'Best of TBH Politoons'
Baron Dave Romm
Paul and Storm
By Baron Dave Romm
Shockwave Radio Theater podcasts
Read the review,
hear the music! Shockwave
Radio Theater interview with Power Salad
Coming: And interview with Paul and Storm.
Da Vinci's Notebook --> Paul & Storm
Da Vinci's Notebook was a four-man a cappella singing group, with such songs as Enormous Penis and Internet Porn. They were around for ten years or more, but remained under my radar since they were largely local to the Washington DC area. I may have to go back to fill in.
Paul Sabourin and Greg "Storm" DiCostanzo were two members of Da Vinci's Notebook who branched out on their own, finally wending their way to Marscon where I had a chance to hear them in concert and snap up all three of their CDs.
Onstage, Paul & Storm wore no costumes and didn't bounce around. They concentrated on their vocal harmonies, which are spectacular, and their humor, which is hysterically funny. I got no pictures of them on stage because they weren't visually interesting. I did manage to capture several of the Demented Musicians laughing uproariously at Paul * Storm, which you can see in my Marscon 2008 photos.
To a great extent, the two male vocalists sound like They Might Be Giants as tempered by the odd viewpoint and innocently sung repartee of The Prince Myshkins. Their musical craft is carefully honed around their humor. Or else it's the other way around.
The later albums of many a band is all about the trials and tribulations of... being in a band. Whether it's the Beatles paying the Taxman or Willie Nelson feeling lonely On The Road Again, songwriters sing about what they know, and after a while what they know is the downside to being a performer. Paul and Storm spent a decade as part of Da Vinci's Notebook and know the drill. And they know how to pander to their audience and to radio djs.
Opening Band is, fittingly, their first CD as Paul and Storm. They take on, among other things, Randy Newman, Jimmy Buffett, Cheetos, cookie dough, Schoolhouse Rock, country music and read people their Miranda rights in close harmony. I just love The Miranda Lullabye the familiar (and legally required) rights as read to arrestees, done in gentle two-part harmony. The Ballad of Eddie Praeger takes on a slightly lower topic: A urinal cake under an, er, withering cascade.
Most commercials are short, and Paul and Storm get to the nub of the pitch very quickly in their series of Rejected Commercial Jingles. Example, one for Cheetos: "If you want to turn your daddy parts orange, eat some Cheetos and watch some porn." Oh, why were these rejected? They'd make the Superbowl so much more entertaining!
Of course, they take on themselves.
(lyrics to Opening
Band: Opening Band
performance on YouTube: Buy
We are the opening bandKicking Randy Newman around is a major trope, it seems, when he finally won an Oscar (for Seabiscuit) after being nominated fifteen times. Familiarity breeds contempt, or at least parody. Power Salad has a Randy Newman song, while Paul and Storm have several in a series. Using the basic Newman style over and over, they provide the movie theme song to Seabiscuit ("Nobody believed that he could win"), The Lord of the Rings ("Nobody believed that he could win"), The Passion of the Chr... well, you get the idea.
We are here to do five or six or seven songs
"Don't go too long, and get the hell off the stage"
We are the opening band
We're probably not the band you came to see tonight
But it's alright, 'cause soon we'll go away
They spread the egoboo around. Paul and Storm owe a lot to a radio program originating in Indianapolis, The Bob and Tom Show. While B&T haven't been around as long as Shockwave Radio Theater, they do have the advantage of a news director and a budget. As a DJ, I really hate to talk over music, but the format seems to work for them. (More on the new director in their next CD.) Paul and Storm present several songs, including the Randy Newman riffs, in two versions: On Air and Studio. The banter and laughter before and during the songs annoys me after the first time, so I'm grateful for the pure version (ie the cut I will air).
And then it gets stranger. Some of the cuts are presented a second (or third) time... with commentary! Paul & Storm get into the genesis of Seabiscuit and others. Commentary tracks for movies are great; commentaries for audio tracks harkens back to The Album Of The Soundtrack Of The Trailer Of The Film Of Monty Python And The Holy Grail wherein John Cleese talks over his narration in the film.
And then it gets stranger. The final cut is a commentary on a commentary! They talk over their comments about Shake Machine, giving us a tour of their thought processes as they dissected the song.
A lot of Opening Band is funny once, at least to my taste. However, the CD has more than an hour of audio, and the original cuts are well worth the price. All Paul and Storm cuts are under a Creative Commons license, which means no DRM. You can buy Paul and Storm CDs or download the songs individually. If you agree with my taste, you'll simply get all three CDs. If you want to dip your toes in the water, pick a song or three to sample.
News To Us
News To Us comes in at an hour and ten minutes. Several of the cuts are live from The Bob and Tom Show, as in their first CD, and probably work best if you're a fan of that nationally syndicated show, and some of the cuts are the a cappella harmony by The BarryTones. They make no bones about their attraction to the news director Kristi, and comment on the news as a quartet.
Back in the 90s, when the web was making audio distribution easy, too many idiots thought "political satire" was making scatological songs about Bill Clinton, and hate radio just fueled the sphincter conservatives. Paul and Storm manage to avoid the worst aspects of low political humor. Indeed, even their dirty songs work by euphemism, suggestion and well-placed beeps and I can play them on the air. They don't have the knowledgeable sneer of Tom Lehrer or the hipper-than-thou attitude of The Capitol Steps, but their targets are skewered just as keenly... and in harmony.
The first cut is Bob and Tom introducing The BarryTones' Musical Summary of the News of the Week which is mostly the banter and the group hitting on Kristi Lee, but includes some great Barbershop. There follows RIP Don Knotts, 28 seconds of the theme to The Andy Griffith Show whistled in a minor key, followed by more news in harmony. Barry Bonds Press Conference - The Musical is excellent doo-wop about a continuing item. Various religions and cultural practices are not exempt from their wide-eyed innocent gaze:
The Easter SongSorry to quote the whole thing, but the lyrics alone are only half the fun. I just love the purity of their singing and the tightness of the arrangements, all to great effect.
Easter time is here again
And it's the day we celebrate
The morning that the Easter Bunny rises from the grave
And if he sees his shadow then it's six more winter
If he doesn't see it, everyone gets Cadbury Creme Eggs
And he never sees his shadow, thank the Lord
Moses and the Hebrews never celebrated Easter
They were busy building pyramids and matzoh for the Greeks
So that night they set the Pharaoh's clocks ahead one hour
And they all escaped, and that's why we put colored eggs in baskets
With jellybeans and neon plastic grass
Plus there was that final supper with the twelve Apostles
But the word in Aramaic for apostles is apeeps
And that is how they got the name for those marshmallow treats
So every time you eat those little yellow chicks and bunnies
You actually are swallowing Apostles
So that's the Easter story
Even though we didn't mention
Anything about the burning bush
Or chocolate-covered Popes
You might want to do a bit more research on the details
'cause in truth I mostly slept my way through Sunday school
But at least I'm pretty sure that's how it goes
News To Me has an astonishing number of worthy cuts, and I'll just stop on a few more favorites. Ten-Fingered Johnny (in two versions: On Air and Studio), an Irish cautionary ditty about explosives. The protagonist is as stupidly optimistic as Worm Quartet's Frank's Not In The Band Anymore. Mel Gibson is an easy target, but works in their sure hands. George Mason is a patriotic fife and drum, in two versions, about the historical figure and the basketball underdog. I tend to think in segues, and immediately after another Worm Quartet Song, I'm Gonna Procreate will follow Mother's Day Song, done Barbershop in the style of the traditional M-O-T-H-E-R.
Of the three albums reviewed here, News To Me is probably the most accessible and the one to get... if you're only getting one. Again, you can listen to and/or buy individual Paul & Storm songs. But wait until you read about the third CD...
As I review several CDs by the same group, I have less and less to say. You have either figured out who they are or not, and I can just comment on individual songs. i hope you've figured out Paul and Storm by now. Their most recent CD (as of this writing) is Gumbo Pants. As a concession to 21st Century distribution, or something, there are no On Air versions of songs (which doesn't bother me at all), the CD packaging is cheaper (but still nice) and the disk only has 46 minutes of audio. More conceptual humor, in the guise of one-sentence songs and Rejected Commercials. Most of the 30 cuts go by quick. Just the thing to spice up a Shuffle playlist... heck, you could fill up an iPod with little bits from They Might Be Giants's Apollo 18 or the Resident's The Commercial Album or random Worm Quartet bitlets and never have a coherent thought again!
Still, most of the songs feet at least one foot on the ground. You might convince a child that his almost born sibling will be A Better Version of You. You might convince a potential mate that you want to get Extremely Old With You. You might wonder why people eat at Olive Garden. Or a potential mate may wonder why people don't eat Gumbo Pants.
Loads of fun from top to bottom, Gumbo Pants is probably the one to get for younger proto-dementoids. Extremely tight musicianship and a deft lyrical sense without the adult stuff from previous albums, and only one outtake from the radio show. As above, you can listen to and/or buy individual Paul & Storm songs but get the "If" songs bundle and the One-Sentence Songs bundle rather than blow a buck on 14 second cuts. And if you only listen to music on computer/iPod/mp3 player, the "Gimme Everything" Super-Special is well worth it. The Super-Special even includes songs not yet on any CD.
Speaking of being on the radio, I hope to talk to them (or at least one of them) via phone and include a few cuts in the next Shockwave Radio podcast.
Baron Dave Romm is a conceptual artist and a noble of Ladonia who produces Shockwave Radio Theater, writes in a Live Journal demi-blog, plays with a very weird CD collection and an ever growing list of political links. Dave Romm reviews things at random for obscure web sites. You can read all his music recommendations from Bartcop-E. Podcasts of Shockwave Radio Theater. Permanent archive. More radio programs, interviews and science fiction humor plays can be accessed on the Shockwave Radio audio page.
Thanks to everyone who has sent me music to play on the air.--////
Marilynn Preston: Can You Afford to Eat Healthy? Can You Afford Not to? (creators.com)
... in the last two years, the cost of healthy food rose nearly 20 percent, while the price of junk food either remained the same or dropped.
Sean Connery: The Scots show their true colors (latimes.com)
Sean Connery says that Scotland's independence day may be closer than ever.
By CATHERINE O'SULLIVAN (tucsonweekly.com)
Catherine spends some quality time with her wild-animal friends.
Froma Harrop: Dems Can Go the Nine Innings (creators.com)
If the Democratic contest lasts until the convention in late August, so what? That leaves two months for Democrats to "coalesce" around their candidate and fight the Republican. And even that shorter time frame will seem a month too long Š
Joel Stein: McCain laughs last (latimes.com)
Judging by this year's election humor, we're OK with jokes about the elderly.
Susan Estrich: Rejection (creators.com)
It was more than 30 years ago that I came home from school to find the stack of skinny envelopes, and the one fat one. We all knew what that meant. A skinny envelope meant a rejection, a "have a good life, we don't want you, no enclosures necessary." A fat envelope was a yes.
Juliet Waters: Patricia Pearson Examines Her Neuroses and Ours (Montreal Mirror)
Fear, she believes, is our rational reaction to actual crisis, and most of us -- even neurotics -- are programmed to use it intelligently. Anxiety is something else, an objectless dread that paralyzes us, and seems to be culturally created.
Mitchell Nesheim: Student takes action for library books (mtshastanews.com)
We are constantly being bombarded with the news that schools are losing funding and there are cuts happening everywhere, none more prevalent than at the Mount Shasta High School Library.
Rene Rodriguez: Scott Smith's novel 'The Ruins' comes to the big screen (McClatchy Newspapers)
Scott Smith hadn't even finished writing "The Ruins" - and Stephen King had not yet hailed it as "the best horror novel of the new century" - when Hollywood studios started clamoring for the rights to turn it into a film.
Stephen Deusner: Be Your Own Pet Refuse to Grow Up and That's Good (The Memphis Flyer)
The group's second album sounds like a promise that even though she's no longer a teenager, we can still expect the Muppet-punk brattiness that animated the band's eponymous 2006 debut, which was known to blister paint at high volumes.
Annie Holub: DIY Lives (Tucson Weekly)
The May Fire's unique approach makes their music energetic and relentlessly catchy.
Rich Copley: George Clooney picked 'Leatherheads' for the fun factor (McClatchy Newspapers)
In 2005, between his Oscar-nominated directing turn with "Good Night, and Good Luck" and his Oscar-winning performance in "Syriana," George Clooney became known as a political-movie guy.
Rick Bentley: Seven speedy minutes with 'Nim's Island' star Jodie Foster (McClatchy Newspapers)
Making a movie is only part of an actor's job. Most also give interviews just before their latest films hit theaters.
Hubert's Poetry Corner
Potatoes and Monsters on Broadway
Of a Two-Legged Mouse and Bin?
BBC v IFC
I think your schedule wires got crossed on the BBC & IFC schedules. 2 days
Just a heads-up.
Guess I was hurrying too much last week. : )
from that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
Sunny and warm.
Bumpy Road Ahead
Digital TV Switch
The U.S. faces several challenges as it moves to all-digital television broadcasts by Feb. 17, 2009, including a lack of funding for consumer education, a U.S. lawmaker said Thursday.
The U.S. government has allocated US$5 million to consumer education about the impending change, after which about 70 million analog TV sets in the U.S. will stop working unless they are connected to converter boxes or hooked up to cable or satellite service. By comparison, the U.K., with about a fifth of the population of the U.S., has allocated $600 million toward consumer education during its recently started digital TV (DTV) transition, said Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat.
In addition, a $1.5 billion voucher program to help U.S. residents with analog TV sets buy DTV converter boxes may only cover about 30 million TV sets, and up to 10 percent of external antennas currently in use may not be capable of receiving digital signals, Boucher told members of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) at the trade group's Washington Forum.
Digital TV Switch
Heavy Price For Labels' Support
A stark truth facing any aspiring digital music service these days is that working with record labels is going to carry a hefty price.
The last 18 months have seen the major music labels accept new technological and business models -- such as dropping digital rights management and allowing ad-supported free music -- that have given rise to a new generation of digital music services. But the flip side of this willingness to experiment is a demand for higher upfront advances for licensing music and in some cases a substantial equity stake in the company.
Ad-supported download service SpiralFrog, for instance, paid more than $3 million in upfront advances to Universal Music Group alone before it even went live, and has paid additional millions in licensing fees since the original term expired. Imeem is said to have paid advances as high as $20 million and gave labels equity in the company. (Imeem disputes that figure but the equity stake is now a matter of public record.)
Sometimes the price is so high it sabotages the deal. A mobile messaging company recently walked away from negotiations in which a label demanded 85% of the company's gross revenue, even though the deal didn't involve any music licensing.
Close scrutineers of the former Burma's new constitution, due to be put to a referendum next month, are wondering whether the omission of four key words is just a typographical error or a dastardly trick by the military junta to keep power forever.
In a widely published outline of the charter, Myanmar's voters were led to believe that changing the constitution would need approval from 75 percent of parliament and then a simple majority -- "more than half of all eligible voters" -- in a referendum.
However, when the full document leaked out a week ago, many were surprised to see constitutional tweaks would need approval from "all eligible voters," a proviso that in reality makes any amendments impossible in a country of 53 million people.
Whether the omission of "more than half of" is deliberate or accidental is unclear, especially since Information Minister Kyaw Hsan, in a rare news conference last month, said the constitution would be open to gradual improvement after the May referendum.
French Regional Comedy
'Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis'
A feel-good comedy about regional prejudices and the inhabitants of the rainswept north of France is poised to become the most successful French film ever, attracting more than 17 million viewers in less than six weeks.
"Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" (its title is based on a dialect word for northerners) looks certain this weekend to break a 41-year record held by the 1966 comedy "La Grande Vadrouille," according to the film's producers Pathe.
The U.S. melodrama "Titanic" still holds the absolute record in France, with more than 20 million viewers, but "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" has become a phenomenon for the local industry, which has often struggled to produce home-grown hits.
"Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" itself looks unlikely to be an international hit with much of its humor based on accents and dialect which inevitably get lost in translation.
'Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis'
Latvia's Ex-President Is TV Queen Of Talk
She may not be Oprah Winfrey but Latvia's budding queen of talk is already as much of a household name here: ex-president Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who has recycled her loquacious candor into a new role.
The result is her own television talk show entitled, "We Are," a name borrowed from one of her more colourful public appearances during her two terms as head of state from 1999 to 2007.
A former university lecturer, Vike-Freiberga says her talk show on Latvian state television is only "continuing the work of education which has been my life's mission, to share my knowledge and experience with others."
The show, which started in February, airs at prime time once a month. The flame-haired hostess has complete editorial control -- and is full of surprises.
Paris Hilton swept into Montreal on Saturday to meet her fans and sell some shoes.
Hundreds of people lined up on a Ste-Catherine Street sidewalk for as long as seven hours to check out Hilton's new footwear line.
"I'm so excited to be in Montreal again, I love Canada," Hilton told the horde of photographers and fans crammed into the back of the downtown Browns Shoes store.
"It's an honour to have my shoe line here. I'm very excited and I'm excited to see all my fans - I saw there's so many people outside."
U.S. military officials seeking to boost the nation's cyberwarfare capabilities are looking beyond defending the Internet: They are developing ways to launch virtual attacks on enemies.
Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder, Jr., said initial uses likely would be limited to diverting or killing data packets that threaten the nation's systems, the way the military may intercept a foreign ship carrying arms in international waters.
The remarks came late Friday during a New York chapter meeting of the Association For Intelligence Officers, a nonprofit group for current and former intelligence agents and their supporters.
In an interview afterward, Elder said that in the future, the military might rely upon network warfare to disrupt an enemy's communications system, replacing the need for conventional weapons like bombs.
Protesters Crash Party In London
Thousands of protesters waving Tibetan flags and shouting "Shame on China" disrupted the Olympic torch's marathon relay through London on Sunday, billed as a journey of harmony and peace.
The flame survived a 31-mile (50-km) obstacle course of lurching demonstrators, an unexpected protective trip on a double-decker bus and even a fire extinguisher to arrive in Greenwich, southeast London, where double gold medalist Kelly Holmes lit up the Olympic cauldron.
But chaotic scenes of police scuffling with anti-China campaigners and images of a triple ring of British police and Chinese officials guarding the torch throughout the all-day relay will embarrass Chinese and Olympic officials.
The Olympic flame is supposed to be a symbol of peace and unity and the relay was meant to be a celebration.
Slowdown Hurting Atlantic City
While there may have been no such thing as a free lunch in the rest of the world, you could get one pretty easily here for three decades, along with a roll of quarters, as long as you rode the bus to a casino.
But now that the economic slowdown has hit casinos as well, the city's 11 gambling halls are split on how desirable it is to continue to hand out free meals, hotel rooms or show tickets to gamblers.
That's because for the first time, Atlantic City casino revenues declined last year, and out-of-state slots parlors continue to steal the resort's most reliable customers. Some casinos feel that the slowdown justifies cutting back on giveaways to help the bottom line; others feel that a slow period is when freebies are needed most.
The amount of comps handed out in Atlantic City declined last year by 2.4 percent. Six casinos actually spent more on giveaways last year, while five spent less. Two of those, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, and the Tropicana Casino and Resort, were significantly down.
Busted In Bakersfield
A killer who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison in a trash can was captured in California after boasting of an appearance on Fox's "America's Most Wanted," state police said Sunday.
Malcolm Kysor, 54, was arrested Saturday in a Bakersfield, Calif., park after someone notified police about the claim, police said.
Kysor was carried out in a truck hauling garbage from the medium-security State Correctional Institution at Albion, near Girard in northwestern Pennsylvania. He had been serving a life sentence since 1988 for an early 1980s slaying in Erie County.
An investigation found prison staff negligent, saying workers failed to conduct routine security measures such as thoroughly checking the trash can and truck. The prison's superintendent was removed and later retired.
Moved For Army Training
Scientists have begun moving the Mojave Desert's flagship species, the desert tortoise, to make room for tank training at the Army's Fort Irwin despite protests by some conservationists.
The controversial project, billed as the largest desert tortoise move in California history, involves transferring 770 endangered reptiles from Army land to a dozen public plots overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Fort Irwin has sought to expand its 643,000-acre training site into tortoise territory for two decades. The Army said it needs an extra 131,000 acres to accommodate faster tanks and longer-range weapons used each month to train some 4,000 troops.
Desert tortoises are the longest-living reptiles in the Southwest with a potential life span of 100 years and can weigh up to 15 pounds. Their population has been threatened in recent years by urbanization, disease and predators including the raven.
Her appearance on American sitcom How I Met Your Mother earned rave reviews and saw the ratings figure rise to the highest in the show's history. Now it seems singer Britney Spears may be bringing her acting skills to London's West End.
In what sounds like a perfect role for the girl from Louisiana, Britney is believed to have been offered the role of Southern belle Blanche DuBois in a new production of A Streetcar Named Desire.
An unnamed source revealed that Britney's acclaimed performance on the sitcom led to the chance for her to tread the boards. "She had poise, timing and real flair," they said.
British hard men Ray Winstone and Jason Stratham are understood to be among the actors in line to play Blanche's brother-in-law, Stanley Kowlaski, originally played by acting legend Marlon Brando.
Weekend Box Office
The gambling tale "21" kept up its winning streak as it took in $15.1 million to stay on top of the box office for a second-straight weekend, leaving George Clooney's "Leatherheads" and the family tale "Nim's Island" to scrimmage for second place.
"Leatherheads" and "Nim's Island" were so close that their rankings could switch after final weekend numbers are released Monday.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "21," $15.1 million.
2. "Leatherheads," $13.5 million.
3. "Nim's Island," $13.3 million.
4. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!", $9.1 million.
5. "The Ruins," $7.8 million.
6. "Superhero Movie," $5.4 million.
7. "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns," $3.51 million.
8. "Drillbit Taylor," $3.5 million.
9. "Shutter," $2.9 million.
10. "10,000 B.C.", $2.8 million.