Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Victor's Ultimate Birthday "Meh"-ga Mix '13

You heard the best, now hear the rest! Yes, unfortunately, it is once again time to break out Victor's Ultimate Birthday "Meh"-ga Mix for 2013. I suppose one positive that can be drawn from this year's batch is that it's only 8 as opposed to the usual 10. I thought about upping the quota to three tracks per mix but that would have been needlessly critical.

Every year when I put together the "worst of" I struggle to really make a consistent determination between memorable terribleness and the forgettable mediocrity. Is it better to be a fiasco than just boring? It's a tough distinction; a distinction made even tougher when the mixes don't contain glaring examples of either kind. Sure every once in a while there'll be a track that just does not jibe with me at all and it's an easy call (difficult post-punk is often a strong bet). However, most of the time the cuts are tough. I mean by the inflexible cruel rules of the "Meh"-ga Mix it is impossible to have a perfect mix. Even if I loved every song two tracks have to be sacrificed in the name of parity.

Harsh, but we all know we look forward to it every year.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Victor's Ultimate Birthday Mega Mix '13

Just when you had all but given up hope after it didn't arrive at the start of June, Victor's Ultimate Birthday Mega Mix finally returns for 2013! Various factors came together to cause the extra long release delay this year including a late birthday party, a certain tardy mix contributor (for privacy sake, let's call her "Lisa B."...No that's too obvious..uuh let's say "L. Berlin"), and of course the 17 year return of the cicadas. Additionally this year's edition will be a bit shorter, exactly 1/5th to be exact, since one of my usual contributing friends was unavailable.

So there you have it, longer wait with less content, thanks Obama!

Seriously though, this was another solid batch of tunes. In fact, the selection process was the most difficult for me yet. This either means the quality has gone up across the board or that I've started to become less choosy in my old age. Still, thanks to everyone that participated. Making a good mix is a time intensive task and I am always appreciative when someone takes that time to make one for me. The period after my birthday where I get all these new tracks to listen through as I commute to the office is one of the real highlights of my year (I had to break out the old portable CD player this time since I commute by public transportation now). I hope to see another round of mixes next year from you guys and anyone else who wants to throw their disc in the ring.

Oh and in case you thought I was getting soft and sentimental in my old age, the 2013 edition of the "worst of" mix will become arriving soon enough.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

News & Views

Norm MacDonald's Larry King impression during his stint on SNL wasn't all that good in terms of technical proficiency (since Norm a handful of other SNL players have done more detailed impressions most notably Fred Armisen in recent years), but then again none of his celebrity impressions were all that good, that's what made them awesome. While straight impressionists like Phil Hartman or Darrell Hammond took pride and won acclaim for the accuracy of their impersonations; Norm's characters were great because they were just variations on his idiosyncratic style. For me Norm's versions of Bob Dole or Burt Reynolds (aka Turd Ferguson) with all their inherent Norm-ness come off as far more interesting and funny than had they been done with an emphasis on accuracy.

Norm's sketches as Larry King aren't that well known or numerous. In fact, as far as I can tell, he only performed as Larry King on the May 17, 1997 Jeff Goldblum hosted episode and again on the October 23, 1999 show which he had returned to host (one of the greatest opening monologues I've ever seen where he triumphantly trashes the show for bringing him to host despite firing him a year and a half prior for not being funny). As for the sketches themselves they were just these short ads promoting Larry King's "News & Views" column in USA Today. Norm as Larry would just shoot off a series of short viewpoints ranging from the absurdly obvious to the ridiculously non sequitur, previews of the kind of viewpoints one would apparently get from his column, from his desk towards random cameras  (here's a just an audio version).

Based on their inherent weirdness and delivery of the jokes, I would bet that these sketches were conceived and written by Norm himself. What I really find fascinating about these sketches are how eerily the random viewpoints he spits out sound like twitter posts. The whole thing comes off as if he's reading outloud his daily roll of twitter updates one after the other ("Red wine is a terrific wine, but so is white wine!", "Is it just me or is anyone else sick and tired - of the Special Olympics?"). Had this sketch been done a decade later, it'd likely be an ad prompting people to follow his twitter account and have him typing away on a Macbook; perhaps some sort of joke about hashtags. The more I think about it, these series of sketches could may well be the primordial ancestors of modern twitter humor.

And of course since this is the internet and whatever esoteric thought or unique notion you have has been previously thought of as well by someone who has way more free time than you; while researching for this post I came across an actual fake twitter account "King's News & Views" which provide a constant stream of parody Larry King viewpoints.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Domo Arigato Buster Roboto

Like nearly all my more time sensitive blog postings, I would have liked to have written this up earlier but hey beggars can't be choosers here at "Victor Sells Out". Let's be happy that I didn't wait so long that it wasn't even worth putting up. Maybe I'll eventually devote a whole month to all my severely belated postings (that eulogy for Horshack is almost approaching a year).

So in anticipation of the much hyped return of a new season of a certain critically acclaimed though ratings challenged Fox comedy from the mid aughts on Netflix, I went ahead and caught myself up on the previous 3 seasons of "Arrested Development". Truth be told, I was never all that into the show when it aired and I only become at best a casual fan during its hiatus. I have to admit I didn't even finish watching most of the third season before last month. I liked it, I definitely admire it as an achievement in televised comedy, but I didn't love it like most of my other friends and people I know. Actually this is probably why I, watching this new Netflix season, don't feel all that let down or disappointed as some fans who were working under the massive weight expectations based on their devotion to the first 3 seasons. Having watched about half the season, it's pretty good like all the other episodes I've seen; though the plot can get pretty complex at times, also Portia de Rossi does look a little off. That's the whole of my views on the current season.

Going back to my catching up on the show, all this re-exposure to the spastic comedic talents of Tony Hale (Buster Bluth) reminded me of his early role in a popular 1999 Volkswagen commercial (Wow an 8 speaker cassette stereo system...standard!), looking young and kind of like a white version of Abed from "Community" 

That commercial was actually responsible for my first mp3 download, "Mr Roboto" by Styx. While there are a lot of "firsts" I don't recall completely, I do remember most of the details about my first encounter with digital music. Starting out just before the arrival of Napster (and eventually Kazaa), I used the Scour Media Agent from Scout.net of which not much information is left online. Utilizing a 26K dial up modem to download an ambitious nearly 5 minute long song took roughly my entire second semester of high school freshman year. I think I also had to cull some data to find room in my PC's overburdened 2 gig hard drive. I even remember my second mp3 was "We're Not Gonna Take It' by Twisted Sister (I think that was after seeing a "Pop Up Video" of it).

Interestingly enough I believe whatever mp3 copy of "Mr. Roboto" I have on my phone and computer is likely from that original download. I'll have to listen for the one second blip error about halfway through the song to make sure. 

I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the sixth episode of season 3 "The Ocean Walker" and saw the clever little reference to Hale's role in the commercial. It's these little details that really distinguishes the show.