Thursday, July 30, 2009

Journey to the Stars

Journey to the Stars is a new presentational space show which recently opened at the Hayden Planetarium. The description sounds fascinating enough; "Featuring extraordinary images from telescopes on the ground and in space and stunning, never-before-seen visualizations of physics-based simulations, the dazzling new Journey to the Stars launches visitors through space and time to experience the life and death of the stars in our night sky, including our own nurturing Sun. Tour familiar stellar formations, explore new celestial mysteries, and discover the fascinating, unfolding story that connects us all to the stars. Those who come along for the journey may never see the night sky in the same way again." I can dig that.

Wanna know who's hosting this space program? Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi. Goldberg. Whoo. Pi. Gold. Berg.

Now, if I was making a list of the top 10 individuals I would least associate with space (I do this on occasion), I'm pretty sure Whoopi would be somewhere in the top 6. However, Whoopi seems to be one of the very few public figures that can pretty much slide into any role of expertise and nobody would question it. James Earl Jones also fits in this category. However, I cannot help but wonder what the selection process was like for the host of Journey to the Stars. My imagination conjures up the following...

(Setting: Sound stage, Wednesday Afternoon. Casting directors Nancy and Brad lead the proceedings)

NANCY: Alright, we've narrowed it down to the two of you. Each candidate please step forward and say a few words about yourself.

DR. PADDINGTON LIVINGSTON III: Salutations, my name is Dr. Paddington Livingston III, I have spent thirty-seven years studying with NASA, teaching advanced astronomy at Rutgers and testing my own anti-gravitational tank in my back yard. Additionally, I have corresponded with every space team on their mission to the moon for the past twenty-six years.

BRAD: Oh...ho. And you?

WHOOPI: My name's Whoopi Goldberg. I was in How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Sister Act. Oh, and Sister Act II.

NANCY: "Back in the Habit"?


BRAD: That was hilarious! I think our decision just got a lot easier.

LIVINGSTON: Excuse me, but I deduct that my qualifications are far more relevant to this particular presentation!

BRAD: Um, okay Dr. Livingston, how many Sister Acts were you in?

LIVINGSTON: Well, none...but...several accomplished astronauts have studied under me! I was a special consultant during the movie version of Apollo 13 just to make sure the shuttle scenes were accurate! I designed the first indestructible space vessel that can also travel underwater!

BRAD: Blahblahblah! BO-RING!J

NANCY: I think we've made ourselves clear. She's got you beat - two Sister Acts to zero.

LIVINGSTON: Why this is an outrage!

BRAD: But don't worry, we've got a super special job for you that only someone of your skill level could possibly do!

(hands LIVINGSTON cue cards)

LIVINGSTON: Well I never...!


This is definitely exactly what happened.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More like GAYbraham!!!

I just remembered this.

If you went through a public school system, you inadvertently learned about the birds and the bees in ways that would best be described as "colorful", "scattershot", and "from a kid with a lisp". We gather so much information about them naughty topics that it often becomes difficult to pinpoint exactly where/how we gained a particular nugget of knowledge. (I still swear I learned what "pimp" and "ho" meant while learning multiplication tables) However, last night I remembered how I first heard the term "gay" used in the way we now know and love.

It was third grade, I was nine, and our teacher Mrs. Kenny was attempting to teach us history. The subject was the US Presidents, and she basically hit on all the important ones, i.e. - the ones whose birthdays have been jumbled together for a single holiday. I.e. - Washington and Lincoln. It was a brisk lesson followed by "free time", which came up a good deal in third grade because Mrs. Kenny for whatever reason hated some combination of teaching and children.

As each student tended to their coloring or phonics homework or badly-timed boners, class badass Alex Connors walked up to the cluster of desks where I sat.

"Abraham Lincoln is gay!" he stated.

This puzzled me, as I had only heard the word used in the sense meaning happy, and I assumed this is what he was intending to imply. Not the case. It was explained to me how "gay" meant that he liked boys instead of girls. Again, this puzzled me. By Alex Connor's logic, mixed in with my lack thereof, I could only deduce that "gay" meant a person...

- Had a cool beard
- Was on the penny
- Freed the slaves
- Gave famous speeches
- Was born in a log cabin
- Wore a stovepipe hat
- Was shot by John Wilkes Boothe
- Was a good president
- Likes showtunes

Also, in retrospect Abe Lincoln seemed like a strange target for a "gay" labeling. Wasn't he like, one of the most badass guys in American history? There are at least like 42 gayer US Presidents than Lincoln, and that's just off the top of my head.

So excuse me if my current views toward homosexuality are a bit inaccurate.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How I Nailed That FUSE Audition

Yesterday marked my first actual foray into the life of a professional performer. I had gotten a call to audition for a VJ on a pop music video show on the FUSE network, which is probably channel 742 on your cable box. Their only criteria was that I "be prepared to talk about pop music". Seems pretty simple. I am a great admirer of pop music. However, it turned out that they did not mean "In general" or "made between 1964 and 1975", so I figured I was up a proverbial creek. Of the ass.

Thus...I started on some research, looking at the Billboard charts and YouTubing any Hot 100 Hits that I may have missed (all of them). Of course, pop music is such a vast terrain that there was no way I was going to learn everything in time. Plus, there was no way that they'd ask me "specific" questions, like "What's the name of Eminem's crew" or some crap like that. Thus, I stopped my research and concentrated on my super cool VJ image and alter-ego.

Unfortunately, once I arrive at said audition, I am presented with a sheet of paper requiring me to fill out my name, email, turn-ons, etc. All is fine and dandy until I realize that this sheet has a back side. What I was presented with was LITERALLY a Pop Quiz (PUN EXTREMELY INTENDED)of VERY SPECIFIC pop questions! Right there, I knew I'd been beat. However, I did not let it get me down. What follows is the actual quiz and yes, my actual answers. What you are about to see is totally real and totally unscripted.

1) Who originally recorded Kelly Clarkson’s “I Don’t Hook Up?”

Bing Crosby, but he was lying.

2) Who recently resigned with Island Def Jam records?

Hammer…just sounds like something he’d do.

3) Who discovered and signed Panic at the Disco?

Trick question…that's not a real band.

4) Who’s real name is Alicia Moore?

Alicia Keys. NEXT!

5) What group was Fergie in before joining the Black Eyed Peas?


6) Name three artists Timbaland has worked with.

I know he is planning on working with the Jonas Brothers, so I choose to count them as three separate artists.

7) Who are the Fugees?

Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith, and Davy Jones.

8) Name three members of the Wu Tang Clan.

9) What is the name of Eminem’s crew, and what does the name mean?

The Junkyard gang, it’s a Fat Albert reference.

10) Who founded Cash Money Records?

Eddie Money. Definitely.

Yes, this fine display of intelligence is in a casting director's folder somewhere, or much more likely, in the trash bin under the desk in that audition room.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Revelations from Remastered Beatles CDs

For twenty years, Beatles fans have been stuck with the same low-fi, liner-note-less, wrong mixes-using CDs to deal with. Yeah after year, the promise of a catalog upgrade would come and go, leaving those of us who revel in fine audio quality to seek out old vinyl pressings or bootleg needle-drops. In almost all cases, these alternate sources blew the CDs away.

However, on September 9, 2009 - that all changes. The entire Beatles catalog is getting the upgrade it so richly deserves. And let me tell you, the results are stunning. That's right, I'm one of the few select individuals who has heard these disks ahead of time, and the difference is night and day. The sound is so clear, it's like you're right there in the studio with the Fab Four. Of course, sometimes these sort of remasterings can be too honest.

Here are some revelations that have been buried in those master tapes for years, but are only now audible:

- During “Honey Pie” you can actually hear John’s eyes rolling.

- From the White Album through to Let It Be, the entire atmosphere sounds “Japanese-ier”.

- Upon further listen, it is revealed that Revolver was recorded entirely backwards. Played forwards, its crap.

- The guy chanting “number 9…number 9…” is Wilford Brimley.

- Most of George Harrison’s songs are unintentionally plagiarized Chiffons songs.

- Between Please Please Me and With the Beatles, their outfits sound way more expensive.

- Ringo’s drumming is way better on “Back In the USSR” and “Dear Prudence”…for some reason.

- On the post-1966 recordings, Paul sounds dead-er.

- On “I Feel Fine”, John sounds surprisingly agitated.

- Due to strict FCC guidelines, A Hard Day’s Night was only recorded from the waist up.

- At the fade-out of the Abbey Road final medley, you can hear Paul say “suckers, the love you take has little-to-no bearing on the love you make.”

- On “Yesterday”, you can hear John, George, and Ringo doing Sudoku in the corner.

- In the first few bars of "Across the Universe", Lennon can be heard uttering "I hope someone turns this song into a shitty movie one day!"

- Those chants at the end of “I Am the Walrus” are all the same guy.

- During “The Ballad of John and Yoko” you can actually hear Paul McCartney’s eyes rolling.

- During the harmonies on “Because”, you can hear Paul and John flicking each other off.

- Side 1 of Sgt. Pepper is actually the Monkees.

- On “All You Need Is Love”, you can hear Lennon counting money.

- The four original songs on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack were recorded over the phone.

- “I Me Mine” was actually recorded with lawyers present.

- Three minutes into "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", Ringo can clearly be heard taking a nap, but wakes up well refreshed for the final four minutes of the song.

- During “Within You Without You” you can actually hear John, Paul, and Ringo’s eyes rolling.

- Though they were not needed on the recording, John, George, and Ringo can be heard in the booth during “Blackbird”, just because Paul wanted them to watch.

- During the second orchestral climax in “A Day in the Life”, you can hear a British cellist’s head explode.

- At the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, John is definitely saying “cranberry sauce”, but while he’s saying it, he’s burying Paul.

- Ringo sounds really naked during most of Rubber Soul.

- During all of Magical Mystery Tour, you can hear George Martin’s eyes rolling.