Monday, November 5, 2007

11/5/2007 Potpourri

Taking a break from online scrabble (as magnificent a time waster as has been invented) to keep my post count higher than Darryl's until I can finish up a few long forms I've been crafting.

1) The Writer's Guild of America strike is seriously going to suck for all us fans of late night television (which unfortunately includes Messrs. Colbert and Stewart), and it's being covered pretty well by both Alan Sepinwall and Ken Levine (look to the sidebar) so I won't touch too much on it here, except to say that it's going to piss me off if the two new shows I've come to enjoy so much ("Chuck" and "Pushing Daisies") don't get picked up for 13 more episodes, leaving us poor shlubs stuck with more reality television.

2) Speaking of the Daily Show, has anyone else noticed how sluggish it's been lately? I want to blame the exodus of Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry and Ed Helms as part of it, but I think John Oliver and Aasif Mandvi are two of the funniest guys the show's ever had (and I've been watching since the Craig Kilborn era, and no, I didn't have a life then, either).

I think it comes down to a couple things. One, outside of Oliver and Mandvi, the remaining correspondents (Jason Jones and Samantha Bee especially) don't really carry the razor-sharp political wit that the others do, or did. It seems like they're doing more of a stand-up routine rather than political satire. (Meanwhile, the other ridiculously talented correspondent, Dan Bakkedahl, has been shunted off to the writer's room, probably because his face isn't even radio friendly.) The other is that, more and more, Jon Stewart is just a Democratic shill. A few years ago, under the long shadow of the Bush administration and the concomitant media adoration, it was refreshing to see Stewart go after Bush. Now, though, with Bush essentially neutered, and Clinton basically enshrined as the next POTUS, Stewart's lost his edge. His assaults on the Bush administration have lost their acid, and he won't really go after Hillary (or any of the other Dems, save poor Dennis Kucinich) on any substantive issue. It's almost like he's deflated. Even the Larry Craig stuff wasn't that funny, and you couldn't ask for a better comedy mine.

3) Somewhere along the way the contrarian in me reacted against the mp3 generation, and as a consequence I scoffed at anyone who could think of proper music outside the context of an album. That's a long way of saying that the new Neil Young record, Chrome Dreams II, is just abysmally bad, but miraculously saved by two simply brilliant songs that are some of the best recordings Young has ever done. "Ordinary People" is 18 minutes but doesn't feel like it at all, with a loping piano/bass and a rocking, anthemic feel. And "My Way" is so hushed and pretty it's almost a Beethoven sonata, but for Young's scratchy voice superimposed against a children's choir.

So what should I do? I love these songs, but the completist in me is compelled to keep the rest of the detritus if I want to keep listening to these songs. When it comes time to pare down my music collection, there's gonna be a difficult choice to be made.

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