Dumbing Down The Cosmos

February 26, 2011

I happened across some television program on aliens the other night that was focused on theorists proffering the idea that human evolution has been influenced by extraterrestrial beings.

One fellow rattled off the Nazca Lines, the Pyramids of Giza and the Moai statues of Easter Island as evidence.

There was speculation that aliens might have altered the DNA of humans, resulting in some six billion or so lab rats.

The theory was also offered that some of their experientation with the various species on the planet explains the strange creatures depicted in ancient mythology – lions with wings and such.

And, these creatures might have, then, been taken by the aliens to populate other worlds.

I thought of our planet’s inhabitants as Sea Monkeys for extraterrestrials.

(it would be far less disappointing than brine shrimp)

Then, I considered Earth as a potential reality show for more advanced civilizations in the cosmos. Perhaps it competes for the attention of viewers with “reality” shows set in the other worlds the aliens have created.

Earth is probably quite popular in extraterrestrial trailer parks and a guilty pleasure for others.

(maybe it has a snappier title like So You Think You Can Evolve?)

Here are four television songs…

A-ha – The Sun Always Shines On T.V.
from Hunting High And Low

Here in the States, the Norwegian trio A-Ha has been relegated to one-hit wonder status which is unfortunate.

Sure, everyone knows Take On Me, but I’ve always been partial to that song’s follow-up, The Sun Always Shines On T.V. It hurtles along with a gloriously yearning melody and, as I recall, the video was almost as striking as the song for which they’re better known.

David Bowie – TVC 15
from The Singles Collection

TVC 15 is a jaunty little number that originally appeared on Bowie’s Station To Station set. Apparently the song was inspired by a drug-fueled hallucination by Iggy Pop that a television set had swallowed his girlfriend. Iggy wished to crawl into the television and join her.

(Burger King commercials have the same effect on me)

Pulp – TV Movie
from This Is Hardcore

I owned a trio of Pulp’s records from the mid-’90s when they reached their highest profile in their native UK. Here in the States, the group garnered little attention (which is too bad).

Jarvis Cocker always reminded me of a latter day Ray Davies. This is Hardcore was a darker, more somber affair than the band’s previous Different Class. TV Movie, lamenting a failed relationship, is somber, but it is also lovely and moving.

The Tubes – T.V. Is King
from Remote Control

My high school buddy Bosco turned me on to both The Tubes and Todd Rundgren. Though Remote Control was released several years earlier, I have no doubt it was a memorable moment for him as the album found Rundgren producing the band.

Rundgren also received writing credits on a pair of songs from Remote Control, a concept album about television, including T.V. Is King. The amusing track has Rundgren’s fingerprints all over it.

Watching The TV Guide Channel

April 18, 2009

I was stunned the first time I saw the TV Guide Channel. I don’t think I had cable at the time, but I was house-sitting for a friend. Late one night, I stumbled upon a channel which was showing nothing but a hypnotic, scrolling schedule of my choices.

I was mesmerized. There was no need to even exert the minimal effort to actually channel surf. This was the stuff of genius.

I sat there boggle-eyed, maybe for hours. None of the programming listed was as gripping and, no matter whichever choice I made, I invariably returned to this magical channel.

I had to watch because if I didn’t I might miss something I’d wanted to watch because I was watching something else.

The other night, I consulted the TV Guide Channel. And, amidst the uninspiring offerings, a title caught my eye – Top Gun.

Man, I hadn’t seen that flick since it had been in theaters and I’d left that viewing feeling like I’d missed the evolutionary train for being slack-jawed enough to help the people who made this movie make money.

(and the flick made lots of money back in ’86)

Could it have been as bad as I remembered? I hopped on over to Bravo to give it another viewing.

I managed to hang with it through the opening as the flight scenes were engaging enough.

My head was soon resting on my hand (which was covering my eyes from the steaming pile of over wrought tripe which I was witnessing).

I had lasted roughly twenty-two minutes, until Tom Cruise began serenading the Amish chick from Witness.

As I sought to find something less insulting to my intelligence – or even as equally insulting so long as it was more entertaining – nothing was to be found.

Girding my loins (which sounds like something a Republican senator might get caught doing in a men’s bathroom at an airport), I flipped back to Top Gun.

Now Amish Chick was declaring her forbidden love to a sun glassed Tom Cruise, the two of them silhouetted against the setting sun, he having just chased down her convertible on his motorcycle as the wind swept through their hair (which didn’t so much as flinch).

I resisted the urge to batter my head against the table ‘til I bled from my eyes.

I’d need those orbs to eyeball the TV Guide Channel.

A-Ha – The Sun Always Shines On TV
Here in the States, the Norwegian trio A-Ha has been relegated to one-hit wonder status which is unfortunate. Sure, everyone knows Take On Me, but that song’s follow-up, The Sun Always Shines On TV, is a far better song. It hurtles along with a gloriously yearning melody and, as I recall, the video was almost as striking as the song for which they’re better known.

Bow Wow Wow – (I’m A) TV Savage
Was there a more fetching ingenue in ’80s music than Bow Wow Wow’s Anabella Lwin? (there’s never been a fifteen-year old Burmese chick with a mohawk quite like her)

Annabella aside, Bow Wow Wow was lots of fun. Sure, many of their songs were indistinguishable from one another – Annabella yelping manically over that tribal drumming – but fun nonetheless.

Cheap Trick – Ballad Of TV Violence (I’m Not The Only Boy)
Paloma and I have acquired most of Cheap Trick’s albums on vinyl (at least the ones worth acquiring) save for their self-titled debut on which this song appears. Instead, this is a live version from their box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick.

Headlights – TV
The trio Headlights seemed to have all the hip kids abuzz some time back (I could verify this except Spin magazine elicits the same reaction from me as Top Gun).

Like Cheap Trick, Headlights come from Illinois (Rockford for the former, Champaign for the latter) and their song Cherry Tulips is nearly perfect indie pop. TV, from their 2006 debut album Kill Them With Kindness, is the only other song of Headlights which I have heard, but it leads me to believe that the hip kids might actually be on to something.