do a Google search for the following shows: Nip/Tuck, The Shield, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rescue Me, or Louie on the PTC website parentstv.org by adding "site:parentstv.org" (sans the quotations) on a search engine. PTC has plenty of bad things to say about those shows with its usual "your subscription to basic cable helps pay for these smutty shows" line. However, in 2008 and this year FX showed the 2006 film Invincible during primetime...and PTC turned a blind eye (I don't know if it's on purpose in an anti-FX agenda or something) despite having awarded Invincible with its Seal of Approval when the film originally was released to theatres. In 2008 the day before Invincible, FX showed Radio during primetime; PTC awarded that film with the Seal of Approval but never pointed out that FX broadcast Radio.
- This year, PTC seems to be hoping that TBS sinks down under, as it warned families that they would soon be subsidizing Conan O'Brien's next show on TBS with their basic cable subscriptions and named the new TBS animated sitcom Neighbors from Hell the worst cable content of the week last month. I have seen instances where PTC has listed TBS reruns of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond in Email alerts. But things change, and so do attitudes.

Now, PTC founder Brent Bozell's latest column "Art in America" provides a sneak peek of the PTC's next "Worst Cable Content" column.

The Bravo cable network has a new reality show called “Work of Art,” a competition dedicated to finding the next great American artist.

The half-dozen contestants, 20-something aspiring artists all, enter the famous Phillips de Pury art auction house. Mr. de Pury himself ushers them into the special room where they are presented with a collection of paintings by Andres Serrano, the man who came to fame in 1989 with the ghastly photograph, sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts, depicting a crucifix dunked in a jar of urine. They are hugely impressed. The final painting they are shown is just that — the original "Piss Christ." They are in awe, quietly expressing their amazement at the talent. And then the door opens and in steps the master. The students freeze, eyes bright, mouths agape. The curator announces, "the great, great Serrano!" One girl instinctively bows reverently.


And now the contestants are given their assignment: Create a body of art as shocking as that of Serrano. The judges will select the four contestants who will proceed to the next round. More giggles and laughter. Each artist is given a $100 voucher with which to buy supplies.


...a girl, handsomely endowed, takes a batch of pictures of herself wearing only panties. "High art" is how she describes her product. The curator examines her semi-naked pictures, with emphasis on her naked breasts, and deems the display to be "gorgeous." But what the judges would later describe as "brilliant" is her special touch: setting these pictures next to a black felt-tip pen so the gallery audience could scrawl on them whatever graffiti or obscenities they inspire.


There is no outcry because our popular culture is thoroughly rotten.

Wow. Way to provide a generalized bad first impression. Because I can't exactly trust Bozell's opinion column as an unbiased reliable source. The Wikipedia article of the show summarizes other episodes. Three episodes aired before the one that Bozell decries as reflecting America's rotten pop culture:

Episode 1: Self-Reflexive

Air date: June 9, 2010

* Challenge: Create a portrait of one of your fellow artists.

Episode 2: The Shape of Things to Come

Air date: June 16, 2010

* Challenge: Create a sculptural piece from items selected from an electronics graveyard.

Episode 3: Judging a Book By Its Cover

Air date: June 23, 2010

* Challenge: Design a book cover for one of six classic novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Dracula, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Time Machine.

So I guess a competition to design book covers for classic novels and create a sculpture from electronic waste threaten traditional values as much as the smutty fourth episode titled "A Shock to the System" (from June 30) that Bozell overanalyzed for all his readers to see. The challenged in the episode that aired the week after that one, "Art That Moves You", is summarized as "[c]reate a work of art based on your Audi experience". By the way, if you still need proof beyond the open-editing Wikipedia, here's the official Bravo show site.

In its "About Us" page Bravo describes itself as "the first television service dedicated to film and the performing arts when it launched in December 1980". During the '80s and '90s, Bravo used to have classic films, jazz music, and stage plays as its main lineup of programs. That was before NBC Universal bought the channel in 2002 and converted it to the fashion/hip/urban/reality show channel it is today. IMHO I see Work of Art as a small attempt for Bravo to return to its roots, but apparently what one man calls art is another's garbage, and just one risque episode gives Bravo a bad name once again.

13 July 2010

Shuffle degrees of separation

On my way home today on the bus I was listening to my Sansa e250 MP3 player on shuffle. These songs all have some sort of genre/generational organisation. Tags for categories follow titles.

- Snoop Dogg featuring Dr. Dre and D'Angelo: "Imagine" (Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, 2006) *2000s
- In Flames: "Leeches" (Come Clarity, 2006) *2000s, international (Sweden)
- The Beatles: "The Fool on the Hill" (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967) *1960s, oldies, international (UK)
- The Doors: "Touch Me" (The Soft Parade, 1969) *1960s, oldies, West Coast
- Game featuring 50 Cent: "Westside Story" (The Documentary, 2005) *2000s hip hop
- Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys: "Empire State of Mind" (The Blueprint 3, 2009) *2000s hip hop
- Rage Against the Machine: "Freedom" (Rage Against the Machine, 1992) *1990s alternative rock, hip hop, West Coast
- Alice in Chains: "Heaven Beside You" (MTV Unplugged, 1996; originally from Alice in Chains, 1995) *1990s alternative rock, West Coast
- Pink Floyd: "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" (Wish You Were Here, 1975) *rock
- Fat Joe: "Success (DJ Premier remix)" (Jealous One's Envy, 1995) *1990s hip hop, East Coast
- The Notorious B.I.G.: "Big Poppa" (Ready to Die, 1994) *1990s hip hop, East Coast
- She & Him: "Change Is Hard" (Volume One, 2008) *2000s, alt/indie, female vocalist
- Duffy: "Mercy" (Rockferry, 2008) *2000s, alt/indie, female vocalist, international (UK)
- The Guess Who: "No Time" (American Woman, 1970) *oldies, international (Canada)
- The Beatles: "Penny Lane" (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967) *oldies, international (UK)
- Death Cab for Cutie: "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" (Plans, 2005) *alt/indie
- Rage Against the Machine: "Know Your Enemy" (Rage Against the Machine, 1992) *alt/indie
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience: "All Along the Watchtower" (Electric Ladyland, 1968) *oldies
- Mos Def: "Beef" (Rawkus Records: Best of Decade I 1995-2005, 2005) *2000s, hip hop
- Lamb of God: "Laid to Rest" (Ashes in the Wake, 2003) *2000s, metal

09 July 2010

Parents Television Council and "after hours" cable programs

I've noticed something about the Parents Television Council's ongoing "Worst Cable Content of the Week" column. Since the May 28 edition (The Dudesons in America, MTV, Thursday 10PM) it's been squarely fixated on shows that are broadcast on the cable channels only after 10PM (note: these times I list below are Eastern/Pacific, of course being an hour earlier in the Central, Mountain, Alaska, and Hawaii time zones), which in American broadcast TV terms is the watershed time in which FCC indecency regulations do not apply. (10PM means 10PM in any time zone in terms of FCC) I'll run down the list for those who don't want to access the PTC and get a headache:
Notice something? All these shows are first-run after 10PM. And reruns take place usually even later (during overnight hours). But PTC argues for each and every time the same old line it's been pushing the past 5 years or so in its campaign for cable choice: "pay hundreds of dollars a year for dozens of channels they don’t watch, don’t want, and...may even find offensive" and in the specific case of Louie, "dump[ing] unbelievable levels of profanity and horrifically graphic sex talk into the home of every cable and satellite subscriber in America while forcing them to pay for it."

OK, first of all, this show is shown late in the night specifically because it's rated TV-MA and as a convenience so that children cannot watch it! And if you live in the Western US and have satellite, just use the V-Chip to block Louie if you have children at home.

And need I not mention that the PTC published its review of Louie the very day that FX showed the sports drama films Invincible--which earned the PTC Seal of Approval--and Miracle--which earned a positive review (no seal though) from PTC? I pointed out back in October 2008 that FX showed Invincible...but the PTC never published anything on its website promoting that. (By the way, FX will show Miracle and Invincible tomorrow at 8:30AM and 11AM respectively.) And on Saturday, July 17, FX will show Alvin & the Chipmunks, which is 1,000,000% more family friendly than those FX original shows that PTC hates so much, at 8PM.

I won't deny that most families with young children in the home or with generally socially conservative values will find channels like Comedy Central, MTV, and Spike offensive...those channels aren't even meant for a "family audience" (at least how groups like PTC define family) in the first place. But c'mon, why is the PTC branding more generally-oriented channels FX and TBS with the same hot iron branding? Does it not occur to PTC that FX reaches out to audiences besides those allegedly drunk depraved morons who laugh at Louie by showing Alvin and the Chipmunks during primetime? Additionally, Malcolm in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show reruns are shown during the daytime; PTC doesn't have much issue with those shows but do with other shows syndicated by FX: The Practice, Spin City, and That '70s Show. Sure, TBS may show Neighbors from Hell and Family Guy, but realize that TBS also shows baseball games, Saved by the Bell, Home Improvement, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Everybody Loves Raymond, and The King of Queens, all shows that PTC would find to be fairly decent. That's how TV programming works: you can't just cater to the people with the "I get offended at anything over a PG rating" mentality of the PTC, you have to include a lineup of programs that will reach the biggest audience possible. Those sitcoms that I mentioned before like King of Queens and Raymond are sandwiched alongside other shows that PTC has had issues with, like Married...with Children (a PTC Worst Show of the Season in 1997), Just Shoot Me, and Friends.

In the case of programs in development, PTC seems really sensitive to cable subscribers having to subsidize the production of late-night shows, such as Conan O'Brien's new TBS show, and Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis's upcoming reality show The Search for the Hottest Girl in America on HDNet; the New York Daily News reports that Francis's show will contain uncensored nudity and will be shown at midnight. The report quotes Dan Isett of PTC: "[Girls Gone Wild] has built its brand on the exploitation of intoxicated women, that’s just what they are and for them to pretend to be anything but that is quite frankly, sickening. This [new show] further demonstrates the need for people to have cable choice." Uh huh, other HDNet quality shows like Dan Rather Reports and HDNet Concert Series and World Report are so sleazy that they prove need for cable choice too. (Oh wait, is the PTC founder Brent Bozell still mad at Dan Rather? Just asking.)

And now my personal takes on the shows that PTC's been condemning this summer. (All these based on what I read on their website.) I wouldn't watch Berger or Brawlers, and from what I read in a review in my college's newspaper Neighbors from Hell is pretty much plagiarism of South Park and Family Guy, which are much funnier (and much more offensive to the PTC). Warren the Ape is a spin-off of the single-season 2002 Fox sitcom Greg the Bunny, which I watched back in its original run (I was just 11 and committed the sin of watching a TV-14 rated show but hey I didn't get scarred for life contrary to what the PTC is so concerned about). I think I'll watch Warren online once my personal schedule lets me. Finally, I first heard about Louie through a preview of NPR's Fresh Air but only got to read a summary of the interview today.

Bottom line is: don't trust the PTC with its tunnel vision of cable TV. Read the TV listings and content ratings too. Be open-minded. Monitor your kids' TV viewing. If a show is offensive, don't watch it (but what's stopping you from criticizing it?)

Sports notes

  • The San Francisco Giants had a 7-game losing streak from June 26 to July 2 (including a sweep by rival Los Angeles Dodgers) then beat the Colorado Rockies on July 3. Then swept the Milwaukee Brewers on the road yesterday but lost to the Washington Nationals today (although the Nationals=currently last in NL East, their new pitcher Stephen Strasburg was just too powerful). Just 2 days ago, the Giants beat Milwaukee 15-2. Rookie Buster Posey hit a grand slam and home run to contribute to the Giants' 15 runs.
  • Yesterday on an ESPN special, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers announced that as a free agent he will sign to the Miami Heat. That's already angered plenty ranging from the Cavaliers' owner to the Cavs fans, but down in Florida people are excited. It seems that LeBron was just so full of himself to announce on national TV that he's jumping ship to pursue a ring in another team. James last appeared in the NBA Finals with Cleveland in 2007, when the Cavs lost to the San Antonio Spurs. This year, the Boston Celtics beat Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Early in June, the NCAA banned USC football from bowl games in 2010 and 2011 seasons, revoked 20 scholarships, and vacated earlier victories. These were over allegations that former USC football player Reggie Bush's "mother, brother and stepfather had lived in a San Diego-area home that was owned by a would-be marketer who planned to be part of a group that represented Bush when he turned pro." The troubles just keep stacking up: USC has been banned from the AP coach poll and lost the commitment of would-be player Seantrel Henderson. More at the blog Reignoftroy.com, in which one of the authors is my old friend from high school Alejandro Madrid.

Obligatory "I'm back" post

What blocked me from blogging was: Twitter, too much Facebook, a clogged DVR, school, and concerns about way too much other stuff besides this website.

In brief:
  • I finished my 2nd semester at SJSU with yet another great GPA (3.686) and average 3.867.
  • A couple weeks ago, I enrolled in all but one of my classes for the fall semester. Right now I'm taking Physics 4A (Mechanics) at San Jose City College so that I can take PHYS 51 (Electricity & Magnetism) next semester. Problem is? All sections at SJSU for that class are full and so I'm waitlisted there right now and might take that class at junior college (in which case it's called Phys 4B).
  • I just began watching That '70s Show again thanks to KICU. Apparently the last season's opening titles used a "circle" format rather than the car.
  • The Steve Wilkos Show has new episodes this week after a monthlong (?) hiatus.
  • President Obama just nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court, and the Senate held confirmation hearings on the last week of June. Obama's second nominee to Supreme Court, and second woman overall. Kagan has no judicial experience but as Solicitor General has argued many cases to Supreme Court on behalf of the US government.
  • A jury in Los Angeles found former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter in his fatal shooting of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland. Although involuntary manslaughter carries just a 2-4 year sentence to state prison, because the jury found that Mehserle personally used a gun to kill Grant, that adds 3-10 years, and thus up to 14 years behind bars. The community in Oakland has believed that Mehserle should've been convicted of 2nd degree murder (15 to life), and thus there was a lot of disappointment.
  • I still haven't found a job since November besides one day working at a polling place during the June 8 primary election. Oh well, I think a lot of people have it worse.
  • Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. Just 11 days before the 1st anniversary of Jackson's death, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled that Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor who prescribed drugs to Jackson days before he died, may keep his medical license! Grr!