Category Archives: James Boo

Results: Theme Song

James Boo

Don – Are Diwano Mujhe Pehchano

In what is possibly the most tiger-centric gangster entrance in all of film history, a blazing Amitabh Bachchan in his prime, playing a street singer posing as a mob Kingpin, proves that intimidation and charm can be two sides of the same rupee. His eyes, hips, and oversized bowtie are in full effect as he courts the criminal underworld, daring even the most sternly goateed man to doubt his authenticity:

Who am I, who am I, who am who am who am I?

I am Don, I am Don, I am I am I am Don!

Strings swirl, horns blaze, and an insistent start-stop shuffle puts a dance floor under three and a half minutes of bombastic affirmation. Our hero spins and gestures his way through the South Asian, Latin American and Western influences that characterizes the seamless mosaic of Don’s cinematic score, reassuring the villains of his infamous name and reassuring the audience of his unmatchable Bollywood talent. A theme song with more volumes of purpose cannot be found; the flowers polka-dotting Amitabh’s wescot on their own are enough to say this much.


Nicotina Chevrolet

Velvet Mafia

Pop Quiz – Who/what is the Velvet Mafia?

(a) an underground organization of criminal crooners, led by the Velvet Fog, Mel Torme
(b) an elite group of gays rumored to be responsible for everythingfrom entertainment trends to British politics to the inability of Ab Fab’s Patsy & Edina to achieve professional success, and unofficially headed by David Geffen
(c) a New York City glam rock band headed by a 6’6″ bald drag queen who lived and died in bizzare circumstances
(d) a gay porn

Okay, when you’re ready, scroll down and grade your quiz.

If your answer was (a), you get 0 points.  You are wrong.*
If your answer was (b) you get 90 points.  Your response can be verified by Wikipedia and the urban slang dictionary, which is good enough for me.  The term in this context is mostly a joke, which is why you don’t get the full 100 points.**
If your answer was (c) or (d) you get 100 points.  You are correct!

*Unless you know something I don’t, and there really is such an organization, in which case you get 1,000 points.
**Unless there really is such an organization, and you can convince them to make Not Without Your Daughter posthumously famous, in which case you get 10,000 points.

So this wasn’t your standard multiple choice.  Sometimes there is more than one answer.  And this was the case with this week’s Iron Clef theme.  How can someone pick just one theme song?  There are so many excellent theme songs, from Nerf Herder’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme song to the theme song for It’s the Gary Shandling Show (“this is the theme to Gary’s show, the opening theme to Gary’s show, Gary called me up and asked if I could write his theme song…”).  And that’s just in the TV genre!  Then you’ve got film, video games…it boggles the mind.  After a week of soul searching, I finally narrowed down my entry to the Velvet Mafia Theme Song.  But as there are two amazing velvet mafia theme songs, I can narrow no further.

The first is the theme song/intro for the NYC band from answer (c), headed by the previously mentioned giant bald queen, Dean Johnson.  In this song, Dean sings of his willingness to sell himself to the alleged gay mafia from answer (b) in order to achieve professional success “If you wanna cross the bridge, you gotta pay the toll. If you wanna make it big, you gotta play with trolls. So pardon me while I go steppin’ out to Fire Island with David Geffen…” Since Dean was actually a manwhore, and was not exaggerating his willingness to get pounded for personal gain, one must only guess that he either never had the opportunity to meet the powerful queers and make his offer, or they reneged on the deal.  Either way, the Velvet Mafia may never have made it to the mainstream, but in the NYC queercore scene, they were legendary.

Like the Velvet Mafia, the Bay Area based band Mon Cousin Belge is a band with great talent, hypnotic songs, and magnetic stage presence. Also like the Velvet Mafia, MCB is gayer than a handbag full of rainbows.  So when they were offered the opportunity to have one of their songs featured as the theme song for a gay porn made by Falcon Studios, they naturally agreed.  The result is, I would venture to bet, the best porn music ever.  As thanks, the pornmakers played fairy godfather and lent their film equipment and some clips from their movie so that Mon Cousin Belge could make a music video of their very own for the Velvet Mafia Theme Song, also known as “Going Down.”

So which is the real Velvet Mafia Theme Song?  Only the gay mafia knowsfor sure.

Yohan John

M*A*S*H – Suicide Is Painless

What is the purpose of Iron Clef? Is it to prove one’s ability to remember corny, bizarre, obscure songs? Is it to establish one’s pop culture credentials? Or is it just an excuse to share good music? Perhaps all of the above…

At some point a few months ago I downloaded several theme songs from “classic” television shows. Remember Gimme a Break? All In the Family? The Fall Guy? Mr. Rogers? I haz it. These songs are interesting, and induce nostalgia and cringing in equal measure, but I want to choose a theme song that’s just plain good.

M*A*S*H was one of the greatest television shows ever made. Funny, profound, warm, and true. The theme music for the TV show was without lyrics. I heard the original song relatively recently, when I saw the movie (on which the TV show was based). Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics.

The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

No wonder the TV show left the words out!

[Also: Manic Street Preachers did a cover of this song.]

Just vote for the one that’s still stuck in your head.

Vote!

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Results: Sex

James Boo

XTC – When You’re Near Me I Have Difficulty


Challenging me to write about sex is kind of like challenging Marc Summers to write about being doused with slime on the set of Nickelodeon’s Double Dare. That said, Marc and I are both grateful for the existence of XTC’s “When You’re Near Me I Have Difficulty,” a jittery nerd-pop anthem for all the boys and girls who have trouble distinguishing between exhilaration and terror when coming into bodily contact with the fairer species. Drawing lyrical imagery from a twelve-year-old’s journal and a skittering pulse to match, Andy Partridge & Co. capture the anxieties of a romantically befuddled soul trying to cope with the physical complications of the love bug. Never mind the fact that the narrator never reaches first base; it’s his internal monologue of self-centered neuroticism that so vividly depicts an inexperienced lover’s struggle with one of humanity’s most basic instincts. After all, when all of your peers have established batting averages while you’re still figuring out how to grip the bat, what more can you do with yourself than write a song about it?

Oliver Hinds

Scratch Acid – Lay Screaming

I’ve never had sex, but i’ve often imagined what it would be like. This post was a challenge for me. I struggled to find a song that fit my (perhaps idealized) view of the act. The song I settled on captures if not what sex is, then what sex should be. Just like the act, David Yow’s lyrics evoke pleasure, serenity, and joy. Sex should be about love, and he understands that. The progressive degeneration of modern society is obvious, and this song serves as a yardstick to measure the lengthening rip in our moral fabric.

Jake Mix

Viktor Vaughn – Let Me Watch

Roof over your head? Shirt on your back? Food on your table? Good, now go out there and try to get laid.

Rock, though far from subtle, can be relied upon to hide it’s fleshy meanings under a thick layer of euphemism. Hip hop, on the other hands, tends to roll a bit more balls out, so to speak, ass-griding through your ears and into your brain. MF Doom, working under his Viktor Vaughn pseudonym, slows things down a bit and relates the pre-coitus mating dance of a rapper and young girl he sees as easy prey in Let Me Watch from 2003’s Vaudeville Villain.

Doom plays his part as an overly self-confident and clueless ladies man who name drops fellow musicians in order to win the young lass’ affections. Apani B. is the innocent Nikki, with her 8:30 curfew, still lives with at home with momma. At first, the two make quite the couple, discussing politics, art, and, apparently, chess over dinner. Once Doom whips out the prerequisite hip hop crudities post crudités, however, things go south and Nikki will have none of it.

I’d rather masturbate than fuck with Vik Vaughn,” sings Nikki. Let me watch!” returns Doom. As the song winds down, Doom keeps talking, curious when Nikki will stop by to do the dirty deed. “Just ring the buzzer,” says Doom, oblivious to his mistake. It’s refreshing that, in the end, Nikki is our hero – the song ends up commenting on hip hop’s rampant sexism without tying its own hands and labeling itself Positive Hip Hop.

Somehow I find myself having chosen a song without any sex in it. For everyone now nursing blue balls, here’s a little video for you to enjoy:

Flaming Marshmallow! Now you can…

Vote!

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Results: Baseball

James Boo


M. Ward – O’Brien/O’Brien’s Nocturne

Is America defined more by its time honored traditions, or by its bold pursuit of the unwarranted? Until civilization makes good on the promise of Blernsball, we will be forced to choose. This week, I side with tradition, and my captain is M. Ward, Americana virtuoso of the twenty-first century.

Before he was a Merge Records superstar with dual drummers, Ward was a fledgling singer-songwriter with sophomore record named “End of Amnesia.” It was here that he first struck the balance between roots, folk, lo-fi pop, and classical guitar, filtered through a 1930s phonograph in a dead man’s parlor, to create the sound that would define his career.

“O’Brien,” the album’s closer, is living proof. Or dead proof- it’s not easy to tell. In a sparse arrangement, Ward’s warm, wilted voice recalls a meeting on the mound. The deserted baseball diamond is little more than a backdrop for Ward’s memory: a ghost of friendship, old cars, and a girlfriend, who, in the grand scheme of things, is less notable than the brand name of the guitar winding these images together and bearing them into the world with each buzzing note. We’re reminded that the game played is ultimately meaningless; what matters is that he was there, and until “O’Brien’s Nocturne” recedes into silence, so are we. The record stops. Amnesia returns to mankind. And that’s the story of how O’Brien blew my mind.

Dave Morrison

In general, I detest professional team sports. But I will watch baseball when I’m sick. Drifting in and out of consciousness, rolled up in my blankie, I can forget about the money machine, the performance enhancing drugs, the cutthroat competition for corporate sponsorships, and allow myself to be tugged along by the rhythm of the game, with its slowly shifting states of tension. It’s like dreaming of geologic time.

The perfect soundtrack for this activity is the 1969 instrumental “Albatross”, by Fleetwood Mac. You can feel the world dissolving into a dream as the gently thrumming rhythms push and pull like the tide, buoying the swooping and gliding slide guitars.

The object of baseball, as George Carlin famously pointed out, is just to go home. Home, the ocean, sleep. The ball seems to hang forever in the bright blue sky. The crowd fades away and the announcer holds his breath. The magic is in forgetting.

C. Shaw

Contextual note: unfortunately, every word I write here is a wasted opportunity to accomplish what is possibly a much larger and more important purpose; for everyone reading this who has watched any sporting event on television in the last year secretly knows that the official song for every American sport, including baseball, is “This is Our Country” by John [Cougar] [Mellencamp]. He sings it on the field, it’s in the commercials, it’s in all of our heads (although it’s curiously not on the radio–maybe he publicly insulted Clear Channel?) And it’s the worst song ever. So by not writing about “This is Our Country” right now I am avoiding service to the greater good, i.e. talking about how that is the worst song ever.

Then, barring The Coog from the discussion, let me pretend that the song I actually hear when I think of baseball is the song I wish I still heard:


The Mountain Goats – “Cubs in Five”


I was never much of a Mountain Goats fan. John Darnielle’s voice is kind of nasal, sometimes he strings together some really odd phrases with awkward timing, and apart from the lyrics, there’s usually not much else to listen to. Then last summer at a festival, I found myself, on a 105 degree Chicago afternoon, confronted with a big stage that said Mountain Goats, and surrounded by a thick pile of the nerdiest fans you can imagine, their bodies tightly packed in a writhing nonsexual orgy of thick geeky glasses and ironic T-shirts, and there was no way I was getting out. So I stayed. And John Darnielle came out to a rocking ovation, and played every song from The Sunset Tree, and finished up with “Cubs in Five,” a song about a lost love that is not coming back (until the Cubs win it all–so it’s NOT COMING BACK.) And it’s nerdy, and it’s nasal, and it’s awkward, and at the time, it’s the best song I’ve ever heard. The couple standing in front of me lost their shit every time a new song started, and this one was the worst; she jumped into his arms and sloppy-drunk-kissed him and they both danced like idiots and collapsed into a pile on the floor when it was done.
And this is a song about “And the Chicago Cubs will beat every team in the league… and I will love you again… like I used to.” Not a love song. But the whole time all I could think about was how I wished my own girl-from-Chicago was with me so she could get that excited and I could experience it in the same way as those idiots in front of me. 16 months later, I have every major MG release, see them when they come to town, put that song on every mixtape I make, and have John Darnielle’s blog on my RSS feed. Maybe JD has a nasal voice. So do I! And sure, there are some awkward phrases, but a certain greatest lyricist ever named Robert Zimmerman is also known to throw in the occasional awkward phrase (try to write down the lyrics to “Ballad of a Thin Man” without laughing). Finally, who needs drums? Radiohead doesn’t. It’s a great song, and maybe the “studio” version from the cassette-to-CD release Nine Black Poppies sounds tinny and lo-fi, but listen to it yourself, and decide if maybe it isn’t the best song ever.

So. Thanks, John Fucking Mellencamp, for replacing my memories of “Cubs in Five” with “This is Our Country.” Asshole.

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