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Music Savaged By The Average Beast

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for March 18, 2004

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Green Beer, Big Blarney
by Your Diva, Robin Pastorio-Newman

One's personal occasions are celebrated against the backdrops of other holidays, most of which might pass unnoticed. If your birthday falls on June 20th, almost nobody RSVPs "I can't join you for refreshing beverages as I'll be resting up for the Feast of Epona."
Two sisters of Your Darling's, Your Diva's, Your One True Love's celebrate birthdays in March, which more frequently in recent years leads to peculiar and completely expected collisions between choruses of "Happy Birthday" and "No, Nay, Never." Last weekend, a trip to Mannion's in urbane Somerville started with Guinness, proceeded with intriguing appetizers and nearly concluded with giant main dishes before Mom exclaimed, "I love when this happens."
When your Mom says, "I love when this happens" maybe she means something interesting and exciting. Maybe Ed McMahon shows up with a check. Maybe your new boyfriend actually eats with utensils. Maybe you've graduated from medical school and she's proud you're not the complete failure she feared you'd be. When Your Delight's Mom says, "I love when this happens" we now know this means that unbeknownst to us, a gentleman has entered the dining room with bagpipes and is about to blow our brains out with a familiar ethnic ditty.
Speaking of fake British stuff, USA Network's Touching Evil, another in a long and annoying list of American shows reformulated from successful British TV offerings, is not even worth a look. Unless it's a dirty look. The promos promise quirky and macho detective fun from the Hughes Brothers and Bruce Willis, but what they deliver is ordinary, predictable cable crudeness. For instance, one scene so contrived, so stupid you see it coming before the opening credit rolls is even dumber when it actually arrives: the free-wheeling, rule-breaking detectives vent a little testosterone-fueled frustration when the local Prosecutor tells them assaulting a suspect in his own home might inspire a jury to reach the wrong verdict. As an aid to the plot at this point, viewers might - say - change the channel to riproaring C-SPAN.
But violence is golden, and it turns out the reason bagpipes make the noise they do is they were originally intended to accompany soldiers into battle and let's face it, people at a tremendous distance are small and not very scary. If a bagpiper accompanies a regiment on the long walk from home to war, opposing soldiers have plenty of time to dessert and civilians get a chance to flee. Bagpipes are very, very loud. Civilians have time to emigrate, the pipes are so loud and should never be played in a confined space. So you understand why Your Beloved leaned across the dinner table and shouted, "WHY DO YOUR BIRTHDAYS ALWAYS COME WITH HEARING DAMAGE?"
Some things are mysterious, like Courtney Love's inability to tell time, and Whitney Houston's years-long struggle to get her own point. Some things horrify us, like Food Network's hideous Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. Ms. Lee apparently never met a cupcake she wouldn't slather with decorative goo inside and out. Last weekend's Sunday morning episode proved Your Sweetness should stay up later and sleep through this show at all costs because no one, nowhere, no how should start a cookie recipe with the chilling instruction, "Start with a whole can of frosting and add sugar..." In comparison, the sudden appearance of children in full Irish dance costume in a bar next to the kitchen doorway/busboy station proved merely confusing. Mannion's poised waitstaff immediately adapted to holding plates aloft as rather skillful dancers danced near, then far, then perilously near again, and if you think there's another dance form with greater close-quarters spectator-shin-bruising potential, you are mistaken.
The dancers left the stage, which is to say the bar, in a hale of crumpled dollar bills, which was supposed to demonstrate appreciation but looked to the untrained eye more like strippers were emptying their pockets on laundry day, and the inevitable folk singer took the mic. St. Patrick's Day sing-alongs involve a bit of teaching on the part of the singer, because the crowd is tying one on, and children of drunks may not have learned the lyrics yet. Every song was prefaced with instructions: "When I sing [insert words], you [insert clapping, shouting or amusing gesture]." Your Snugglebunny's known these songs all her life because she was raised by people who would sing anything, anytime, and several of them were standing nearby, so singing ensued.
However, everyone has a line they won't cross. In this case, Your Parfum's line is "The Unicorn" by Shel Silverstein. Silverstein was not Irish but his poem was recorded by the Irish Rovers, which explains why we endure this ritual every Irish holiday. If you are unfamiliar with this, it involves a pantomime dance-whatsis that every kid knows seemingly from birth, like a wackier Chicken Dance for children, learned in utero. If you're familiar with it, you know why Your Peach Pie stood up and said, "Okay! Gotta go!" and fled.
But speaking of things whose origins actually aren't suspect, the assuredly Welsh lostprophets' managers recently sent Altrok a copy of Start Something. These boys put out a slick CD full of catchy tunes with great, catchy hooks and interesting, catchy lyrics. This filled Your Dearest with suspicion about the whole enterprise. What is it? Is it real, backed up by real guys and an energetic live show? Is it a lie, produced in a studio and manufactured by the music business? Turns out Start Something is listenable - which is saying something lately - and these boys should be rich in no time. Will you like the Lost Prophets? How do you feel when the supercool band in your city signs and crosses the Atlantic? Are they sellouts or successful? Chances seem pretty good you'll feel this way - however that is - about lostprophets.

©2004 Robin Pastorio-Newman

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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