Cyber-ed to death

Thank goodness “Cyber Monday” is over. I don’t think my email inbox could handle another day of overload like this:

cyber-fatigue

(This is just an unedited, screen-grab sample of the email I received, there’s plenty more where that came from.)

Until a few years ago, I thought “Sweetest Day” was the worst retailer ruse that could be foisted upon us, the smartest scam manufactured by marketers in a ceaseless effort to separate unsuspecting customers from their hard-earned cash (or credit). But Cyber Monday has taken it to a whole new level… or an all-time low.

Kudos to the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation for creating #GivingTuesday:

Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday)

You don’t really need that new gizmo. But 42 million Americans are food insecure. 564,708 people in the U.S. are homeless on any given night. 783 million people around the globe do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Please find a charity that speaks to you, and open up your heart and your wallet. Not just today, but all year long.

A pledge pin? On your uniform?

This is Buffalo Tom. One of my all-time favorite bands.  buffalo-tom

They first caught my ears in 1992, when I was the overnight DJ at 97X in Oxford, Ohio and played their song “Velvet Roof.”

I soon listened to the rest of that brand-new album, Let Me Come Over, and thought every tune was a gem. They won my heart and we’re still together.

The intriguing cover of the Let Me Come Over album

The intriguing cover of the Let Me Come Over album

Nearly a quarter of a century later, Buffalo Tom is still rocking. Oh sure, they’re all married with kids, and have real jobs now (lead singer Bill Janovitz sells real estate near Boston). But they have continued to put out albums that sound great.

 

Like many other artists whom I adore but the general public manages to ignore, Buffalo Tom is using fan-funding to release their upcoming album. http://www.pledgemusic.com/artists/buffalotom/discussion?project_id=14435

For a mere $9.99, you can get a digital download of the new album. If you don’t like it, I’ll refund your money.

 

More Gilmore

Never thought I’d see the day when new episodes of Gilmore Girls were available. My wife and I loved watching the show when it was on the WB (remember that wacky network?)and later the CW back in the early aughts. It always had a reputation as a “chick flick” type of show, but that was lazy pigeonholing, probably because the cast featured very strong female characters. In my humble opinion, it was one of the best written shows going, and show creator/producer/writer Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writing partner husband Daniel are true geniuses.

The show never made much of a dent in the ratings during its seven seasons on the air. But the episodes hold up very well (due to the strong writing, naturally), so it gained a new generation of fans thanks to the magic of Netflix. So much so that they “got the band back together” and created four new 90-minute episodes which debuted on Netflix yesterday.

gilmore-use-this-one

My wife and I watched the first one last night, and after nearly a decade away, they haven’t missed a beat. All the things that made me love Gilmore Girls were present and accounted for:

  • rapid-fire dialogue
  • witty pop culture references – no one else could pull off lines like these:
    • “you Spinal Tapped the painting”
    • “Ööö-ber”
    • “Brett Ratner gave him the keys to his pool house”
  • quirky characters
  • fantastic music

The characters and the dialogue make the show, but for a music-head like me, the songs are a great big cherry on top. As soon as I saw Grant-Lee Phillips reprising his role as the town troubadour, I knew all was well in Stars Hollow. (And the woefully underappreciated Sam Phillips – no relation to Grant-Lee – is still featured in transitional “la-la” music too!). Later in the show, we got to hear snippets of Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love”, and Kirk singing The Carpenters segueing right into the Shonen Knife version of “Top of the World.”

The Tom Waits song “Time” was a perfect choice for the scene at Richard’s funeral.

And Lane’s band (featuring Sebastian Bach from Skid Row!) rocked out a great version of Joe Jackson’s “I’m the Man.” Joe could rock it too:

Grant-Lee also chased off a competing town troubadour (his sister), played by Louise Goffin (Carole King’s daughter, who duets with her mom on the show’s theme song). But my favorite moment was when Grant-Lee was featured later in the show, doing a Fountains of Wayne tune, “Valley Winter Song.” It was probably only 10 seconds of screen time, but it truly made my day.

Here’s the original from Fountains of Wayne, it first appeared on their fantastic album Welcome Interstate Managers.

Being on Gilmore Girls has been a boon to Grant-Lee Phillips’ career too, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Here’s a quote from a recent interview:

“It’s wild. When I first started appearing on that show, I couldn’t really get a sense of how it would impact my notoriety, my profile. But what I have experienced is there’s a younger crowd especially—and this exists all over the world where I tour—they have discovered me through the ‘Gilmore Girls.’ They show up to my gig in Hamburg with their ‘Gilmore’ DVDs. I think it’s quite amazing,” he explained. “I’m very grateful for ‘Gilmore Girls,’ and the fact it’s turned on a whole new generation to my stuff.”

Here’s a clip of all of Grant-Lee’s tunes on the original run of GG:

Thank you Amy Sherman-Palladino for a wonderful Black Friday gift for every member of your cult audience: more heaping helpings of greatness. And thank you Netflix for giving Gilmore Girls a new home.

 

Puppet Show and Spinal Tap

On the Forbes list of the highest paid comedians for this year, there are a few surprises… head-scratchers, even.

top-comedians

It’s not surprising at all that Kevin Hart tops the list. Seinfeld is a no-brainer as well. But I actually had to Google “Terry Fator” because I’d never heard of him before… and I consider myself a comedy aficionado. Turns out he is a ventriloquist/impressionist who won Season 2 of America’s Got Talent and parlayed that into a standing gig at the Mirage in Vegas. Who knew that having puppets in your act could be so lucrative?

puppet_show_and_spinal_tap

Another dude that plays with dummies, Jeff Dunham, was also in the top 5, raking in a cool $13.5 mill. And I threw away my sock puppets when I was a kid. Who’s the dummy now?

hill-dummy

Names 9 and 10 were unknown to me as well, but maybe that’s because I’m xenophobic (it’s OK, so is the president-elect). Russell Peters is Canadian and John Bishop is a Brit. Forbes even wrote about Russell Peters’ lack of name recognition.

bart-simpson-who-are-you

I suppose Terry Fator, Russell Peters and John Bishop have millions of reasons to not care about whether I’ve heard of them or not. its-all-about-the-benjamins-tshirt-preview

 

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