Archive for April, 2010

Ranking Bob Dylan Songs, #108: See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

Why is a 20-year-old kid singing about keeping his grave clean? This, in a nutshell, is the problem with Dylan’s first album: His songs don’t feel honest; they sound as if he is trying to duplicate the emotions of other singers instead of translating his own feelings.

There has been some discussion recently, thanks to Joni Mitchell, of Bob Dylan’s honesty. Mitchell told the LA Times that, “Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception.” This is not an entirely new complaint about Dylan. People have often accused him of being phony or deceptive, both in his songs and with the media. Continue reading

Advertisements

Survivor Survival Guide: Jumping Ship

“This is ridiculous! Colby!” –Danielle

“I didn’t even see what happened. I was watching Treasure Island.” –Colby

“Jumping Ship” established its premise early: Led by Rupert, the Heroes would try to sway Sandra to their side; Russell would counter by trying to get Candice to come over to the dark side. The vote would almost solely be determined by their respective yet intertwined decisions. Both seemed receptive to the offers of the one-time opposition. Sandra still wanted Russell gone while Candice appeared persuaded by Russell’s not-quite promise to take her to the top three.

Things got more interesting after the Reward Challenge, which split the nine into three teams of three to play “Survivor Shuffle,” a form of shuffleboard. In relatively unsuspenseful fashion, Colby snuck within Russell’s puck on the game’s final turn to win it for the Blue team, which also included Danielle and Amanda. The prize had to be one of the most incongruous Survivor awards ever: a trip to author Robert Louis Stevenson’s house (now a museum) that would include a tour, a viewing of the theatrical version of Treasure Island, and a night in a bed. Danielle and Amanda instantly began thinking about the possibility of a hidden immunity idol, completely ignoring ALL the fascinating aspects of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, which housed original copies of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped, AND Treasure Island! As someone who has marveled at the L. Ron Hubbard House in DC, I was really put off by their lack of interest.

Continue reading

Unabated to the Quarterback: The NFL Draft

A few years ago, I tried to force one of my friends to watch The Masters. I tried to explain how watching a major golf tournament was different from watching any other sporting event, with the way the leaderboard constantly evolved and, by Sunday night, you laughed at yourself for thinking a few hours before that Y was going to win when X had it in the bag all along (and this doesn’t even mention Z, who looked like a shoo-in a day earlier).

His ignorant response was that none of that was interesting at all, and that since the constitutive shots of golf themselves lacked suspense, drama, or an opposing force, you might as well just look in Monday’s paper to see who won.

This argument, of course, can hold for a lot of sporting events—provided we don’t find their constitutive elements all that exciting. Any real sports fan, then, should dismiss such a specious objection.

Except when it comes to the NFL Draft.

Continue reading

Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat 2, Week 4 Power Rankings

“We are a well-oiled machine.”—Wes

“They absolutely killed the rest of the competition: Kenny and Laurel are again victorious. Who would have thought that Kenny would dominate a challenge this much?”—TJ Lavin

Last night’s episode wasn’t particularly exciting. It basically just served to re-illustrate the things we already knew—until, that is, the very end, which we’ll get to later.

At this point, there are basically two games being played, and they are going in very different directions. The first game is political. In the battle between the Wes/Evelyn Alliance and Kenny’s Alliance, the former is dominating. Kenny is down to two reliable partners, Ryan and Jillian, and one of them—Ryan and Theresa—can’t be counted on to win anything.

In the beginning of this episode, and several times throughout it, Wes referred to his alliance as “a well-oiled machine.” The numbers are certainly decisively in his favor, but last night’s episode showed just how “squeaky,” as Ryan put it, that machine actually is. Continue reading

Getting Lost: Season Six Thus Far

In the absence of a new Lost episode last night (ABC ran a rerun of “Ab Aeterno” instead), this week’s “Getting Lost” will look at where the show’s final season stands now:

Given the hype and anticipation for this season of Lost, has it lived up to the expectations? That, of course, is the big question. I think the obvious answer, at this point, is “No.” We still don’t know how the alternate timeline plots will ultimately resolve themselves into the main narrative, and this season has seen its share of dull episodes, like “What Kate Does,” “Dr. Linus,” and “The Package.”

But it’s probably unfair to judge the whole season as of yet. Lost has always been a show that has made its reputation primarily with premieres and finales. That’s not to say that character development doesn’t play a key role on the show, just that the show has made a habit out of sandwiching some dull episodes with strong beginnings and thrilling endings. Fans tend to forget this, but with the exception of Season Five (which I called one of the best television seasons of the Aughts), every single season of Lost has had a pretty noticeable slump in the middle.*

*Some people would probably object to the inclusion of Season Four, which was only 14 episodes, but I would say that episodes six (“The Other Woman”), seven (“Ji Yeon”), eight (“Meet Kevin Johnson”), and ten (“Something Nice Back Home”) were pretty forgettable. Continue reading

The American Point Guard Renaissance

For me, the American Point Guard Renaissance started on an otherwise uneventful night in Winston-Salem, N.C. in February 2004. In Wake Forest’s upset of Duke that night at Lawrence Joel Coliseum, highly touted freshman guard Chris Paul showed that he may not have been touted highly enough. Paul scored 19 second-half points and absolutely dissected the Blue Devils’ defense in as sterling a performance as a college point had displayed in years. I remember thinking that night how good it was to watch a real point guard—one who could dominate a game without dominating the ball—on the college stage.

The American Point Guard Renaissance is loosely defined as the return to form of, I think, the most important position in the game of basketball. Spearheaded by the continued brilliance of Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, some favorable rules changes on the perimeter, and a spate of young points like Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, and John Wall, the American Point Guard Renaissance is our best hope today to revive the quality of play in the NBA, which has been lagging for more than a decade.

Continue reading

Ranking Bob Dylan Songs, #93: Pretty Peggy-O

[livevideo id=PhantomEnergy]

Other than the great “Song To Woody,” which I praised last week, I haven’t ranked the songs on Bob Dylan’s first album very high. In fact, if you leave out “Song To Woody,” the average ranking of the songs from Dylan’s debut has been about 99th, and none of the other tracks has come in higher than 70th.

This may give the indication that I don’t like Bob Dylan as a whole; comparatively speaking, I don’t. But it’s not as if I don’t still end up listening to the album often—I find something to like in every (well, almost every) one of the tracks.

“Pretty Peggy-O” is a nice example of this. Continue reading