Trust the Gene Genie

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cougs Win! Cougs Win!

Well what kind of Cougar fan would I be if I didn't post something about their stunning win over bitter rival Utah on Saturday. It was seriously a game that will go down in the history books as one of BYU finest wins.

Like any great game, more was at stake than just a win. The BYU/Utah rivalry holds up to any of the great rivalries in college football and for the past four years BYU had lost. Not a single BYU player had beat Utah, and with BYU coming into the match undeafeted in the Mountain West, it was the one win everyone wanted to see happen.

The drama, or course, really began late in the fourth quarter. It was three quarters of back-and-forth when finally with a 1:16 left in the game Utah scores a touchdown to take a four-point lead. At that point, I was sure the game was over and the Cougars had lost. Short of returning Utah's punt for a touchdown, I didn't how BYU could get all the way down field -- and score -- in just over a minute of playing time. Well, John Beck, who's been a middling quarterback at best over his last three years and even during quarters 2 and 3 in this game, showed his true colors and got the Cougs down to the 12-yard-line with three seconds to spare.

Beck takes the final snap, and for what feels like hours, looks and looks for an open receiver. With time well expired, Utah defenders finally break through and rush him. Running to his left, he throws right -- across his chest -- and gets the ball to receiver Johnny Harline, all alone in the far rightside of the endzone. Touchdown, with zero seconds on the clock, and BYU wins 33-31. It was unbelievable. So unbelievable, you have to watch the highlight reel to believe it. Here ya go:

Monday, November 20, 2006

You can run on for a long time

Some of you may know, I picked up Johnny Cash's last album a few months ago and it's a powerful record. Most of the songs are hit and miss -- and that's understandable. The man recorded almost all the tracks four and five months before he died. It makes for a heavy, intense little album. Anyway, one of the standout numbers is a track called "God's Gonna Cut You Down," a funeral dirge of a song. It's now got a video, that for the most part -- I think -- is pretty cool. I haven't done video for a while here on the Report, so consider this an early Christmas gift.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The top of Elsa's head smells like freedom

So, I've been listening to the new U2 single, "Window in the Skies" and having mixed feelings about it. In fact, I've been having mixed feelings about U2 for the past few years now -- feelings with which I've already bored you, faithful readers, in past editions.

But strap back in, because we're going for another "what's wrong with U2 these days" ride around the park.

First, "Windows." The song itself isn't too bad, although it takes the band about three minutes to really pull it all together. But listening to it again today, I think I finally put my finger on what's bugging me about the song. Like the whole of U2's two previous albums, "Windows" is unrelentingly upbeat. Bono literally rhapsodizes about love. Which is great, it's fine, it's the perfect thing about which to rhapsodize in song form. But man, is it bland. It's really got no depth, no bottom, as they say. It makes you smile and feel happy the first couple times you hear and then it just gets dull.

Which, to me, is the problem that has plagued the band since 2001, when they released "All That You Can't Leave Behind." The band has simply lost their edge. Every album U2 put out, from "Boy" to "Pop," had U2's characteristic upbeat, optimitic take on life. But they also had darkness, a little hardness around the edges, which acted as a great ballast for what comes to them naturally, I think. I mean, can you imagine the band recording and releasing something like "Love Is Blindness" now? Every song since "Beautiful Day" has been a celebration. And again, there's nothing wrong with that, if you balance it out with the rougher stuff, too.

It's the rougher stuff that made the band great -- t's what gave them depth, sensuality and texture. But instead, since "All That," everything has become frightenly one-dimensional. That doesn't mean there hasn't been good songs. I would argue "Beautiful Day," "A Man and a Woman" and (as sick of it as I am) "Vertigo" are as great as anything they've done in the past. But there's nothing there to balance out the hope and optimism. And, yes, you need something to balance it out or else you've eseentially produced a 60-minute Hallmark Card.

I mean, "Boy" has "I Will Follow" and "A Day Without Me," songs that essentially deal with suicide. "War" has "Surrender" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Seconds." Going down the list on the next albums, you've got "A Sort of Homecoming," "Bullet the Blue Sky" and "Mothers of the Disappeared," "God Part II," "Love Rescue Me," the entirity of "Achtung Baby," "Dirty Day" and "Some Days Are Better Than Others," "Gone," "Mofo" and "Wake Up Dead Man." And it's not like these songs are Elliot Smith dark. Clearly they're not. But they're certainly not exultations of charity and friendship, like "Miracle Drug" or "Walk On."

On their last two albums, the closest thing you get to dark is "Peace on Earth" on "All That" and maybe "Crumbs From Your Table" and "Love and Peace or Else" from "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." Just about everything from those last two albums are celebratory songs about the wonders of life, love and happiness. And "Windows," to me, wraps it all up in a nice little bow.

Is it so wrong that I want a little more "Until the End of the World," a little more "Bad" a little more "Please"? And I know Bono has gone to great lengths to explain that the band now isn't in the same place emotionally or psychologically as they were in the past, in their youth; that they're in their 40s and singing about the themes and issues you deal with in middle life; that their outlook now is more grounded, more mature, more at peace. What I want to know is, does that mean the fire's gone? Does that mean everything from here on out is going to be psuedo-psycho self-help songs? Because if it does, I may need to retreat to the past and pretend that the band's last album was "Pop" and that someday U2 will return to the studio to record their great follow-up.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Two-fer Wednesday

By most accounts, it's a good morning. Not only will there now be a check on our mindlessly block-headed executive branch, but U2's new single has been making the rounds online after KROQ played it a couple times yesterday. I managed to get a copy of it and it's really, really cool. So if you want me to email it out to you, just let me know in the comments.

Other than that, good riddance Rick Santorum and Crazy Conrad Burns. Let's hope a little bi-partisan power can get the country's direction back on track. You know, so we can actually fight terror instead of expanding executive power and deal with dictators who actually have WMDs.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Drop D metal bands

Halloween was a raging success. We've got candy coming out our ears. Surprisingly, though, no Slow Pokes. But I've got a Sugar Daddy, Thom, and it'll be on your desk when you get back to the newsroom.

But let's get to the business at hand. Another edition of Perfect Pop Songs. I realized last week that I've never posted a completed list of the songs from the first volume. So you can find that here, if you were curious. Anyway, on to the matter at hand.

Spoon's Sister Jack: Spoon is an incredible band from Austin that's been around for about 10 years. I think they've always kind of flown under the radar but with their last album "Gimme Fiction" it seems they're getting a little more attention. And mostly from the song "Sister Jack," as perfect a pop song as you've ever heard, complete with hand claps. The lyrics, like many of the songs from "Gimme Fiction" seem to make sense only to Brit Daniels, the band's lead singer and principal songwriter. But, still, they sound cool, which is almost as important as saying something. "Always on the outside/Always looking in/I was in this drop D metal band/We called Requim." It's one of the best songs on the dics -- and certainly the most approachable.

Wilco's The Late Greats: Wilco excels at writing and performing songs that come at you from left field. You hear them once, maybe twice, and never expect them to be catchy or even good and then three hours or even three days later, you find yourself humming the tune, unable to get the song out of your head. In a good way. Anyway, "The Late Greats" is the last track off the band's last album "A Ghost Is Born" and is a fun, jaunty tune that mocks in its own little way, aging hipsters and indie music lovers who always seem to be trying to one-up each other by pledging alligence to one band more obscure than the last. "The best band will never get signed/The Kaysettes starring Butchers Blind/You can't hear it on the radio/You can't hear it anywhere you go." The song's amazing. And a lot of fun.

Coldplay's Til Kingdom Come: Supposedly the song is Coldplay's ode to Johnny Cash. Well, it works for me. The song, appearing as a bonus track on "X&Y" is anchored by straight-up accoustic guitar, completely different in tone and feel from the rest of the album. That said, what makes the song work so well is the perfect meld of melody and lyrics. The song is really just a quiet little tune of longing and love and the mellencholic, aching melody reflects it perfectly. "Let me in/Unlock the door/I've never felt this way before."

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