Monthly Archives: January 2010

cucko for coco

As you can see, my allegiance in the Late Night War is pretty clear: #teamconan, all the way. And man, what a ride it’s been.

When news broke that NBC was considering bumping Conan to a later timeslot to accommodate the increasingly-tired, perennially-unfunny Jay Leno, I felt bad for the guy, sure. But I never thought I would get so worked up about something that has absolutely no effect on my life.

I almost never watch the Tonight Show, and while I always had affection for Conan, I could take or leave his show. No more. Now, it seems nearly everyone has chosen a side, and the Twitterverse has exploded in a flurry of hashtags and trending topics. Even I, a person who until two weeks ago didn’t even have a Twitter account, have been micro-blogging about the scuffle.

But why should anyone care? Screwing over a talented, eloquent guy aside, NBC has been going down in flames for years, and, as some of my friends argued at Tuesday trivia, Coco hasn’t delivered the ratings the network so desperately needed. (Though neither has Leno, whose show had affiliates threatening a boycott and GOT CANCELLED. Doesn’t exactly scream late-night longevity, does it?)

Yet Conan’s crisis has transformed his ailing show into appointment television, with the affable ginger mining comedy gold through biting monologues and various other hilarious bits and bantering with guests.

Last night’s show was particularly inspired, starting with his trademark self-deprecating monologue (“You can do anything you want, kids, unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too!”), an amazing cameo from 30 Rock‘s Kenneth the Page (“This is the 5:00 tour. If it started any later, it wouldn’t be the 5:00 tour.”), and a fantastic sit-down with Ricky Gervais, where the comic chided Conan about his lack of discernible skills and his unlikely dream of becoming a lifeguard (“I think your skin would dazzle ships.”).

(Check out Gawker’s coverage of Tuesday and Wednesday to see video.)

There have been dueling reports today that both confirm and deny NBC has taken the reins from Conan and thrust them into Leno’s chubby hands, and probably many more to come in the hours, days, and weeks ahead. The War is by no means over. But as Videogum has so astutely reported, Jeff Zucker is still dead. And no matter the outcome, Team Conan isn’t about to go quietly into Tonight.

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sun is in the sky, oh why, oh why, would i wanna be anywhere else?

Well, perhaps I could think of a few other places I’d rather be. But with a 40-degree heat wave hitting Rochester today, it’s been one of the more delightful days I’ve spent at home in recent memory. And hearing this song while walking Sundae certainly enhanced my suddenly cheery mood:

What are some of your favorite sunny day songs, Sparkies? Where else would you rather be? (I’m picturing myself on a tropical beach somewhere, stiff, fruity cocktail in hand…)

belated book report: halvsies edition

I’m just about half-way through Songbook and thought I’d bring you a status report — though I promise an actual review once I finish. I breezed through the first 92 pages while on the train Monday night (and into Tuesday morning), eagerly gobbling up Hornby’s prose despite the distractions at hand.

The thing about doing anything on the train is that you are bound to be interrupted. Most people tend to keep to themselves during late night rides, and it’s certainly a more sedate group than Greyhound travelers (shudder), but every now and then I find myself next to a Seat Hog.

Monday’s SH was on her way to Chicago, and I could understand her need and desire for sleep, especially considering that the train was running over three hours late, and it would be many more before she reached her destination. She lay curled up next to the window seat, and I tried my best not to disturb her as I sat down and arranged my bags and accoutrements. And then it hit me.

Literally, her sweater/coat/giant-red-something-that-wasn’t-a-Slanket hit me. Specifically, its pocket. Girlfriend had jammed some major gloves into that thing, and it packed quite the punch. Somewhat startled, I tried to reposition myself further away, only to find The Pocket yet again pressing into my side. This little dance continued for the duration of my ride, The Pocket creeping towards me, The Sleeve even finding its way across my lap at one point.

I suppose I can’t really blame the woman for being a Seat Hog, since it seemed to be mostly her sweater’s fortitude that kept thrusting itself my way. Anyway, what all this has to do with Songbook is, is that even though I had to wrestle with The Sweater From Seat Hog Hell and smell the slight stench wafting up from the woman’s admittedly kicky flamingo-patterned socks, I was still able to focus on, and delight in, my book.

And boy, what a book. Every time I read something of Hornby’s, I feel like he’s sitting across from me and we’re having a conversation. He says everything that I’ve ever wanted to say about music but couldn’t quite articulate. Take this quote from an essay he wrote circa Songbook about Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker, and Adams’ ability to turn torment into musical genius:

What rights do we have here? Are we entitled to ask other people to be unhappy for our benefit? After all, there are loads of us, and only one of them. And how can you be happy, really, if you are only ordinary in your happiness, but extraordinary in your grief? Is it really worth it? It sounds harsh, I know, but if you are currently romantically involved with someone with a real talent — especially a talent for songwriting — then do us all a favour and dump them. There might be a ‘Heartbreaker‘ — or a ‘Blood On The Tracks’ or a ‘Layla‘ — in it for all of us.

I mean, is that not just a perfect paragraph?

Songbook is littered with soliloquies like this, except Hornby isn’t just talking; he’s talking to you. And as he’s relating to you, you’re relating to him, and everything is just…wonderful. It’s an experience I’m not finished with yet, and one I can’t wait to see through to its end. Stay tuned.