August 2007 Archives

I am at a restaurant with a group of people, and we are discussing movies. The waiter of some vague non-white ethnicity - probably Greek or Persian - delivers a milkshake I've ordered. It is unblended, and possibly not made of milk and ice cream at all - there are ice cubes actually floating in the drink. I become extremely agitated by this, and argue with the waiter. I ask for a new, properly made milkshake, and then I ask to speak to the manager. I meet the manager and the cook - also of the same undefined ethnicity - and we all argue.

I become angrier and angrier, yelling in a very heated manner, and demanding a milkshake made of ice cream. Finally it comes out that they intentionally made me a defective milkshake, because they had overheard our table talking in a disparaging manner about the acting ability of Chris "Ludacris" Bridges. I yell and curse, but the restaurant staff has become defiant, even as other patrons notice and get upset. The dream ends with me still unsatisfied and furious.


Here's a great dream write-up from Eugenio.

I was at a party a while ago, talking to a guy named Chad and another guy who was from New Jersey. Chad asked a weird question, and the conversation declined from there. Note: Not made up.

Chad: I'm gonna ask a WEIRD question here. What's your spirit animal?

Sean: That is a weird question.

Jersey Guy: Snake. Because I shed my skin.

Chad: Nice.

Jersey Guy: I've been told snake, sometimes wolf. I think I have some qualities of both. How about you?

Chad: Raven! (To me) What's your animal?

Sean: I don't have one.

(Chad and Jersey Guy shake their heads in disgust.)

Sean: How do I know what my spirit animal is?

Jersey Guy: Is there some animal that you feel really close to, like you have a connection to them?

Sean: No, not really. I like the water. Maybe a dolphin? I really don't know.

Chad: (to Jersey Guy) How'd you figure out your animal?

Jersey Guy: I've had people, Native Americans, come up and tell me from time to time. I've also had some strange, meaningful experiences involving wolves. Once, a wolf walked right up to me, and I just stood there. And for snakes, you know, I shed my skin, too.

Chad: Right on.

Sean: So, what's the point of a spirit animal?

Chad: OK, say you're lost, and you need to find some water. You'd close your eyes, and ask your spirit animal to guide you to the water. Like, I'd follow a raven, and it'd lead me there.

Sean: Does that actually work?

Chad: Yes.

Jersey Guy: Yes.

Chad: It helps if you do a quest.

Sean: Hey, I'm going to go talk to someone else now.

my mutant power


According to Professor Charles Xavier, a mutant's power normally manifests during puberty. For me, it appears to have come up in my late twenties. It's as if my body decided, I guess this is as mature as he's going to get. Maybe he can't grow a beard, but maybe there's something with his shoulder hair.

I noticed this at the second round of my most recent comedy competition. My friend came to support me, and while talking, she mentioned that I smelled "like a baby". Somehow, my body odor conveyed to her the scent of baby powder and milk, though I was confident I'd encountered neither of those substances during my day. However, my friend had been thinking a lot about babies and pregnancy recently. She also added that on occasions in the past, I had a very "macho" scent about me, but she linked it to times when she'd already been thinking about manly men.

I shrugged off this bombshell and walked back to the comics' green room. Within five minutes of my entrance, a larger comic spoke up. "Does it smell like garlic and onions in here?" No one else noticed, but looked at me suspiciously as I sniffed the air.

That was when I knew it was no coincidence, but the sign of mutant abilities. My personal scent evokes people's subconscious desires. For my friend, it was motherhood. For that other comedian, it was dinner. I'm sure there are others who have noticed but not said anything, perhaps because it's weird to tell your old roommate that you smell like a motorcycle, or because it's difficult to identify what falling in love smells like.

I've tried to nurture my new powers. I'm wearing less deodorant these days, and overdressing on warm days. Women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, but I do deny them my essence. Besides, if I ended up showering with woman who was attracted by my mutant pheronomes, the effect might cut out mid-shower as I got clean. She'd be left confused and horrified, wondering how she'd ever thought I smelled like health insurance and unconditional love.

My conundrum is this: What if I meet a woman whose secret desire is in fact...Sean Keane? What would that odor even be? Would it be the olfactory equivalent of pointing a video camera at a TV monitor displaying the camera's signal, a feedback loop of musk and longing that ultimately makes you feel a little sick to your stomach? Only Professor Xavier could say for sure.

vote for alex koll

Alex Koll is a talented local comedian and filmmaker who recently qualified as a regional wild card in Comedy Central's Open Mic Fight competition. Now, Alex Koll needs your vote, and he made an awe-inspiring campaign video:

Vote Alex Koll 2007 (Open Mic Fight)

In the words of Alex himself:

"You can vote only ONCE a day from your computer, everyday, so ask yourself:

*How many computers are at my work?
*Do I live in a computer lab?
*Will that lady at Starbucks mind if I use her laptop while she's up getting napkins?"

Vote for Alex Koll, not just for our children, but for our children's children. I know all 19 people in my office will be voting for him, as will our scanner, the library books, and this one machine that handles UPS shipping. Because that's how they roll.

Read Part 1. Yes, I know it's August.

15. "Automatic Stop", The Strokes

The most overplayed song on my Winamp playlist in 2006. If I didn't primarily listen to music on headphones, my roommates would really hate the fucking Strokes by now. The song is pretty simple. It also essentially repeats its two verses. Eminently hateable, unless you really listen to how awesomely crazy the guitar gets right before the first chorus, and continues throughout. I admire the Strokes for simply stopping abruptly once they'd played all they could out of the song.

16. "Born on a Train", Magnetic Fields

My second-most-overplayed song, and quite possibly the finest pop song ever written about a vampire drifter in love. The Arcade Fire does a very nice cover version.

17. "The Perfect Nanny", Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber

That's the part I put in! I think I would be an ideal nanny for the Banks children, though I might be blinded by their enthusiasm for rosy cheeks. I have never given a child castor oil nor glue. I also have 20/20 vision, so the issue of mischievous children hiding my spectacles is a rather moot point. I might occasionally smell of barley water.

18. "Comfortably Numb", Scissor Sisters

Pink Floyd meets the Bee Gees, and not a moment too soon. To me, the Scissors' performance implies that the comfortable numbness is located in the nasal cavities. The Scissor Sisters came to dance and rock, not hide inside their hotel rooms dodging their managers. Basically, cokeheads are stealing the anthem from stoners with this cover version.

19. "Who's the Nigga?", rX

I am pretty sure this song isn't racist. However, look at the title. This song might be a profound political statement, but it might simply be a cheap attempt to make it sound like President Bush said, "Nigga" through editing.

20. "Hold yor Terror Close"/"Everyone's a V.I.P. to Someone", Go! Team

Both of these songs are departures from the Go! Team's usual blend of rapping, skateboarding cheers, adventure guitars, cartwheels, and high kicks.

21. "Hoe Cakes", MF Doom

Doom charted on the top songs list already, as Viktor Vaughn. This song is "super", and contains the lyric, "One pack of cookies, please, Mr. Hooper." All the rhymes that Doom finds for "super" are what makes this song great for me: Super/trooper/Mr. Hooper/dupe her/D.B. Cooper/chalupa/King Koopa. Also, there's good beatboxing throughout.

22. "Crooked Teeth", Death Cab for Cutie

In my opinion, a lot of Death Cab's lyrics are really asinine. Not quite as asinine as the Postal Service gets (that cringe-inducing line about who shot JFK from "Sleeping In"). This song takes me back to the good old days of the Forbidden Love EP. In this clip, watch how the bass player sings along:

23. "Who Could Win a Rabbit", Animal Collective

A big guitar jamboree on acid.

24. "The Wacky World Of Rapid Transit", Del Tha Funkee Homosapien

There are not enough rap songs about AC Transit, but that's not Del's fault. A friend of mine recently declared Del "better than Tupac", even though Del has put out far fewer CDs recently. I love this song, but the interludes are even more entertaining than the verses:

"Yo bro, you got twenty-five cent on a transfer?"
"Can't help you."
"Yo man, I wasn't even ridin' the bus, but my Benz in the shop, you know, and my baby mama got my..."
"I don't have time to listen to your stories."

Del also wonders why kids always want to sit in the back, 35 years after the Montgomery bus boycott:

"Kids wanna ride the back
What kinda shit is that?"

Then a guy calls Del "Rosa Parks", for sitting up front.

25. "American Jesus", Dean Gray/Green Day/Bryan Adams

I specifically like the "Summer of the Damned" portion when they mix in "Summer of '69" with the "City of the Dead" part of "Jesus of Suburbia". When I first heard "Jesus of Suburbia", that riff sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. "City of the dead" = "Standin' on your mama's porch". Technically, the Bryan Adams authorship means this mashup might be more accurately dubbed, Canadian Jesus", but that implies a messiah who died for only 95% of our sins, because of the exchange rate.

26. "Crazy", Gnarls Barkley

Yeah, it's overplayed, but it's not Gnarls Barkley's fault. They didn't even release it as a single. This is the first year in a while that I have been driving regularly, and as such, the first year when I have a real perspective on what is and is not overplayed on the radio. It's not like I could watch music videos on television even if I wanted.

27. "Evil", Interpol

Rock songs can be a lot like comedy sketches, in that the premises are more interesting and thought-out than the endings. The "Applause" sign serves the same function as the fade-out. So when a rock group puts together a bang-up song with a tight, satisfying conclusion, like Interpol does with "Evil", it deserves praise. It's like the Asswipe Johnson sketch in that way, only with a better bass line and excellent piano work from the colorfully-named Sunnyland Slim.

(Note: In real life, Nicolas Cage, who plays Asswipe Johnson in the sketch, named his son Kal-El Cage Coppola, which might be a worse name than Asswipe Johnson.)

28. "Rump Shaker", Wreckx-N-Effect

This song features Teddy Riley, legendary hip-hop producer and the father of New Jack Swing. Riley eventually moved to Virginia Beach where he discovered Pharrell Williams and made the Neptunes his protégés, meaning he's influenced about two decades of hip-hip sound now. Riley also founded Blackstreet and co-wrote "Remember The Time" with Michael Jackson.

Fun facts:

- Teddy Riley's verse in "Rump Shaker" was written by Pharrell.
- Wreckx-N-Effect used to be Wrecks-N-Effect until one of the group members was shot to death. The "x" in the group's name is a tribute to him.
- The deceased member of Wreckx-N-Effect enjoyed zoom-a zoom zoom zooming and boom-booming more than any of the others.
- There is nothing in this world sexier than a beautiful woman on the beach in a bikini playing the saxophone.

a photo that looks like america

Sometimes you encounter a photo that perfectly encapsulates what it means to be an America. This shot was taken at a Costco in Arizona:


iron comic: the recap

Iron Blogging is done for the time being, but please enjoy blogging about Iron Comic, the comedy game show won by yours truly this past Friday. It was a tough battle, as are all skirmishes in Joke Arena, but ultimately I managed to claw my way to the top. Here's how the secret ingredients worked out:

Ingredient #1: "The end of the world"

Tapan Trivedi talked about terrorism and the end of the world, and discussed the bad rap he gets as a Hindu with no bombs. Sheng Wang impressed the crowd by talking about how he thought it was sad how anyone's efforts to improve the world or do anything inevitably involved making people die, then added, "I meant to say that funnier."

I chose to focus my two minutes on the theory that the end of the world will resemble the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. The end of the world will be really long, way longer than it needed to be. It will involve incomprehensible mythology about pirates. Keith Richards will be there, because that motherfucker is never going to die. The end of the world will not make any sense. And yet, against all logic, the end of the world will be attended by millions of people, willingly, because they went to the first part and they're curious how everything wraps up.

Ingredient #2: Alberto Gonzales

This topic was almost "Parking", or even specifically "Parking in the Castro". The crowd reacted to this topic with hostility. And with good cause! It was an attempt by some of my companions to circumvent the Iron Comedy process by choosing a topic I'd just written a new joke about. Fortunately for the integrity of the competition, we chose a different topic.

Sheng Wang discussed the extreme negativity in topics so far. Jeff Applebaum theorized that Alberto Gonzales had played shortstop for the Giants in the late '70s, then repeated his joke about Univision and cell phones. Mike Meehan had a good riff on this topic, but I don't remember it because I was staring at my notes.

I decided to take a break from the Gonzales-bashing. I discussed my admiration for his tenacity. Gonzales would not resign even if you wiretapped all of his conversations, deleted his old emails, held him without trial in a secret prison, even if you tortured him, within a loose set of parameters designated by executive order. Nor would Bush fire Gonzales, for a few reasons: It proves Bush is loyal, that Bush won't bow to political pressure, and that Bush knows a Mexican guy. Finally, I speculated that a Texas Supreme Court judge is equivalent to the "hanging judge" depicted in old westerns - only because it's the Bush administration, the hanging judge would be the majority shareholder in a scaffolding business, and his brother would own a rope factory, while his best friend made coffins, and his wife lobbied against the use of horses in public hangings.

Ingredient #3: Bike messengers

Oh, poor bike messengers. Usually, they don't take this kind of abuse in the Mission. But everyone had some mean things to say about their hygiene, their drug use, their casual disregard for automotive traffic. Tapan speculated that bike messenger services would soon be outsourced to India ("We've got the bikes; you've got the messages!") Host Nato Green even had some material on working as a car messenger.

I discussed an old bike messenger service we used to have, Special-T Delivery. Special-T is an example of why you should be careful of business with intentionally misspelled names. I once asked a Special-T employee if the name "Specialty" was taken by someone else. He responded, "No, why?" (Old Pleasant Hill hair salon and Tino's Pizza neighbor Shear Majic had the same story - no rival "Shear Magic" forcing them into an alternate spelling.)

Ultimately, what were their special-Ts*? Bicycling drunk, leaving court documents in a puddle of spilled PBR and bong water under an outdoor table at Zeitgeist, and rolling up one pant leg to knee level. You see that look in two places: bike messengers' klegs and in the yard at San Quentin. Coincidence? I think not.

(*note: exaggerations present.)

Mike Meehan probably did better than me in the lightning round, but I hung on to take the title. Officially, my prize was an Amstel Light and something else unappealingly funny, which I can't remember right now. Meehan's prize for second place was to "open for Carlos Mencia".

As for the featured performers, Nico Santos and Kris Tinkle drew rave reviews from my sources in the crowd. (Check out Kris Tinkle at the Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience on September 5th in Berkeley!) Host Nato Green did well, but the buzz in the crowd was about how h-o-t he looked. Maybe it was the stylish Iron Comic t-shirt. Watch out, Mrs. Nato Green!

If you would like to see more Iron Comedy, you are in luck. Iron Comic comes to The Punchline on Monday, August 20th, hosted by Ali Wong. That hot stud Nato Green will be battling, not just hosting, alongside an all-star lineup of comics including Chris Garcia, Drennon Davis, Kevin Camia, and Alex Koll. (Check out Chris Garcia and Ali Wong at the Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience on September 5th in Berkeley!)


iron blogging: "friends having babies"

Our Iron Blogging topic is: Friends having babies. Ready go!

It's only recently that I have had friends who were having babies, and that was a thing to be excited and happy about. It's a weird cognitive shift. I think it's because for the last fifteen years at least, any of my peers getting pregnant was a tragic event, the absolute worst-case scenario. Pregnancy was like an infectious disease. Everyone utilized preventative measures. Girls pre-emptively took pills to avid this tragic fate. You stockpiled condoms in your house just in case, like people buying Cipro during the Anthrax scare. I've been conditioned to feel like choosing to have a baby would be on par with willingly infecting yourself with the bird flu.

The threat of having a baby was a deterrent to sex-having and irresponsibility. Having baby meant you couldn't finish school, you had to go work a menial job, your future was over. I remember my dad playing Bruce Springsteen's "The River" for me and explaining how screwed the guy in the song was. In that song, your fate as a young parent was to abandon your dreams, which became either a lie or "something worse". Of course, even when many of my peers were willingly choosing not to finish school and I met plenty of classmates who had kids, that picture of baby-having remained.

Luckily, there's an easy factor that helps me reconcile my mixed feelings about friends having babies. Babies are really goddamn cute.

And time!

iron comic preview blog

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Nato Green's Iron Comic is just seven hours away! The competition is all about writing jokes on the spot. In each round, the Iron Comics have ten minutes to write two minutes of material, based on a topic suggested by the audience. For anyone that's hesitated to come to a Sean Keane show due to a lack of new material, rest assured that tonight will be all-new.

As a warmup to the big event tonight (Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. @ Mission, 21+, $8, doors 7:30, show 8:00), I'm going to do some Iron Blogging. Based on the first suggested topic, either via comments or a Meebo message, I will write a blog post on said topic in just ten minutes. I reserve the right to fix typos and insert hyperlinks outside of the ten-minute window, but other than that, it will all be done in ten minutes. Whose blog post reigns, um, the most? Mine by default, because Tapan Trivedi and Jeff Applebaum don't have blogs.

finals recap

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The finals of the SF Comedy Club competition are over, and Sean Keane is the proud owner of a (theoretical) bronze medal and $100 cash. Yes, I finished third, much like Debi Thomas in the 1988 Winter Olympics or The Play in the Best Damn Sports Show's 50 Most Outrageous Sports Moments. Ellery Urqhart was the champ, with Joe Tobin taking second place.

As I understand it, I was first on audience ballots, but dropped to third when the judges' opinions were factored in. Winning the popular vote, but losing out when the decision was thrown to the judges: now I know how Al Gore feels. To be fair, the SF Comedy Club's controversial butterfly ballot didn't help matters, as a few Sean Keane voters have claimed they really meant to vote for Pat Buchanan.

Highlights of the competition included the stellar sets by Mr. Urqhart and Mr. Tobin, Patrick Bulger's joke about stealing someone's mailbox and mailing it back to them, Jeff Cleary's 9/11 waterbed sale bit, my material about being short, Brendan Lynch and Marcella Arguello talking about being tall (Lynch, on short guys trying to fight him at bars: "Sorry, I'm too busy getting laid and promoted."), and Mike Lemcke delivering the best performance by a Chico State alum since the last Time Inflatable Supermodel took the stage.

Sean Keane's competitive week of comedy isn't over yet. Check out Iron Comic tomorrow, now with Sheng Wang!

the diary of matt morris

(Matt Morris was recently traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. At Zembla, we've obtained a copy of Morris's diary from the past week. Check it out.)


July 25th: Decided to commit to the two-year membership for 24 Hour Fitness. There's just so many of them in the Bay Area, and the savings are unbeatable when you sign on for that long. Well worth it, in my mind. Hey, I'm going to to be here at least until the end of 2009, so why not?

July 26th: I want to tell you guys about a charitable effort I'm starting once we get back from the SoCal road trip on the 6th. It's called "Matt Morris's Winning Pitch". Here's how it works: For every home game for the rest of the year, I'm going to leave fifty tickets for disadvantaged kids. As long as I'm not scheduled to pitch, I'll give those kids a tour of the clubhouse and stadium before the game. It's the least I can do for this city.

July 27th: Finally closed escrow on the new house. They broke ground on the new pool and the indoor batting cages next week, so it's a relief to know this place is ours to stay. The Morris family is going to be in the Bay Area for a long, long time.

July 28th: Got this great t-shirt, and I can't to wear it everywhere. It's a #7 Steelers jersey, but on the back it says, "Toothlessberger". Isn't that hilarious? I liked it so much, I bought two, for insurance purposes. I'd be afraid to wear it in Pittsburgh, but luckily we've already done our road trip to that filthy backwater. If there's anything worse than the rivers in Pittsburgh, it's the hockey team, but only if you forget about the crappy Pirates and their limp-dicked owner, which are still better than the sloppy, toothless skanks that perch on barstools like vultures at every bar in the city. Just thinking about the women of Pittsburgh makes me shudder and reflexively grab for the hand sanitizer. Yup, Pittsburgh is a hellhole. Good thing I play in San Francisco!

July 29th: I didn't have the best start today, but I did my best, and that's really all you can do. I feel bad for letting the team down, who are seriously the best bunch of guys I've ever played with. I'm really looking forward to spending time with the guys on this road trip, really getting to know some of the young guys like Lincecum and Sanchez. This time I'm not going to make the same mistake I always do when I go to LA: bringing too much stuff! It's Southern California in the summertime, after all. I really just need a pair of shorts, my swimsuit, and a toothbrush and I'm set. San Diego is going to be the best!

July 30th: The non-refundable tickets for Hawaii are locked up! I finally resigned myself to the fact that we're not making the playoffs this year, so I figured, Hey Matt, why not take the family to Hawaii in October? If you buy this far in advance, you can get a pretty sweet deal, as long as you're willing to go non-refundable. It's such a sweet deal that I decided to buy for the whole staff. They're such a great bunch of guys, and hey, it's only money, right? I just love this team so much, it feels good to give something back to a team that has stuck with me whenever I've struggled.

I've got it set up so that we finish out the season in LA on Sunday, then I clean out my locker Monday morning. Monday afternoon, we board our flight to the islands. Just what I need to relax and unwind, before I start thinking about how we can get the Giants back into contention next season. This city deserves it.

July 31st: Signed a deal with Sports Illustrated to provide a first-person account of what it's like to be there when Barry breaks the record. It's great money, but honestly, I'd do it for free. I've been looking forward to that moment all year. Even during the losing streaks, I could focus on the great accomplishment Barry was nearing, and it would always pick me up.

August 1: Fuck.

Timely as ever, here is my personal list of Top Songs for 2006. This does not reflect material that was produced or released in 2006, but rather the music I listened to and enjoyed most during the past calendar year. I spread it around, so that I didn't end up with multiple Wolf Parade or Ghostface songs, no matter how severely I overplayed those albums. Yes, I am aware that it's August.

Last year's lists

If you'd told me in 2005 that my favorite songs in 2006 would be about the preparation, distribution, and use of cocaine, I'd have been surprised. However, it's 2006, and my top two is pure coke. At no point did I consciously decide I needed to know more slang terms for crack, but when I got The Clipse mix tape, those terms fell into my lap. As Pato Banton would tell you, I do not sniff the coke, but you know, here we are.

1. "Re-Up Intro", The Clipse

R-E-U-P-G-A-N-G. Some choice quotes:

"Sittin' on blades like Kristi Yamaguchi"
"Tickle us pink like white girl clitoris"
"I'm high like giraffe ass"
"We ain't holla back, nigga, we holla black"
"Suicide bomb ya like Mohammed Atta"

This song is not at all respectable. It has a dark, dirty beat, and in thoery, one could dance to it. It didn't come out in 2006, but it's #1 on my list for the past year. To my knowledge, it's the first song to ever analogize cocaine sales and high-level women's figure skating.

Here's some suggested follow-up lyrics for the Clipse:

"Slash your bitches like Zorro
Ole, toro
I'm the godfather, it's routine like Philippe Candeloro"

They can use that one, no charge.

2. "Kilo", Ghostface Killah

Every kid in America had to learn the metric system in elementary school. Little did we know it would help us understand complex narcotics transactions. Here, Ghostface Killah uses what is presumably a "Go Metric!" sample to explicate the travails of crack production. All around the world today, the kilo is the measure. Take that, Jimmy Carter! My favorite part is the "Plane or a penthouse/Office or a warehouse" part.

3. "Let Me Watch", Viktor Vaughn

Of the first three songs on my list, two are performed by rappers who have historically performed on stage wearing masks. You can hear Ghostface and Viktor Vaughn/MF Doom commiserate on mask-wearing and its implications on, appropriately enough, the Doom-Danger Mouse-Adult Swim collaboration, The Mouse and the Mask. Both Doom and Ghostface Killah adopt the personas of Marvel Comics characters: Ghostface raps as Tony Stark AKA Iron Man whereas MF Doom alternately calls himself Dr. Doom or Doom's alter ago, Victor von Doom (Viktor Vaughn in the MF-verse)

"He talked, I listened/ He listened, I spoke/ We walked arm in arm and split a Cherry Coke/ Spit religion and politics, Sega and chess"

The story is simple. Vaughn tries to bed an underage girl, but, you know, he fucks it up. Hey fellas, don't call her a "ho". In the same way that "There's Something About Mary" stands apart from other modern comedies with its ingenious ending, "Let Me Watch" also stands apart due to its conclusion, as the oblivious Viktor Vaughn tells his spurner to, "Just holla, ring the buzzer".

4. "Ambulance", TV on the Radio

Look, I hate a capella music as much as, if not more than the next guy. Probably a lot more than the next guy. However, TV on the Radio has an advantage over most a capella groups:

1. No clever name like Vocal Point or Aural Fixation
2. No Beach Boys songs
3. General use of instrumentation on their songs, particularly drums and kickass electric guitars.

Luckily, TV on the Radio does do songs with instrumentation as well, so they are not at risk of being beaten by students from Sacred Heart.

5. "I'm Straight", Modern Lovers

Neal Pollack is responsible for my initial exposure to this song. I gotta say, Hippy Johnny has to be a little worried that someone is going to take his place. However, since this song was recorded in 1975(?), Hippy Johnny is probably dead from his constant drug abuse. Here, Jonathan Richman adopts a technique I used in many fake letters to the Pleasant Hill-Martinez Record. Nothing is more demeaning to one's adversary than to address him by name repeatedly and unnecessarily.

"Why always stoned? Like, Hippy Johhny?"
"I'm certainly not Hippy Johnny is."

Someday, I would like to preface a request for a date with, "Here's your chance to make me feel awkward..."

6. "I'm Not Like Everybody Else", The Kinks

I heard this at the end of a Sopranos episode when Tony is driving . My dad definitely endorses this choice more than the previous five.

7. "Everybody's Changing", Lily Allen

The original is by the band Keane, Irish alternative band, and Google-rank threat to me, Sean Keane. I much prefer the stripped down, Casio-and-guitar version from internet superstar Lily Allen. Maybe I just hate the Travis/Keane-style ultra-high British male vocals, but for my money, Lily Allen's version is a lot more emotional. It's quicker, it's shorter, and there's no fake orchestra in the background. Less is more, bitches! Lily Allen especially nails the "You're gone from here/soon you will disappear" part. She seems more genuinely worried about everybody changing than the dude from Keane does.

8. "Won't Get Too Far", Wrens

This song is really goddamn sad, especially for someone who is questioning the choices that led to their unsatisfying, vaguely-embarrassing job that they've worked at for far too long. Hypothetically, I mean.

"It's not the biggest bridge, but it's still something he did"

[This is part of my personal New Jersey revival, including my support for the Rutgers football team and their improbable BCS run, re-watching Season 5 of The Sopranos, thinking funny mean thoughts about Garden State, and remembering the good times of my relationship with a five-fingered girl from South Jersey. Thanks to a recent birthday gift, I now own two different t-shirts with an outline of New Jersey on the front: one is a Wrens shirt, and the other reads, "Jersey Girls Ain't Trash (Trash gets picked up.)".]

9. "Decatur", Sufjan Stevens

While this is not the most timely inclusion, "Decatur" is probably still eligible for a Grammy award for another 18 months or so. It's a great song, with amazing and ambitious rhymes, though none better than "Stephen A. Douglas was a great debater/ But Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator". I don't know if it's the brazen use of middle initial, or the historical accuracy, but I wanted to high-five Winamp when I first heard this one. No you di'n't, Sufjan! This song is also notable for its lack of a snare drum played with two didgeridoos.

10. "This Heart's on Fire", Wolf Parade

I think Bruce Springsteen could have had quite a hit with this song. I thought it was about a crazy, passionate love affair at first, but I read somewhere that it's actually about a the lead singer's dying mother.

11. "No One Else" (live), Weezer

Unplugging makes this song completely different. Nowhere does this show through than at "Tell her it's over now". In the original version, Rivers shouts "Now!" as an emphatic kiss-off. In the acoustic version, it's sweet, vulnerable, and it sounds like a pre-emptive dumping. I am biased, because I too secretly want a girl who will only laugh at my jokes, or at worst, laugh at my jokes discernibly harder than she laughs at the jokes of others. However, I have no problem with my hypothetical girlfriend wearing makeup when I am away. The campfire nature of the chorus is also amazing. Honestly, I have trouble enjoying the electric version now. This song makes me wish that karaoke bars:

a) offered acoustic versions of indie rock hits
b) offered any versions of indie rock hits
c) let me sing "Can't Fight This Feeling" already, when I've been waiting and drinking Bud Lights for like 90 minutes now.

12. "Eve of Destruction", The Turtles

I'm not actually such a big fan of this song. But after I heard it the first time, I couldn't help making up fake lyrics based on the premise the we were "on the eve of construction". Any time I see a barricade, grader, or plastic cone, I mentally write another verse. Sometimes I put on this song and quietly sing my own faux-Turtles lyrics along with it. "And even 17th Street has got bulldozer lying in it/And you tell me over and over and over again my friend/ That you don't believe we're on the eve of construction".

13. "Get By", Talib Kweli

There's a certain kind of hip-hop music that white hipsters universally embrace. Some call it "conscious rap", some call it "not commercially viable". Liking Talib Kweli makes me feel like a cliche, especially since I can also appreciate A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Jurassic Five, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Mos Def, and any rap song where group members all shout the rhyming words in unison.

My favorite story about "conscious rap" came when my old roommate was trying to explain the classification to a Ward Street guest. He put on a Mos Def CD and explained that "conscious rap" was more serious, dealt with political issues, and discussed women in a more respectful manner. the guest listened attentively, then asked my roommate what song was currently playing. He blushed and said, "Um...'Ms. Fat Booty'".

14. "Paper Bag", Fiona Apple

This song could be on my Top Songs list every single year, because I never, ever get sick of listening to it. If any song could be said to be my all-time favorite, it's gotta be this one, "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" or "In A Big Country".

By the end of "Paper Bag", it sounds like there's about fifteen different instruments going, and everything sounds perfect, which is a testament to both Ms. Apple and producer Jon Brion. As wonderful as it is, I don't think this song was terribly popular when it was released, with the lesson being: Pick an album title with fewer then 90 words.

Even the video is great. It was directed by P.T. Anderson, shot in a huge old train station, and has dancing children dressed like gangsters doing choreographed routines with Fiona.

Here's a clip of Fiona doing "Paper Bag" live, accompanied by Jon Brion on guitar:

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