Friday, April 8, 2011

Static and Noise: Shut 'er Down!

Barenaked Ladies: The Pandora station on my phone insists that I must absolutely love, love, love two specific bands: Cake and Barenaked Ladies. I don't mind Cake but they get played well out of proportion to my desire to listen to them, so "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" gets skipped more times than it probably should. But as far as the Barenaked Ladies is concerned, I've become a new fan. I first heard them with "Yoko Ono" way back in the day, and I was forced to play "One Week" and "My Old Apartment" each about three times an hour when I worked at the college radio station. This probably explains why I more or less ignored them for a decade; I was burned out. But now they pop up an awful lot, and with few exceptions I love them. I'm experiencing for the first time the wonders of "If I Had $1000000," "Brian Wilson," "Another Postcard," "Pinch Me," and "Bank Job." While certainly not my favorite band--I'm at that age where I don't believe such a beast exists for anyone, and they have a few too many gimmicks in their bag--they've shot up quite a bit in my favor. (As an aside, Pandora also opened me up to an awesome band called Great Big Sea, which had a minor hit a few years ago with "If I Were King" but really end up doing a lot of kickass sea shanties. I was saddened to learn they just played in Pittsburgh about two weeks before I found out about them.)

Government Stoppage: I haven't spoken much about this, mostly because: it doesn't matter. The actual stoppage itself has nothing to do with the budget itself. Tea Party activists who want a shutdown don't realize that getting passports and VA Hospitals are going to be here well after the apocalypse, but the stuff they hate like the Department of Education and sugar subsidies aren't going to change because the gummit shut its doors for a two and a half weeks. And yet the shutdown affect only the former and not the latter. On the other side, the government shut down in 1995 and it had zero impact on anything except inconveniencing a lot of people. Ruined vacations and postponed appointments suck, but life goes on and the government didn't collapse and the budget more or less stayed the same. (I feel kind of bad for the workers, but it's not like this is unprecedented.) If there is a shutdown and it lasts a week--it's doubtful it will go on too terribly much longer than that--it's not the end of the world. But it's also not going to solve anything, either. While I'm always a fan of the government spending less money, the stakes at this point are low enough that the PR fallout isn't worth it.

The End of Rock: Alec Baldwin recently made headlines by claiming that 30 Rock had one year left...but then backed off, restating that he has one year left, but 30 Rock might go on without him. (Unstated: "30 Rock can't survive without me.") I love the show--sometimes it gets caught up in its own smarmy self-righteousness, but on the level it is very cleverly written and much better than most sitcoms, which are in short supply nowadays. Still, it might not be the worst thing in the world if the show shut down next year. The story arcs in 30 Rock are often slim, hollow things with which to hang jokes on, and its gets a little tiresome. The lean stretches of a mature sitcom will only rely more on such things. One of its successful predecessors, The Dick Van Dyke Show, made a point of stopping after five years while the quality was still high. And while I love 30 Rock, they haven't brought anything remarkably new to the show lately--just doing some good, solid writing for five years. Eventually, like all things, even among the best, that will stop.

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