Morning Mixtape: ‘Wanted Man’ by the Last Internationale

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I complain a lot about the quality of radio in the 21st century. It reflects, I suppose, the quality of the music industry. But my friend Ronnie, who used to deal me comics and coffee in different ages, believes this the best era for music. You just have to look harder. In recent months, I’ve added a few more stops on my dial, bypassing traditional presets in favor of discovering new music. That happened this evening when I was driving home from dinner. I heard “Wanted Man” by the Last Internationale. I really liked it. I hope you do, too.

On TV: 5-sentence review of ‘Red Band Society’ pilot


Red Band Society” | Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot” | Date: Sept. 17, 2014

5. If “The Breakfast Club” took place in a hospital instead of Saturday detention, you might have something that looked like “Red Band Society.”

4. The pilot introduces us to a series of misfits battling various diseases from cancer to a coma, who live in a hospital ward that seems more like a home for teenage juvenile delinquents.

3. The characters are broadly drawn, and a touch flat in the early going — a brooding outsider who doesn’t know if his treatment is working, a studious girl with an eating disorder and a cheerleader with a terminal case of snark and an enlarged, failing heart.

2. Still, there is something compelling about a group of people who wouldn’t otherwise socialize being forced to interact — just like “The Breakfast Club” or “M*A*S*H.”

1. “Red Band Society” has potential to be excellent, but it could easily teeter toward melodramatic pap, but it’s pilot did the job of selling me on a second episode.

On TV: 5-sentence review of ‘The Mysteries of Laura’ pilot


The Mysteries of Laura” | Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot” | Date: Sept. 17, 2014

5. “The Mysteries of Laura” is just awful and there’s no need to parse the phrasing; the series manages to be stupid, sexist, predictable and irritating like a tiny hair stuck in your eye that you just can’t wash out.

4. Debra Messing plays a New York police detective who isn’t afraid to shoot a suspect even when it goes against procedure (Actual quote: “Procedure is for douchebags.”), guzzle wine while on duty and play the hussy in a slinky green swimsuit or flirt with a valet in order to do a completely illegal search of a suspect’s car.

3. Oh, and she’s the mother of two preschool boys who are cartoonishly misbehaved — when she doesn’t have them drugged out on cough syrup — and is in the process of going through a divorce from an estranged husband who defines douchebag.

2. Don’t worry, Messing is a TV magic cop who is able to solve the murder-of-the week (Her boss did it!), but in a twist she’s flummoxed when her would-be ex becomes the new captain of her precinct.

1. Upon learning of this ridiculous plot twist, Messing stands up and shouts, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” and though she probably wasn’t intentionally speaking for the audience, it serves as a fitting motto for a show so dumb that makes me wonder if the people in charge of networks are recovering from some form of traumatic brain injury.

Morning Mixtape: ‘Pop Goes the World’ by Men Without Hats

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I have a compilation of Men Without Hats songs. There are two songs on it I enjoy. The first is “Safety Dance,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983. The other is this ditty, “Pop Goes the World.” I had a crush on a woman in college. I also had a show on the campus radio station. I did silly things. I played themes from TV shows. I thought I was funnier than I really was. This has not changed. I played “Pop Goes the World” for her every show. This resulted in nothing. She is married now with two kids and a big house in the suburbs. It turns out she did not actually like “Pop Goes the World.” She liked a radio parody of the song called “Pop Goes to Work.” This story is a microcosm of every romance I’ve ever almost been involved in.

Morning Mixtape: ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ by Eric Clapton

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One of the early CDs I bought after getting my first player was “Timepieces: The Best of Eric Clapton.” The album opened with Clapton’s cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” This is a great musical journey, but the narrative is very odd to me. The narrator is admitting guilt in one murder, but not another. Is this something that would lead the authorities — who were apparently seeking him for the murder of a deputy — to say, “Oh, you shot the sheriff, but not the deputy? Well, then, free to go, mate.” It is not the best strategy for defense I have encountered. But it’s a song, not law school. And it’s an enjoyable song at that. Have a good day, friends.

On TV: 5-sentence review of ‘Doctor Who: Listen’


Doctor Who” | Series 7, Episode 4 | “Listen” | Sept. 13, 2014

5. Again I find myself at the end of another “Doctor Who” episode wondering when the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is going to do something — anything — interesting.

4. “Listen” finds the Doctor investigating the age-old mystery: What’s that under your bed?

3. The episode was gloriously shot, moody and well-produce, but the plot felt like a slightly darker version of “Monsters, Inc.,” and it again makes Clara (Jenna Coleman) the center of the universe.

2. Coleman is top-notch as Clara, but the series has become entire about how this woman — through the magic of time travel — has essentially created everything good in the Doctor’s character, from which TARDIS the Doctor stole to his heroic nature to curing his childhood fear of the dark.

1. Capaldi is still commanding when he is allowed on screen, but the Clara storyline has essentially wiped out any of the Doctor’s role in choosing his own destiny; every moment in his life seems to have been orchestrated by Clara — either by accident or purpose — and it feels like the Doctor has been hollowed out as a character, a big nothing without Clara’s influence.

Morning Mixtape: ‘Doctor Look Out’ by Orbital

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In the early 2000s, influenced by my friend David, I explored electronica music. One group I discovered Orbital, an English band. My favorite track by them was a remix of the “Doctor Who” theme called “Doctor Look Out.” Here’s one version of the song, mixed with clips from the first 50 years of the program. Enjoy.