Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we avoiding the swine flu?

10) Using a dental dam when eating pork.

9) Keeping out harmful air by covering head with a plastic bag.

8) Appeasing our angry gods by sacrificing Madonna, like a virgin.

7) Calling in "pre-sick" to work.

6) Cleaning up this pig sty because Mom said we'd definitely get swine flu if we didn't.

5) Instead of saying, "bless you" when someone sneezes, pointing at them and screaming "Unclean!" until the authorities quarantine them.

4) Creating anti-germ cocoon out of duct tape and leftover bubble wrap.

3) Staying away from Mexico until it returns to a safer state of cartel-fueled violence.

2) Asking President Obama to lay hands on us.

1) Freaking out so badly that we die of a heart attack before we get sick.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Random 11

The Lovely Becky and I had a recent conversation about what I considered to be the worst song of all time (a song which we had heard at the end of Zac and Miri Make a Porno, the first Kevin Smith movie that seemed like a real movie). Being someone who is obsessed with music and with lists in a Hi Fidelity sense, the Worst Songs of All Time list is one I take very serious. And very much like the character of Rob, I have some rules.

1) I never consider novelty songs as the worst songs of all time. If a song's intention is to annoy me, and it annoys me, it's a success, and something can't be the worst if it's a success. This also applies to antagonistic arty crap like Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music or anything by Laurie Anderson. You wanted to be unlistenable and you are unlistenable. Mission accomplished.

2)It has to be something done by a musician. The cast of Star Trek certainly could be brought before the Hague for musical war crimes, but even if Shatner is serious, Shatner isn't a serious musician. Likewise you could populate an entire list of terrible songs with selections from Bruce Willis or Don Johnson (warning: clip contains Dweezil), but that would be like populating a list of bad acting jobs with all of Prince's movies. Vanity projects don't count. I'm talking about performers who are trying to make a living from music.

3) The song has to have staying power. Most terrible music, however, goes unnoticed because it is terrible in a pedestrian sense. It takes a certain special quality for a bad song to become a legendary bad song. It's the difference between a stormtrooper and Darth Vader.

4) I exclude songs that I find awful but that I know are awful mostly to just me. For example, I hate Deep Purple, who (in my humble opinion) manage to combine the worst musical wankery with the IQ of a Hell's Angel coming down from a crank bender. But they have a legitimate place in rock history. It's not them, it's me.

There are certainly many songs to choose that fit these criteria. The maudlin ("Every Rose Has Its Thorn"). The lunkheaded ("I Can't Drive 55"). The saccharine ("Break My Stride" or anything by the Starland Vocal Band). Or Christian rock that's so bad, it's blasphemous (see Stryper or any modern Christian rock, which seems to think Jesus is a melodramatic 12-year-old who likes syrupy power ballads).

My runners-up would be "Ice Ice Baby" and "We Built This City." True abominations and a pair of songs that make deafness seem like a blessing.

However, the Brando Academy of Popular Culture and Phallus-Based Humor gives the award of Worst Song Ever to...Jermaine Stewart, "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off."

Why did the Academy select this song?
  • Musically, it exemplifies everything that is wrong with 80s music. I think the 80s get a bad shake because there was also a lot of great music made during that time. The worst of it, however, is really some of the worst shit ever recorded. Everything about the music here sounds like it was made on an assembly line: use the synth bass and drums for the frame, give it some synth horn wheels, and paint the whole thing with a fourth-rate Jackson 5 vocal. Oh, and don't forget to include the optional "Nah nah nah" backing vocal package.
  • It's catchy as hell. I hate, hate, hate, hate this song. Yet the simple act of linking to it guarantees it will be in my head for a week. All the worst songs are catchy. They are computer viruses that Norton can't scrub from your brain.
  • The final and most important element: the theme. We don't have to take our clothes off to have a good time. That seemingly innocent line goes against everything I believe rock and roll has tried to achieve.
It's not that music should be pushing kids to hump like rabbits (I'm looking at you, Whitesnake). However, rock music has always been about two things: sex and rebellion. Those two things are the source of its mojo. You could certainly write pretty compelling songs about the perils of teenage bopping (and even keeping your baby) and write sexy dance numbers that don't involve horizontal dancing.

The problem with "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" is that it's a public service announcement set to dance music. It makes no compelling argument for keeping one's clothes on, because let's face it, we don't have to take your clothes off to have a good time, but we often have more fun when we do. (See also: We don't have to drink to have good time, but we have more fun when we do). Scare me with some clever rhymes about STDs, offer a catchy dry-humping alternative, do something other than croon at me about cherry wine. I've seen chastity pledges that are more clever, and this song is so straightlaced, you could back it with a B-side of George Will rapping about not wearing blue jeans and not make it less cool.

So there you have it, my official criteria for music I hate. I'd love to hear some counterarguments in the comments. Now, let's play some (hopefully) good music.

1) "Epic," Faith No More. One of the few rap-metal songs that does not suck.

2) "Seen Your Video," The Replacements. Anti-MTV rants seem even more quaint than the idea of MTV playing videos.

3) "Radio Song," R.E.M. The one song from Out of Time that I don't think has aged well. Like "Seen Your Video," anti-radio diatribes seem so outdated. Yeah, radio still sucks, but these days, there are so many ways to experience music that it's not as much of an issue.

4) "Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)," Sufjan Stevens. This seems appropriate considering the 0-16 Detroit Lions are picking first in the NFL draft tomorrow and we've had our 24th consecutive week of hearing that the American auto industry may crash and burn like a Ford Pinto. There's a great off-kilter beat to this song that seamlessly flows into a funky breakdown in the middle.

5) "Hover," Rhett Miller. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, a whole lotta good.

6) "Is She Really Going Out With Him," Joe Jackson. One of the more contemptuous love songs that manages to stay cool by adding a dash of self-loathing.

7) "Things Behind the Sun," Nick Drake. Pink Moon may be the most intimate album ever made. I always feel like Nick Drake is write there in the room, playing his guitar and barely summoning the breath to sing his lyrics. This album wasn't created, it was captured.

8) "Keep Hope Alive," The Crystal Method. The arena rock of dance music, which is probably why I like this so much. Huge drum beats that hit you like offensive linemen. Synthesizer leads played like guitar riffs. And just repetitive enough to groove without boring me like most dance music does.

9) "True Believer," Superdrag. Now here's some Christian music that I can rock to. They even work "transfiguration" into the lyrics—that takes some serious effort.

10) "Santa Monica," Everclear. One of my favorite songs from the 90s. It's not terribly original, sure: the soft-to-loud structure is paint-by-the-alternative-rock numbers. They get around that by turning the guitars up and playing hard enough that I don't care.

11) "Returning to the Fold," The Thermals. When I heard this bit of lapsed-Catholic-inspired indie rock, I thought maybe I'd started a band that I didn't know about, because this is the kind of song I'd write. But I still have faith, if I ever had faith. That about sums it up for me.

Have a good time this weekend, regardless of the state of your clothes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What new interrogation procedures are we approving?

10) Arrange a visit from detainee's mother, who expresses how disappointed she is.

9) Ask, "What's wrong? Is something wrong?" over and over until they crack.

8) Strap detainees in chairs and force them to watch marathon sessions of America's Funniest Home Videos.

7) Eat all of their pet fish right before their eyes.

6) Force them to motorboat a hairy fat guy who just played pickup basketball. (AKA "the new waterboarding")

5) Put them on a new reality game show, So You Think You Can Withhold Vital Information?

4) Lock them in detention hall with four other misfit detainees until they understand that there is more to life than jihad.

3) Get in their faces and scream that they can have a part on 24 if they cooperate.

2) Play some Barry White, pour them a little wine, and make them gaze into President Obama's eyes. Go ahead, try to lie.

1) Tell them that none of the interrogators are putting their pants back on until they get the truth.

Friday, April 17, 2009

No Random 11 today, but a fashion diatribe about fashion diatribes

There is much to-doing at the worldwide headquarters of CJSD Enterprises, Ltd. today, so I have to let the list go today.

However, I invite you to see the concentrated stupidity that is George Will's diatribe on blue jeans. If you want to know why both the Republican Party and mainstream newspapers are bleeding rectally, this one column pretty much captures it all. The even better part is that Will, in talking about how jeans are a symbol of a laziness of appearance, essentially borrows most of a Wall Street Journal editorial against jeans by Daniel Akst. I guess George had to pad out his column long enough to get his check so he could head to Brooks Brothers.

The WSJ column is no better, dropping this doozy:
Despite its air of innocence, no fabric has ever been so insidiously effective at undermining national discipline.
This, of course, ignores statistics showing that while our dress has gotten more casual, we still lead the world in worker productivity.

I suppose next week's columns will be about the Satanic influence of necking and comic books.

Have a good weekend, and remember to straighten those ascots and polish those monocles before you go out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Conservative Teabaggers Descend on American Cities

Protestors vow to form "one giant Dick Armey"

Across the United States, thousands of Americans spilled into city streets to protest government spending of the Obama Administration. They are not just ordinary protestors, however. Instead, they have adopted a method of releasing their pent up frustration borrowed from the Founding Fathers: having a teabagging party.

Weary of endless government bailouts, the teabaggers warn that Obama is erecting a socialist welfare state. They believe that the government has no business inserting money into the free market, and that the market should decide which business come and go. "In short, what we teabaggers are saying is, 'Suck it up,'" says Richard Head, the organizer of TeabagAmerica.com, one of the many Internet sites devoted to teabagging.

That message grabbed the interest of conservatives around the country, and the Internet helped swell those ranks even more as many conservative teabaggers went online, eager to meet like-minded individuals. "I was just online one night, searching about teabagging," said Harry Peters of Seattle, Washington, "and after a few visits to other sites, I happened to click on a link about a teabagging party right here in Seattle."

The teabagging party Peters attended took place outside of a men's restroom near the Space Needle. A dozen men gathered around the entrance, with pairs of men occasionally ducking into the restroom to "get hot water" for their teabags. "It's disgusting what the government is ramming down our throats," said Mr. Peters as he waited for his turn. "We have to get off handouts and stop begging the government to fulfill our every need. People need to be more independent." Mr. Peters, who attended Washington State University on the G.I. Bill after serving in the U.S. Army, is a contract manager at the Boeing Company.

The desire to join in on this teabagging seemed universal among conservatives, regardless of age or geographic location. In Des Moines, Iowa, large numbers of teabaggers from rural areas surged into the capital, attracted by news of teabagging activities in the state capitol. "All Obama wants to do is just keep handing out free money to people," said Randy Johnson, dressed in vintage eighteenth century knee-high pants and silk stockings as he dipped his teabags into a cup. "Well, let me tell you, you can't have a democracy when you're ruled by welfare queens." Mr. Johnson is a farmer who sells most of his corn crop to ethanol processors.

While the rallies mostly focused on taxes, they turned to other issues that have gotten a rise out of conservatives. At the Des Moines rally, many talked about the state supreme court's decision to make same-sex marriages legal. "What kind of example does that set for our children, especially for young boys?" Mr. Johnson asked as he sipped his Chamomile tea from a cup that read, "I [heart symbol] Mike Huckabee."

"The idea of two men doing what Randy and I do in our most private moments...well, it gets me pretty hot and bothered," said Mary A. Johnson, Mr. Johnson's wife of 38 years. "Marriage is about family values, like raising children or baking pies or watching our favorite shows like Wife Swap, which Randy and I just love."

Mr. Johnson added, "The left is trying to get us to swallow this homosexual agenda, and I for one am going to spit it back in their faces."

At a rally Phoenix, Arizona, immigration was perhaps even more of a rallying cry than taxes. A group calling themselves "Ye Olde Teabaggers"—disguised as Native Americans like the original participants of the Boston Tea Party—addressed the crowd. "These immigrants come here to take our land, our food, and our livelihoods," said Robert Knobs, a Pittsburgh native who moved to Phoenix to take a job as a Wal-Mart manager. "They are destroying small-town America as we know it."

Initially, this anti-tax movement was relatively small and appeared to lack any real staying power. However, once the idea of teabagging was introduced, the movement grew very quickly and hardened into a political phenomenon. "The key to stimulating a grassroots political movement is you have to have some fun," said Glenn Beck, the conservative television commentator who is one of the most ardent proponents of teagbagging. "That's why we started with teabagging. It allows us to play around and have a little fun before we get down to business."

The rapid climax of the teabagging movement at these tea parties hints that this grassroots movement may have had a helping hand from prominent conservative groups. Specifically, FreedomWorks, an conservative political organization headed by former Congressman Dick Armey, is alleged to have pumped a large amount of liquid assets into the movement. While Mr. Armey downplayed his contribution, teabaggers at the Atlanta rally where Mr. Armey was to speak acknowledged the contributions of the former House Majority Leader. "Separately, we are but a bunch of little Dick Armeys, getting out the conservative message in little dribs and drabs," said Hugh J. Toole, the head of the Atlanta teabagging branch. "But together, we can come together as one giant Dick Armey and unleash a huge outpouring of conservatism all over America."

Likewise, many pundits at Fox News served as mouthpieces for the teabagging movement. "I love what teabagging is doing for conservatives," said television host Sean Hannity. "It tells you everything you need to know about us: that we're not just going to lie there and take it, but instead we're going to be aggressive and not stop until we get what we want."

Hannity also believes that the movement is here to stay. "All this teabagging isn't some giant tease for conservatives. We're going to keep pounding this message home."

At the end of a long day, many teabagging participants looked tired and exhausted, even if they glowed with the pleasure the events clearly gave them. "I feel great, but I'm ready to relax," said Mary A. Johnson after the Des Moines rally. "That's why my girlfriends and I are going to finish our day of teabagging with a group facial."

Ms. Johnson turned and hollered to her friends, "Come on girls, let's go to the spa. I just got my tax rebate!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What are we reporting on our taxes?

10) Claiming guy in our man-sized safe as a dependent.

9) Writing off our 401k as a gambling loss.

8) Declaring our occupation as "the Lord's work" so all of our wages can be charitable contributions.

7) Categorizing our octuplets as interest-generating assets.

6) Taking a loss due to seepage on our organ farm.

5) Including a camera, cat, cheeseburger, and bucket on our list of work expenses.

4) Listing our residency as "couch."

3) Requesting bailout for our failed Soapbox Derby Hyrbid industry.

2) Reporting status as, "Married, filing fabulously!"

1) Adding our "spine transplant" under medical expenses. (Democratic Party only)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Most days, I wake up with a song in my head. Sometimes it's something I've been listening to a lot, other times it'll be something completely random (my brain, the original iPod Genius software). The song tends to change on a daily basis, but every so often I get stuck on something that will not go away. I've spent all week with the Dracula Song from Forgetting Sarah Marshall stuck on repeat. I keep going around the house singing, "And if I see Van Helsing, I swear to the Lord I will slay him" in an accent like Sesame Street's The Count after one glass of absinthe too many. Quick Ebert and Brando at The Movies review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of the better Movies I Thought Would Totally Suck but Actually Rocked. I have a strong suspicion that I would have been a lot like Jason Segel in this movie if had to do things like date when I was in my 20s.

It's also Easter weekend if you're a Christian and not using some Soviet-manufactured Easten Orthodox calendar, or if you're a chocoholic and/or rabbit worshipper. So Happy Easter to all of you who will be celebrating it. If you're not celebrating Easter, I'll see you in hell.* I'll be the one wearing the "I went to Catholic school for 12 years and all I got was this lousy eternal damnation" t-shirt.

*That is a joke. Not the part about me going to hell, though, that's still pretty likely. Happy Passover to AG and all other Chosen People out there.

1) "Sally MacLeanne," The Pogues. Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash may be the greatest album title of all time. I immediately get a thirst for Guinness whenever The Pogues come on. There is a hilarious introduction to this clip.

2) "Wouldn't It Be Nice," The Beach Boys. This is an open invitation to discuss how Pet Sounds is better than Sgt. Peppers. Feel free to get your music nerd freak on. I personally think the greatest weakness of Pet Sounds is that Ringo doesn't sing on it.

3) "Rhthm and Soul," Spoon. There should be a [sic] after "Rhthm." Why did they leave out the "y"? I don't know. Something else I don't know: in the previous sentence, does the question mark go inside the parentheses? Normally, I would say yes, but since I'm using quotations to show that I'm talking about a specific letter, I don't know, and I'm too lazy to go ask TLB, aka The Grammar Queen (who seriously knows everything about the English language). Something I do know: "Rhythm" is the longest English word that does not use a vowel. And "y" is the only bisexual letter in the alphabet.

4) "Black Flowers," Yo La Tengo. It usually takes a bit of repetition before I get into a song. I am one of those people who tend to play albums a lot right after I buy them so I can see which songs stick. Every so often, though, a song pops up that I don't know very well but immediately want to know better. This is one of those songs. I have to admit I have a weakness for the song-added-to-TV-show-video-montage YouTube videos.

5) "Definite Door," The Posies. Speaking of weaknesses, I am so easy for power pop music. If you record a fairly catchy song with melodic guitars that are front and center, I'm probably letting you at least get to second base. If I can sing the chorus after one listen, you're definitely at least sliding headfirst into third.

6) "Oliver's Army," Elvis Costello and the Attractions. If you're out of luck or out of work, we could send you to Johannesburg. One of the great lines in rock. I've mentioned this before, but it's kind of eerie to listen to late-70s rock (especially punk and New Wave) and hear how the concerns about everything going to shit sound very relevant to today's concerns about everything going to shit. It's somewhat reassuring to me, too, because I don't think even today's problems look as bleak as the late-70s shitscape did.

7) "Stop Your Sobbing," Pretenders. My favorite vocal performance by Chrissie Hynde. She manages to sound both caring and tough, like: "Hey, I know that you've had it rough and that's cool, but you need to get off the couch and deal. And shower. And burn those sweats." Great performance here on the old Letterman show.

8) "These Days," Jackson Browne. Like Yo La Tengo above, a real stopper, with a guitar line that weeps almost as much as The Beatles. While recorded much later, this song was written when he was 16. Do you know what I would have written at 16 if I had been writing songs when I was 16? Something about rescuing a princess from a dragon, with lines like You are so brave, Sir Knight/in winning your dragon fight/I hope you won't think I'm impolite/if I ask you to do it all night. Maybe, if it was a good day and I was feeling intellectual after doing a book report on Of Mice and Men, I might work in a play on "armor" and "amore." There would also be three guitar solos (each longer than the last), a drum solo, and maybe even a bass solo if it fit the motif. The song would of course end with the strike of a gong.

This is why Jackson Browne has a career as a musician and I bang on toy musical instruments in my living room while my wife mocks me. It's even sadder that the reason I didn't write songs when I was 16 is because I was too tired from masturbating to fantasies of rescuing princesses from dragons (I'll see you and your suggestive calendars in hell, Boris Vallejo).

9) "Lydia," Fur Patrol. To show that not much has changed in the 22 years since I was 16, the name "Fur Patrol" makes me snicker a little. Sad, I know, but it's taken a lot of maturity to reduce it to a snicker from the original guffaw I would have had. I'm hoping to eliminate it by the time I'm 60. This song has a terrific vocal and really does not deserve this level of immature commentary.

10) "Seven Nation Army," The White Stripes. You won't find this song on The National Review's list of "conservative" songs because a seven-nation army implies some type of UN security expedition that would make even Resurrected Jesus cry.

I'd like to pause for a moment and ask why wingnuts have such a difficult time when Democrats are in power. It's like we're back to the Klinton Konspiracies of the 1990s, where "Values Voters" (who always seem to have a fetish up their hidden leather sleeve) fear they won't be able to go to the church picnic without being sodomized by a newly married gay couple. The Daily Show ran this segment that illustrates how some GOP members are nuttier than a sack of elephant testicles. I understand being concerned about the bailouts and the deficit and the future for our children—we may disagree on tactics, but certainly the goal is to make the world a better place. I also can greatly sympathize with gagging on the Sausage of One-Party Rule. But tyranny and fascism because an elected government is doing...what the people who elected them asked them to do? Last time I checked, Obama didn't send assassins to Alaska to kill Sarah Palin with an icepick. It just shows how out-of-touch Republicans are. I mean, re-education camps? Everyone knows the re-education will be done via podcast, duh!

11) "Sway," Bic Runga. Such a nice, warm song, I have nothing snarky to say.

Enjoy the weekend, and remember to add one-part insulin to every four-parts Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we spending our unemployment time?

Special extended time off edition!

12) Hunting for a classifieds section from a paper that hasn't gone out of business.

11) Doubling our severance package in Vegas.

10) Expanding our professional knowledge-base by watching a lot of Jeopardy.

9) Looking under the sink for anything that might get us high.

8) Researching methods of faking own death that won't void our insurance.

7) Studying WebMD so we can perform our own surgical procedures when our COBRA expires.

6) Brushing and flossing.

5) Performing stretching exercises to prepare for new career as a drug mule.

4) Downloading as much porn as possible before our Internet service gets turned off.

3) Waiting by the mailbox for our lottery check from Nigeria.

2) Clearing every overgrown shrub from Crawford to Amarillo.

1) Practicing for our all-nude male review.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Yesterday, the Chicago Bears pulled off a trade for Denver quarterback Jay Culter, a Pro Bowl quarterback and the first good one the Bears have had since a punky QB known as McMahon.

The cultural significance of this for Chicagoans (current and expatriate) is that we just lost one of our great unifiers: complaining about the endless stream of shitty quarterbacks that have started for our football team. In fact, the only greater conversational unifier is complaining about the Cubs, and they are considered World Series contenders again this year. Yes, I'll believe it when I see it, but the fact that such talk can be said with a straight face is significant.

Of course, this is all well and good, but also a little sad. As my brother Tickle put it"What are we going to text about during the games when the Bears don't throw for three yards on 3rd and 8?" Just like that, a huge amount of our identity was taken from us, and worst of all, for our benefit. I can only imagine what Red Sox fans went through when Boston won two World Series. Because while winning is awesome, complaining about not winning is a lot more entertaining.

Thankfully, for conversational purposes, the Bears still have at least a half tank of suck left, and the Cubs will likely find some way to rip my heart out and feed it to me while it is still beating.

On to the tunes...

1) "Bicycle Race," Queen. "Bohemian Rhapsody" naturally gets a lot of sing-along attention, thanks in part to Wayne's World and the inherent ridiculous charm of this song. But for my money the most entertaining Queen line to sing is, "I want to ride my bi-cy-cle!"

2) "Living After Midnight," The Donnas. A cover of the classic Judas Priest song, and unfortunately a cover that brings nothing to the table. When you cover a song, you have to do something with it to make people appreciate why they are listening to your version and not the original one that they love. This sounds like the kind of cover played at the end of the night when the band's run out of songs and the drunks are demanding some Judas Priest. It doesn't even get much of a change from the gender-switch of the singers since they both are into guys.

3) "No One Knows," Queens of the Stone Age. They have really crunchy guitars with sweet riffs, like trail mix with M&Ms in it. I think that's a big reason for their success because everyone likes trail mix.

4) "Here's Where the Strings Come In," Superchunk. From the album of the same name, and a great album title for a punky band. Any time a band plays straighforward rock, whether it's of the bar/punk/hard rock variety, they have to eventually change things up a little (otherwise they become stagnant like the Ramones or redundant like "new" AC/DC). Ergo, that almost always means broadening the sound and things like, "string arrangement by the bass player, who was free that day," and "say hello to our new horn player!" I appreciate that Superchunk recognized this, made fun of it, and then went ahead and added the "strings" anyway.

5) "Sunday Bloody Sunday (Live)," U2. As someone who grew up smack in the middle of the heyday of MTV, the image of Bono waving a white flag during this song at Red Rocks Amphitheater is probably the most iconic music image of my life. For all of Bono's faults, there's something so electric about it: the marching guitar riff and drums, the almost religious revival reaction of the crowd, and Bono's complete conviction. I am convinced that, at that moment, he truly believed that music could make a difference. Even though I currently am not just a product of the Age of Irony, but also a client, I have to admit I miss that kind of conviction a bit.

6) "Like Dylan in the Movies," Belle and Sebastian. I imagine Dylan in the movies would need subtitles for all his lines.

7) "I Will Always," The Cranberries. They eventually went the route of "Am I buggin' ya" Bono, becoming a tad shrill and serious. There's such a fine line between "socially conscious lyrics" and "harshing my mellow with your haranguing Irish brogue." However, their first album is a blueprint for delicate, jangling pop. I will now go kick my own ass for using the phrase "delicate, jangling pop." I feel like I just auditioned for the role of Ben Fong-Torres in Almost Famous.

8) "Sleep Spent," Death Cab for Cutie. They are one of my stealth favorites. If I were to have one of those discussions about my favorite bands, especially the kind that involves drinking excessively with other music nerds, it's quite likely Death Cab would not come up. Maybe because they are so unassuming, forgoing musical Molotov cocktails like The Clash or 20-minute hard-rock space dystopias like you-know-who. But every time Death Cab comes up on the Random 11 (or just randomly), I'm a little happier for it.

9) "Tender," Blur. The chorus is really tailored to being sung by thousands of people in Wembley Stadium while they clap in unison to the drum beat. In another life, I'd like to be on stage for that, just once, even if it means my next concept album about reincarnation tanks and I'm washing dishes at a fish 'n' chips joint within 18 months.

10) "The Electric Version," The New Pornographers. For a band that creates such catchy songs, they are surprisingly difficult to play on drums in Rock Band.

11) "Fight for Your Right," Beastie Boys. It's so hard to reconcile the juvenile amateurism of this song (and album) with the idea that the Beastie Boys became musical pioneers with their next album. It's like Thomas Jefferson writing a pamphlet called Liberty 4 Evah, Motherfuckers before writing The Declaration of Independence. It's also one of the most perfect songs to lead into a weekend. Kick it!

Have a good one.