friday fives – do the jitterbug

On Jeopardy,  they call this category “Pot Pourri:”


  1. What mistake have you made that the rest of us can learn from?

Getting caught.  Wait… what were we talking about again?  Scratch that answer.  Who is this?  Prank Caller, Prank Caller!!!

  1. What was your high school’s biggest scandal?

Well this is a funny story probably not know to more than about 50 people.  It’s a great, story, though.  I will change the names to protect the guilty.  In high scool, I was in Tech Theater.  We build the theater sets for the play kids.  It was easy, and fun.  Our teacher was this wonderful guy who was super fruity.  Let’s call him ‘Phil’, since that was his name.  Phil accidentally busted his VCR.  Because he wasn’t handy, he asked us tech theater kids to fix it.  Sure, one offered.  Phil said ‘don’t worry about the video tape in there.’

So, my buddy fixed it.  Of course he looked at the tape.  Let’s just say what he found rhymed with ‘gay porn’.  I know what you are thinking… why didn’t he just throw the VCR out?  In 1988, a VCR was a BIG deal.  Not just something you pick up at Best Buy for $50.  Anyhow… story gets back to the school and dude disappears. THAT is not the scandal.  Not to me, anyway.

A couple weeks later, his replacement showed up.  A very cool guy, very Richard Dreyfuss-y guy.  I liked him because he wasn’t so… supergay… like Phil was.  Listen, I have no beef with gay.  In fact, it’s about the only I liked about Phil.  Being gay made him a societal outcast.  Being a longhaired liberal freak… that is a mark of excellence to me.  But… he was SO distractingly gay it was just…creepy.

Fast forward to the day he shows up, the new theater teacher.  Genuinely don’t remember his name, so we’ll call him Richard… for the reason mentioned above… and below.  He is introducing himself to us.  We are all sitting in a close circle in band chairs… like a therapy thing.  Like… ‘we are all equals here, let’s just chat’.   As he is chatting, he is fumbling with his pencil eraser in his mouth.  Funny thing, his pencil eraser is a small rubber dick.  something someone gave to him as a funny prank.  We explained to him the nature of his predecessor’s hasty departure.  He appreciated that, and ditched the eraser.

  1. What’s the worst part about being your gender that the opposite sex might not even think about?

I shall not betray my tribe

  1. What movies NEED to be watched twice to understand fully?

I think Spinal Tap gets better each time.  The first time, you follow the story and are amused by the music.  After a few, you appreciate the ENTIRE movie is made up.  Improvised.  It wasn’t directionless, mind you.  Like Larry David and ‘Curb’, there is a rough outline, but not a single sentence for a character is written.  THEN… you find out they wrote those songs themselves.  THEN you find out they are actually performing those songs themselves.  It is then you know this ‘fake band’ is more legit then just about everyone else on the charts.

  1. What is absolutely never coming back in style again?

That neon shit from the early 80s

.  Was it Miami Vice?  Was it Wham?  Was it Frankie Goes to Hollywood?  I think it was George Michael, whom I forgive.


music on tv – that wasn’t live

That wasn’t live.


** above, Flea from the Chili Peppers took a ton of shit online after it was discovered his bass wasn’t even plugged in to anything during their halftime show.  Flea, as always, was awesome and honest.  He explained they refused to let them play live, so he wasn’t going to fake it by plugging eqp in.

I just want you to know that pretty much no music performance you see on television is live.  Not even Saturday Night Live is often live.  Awards shows?  Not live.  Superbowls and such?  Most definitely not live.  Let’s talk about why.

I should first say, those singing talent shows are live, and those nice people are singing live.  They have to, by law.  This goes back to an old quiz show scandal in the 50s, where they were caught giving the answers to the contestants behind the scenes to make better tv.  BUT… when someone like Jennifer Lopez or Gwen Stefani go up to do their new single… back to pre-recorded every time.  Can’t they sing?  Aren’t they talented, which got them this far?  Yes.  that is why they do it.

Talent is not why music isn’t live on TV.  It is usually for production purposes… so that it sounds perfect.  There are too many variables in a truly live performance that a network doesn’t want to risk.  If you are watching a starlette who dances a LOT as she sings… she most definitely isn’t singing live… and probably never has.  Pink hanging upside down on the those ribbons 3 stories in the air?  Not singing.  For them, it isn’t practical.  Singing takes breath, and complete control of breathe.  And concentration, you can’t do that and ‘jump around onstage like a wounded duck’***

***Kid Rock line


What about Saturday Night Live?  Yup, that is mostly lip syncing.  Here are some obvious cheats to tell, and some subte signs.  If the person singing is really really pretty, she probably isn’t singing.  If they are dancing, they aren’t singing.  If the music sounds well mixed, it isn’t live.  Remember the big Ashlee Simpson scandal, where she was busted cheating live?  The very next week, Eminem did the same… y’all just didn’t notice.

So what is a way to tell?  Watch the throat.  You might think when you see a performance on TV, they really are singing… but perhaps we are hearing the pre-recorded version from rehearsal.  Not true.  You ARE hearing the pre-recorded version from rehearsal, that is true.  The artist you are watching, though, is just moving their lips… not singing.  The reason is so they can better concentrate on the miming, and dance or whatever.  It’s odd, right?  Why am I listening to something they recorded 3 hours ago?  If they could sing it like that 3 hours ago, why don’t they just do that now?  They could, but the producers want to remove any variables.  Plus, it gives them a couple hours to basically Photoshop the performance and punch it up a bit.

Keep in mind an empty venue sounds wildly different than a full one does.  Plus, with adrenaline and nerves, it likely won’t go as well when the cameras roll on live production.


Superbowls – aren’t they live?  Well, this is more complex, but the answer is still mostly no.  I want to believe with all my heart that the Prince one was live.  (editors note:  according to this piece, it absolutely was live.  It’s a good read.)  It was breathtaking.  But… how do you get a performance that good, and that musically perfect, in a deadly rain storm?  Still… I want to think that was live.  In that last Super Bowl, Gaga got props for doing a lot of it live.  That is because Gaga is amazing, and the real deal.  Most of her set was not live, though.  In fact, the opening sequence where she was on top of the stadium… that was done the day before.

The parts where she did actually sing, though?  She did it by practicing her entire set while climbing a stairmaster.  That is so bad ass, and shows she has the work ethic to back up the talent.  It takes both to be a superstar!

Another reason why they aren’t even trying to sing when they are on TV is the mic is ‘hot’.  It is on the whole time.  This is so they can extemporize and say ‘Dallas, this is the greatest night of our lives’.

Even the last two times I saw Zac Brown Band on tv (doing morning shows, out in the street)… it was a sync job.  Makes me sad, as they are all incredible musicians.  It isn’t up to the musicians, for the most part.  It is up to the producer of the show.  The musicians are hired help.  They are also employees of the record company, which is the real reason they are there.


 re Pink: there is no amount of talent or discipline that can allow you to writhe upside down and sing at the same time.  It defies physics and breath

What about the late night tv shows?  I would guesstimate about 70% are not live, real time performances.

Did you know in China it is illegal to lip sync?  They call it ‘miming’ over there, and you can go to jail.  Artists have gotten MUCH better at pretending to sing.  Youtube some old American Bandstand clips.

In closing… ask yourself this.  What about the concert, in person… that I paid $125 for a ticket for.  Is/was/will that be a live performance?  If it is a rock or country band, yes.  If it is pop (or anything with choreography… including rap) probably not.  The tip I give to people is the uglier the performer is, the more likely it is a live performance.

Maynard, from Tool, explained it best.  He has been known to not move for a 2 hour concert… not move from that spot.  He is also an incredible and seriously intense singer.  Someone asked him why he doesn’t move around and engage the crowd… like a front man it supposed to do.  He said “I can either do that, or sing.  I can’t do both, so I choose to sing!”

Friday Fives – movies & music


Best soundtrack

Blues Brothers.  Not sure if this is even an discussion.  Not only is it song for song a masterpiece… but the songs are all well woven into the film and rarely (if ever) forced.

What film was more soundtrack than film?

Singles.  It was a good movie, no question.  The soundtrack, though, defined a generation.  Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, Jimi Hendrix, Soundgarden?  Come on!  Note… this soundtrack was just re-issued as an expanded set.  I got it in the mail the day they found Chris Cornell dead.  Heavy.

I would imagine same could be said for Travolta and the Bee Gees and the disco era.  That stuff was mostly before my time, though.

Best contribution to a soundtrack

Purple Rain to the movie Purple Rain.  The movie was fine, and the album as well.  That song, though, is the everything.  It is Prince, it is his story, his passion… his movie.  Don’t have 90 minutes for the movie?  Just listen to Purple Rain over and over, while googling ‘apollonia lake Minnetonka scene’ (NSFW… if you do it right!)

What movie soundtrack is the ‘soundtrack of your life’

Singles, hence my drooling appreciation.  It came at peak times – mid college.  Great age, great friends, too much fun, and music coming out of that era was incredible.  In a 3 year period, we got PEAK: beastie boys, smashing pumpkins, pearl jam, chili peppers, REM, and Nirvana.  Early 90s were fucking incredible, musically.  Even the Grateful Dead was in their most fertile live era EVER.  They have since released 3 box sets of stadium shows from that era.  Bonus?  I was at a LOT of them.  Well… maybe not a lot… 10 or so.. but more than you were!

If you could build a soundtrack to a film that isn’t known for one… what would it be (the movie) and what are those tracks?

I thought immediately of ‘Big Fish’.  I haven’t talked about it enough here.  Yes, I rave about Fish Called Wanda, Spinal Tap, and Princess Bride.   I think Big Fish may be better than all of them, and I fear it is too far under the radar.  Turns out it does have a soundtrack released, and it’s terrific.  You get Danny Elfman and Pearl Jam.  Only surprise is Tim Burton didn’t give his wife a song or 12.  Talk about nepotism… I have to admit I was a little happy when they got separated.  It meant she would not be the lead in every single roll in every single movie… if not multiple characters.

Listen, she is a fine actress and wonderful to look at… but it’s just too much to have her star in every movie.  Shit; even when he did the ape movie he cast her as lead ape!  Get a room, you two!

before we go – I just remembered Eddie and the Cruisers.  Man, what a GREAT movie that was.  If you haven’t seen the movie… or maybe even heard of it… go watch it now.  It’s prolly free on Amazon Prime, or like $3.  I’ll leave you with the trailer


I did that whole thing without going on an extended rant about Spinal Tap, and how brilliant it is.  Or how those actors wrote and recorded and performed those songs themselves.  Or that the whole movie was improvised, as well.

Friday Fives – Batman did it!


What’s a casual saying that got so popular because it was said in a movie?

You know we need, Wondermutt?  Besides bread… a woman who appreciates us!

Now… that may not yet be an iconic line, but it just means you haven’t seen the best bad movie ever – Summer School.

What movie should never have been made?

Many would say Summer School.  I am going to go with the third Matrix.  However, I have never seen it.  Saw the first one, and I think it is one of the greatest and most important sci fi action films ever made.  THEN… I saw the second one.  I don’t even think I finished it.  It was so convoluted.  When these force these trilogies, it doesn’t seem to work.  Look at the Star Wars prequels!  I mean, aside from that cool ass scene where dude turns into Vader in the lava… did you really need the last 2 movies?  Phantom Menace was awesome… but the other two sucked.  Same with Bill & Ted sequel.  Many say the same about the Godfather films, but I thought all three were great.

So… lets’ answer that question by saying the third movie in just about every trilogy.

Perhaps my favorite movie of all time is ‘a Fish Called Wanda’.  This film is a landmark and a masterpiece… and I can prove it.  Kevin Kline won a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of Otto.  Comedy films don’t get Oscars.   EVER.  In fact,l I think in the history of Oscars, only 2 men have won best supporting actor for a comedy role.  Kevin Kline, and Alan Arkin from ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.  My point being… they kinda made a sequel to that movie.  Not in story or character, sadly… just the cast.  The ‘sequel’ was called ‘fierce creatures’, or something like that.

What book/play should be made into a movie?

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto.  I am reading this right now.  Well, listening to it.  So, of course I am casting the film in my mind.  For the adult version of Frankie, I had Chris Cornell in mind.  True story, and then Cornell died like a week after I started the book.  So, that is gone to shit.  Thanks a lot, Cornell!  This book just came out in the fall, though, so it’s very possible it will get optioned.  It’s a hell of a story, and this writer is a big deal.  He wrote Tuesday’s with Maury.. the most boring title ever!

What movie utilized a song to its fullest potential?

Ooh, that is fun.  We talk a lot about movies, and even more about music.  We need to do that.  I think I have to go with Aretha Franklin breaking in to ‘r-e-s-p-e-c-t’ as a waitress in the Blues Brother’s movie.  I don’t much like musicals… I think it’s a guy thing.  I hate with they force a transition in to song.  However, in the Blues Brothers… all the music was organic

If you were a Gotham villain, how would you piss off Batman?

do genuine good for poor people.  And, of course, employ a publicist.  Look at Hugo Chavez.  That guy was likely an evil genius, and truly was in a comic book cast… against GW Bush.  Bush was busy bungling 2 world wars… all while telling everyone how evil Chavez was (he was the president of Venezuela).  So, Chavez rolls into Manhattan with a tanker truck full of heating oil that his henchmen just gave away to poor people.  True story.  Meanwhile, at that moment, Chavez had to follow BUSH as a speaker at the UN.  He said he could still smell the sulfur from the Diablo standing there before him.  It was pretty great.

Does that not sound like the first 10 minutes of every batman film?  Then… we find out the heating oil was mind control juice… a la Elsinore beer in Strange Brew.  So… that is how I would piss off Batman. I would undermine him with years and years of good deeds.  In the meantime, I am destroying the system from within by virtue of corruption… but externally, I am mister nice guy building parks and stuff.

Scratch that- better idea.   WAY WAY WAY better idea.  Strongly imply it was he who killed his parents.  Turn this whole victim/vigilante story on its head.

This is straight out of the books of Karl Rove, and is a variation on the classic GOP fraud of ‘push polling’.  I go out and I have a press conference.  Unlike every other press conference/event, this one will NOT end in my henchmen destroying the town.  This will be good old fashioned boring politics.  This speech below assumes people do not know he is batman, or that I am Moleculo.  Here is the speech I give:

For too long, there have been whispers and rumors in this town we need to put to rest once and for all.  Like all of you, I have heard too often that it was Bruce Wayne who killed his family.  Like many of you, I have seen evidence that looks incredibly damning.  It is true Bruce and I don’t get along professionally.  That doesn’t mean he killed his family.  Whatever happened long ago in that alley isn’t our business.  The past is the past.  We can not move forward by dwelling on the past.  Even if he did murder his family that night in cold blood as a child, the good work he has done for our community far outweighs it all.  I am also not going to bring up the stories of his father being a bagman for the mafia.  It is absurd.  Until someone can come forward with absolute proof, it is time we embrace Bruce Wayne and stop our silly gossiping.

Friday Fives – some more music edition


I didn’t like any of the questions from my idiot editor.  So, I am going to my old fallback.  Setting my phone to full random on songs.  Going to tell my relationship to each song or band, in the order that they come up.

Bury Me – Dwight Yoakum

I just love this guy, and I am not a country fan by most definitions.  To me, his music is folk music.  I finally got to see him a couple years ago, at Red Rocks no less, and it was fantastic.  I don’t know how I came about his music, but for years I have been performing ‘Fast as You’ with my band, and alone camping.

It’s funny to me that he is an actor.  Being actor is about being a face.  Yet, find me one publicity photo of his face.  You can’t.  Wait… I googled a pic of him without that hat.  Never mind, Dwight, put that hat right back on.

I got to listen to him do a longform interview on the ACS.  He was stupidly likeable.  He didn’t just tell great stories, he sang old jingles and played guitar.

Estimated Prophet – Grateful Dead

One of the few Bobby songs that we all love and appreciate.  And their ain’t many.  Over the years, I have finally come to really appreciate Bob.  Basically, it took Jerry dying to realize what a treasure we always had in Bobby.  We took him for granted, and I will personally cop to it.   However, may I note that this was a big song he was doing when I was following the band in summers of ’90 and ’91.  He would do this caterwauling at the end that was just sad.  We used to call him ‘Bobby Cheese’.  Ok, maybe not ‘we’…. So much as ‘me’.

Side note, this comes from the album Terrapin Station.  My god I love this album.  Terrapin isn’t just my favorite Dead song… it is a super rare moment where the recorded original version is just perfection.  Most of their catalogue never really got great until it was played live.

Nice Boys – Guns & Roses

This is from the album before Appetite.  Can I tell you something?  I was listening to Guns & Roses BEFORE Appetite for Destruction came out.  Credit goes to Tim Ashton, of course.  They had an EP called ‘live like a fucking suicide’.  It was later re-released as side two of ‘Lies’.

Hello… sorry – Todd Snider

I love Todd Snider, he is a folk troubadour, a la Arlo Guthrie, and his father before him.  This isn’t a song, but an intro to one of his wonderful live collections… where he tells as many stories as he does sing songs.  Got to see him live a few years ago, and it was everything I hoped it would be.  One of my favorite clips you can find online is this.  Too Soon To Tell.

Buckets of Rain – Bob Dylan

well, it’s no surprise the list featured the Dead and Bob Dylan.  I still listen to Dylan almost daily.  This is from the masterpiece ‘Blood on the Tracks’.  This is a rather jaunty look at his miserable divorce… which the whole album is about.  Young Bob Dylan was a God, and I am thrilled he got the Pulitzer.  To me, 1974’s Blood on the Tracks is a mystery, of sorts.  This is the music Bob Dylan was making up to 1966.  This should be the successor to ‘Blonde on Blonde’.  However, Bob went weird for almost a decade.  For Bob to ‘go weird’… well that is saying something.  Lay Lady Lay?  What the hell was that?  What was that thing he was doing with his voice?

It’s like Bob went in to witness protection from 1966 to 1974.  Then, he comes back with Blood on the Tracks… and it is like he was never gone.


Friday Fives – i miss Chris Cornell

What should be optional instead of required?

Conference calls.  NOTHING is getting done on them.  Because of cross talk, and everyone coming in late and introducing themselves.  And us-recapping what he missed.  Its never worked.

What is a word or phrase that instantly makes your cringe?

it is what it is

What two professions should never be combined?

Lobbyist… and anything/everything else

What song is currently on loop in your head?

Seasons.  Chris Cornell died today, and we are all just still reeling.  So much to say about him.  Ok, here is a bit.  As you know, I track everything in and about rock.    When rock stars are asked about their dream group, every one of them says “chris cornell on vocals”.  He isn’t wasn’t just a stunning singer, but well loved and appreciated.  He was also in the middle of a HUGE resurgence lately.  Temple of the Dog was just re-released this year, and he toured on that.  Soundgarden is back together.  He played a Soundgarden show last night, the night he killed himself.  They were supposed to be here in Denver on Monday.

AND… the AMAZING Singles soundtrack was JUST reissued.  I mean JUST.  I ordered mine 4 months ago, and got it in the mail today.  Chris Cornell is hotter now than possibly ever.  Here, just stop and listen to this.  It’s the song I mentioned above, and it is how and when I fell in love with Chris Cornell.  Forever, in Soundgarden… he just screamed.  That was it, every song.  On this song, though, he sings.  He sings his dick off!

I’ll ad this.  I wrote this about him 5 years ago.

What’s your theory on how the moon was formed?

Haven’t even thought about it.  I assume, like everything in space (us included)… it is a space rock that broke off of a bigger space rock.  Wait!  What does have this have to do with anything?  Are you still on this kick that man never went to lunch, and it whole moon lunch thing was fake?

We just lost one of the nicest and most powerful and respected rock stars of our generation.  All you can talk about is whether NASA really had lunch together in 1969?  Mythbusters already addressed all of this.