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.

Close Encounters Of The Cheap Trick Kind

June 12, 2008

As I believe I have mentioned in an earlier entry, Paloma and I will soon be attending her family reunion where I intend to grill her father and grandfather – both retired Air Force colonels – about our government’s knowledge of extraterrestrial life. As such is the case, I’ve been thinking about the aliens much of late.

Seeing the the movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind was a dazzling experience of sight and sound for me as a child. Of course, aliens have a particular allure to children, young and old. It wasn’t until I was older and had fallen in love with music that the means used to communicate with the visitors truly resonated with me.

I still find it wholly brilliant and a lovely concept that music would be the conduit between humans and whatever beings that might exist in distant worlds. Although the movie incorporated a five-note sequence based on the teachings of Zoltan Kodaly, I wondered what might be the one song I’d play for extraterrestrials to explain the concept of rock and roll – four minutes of sheer perfection exemplifying the form.

I believe I’d be inclined to play Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me for them.

In fact, I wouldn’t be hesitant to declare that Cheap Trick is one of America’s greatest rock bands. No, I’m not speaking from a standpoint of influence or artistry (although they have been influential and have had moments of great artistry, although maddeningly erratic), but rather from the position that they might be as close as this country has come to producing our own Beatles – guitar, bass, drums, and four distinct personalities with a cache of classic songs that sound perfect blaring from the stereo.

I Want You To Want Meis a flawless example – a divinely glorious cacophony of Rick Neilsen’s guitar riffs, the sonic drive of the rhythm section of Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos, and the peerless vocal charisma of Robin Zander (accompanied by several thousand manic Japanese fans). It’s simplicity at its finest and a melody of the sweetest imaginable, a song that manages to capture the joyous exuberance of rock and roll and the timeless theme of longing, leaving the listener wanting more (at least this one and several thousand manic Japanese fans).

I think the aliens would get it. I think that they’d dig Rick Neilsen, provided that he didn’t beat them up – a fate that I once felt certain awaited me following a possibly ill-advised remark I made in defense of my cigarettes (somewhere I have a pack autographed by all four Tricksters).

Yeah, I think that Cheap Trick might just be the way to go if we want to promote intergalactic goodwill when the aliens finally arrive. They might not have the grace and elegance of those five notes from the movie, but if you’re going to do bong hits with E.T., I suggest Cheap Trick.

So, here’s to alien life everywhere and, as my new-found friends would certainly be smitten with Cheap Trick after hearing I Want You To Want Me, I’ve included another three of my favorites by the lads from Rockford.

Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me (live at The Budokan)

Cheap Trick – Surrender

Cheap Trick – If You Want My Love

Cheap Trick – Mandocello

Vatican Chooses To Not Stifle God’s Creative Freedom

May 15, 2008

In good news for extraterrestrial life everywhere, the Vatican Observatory has stated that the existence of such life is cool with the Vatican’s chief astronomer. And, in good news personally, apparently I won’t be condemned to burn in Hell if I choose to believe in the existence of aliens.

Then, within twenty-four hours, the British released over 1,000 pages of formerly secret UFO documents including documented sightings that didn’t take place following an evening at a pub. What gives with the sudden rush to embrace and accept out-of-towners?

Years ago, I had the “opportunity” to work with a band whose lead singer claimed to be an alien abductee. He and the bassist brought me into the circle of trust on this particular matter one evening over drinks. As it was at the height of The X-Files popularity, they expressed their concern that, a) they would be accused of shameless pandering and, b) they would be known as “that alien band.”

Outside of their company at the time, they had no reason for concern.

Of the many nuggets of information which they imparted to me, one item was that the government was biding its time, waiting for aliens to become commonplace in popular culture, to reveal the existence of extraterrestrials. This would ensure a seamless transition when the aliens started showing up in bars, grocery stores, and the cubicle next to you at work.

This summer, Paloma and I will be attending her family reunion where we’ll see her father and grandfather, both retired Air Force colonels. Let it be known to all, I intend to get answers (and, preferably, in a manner which will not alienate the family of the girl I love).

Personally, like Mulder, when it comes to the existence of alien life, “I want to believe.” And, in the words of a professor I had for an occult class, “It’s a big world. There’s a lot going on.”

As for the Vatican, they said that ruling out such extraterrestrial life would be “putting limits” on God’s creative freedom. I’m sure She’ll be relieved to know that She has been given the green light to run the universe as She sees best.

David Bowie – Loving The Alien
The album Tonight was hardly a high point for Mr. Bowie and, yet, I seem to recall it being greeted with decent reviews initially. However, Loving The Alien is always on any compilation of Bowie that I make. I also seem to recall that it was only available as a bonus track on the cassette release of Tonight.

Radiohead – Subterranean Homesick Alien
For several years, I was the head buyer for a very large record store, making me privy to advance releases on which I could pass judgment to my label reps. Sometimes, I was woefully far off, as when – despite being a big fan of their debut – I pronounced Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? as “too British” to succeed in the States. On the other hand, after one listen to Radiohead’s OK Computer, I deemed it to be “an instant classic.”

Milla – Alien Song (For Those Who Listen
One of the more pleasant surprises of the aforementioned gig was a 1994 album by supermodel/actress Milla Jovavich. It was hardly earth-shattering or groundbreaking, but a pleasant and dreamy affair nonetheless. Of course, Jovavich was in the movie Dazed And Confused, which included the character of Slater opining on aliens. She also played an otherworldly being in The Fifth Element. Perhaps we should be asking Milla what she knows about the subject.

Lamb – Alien