Friday October 31, 2008

Punk Rock Name Quiz

Punk rock names are an established tradition.  Why should an aspiring musician have to put up with an ordinary, workaday name when he or she could be Johnny Rotten, Jello Biafra, Siouxsie Sioux, or Captain Sensible?  No reason at all, that's why.  Sometimes, though, somebody gets lucky and is born with a name that's already perfect for punk.

This leads me to today's quiz.  Which of the following members of the band X is not using a stage name?

Billy Zoom (guitar)
DJ Bonebrake (drums)
Exene Cervenka (vocals)
John Doe (bass and vocals)


Answer after the jump.  No peeking!

Continue reading "Punk Rock Name Quiz"

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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Monday May 19, 2008

This I Believe #31

Eye cannon shall obey.

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Wednesday October 17, 2007

A Tale of Two Geddies

Names are tricky.  Many of us are assigned them at birth and accept them without much thought.  Others are bolder, taking control of their arbitrary word-handles, shedding unwanted labels for others somehow more agreeable.  This is a common practice in show business, where stage names serve to distinguish performers from each other and from us ordinary folks.  This is a story of two such performers who, in their quest for uniqueness, landed at nearly the same spot in the vast name-space.

Continue reading "A Tale of Two Geddies"

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Monday September 17, 2007

Mysterons vs. Mysterians

I suppose confusion is understandable—the names are so similar, after all—but I think it's important that we get this straight once and for all.  So pay close attention:

Continue reading "Mysterons vs. Mysterians"

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Thursday April 12, 2007

Friendly Milk

"Hold the newsreader's nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers."

This is from a hilarious sketch by Fry and Laurie (via), which you can watch after the jump.

Continue reading "Friendly Milk"

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Monday April 2, 2007

Video Free Association

After the jump: a random walk though pop culture and my subconscious via YouTube.

Continue reading "Video Free Association"

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06:22 PM in Music , Television | Comments (5) | Submit: | Links:

Monday January 15, 2007

Star Trek vs. Jefferson Airplane

Check out this awesome video mashup.  I hope you relish it as much as I:

Most linguisticky moment: "smoking caterpillar"—the edit is in just the right place to get you to reanalyze hookah-smoking caterpillar in the intended way.  The "remember" bit is clever too—referencing a scene from Wrath of Khan by using a similar scene from TOS without breaking up the visual feel of the video.

It's amazing how close to the surface the drug subtext was in Trek.  For a similar mashup addressing a different subtext, see Closer [NSFW].

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06:33 PM in Music , Science Fiction , Television | Comments (3) | Submit: | Links:

Tuesday November 21, 2006

Take on Me

Those of you who are of a certain age (or who watch too much VH1) will remember the mid-80's synth-pop video I'm thinking about. You know the one: it features a main character who enters a comic book world, a group of leather-clad toughs, and the lead singer of the band bravely rescuing a blonde damsel in distress.

Of course I'm referring to this classic video:

Continue reading "Take on Me"

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Tuesday October 24, 2006

Σnigma

I've been seeing posters all over Leipzig for the new Enigma album.  Remember EnigmaThey did that new-agey song "Deep Forest" [Update: Wrong!  Deep Forest was actually a similar-but-distinct group from the same era...] about a million years ago?  Yeah, they're still around, and they've been based in Germany all along—you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Continue reading "Σnigma"

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04:34 PM in German , Linguistics , Music | Comments (9) | Submit: | Links:

Monday September 25, 2006

Tobes

Here's a puzzler.  The opening to Rush's early prog-rock-meets-D&D masterpiece "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" goes:

The Tobes of Hades
Lit by flickering torchlight
The Netherworld is gathered in the glare
Prince By-Tor takes the cavern
To the north light
The sign of Eth is rising in the air
By-Tor, knight of darkness,
Centurion of evil
Devil's prince

(Bonus points if you now have the song running through your head.)  The question, gentle reader, is this: what the hell are tobes?

Continue reading "Tobes"

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Saturday July 29, 2006

What's the Connection?

Pop quiz, music lovers.  What's the connection between the two New Wave music videos after the jump?

Continue reading "What's the Connection?"

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07:24 PM in Music , Pop Quiz | Comments (0) | Submit: | Links:

Friday May 26, 2006

Nostalgia from the Ashes

In a previous post inspired by watching old music videos on YouTube, in which I called it "nostalgia crack", I was talking about the surprisingly intense memories dredged up by little snippets of old TV.  YouTube has another related use, though: finally getting to see stuff that would have interested you back in the day, but that you had no access to because you lived in a pre-Internet, pre-Google dark age.  After the jump, I've included four examples I've come across so far.

Continue reading "Nostalgia from the Ashes"

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Wednesday May 24, 2006

Distinctive Dances

For a member of the MTV generation like me, YouTube is like nostalgia crack.  (Hey, remember that one video, with the guy, and the thing!  Yeah, that one ruled!)  I've recently been conducting an informal research project, and I'm ready with some preliminary results.  I therefore present to you: distinctive music video dances of the 1980's.

Continue reading "Distinctive Dances"

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Saturday May 20, 2006

Eye of the Beholder

Submitted for your approval, direct from the depths of one man's subconscious.  On the left, Gary Numan, 38 seconds into the the video for "Cars".  On the right, one of the doctors from the Twilight Zone episode "Eye of the Beholder":

The same hair, the same eye liner, the same curl of the lip.  Coincidence?  Perhaps, but maybe something more—for you see, this just happens to be...The Twilight Zone.

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04:24 AM in Music , Science Fiction , Television | Comments (3) | Submit: | Links:

Tuesday April 4, 2006

"Song to the Siren" Video

A few months ago I wrote a long post about my attempts to decipher the lyrics of "Song to the Siren" by This Mortal Coil (the Cocteau Twins in disguise), and I mentioned finding a live version of the song that made it clear that Liz Fraser is singing, "Were you here when I was flotsam?"  It recently occurred to me to check the increasingly invaluable site YouTube—lo and behold, YouTube has a video of the TV appearance containing that version of the song.  You can watch it after the jump.

Continue reading ""Song to the Siren" Video"

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Wednesday March 15, 2006

Eephing

Here's a story about an odd vocal artform from Monday's episode of the NPR show Day to Day.  It's called "eephing" and it's...um...hard to describe.  Kind of like scat meets beatbox, except with more banjo.  Definitely check out the sidebar samples, including a number called "Yakety Eeeph" that you may recognizes as that song from Benny Hill.

Continue reading "Eephing"

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01:27 PM in Linguistics , Music | Comments (8) | Submit: | Links:

Tuesday January 3, 2006

Current Top 25

I was patient.  I didn't like the idea of carrying around a hard drive in my pocket—think of the angular momentum, man!—so I waited until the no-moving-parts iPods had enough storage capacity to hold all my MP3s, then, a few months ago, bought a 4GB Nano.  (Whose oh-so-scratchable face is protected by this tremendously cool decal.)  I'm a pretty satisfied customer, although it seems to require somewhat frequent resets—sometimes I hit "play" and it plays but doesn't produce any sound.  I can live with that—heck, I put up with DOS for ten years.

In any case, after the jump you'll find my current "Top 25 Most Played" playlist from iTunes.  Note that iTunes does the right thing when accumulating play counts: it increments the count when a song finishes playing, not when it starts, so that over time the top 25 really does reflect what songs you like, rather that what songs the shuffler has chosen fractionally more often.

Continue reading "Current Top 25"

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Thursday October 20, 2005

Song Meme

I seem to be doing a lot of music-blogging lately [isn't this supposed to be a linguistics blog?-ed.  Get out of my head, Mickey Kaus's editor!], and when I saw this meme over on Byzantium's Shores, I couldn't help myself.

Continue reading "Song Meme"

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Friday October 7, 2005

A Kissed Out Red Float Post

Having recently posted about the Cocteau Twins and about the meanless text included in spam email, I realized the two subjects are related in an interesting way.  Liz Fraser, the lead singer of the Cocteau Twins, is famous for the very strange way she articulated the lyrics of their songs.  She's not just singing pure notes—there are actual consonants and vowels in there—but it's not any language I know.

Continue reading "A Kissed Out Red Float Post"

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Monday August 29, 2005

"Song to the Siren"

Every so often a song that I know well catches my attention again.  I listen to it as if for the first time, sometimes parsing the lyrics for the first time, sometimes noticing a musical motif I hadn't heard before.  This recently happened with "Song to the Siren" by This Mortal Coil—or rather, since This Mortal Coil was a series of compilation albums by artists at the UK label 4AD, by Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.  The song stands out for Liz's vocal performance, and for the sad, classical mythology behind the lyrics.  Fraser is famous for her very strange way of articulating the lyrics of songs, so it can be hard to make out what she's singing.  Curious, I started googling around to find out exactly what the lyrics were to "Song to the Siren", and discovered the surprisingly complicated textual history of the song.

Continue reading ""Song to the Siren""

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