Dizzy Heights #49: Hot Dog, Jumping Frog, Albuquerque: Royals, Volume I

I make a mention, right away, that I hadn’t played every possible royal family title in a song, which was a complete lie. The first five songs cover them all. I had about 10 minutes to record those first two bits before it was time to pick up the girl at soccer practice. Mistakes were made.

Speaking of the girl, this was her idea. Every song references one royal family member or another (by title, not specific people), and the biggest surprise? How few songs there are with ‘princess’ in the title. I thought there would be tons of them. I had maybe four.

Artists making their Dizzy Heights debut this week. ABBA, Charli XCX (as a solo artist), The Dukes of Stratosphear, Jude, King, The Kings, Juice Newton, and wait, Neil Finn?!?!?! What? (This is actually his ninth time on the show, but his first as a solo artist.)

Thank you, as always, for listening.


Movie Review: Venom

Venom, as a concept, is a good one. It’s the guy who has a devil on one shoulder and no corresponding angel on the other, trying to teach an alien life form the concept of right and wrong. “Venom,” on the other hand, is heartbreaking. The last Marvel-related film that Sony produced, “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” is arguably one of the best Marvel films to date, but on the Disney Marvel scale, “Venom” ranks somewhere between “Thor: The Dark World” and “Iron Man 2,” and possibly below both of them. It’s unfortunate, because Venom is the perfect character to open up new doors in the MCU, but from a creative standpoint, it’s woefully lacking.

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Dizzy Heights #49: Songs about Days of the Week, Vol. I

“Sunday Sunday, here again, a walk in the park…”
“Monday, I could wait ’til Tuesday, if I make up my mind, Wednesday would be fine…”

I’ve been toying with this one for months. So many choices! Most in the titles, but some in the lyrics. Everyone likes referencing days of the week, although Thursday needs to fire its publicist, because virtually no one sings about Thursday.

Artists making their Dizzy Heights debut: Bay City Rollers, The Easybeats, Kenna, Morphine, The Pogues, and Soulwax.

Oh, and here’s the clip I reference at the very end.

Thank you, as always, for listening.


Don’t Tell Others How to Share Their Trauma

I’m going to share something with you. My wife doesn’t even know this story.

When I was 7 or 8 years old, an older boy in my neighborhood tried to force me to suck his dick.

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Dizzy Heights #47: Don’t. Just…Don’t (“Don’t” Songs, Vol. I)

Here’s another Name That Tune idea carried over (I’m afraid to even look to see how many of the same songs I used). There are LOTS of songs that start with the word ‘Don’t,’ and even after doing this massive, two-hour show, I still have 220 songs in iTunes set aside for future volumes of this theme. That is not a typo.

Bands making their Dizzy Heights debut: The Alan Parsons Project, The Communards, David Byrne, Devo (WHAT), Elvis Presley, The Flirts, Hamilton, Joe Frank, & Reynolds (one guess), Husker Du, Kenny Loggins (with special guest), Jane Child, Los Lobos, Michael Jackson, Night Ranger, Paul Carrack, Phil Collins, and Wang Chung. Dang, that’s a lot of debuts.

Thank you, as always, for listening.


Dizzy Heights #46: Never, Ever, Always, and Forever

The idea comes from an old joke that an ex-girlfriend made long ago: “We should never use the words ‘never,’ ‘ever,’ ‘always,’ or ‘forever’ when describing us.” She was not wrong, but from the ashes of that (spectacularly) failed relationship comes this show, and over half of my defunct Mope Like Me column, so at least something good came from it.

Artists making their Dizzy Heights debuts this week: The Assembly, The Association, Shirley Bassey, The Buzzcocks, Aretha Franklin, Deborah Harry & Iggy Pop, Raphael Saadiq, The Stranglers, Walter Meego, and my cat Harvey! He hops up at the 1:05:55 mark.

Thank you, as always, for listening.


Movie Review: The Meg

“The Meg” plays like a film written by someone who just finished watching a three-day Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer marathon, and when you consider that the book on which the film is based was written in 1997, it’s entirely possible that that is exactly what happened. The film languished in development hell for over two decades, and it’s easy to see why; it’s just not as interesting as other works of art, be they books or movies, written around the same time.

Here’s the kicker, though: the script has undergone a substantial rewrite – it bears little resemblance to the original story – and it still feels like a ‘90s film. Twenty years of development, and no one could get this story into the present?

Navy diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is saving crew members of a downed sub at the bottom of the Philippine Trench when the sub is attacked by a massive creature. Faced with the possibility of everyone dying, Jonas does the unthinkable and leaves two members of his crew behind in order to save the 11 people they had moved to the rescue ship. Five years later, Jonas is drinking his life away in Thailand, haunted by the memory of those he left behind (and the subsequent smear campaign he endured), when he is approached by old friend Mac (Cliff Curtis) and Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao), who work on a state-of-the-art marine facility off the coast of China. The group had recently discovered that the Mariana Trench has a false floor, and as they explored what lay beneath, their deep sea vessel, piloted by Jonas’ ex-wife Jaxx (Ruby Rose), has also been attacked and grounded. Jaxx’s last message before losing contact confirms Jonas’ long-held, and widely derided, fears: a giant megalodon shark, long considered extinct, is alive and well, and terrorizing the deep.

The biggest strike the film has going against it is the tone of the source material. “Meg” the book is a horror story. “Meg” the film is directed by Jon Turteltaub, who made his bones helming “While You Were Sleeping” and the “National Treasure” movies. There is a clear disconnect between book and film, and yet the studio was right to move away from the story’s horror leanings and go for something lighter. If anything, they didn’t go far enough towards the funny. “Armageddon” was a film about the end of the world, and yet it was loaded with jokes. “The Meg” is absolutely begging for levity, yet it never comes at the right time or in the right dosage.

Even if the funny parts were funnier, though, the recycled nature of the supporting characters, in addition to the awkwardness of the story structure (I felt sorry for BingBing Li during her meet cute with Statham), is enough to do the film in. There’s the heavy-set funny guy, whose character name on IMDb is literally The Wall (see: Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Twister”). There’s the cowardly asshole billionaire benefactor (see: too many movies to mention). There’s the African-American who refuses to play by the old movie rules (see: LL Cool J in “Deep Blue Sea”). There’s the short-haired female tech expert that everyone takes for granted (see: Anne Heche’s assistant Rachel in “Volcano”). Very little original thought is taking place here.

There are some legitimately thrilling moments here (the view from the diver’s point of view will make people jump), and the damage the shark does to a boat makes the destruction of the Orca in “Jaws” look like child’s play. But it’s just not enough, in any way. Not scary enough, not funny enough, not original enough. The worst part is that the timing was finally right for a movie like “The Meg.” For it to turn out like this is just crushing.

(2 / 5)

Dizzy Heights #45: The Alliteration Show

No talkie bits this week. First day of school for the kids, birthday celebrations, picking the boy up at camp, blah blah blah.

This idea is definitely a one-shot thing, at least in its current form. I went after song titles that were two words, each starting with the same letter. And I went A to Z, almost literally (with apologies to the letters Q and X). Of course, I broke my own rules twice, when I used a song with an ampersand (hey, it was the letter U, I got desperate), and in one instance, I used a title that was the same word twice, which is not alliteration but repetition (again, letter Y, got desperate).

Multiple people asked me to use “Disco Duck.” And believe me, I thought about it, then thought better of it.

Artists making their Dizzy Heights debut this week: Ben Folds (solo), Burning Sensations, Elvis Costello (WHAT), The Go-Betweens, The Go-Go’s, Guided by Voices, k.d. lang, The Kinks (this cannot be happening), Neurotic Outsiders, Stone Poneys, Tasmin Archer, and Tom Petty. Seriously, thank goodness for Tom Petty, or I don’t have a ‘Z’ song.

Bands coming back for another tour of duty: Basement Jaxx, Franz Ferdinand, The Housemartins, The Jezabels, Joe Jackson, Pet Shop Boys, Propaganda, The Rolling Stones, Squeeze, The Ting Tings, The Trashcan Sinatras, and Tribe. Speaking of Tribe, I pull a segue that my 1993 self would high-five.

Thank you, as always, for listening.


Dizzy Heights #44: ‘Blue’ Songs, Vol. I

This was originally supposed to be one show featuring songs with colors in the title, but about 600 suggestions later, it was clear that the colors needed to be split up into their own shows, and even then there is enough material to do multiple shows of the primary colors, and maybe the secondary ones as well.

I chose to start with blue so I can play a song from Tom Bailey’s solo album Science Fiction that stabbed my inner lovestruck teenager in the heart. From there, I went, well, everywhere, but there is a thread of melancholy that goes nearly from start to finish. Blue is more than just a color, I guess.

Artists making their Dizzy Heights debut this week: Billy Idol (wait, what?), The Charlatans, David Gilmour, Electric Light Orchestra, Fine Young Cannibals, Gus, Michael Johnson, Peter Murphy, Real Life (wait, WHAT?), The Smithereens (I have no words), The Undertones, and Yaz (even fewer words).

Thank you, as always, for listening.


Dizzy Heights #43: It’s So Fresh! Popdose Flashback ’88 (Mostly) — The Beat Mix

Credit where credit is due: if Jeffrey Thames doesn’t do his 1988 Classic Club Special for KPFT in Houston, then this likely doesn’t exist. Not for a few more years, anyway.

The beat mixes I recorded during my salad days in Athens were mostly train wrecks. You press Record, mix until you run out of tape, and hope for the best. There were usually one or two segues per side that turned out unlistenable. But now, thanks to MixMeister Express, I can make them all nearly perfect! Well, as long as the remix editor does his job. *points bony finger at Terence Trent D’Arby’s editor*

Speaking of which, here’s the track listing. My guideline was to include songs that were released as singles in 1988, even if the album on which they first appeared came out in 1987 (or even 1989). I will be the first to admit, though, that a couple of songs break that rule, including the very first song on the mix. I had to include it, though – it’s just too good.

1. Eric B. & Rakim – Paid in Full (Seven Minutes of Madness)
2. George Michael – Monkey (Jam & Lewis Remix)
3. Sinead O’Connor – I Want Your (Hands on Me) (with MC Lyte)
4. Prince – Alphabet Street
5. Terence Trent D’Arby – Wishing Well
6. Scritti Politti – Boom! There She Was
7. Duran Duran – I Don’t Want Your Love
8. The Cure – Hot Hot Hot!!!
9. Siouxsie & the Banshees – Peek a Boo
10. M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up the Volume
11. Bomb the Bass – Beat ‘Dis
12. Bryan Ferry – Limbo
13. When in Rome – The Promise
14. Information Society – What’s On Your Mind
15. Depeche Mode – Strangelove ‘88
16. Book of Love – Tubular Bells
17. Peter Schilling – Different Story (A World of Lust and Crime)
18. Front 242 – Headhunter
19. Red Flag – Russian Radio
20. Camouflage – The Great Commandment
21. Erasure – Chains of Love
22. OMD – Dreaming
23. Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind

To download the mix, click here.

Thank you, as always, for listening.