Category Archives: Tyranasaurus Sex

U2 Jump Street: Before “Friends”

Penhall & HansonWith 22 Jump Street opening last weekend I thought it would only be appropriate to open up the digital archives and take a look at the source text, the original TV series, the pre-meta, pre-spoof, sincere-to-a-fault 21 Jump Street. And when thinking about what to write about I was surprised to learn that I never spoke about one of the most vivid memories of 21 Jump Street from my childhood, something that has stuck with me for decades, even if I wasn’t sure it was real until I just confirmed it. Something that, as a consequence, always bothered me about Friends. And that is the use of U2’s “With or Without You.”

It was easy to think that I had made it up. My memory said that the series on the fledgling Fox network once featured an episode in which Officer Doug Penhall (the incomparable Peter DeLuise) travels to El Salvador to locate his missing wife (in my recollections, however, it was not El Salvador – I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know that El Salvador existed at the time – I just had a vision of Penhall going to some Spanish-speaking place, or, perhaps, due to the outbreak of the first Gulf War during that time, the Middle East somewhere). And I recalled that the emotional climax was set to “Without or Without You,” a song that I hadn’t put in context yet, by a band I wouldn’t really be aware of until they had a pretty popular video from the Batman Forever soundtrack. But that couldn’t have actually happened right? This the show in which Johnny Depp goes undercover as a high school student to break up an amateur weed-dealing ring, in which Peter DeLuise was still somehow eligible for the varsity football team, in which Holly Robinson-Peete cornered the market on denim. So there couldn’t have been an episode in which Penhall and Hanson get embroiled in a Latin American revolution, right? With machine guns and rebel armies and jungles and explosions? Nah. In which Penhall grieves over his dead wife at her makeshift grave? No. No way. Now an episode in which Hanson is afraid to share chocolate milk with an HIV-positive student? Sure. Richard Greico’s Booker getting super high and then absolutely dominating on the schoolyard basketball court? I’ll buy that. But not an epic, emotional, tragic trek through a Latin American nation in turmoil set against the most moving and gut-wrenching song from the Irish Beatles (before the pomposity and pretentiousness of later fare like “Beautiful Day”). We think not.

But it was real! Sure, if you look up that episode now – “La Bizca” (translation: “the cross-eyed”) – and watch on Hulu, or view it on your complete series DVDs (which I know you have), the song has been replaced with some generic stock music. To be fair, it’s amazing that they were able to use it for the original broadcast in the first place, so it would be greedy to expect to fire up your Amazon Prime and still hear the strains of The Edge’s guitar. But, thanks to some intrepid, heroic YouTube users, the original version exists (taken from what we think was a German broadcast, naturally), and it can be seen in its original glory, the way that Bono never intended because he probably didn’t know that 21 Jump Street was a thing.

And when we say “its original glory” we also mean before “With or Without You” was usurped and recontextualized by Friends when Ross and Rachel couldn’t agree on the terms of a “break.” Years after “La Bizca” we remember watching Rachel stare out her fake window in her fake NYC apartment as fake snow fell down and we were immediately bothered by this song being appropriated as the soundtrack to their not-really-star-crossed romance. These two selfish, self-obsessed, entitled yuppies let a little fight and a copy shop girl get between them, and they have the audacity to proclaim this as their theme song, the anthem to their dysfunctional, overwrought, will-they-or-won’t-they romance? That, we recall then and recall now, was very upsetting. The emotional depths of “With or Without You” should be reserved for a Doug Penhall traveling halfway across the world only to learn that his wife has perished in the midst of a brutal civil war, not for a fashion buyer and a whiny guy with a monkey who break up after every petty squabble. It’s an insult to “With or Without You,” and its an insult to the late Marta Penhall. Would you use Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to accompany Phoebe giving birth to her brother’s triplets? No, you wouldn’t. And this was arguably worse.

And when we say “its original glory” we also mean the manner in which “With or Without You” was used in the television series versus how it might be used in the movies; which is to say without any trace of irony, but instead just dripping with earnestness. The polar opposite of 21 Jump Street the movie (and its sequel), 21 Jump Street the show was hyper self-serious. Sure, you don’t have a series with Peter DeLuise at the forefront and not have your fair share of yuks, but the show did not allow for any degree of winking or self-parody, any even vague allusion to its absurdity. Racism in high schools and a Vietnamese extortion ring and a clown kidnapping his grandson and revolutions in El Salvador, this was never played for laughs, but for very special episodes at best, didactic social commentary at worst. But good or bad, the original 21 Jump Street was committed to the integrity of these stories, and that probably goes a long way towards explaining why Johnny Depp was so eager to flee the Jump Street chapel. It wasn’t the best show – not by a long shot – and it didn’t always do a great job of tackling the big issues – again, not by a long shot – but you can’t say they didn’t aim high. And if their aim wasn’t true – and it usually wasn’t – their intentions were.

Much like, you might argue, a little rock band out of Dublin.

 

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Filed under Count Bleh, Jump Streets Ahead, Must See TV, Nostalgia Corner, The Big Screen, Tyranasaurus Sex

Parting Shot: Pains, Train & Automobiles

Picture 15

Are you Sirius? 

(taken before this SNL sketch, which proves, once again, that they are reading our diary)

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Filed under Marconi & Cheese, Parting Shot, Saturday Night Live, Tyranasaurus Sex

Temple of the Jew: (A Brief) Hunger Strike

It’s Yom Kippur and we’re going hungry.

(the official song of the 2012 High Holidays)

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Filed under Lady Holiday, Tyranasaurus Sex, Woody Allen, Bar Mitzvahs & Bagels

BREAKING NEWS(ROOM): A Fraggle Rock A Day

Inspired by Ben Folds Five and their Fraggle-inflected (infested?) video for “Do It Anyway,” we went down to the caves for today’s A Newsroom A Day. Dance your cares away!

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Down at Fraggle Rock & Roll

Yesterday Ben Folds Five, in conjunction with Nerdist and the Fraggles, released the video for “Do It Anyway,” the first single from their new and apparently much-anticipated album The Sound of the Life of the Mind, and it’s awesome. It’s just awesome.

Let’s just run down a quick list of why this is awesome:

1. Fraggles. Duh. Obvious #1.

2. Specifically Uncle Traveling Matt. Or, as you may know him, Tarzan from Survivor: ONE WORLD!

3. Rob Corddry, doing general Rob Corddry things (the smarmier the better).

4. A pretty rocking Ben Folds Five song. In fact, it’s so good that we’ve been forced to reassess our whole perception of Ben Folds Five. Thanks to his service as a judge on the Sing-Off, Ben Folds had already endeared himself to us as perhaps the one and only genuinely polite, affable and respectful judge among all reality competitions. But that was specific to his personality and gratitude, his completely unironic earnestness and enthusiasm. It did nothing to make us think of “Brick” as anything other than an okay song that we periodically remember is about abortion which VH1 used to play every morning just before or just after the video for Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough,” a song we much preferred. Nor did his positivity and humor suggest to us that we should go back and give Forever and Amen a listen, that perhaps when we surmised that Ben Folds Five was for the other guys, we were mistaken. No, we just grew to really like the guy. However, this video completely calls into question everything we thought we knew about Ben Folds Five. Perhaps we had them wrong all along. 

And 7 more reasons why this is awesome…

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Filed under Brilliance, Lists, Muppets, Tyranasaurus Sex, Virulent

Two Things That Make No Sense Together: A Visual Representation

We recently received this email from Major League Baseball promoting a special performance by former American Idol finalist Adam Lambert at the MLB Fan Cave, the corner storefront in Greenwich Village where a bunch of super-fans hole up and watch every MLB game (kinda like The Real World, but instead of Puck picking his nose and  putting his fingers in the peanut butter, there’s a dude who swears that Ryan Braun has an STD).

And this got us thinking: what percentage of Major League Baseball fans are also strident Adam Lambert loyalists?  How many people are both excited about the MLB Fan Cave and Lambert’s #CaveConcert?  So we did a little statistical analysis and graphed our results using a Venn diagram.

There you have it.

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Filed under Count Bleh, Matt Christopher Books, MS Paint, Tyranasaurus Sex, Venn Diesel Diagram

Muppet Monday: Oscars the Grouch

If you had a chance (or the misfortune) to read our tweets from last night’s Oscars telecast, you’ll know that we were very sore that Bret McKenzie was not given a chance to perform his Oscar-nominated “Man or Muppet” (and one would assume a theoretical performance would include Jason Segel & Walter, if not the Muppet cast), and we took every opportunity to point out an uninspiring three minutes that could have been better spent with a Muppet musical interlude (which, basically, was any three minutes in the show, save for Tom Hanks’ presentation and Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis’s own musical interlude).  And, despite the hope that we foolishly granted ourselves in our most private moments, the Muppet contribution to the show was limited to a short bit with Kermit & Miss Piggy introducing Cirque Du Soleil (so you had time for those freaks and not the Muppets? C’mon).  So with that you could consider the chance to do something fun and different and special officially thwarted, in favor of the same old pabulum (and the new old Billy Crystal).

BUT, despite all that, the Muppets did deliver two of the night’s best moments.  First, of course, was Bret McKenzie’s triumph (although, let’s be honest, if the song from Rio won, we should just pack it in.  That would have been worse that Meryl Streep’s victory (which, by the way, was a win for lazy white people everywhere)), winning the Oscar for a film that deserved much more acclaim and recognition than it received.  The second moment was McKenzie’s gracious, earnest acceptance speech, and, more to the point, Jason Segel’s reaction when McKenzie offered his gratitude to Jim Henson.  That moment of pure joy could warm the coldest heart.

We can’t find that clip online (thanks a lot, the man!), but this almost approximates that joy and innocence:

On a related note, for the better part of the last year we’ve been slogging our way through Michael Davis’ Street Gang, the wonderfully detailed and thoroughly researched history of Sesame Street.  Not surprisingly, we found the most engaging excerpts to be those that touched on Jim Henson’s contribution to the show, and, in a macabre way, the description of his passing and his now legendary memorial service.  We finally came to this event towards the end of the book as we were riding along the E train yesterday; at one point the doors open, we look up and what should we see?  Jim Henson, surrounded by his greatest creations, a poster for their exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image.  It was a bit eerie, but even more it felt special, serendipitous.  And, then, mere hours later, McKenzie invokes Henson’s name, providing another fitting tribute to a man who remains an inspiration to so many of us.

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