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So we’re about a month into Glee now, and I’m still trying to figure out what the show is supposed to be. As a comedy, the show works very well. It juxtaposes the expected with the unexpected and has lots of hilarity. Jane Lynch is enough, in her two or three minutes of screen time, to make the whole show worth watching, but there’s lots more. But it’s also really dark, with people violating their own core principles regularly. Sure, they redeem themselves usually, but the redemptive moments at the ends of the episodes don’t compare to the kinds of ethical mutilations they’re undergoing regularly.
There are also some very sinister characters. Will’s wife, a character meant to be funny, seems utterly horrible to me. And unlike someone openly evil like, say, the Devil in Reaper, Will doesn’t see her for what she is. And the conflict she causes brings genuine sadness to the whole show. The same goes for main character Finn and his manipulative evil girlfriend.
So far, the show seems like a less overtly sinister Blue Velvet, with the mask of cheery singing — and cheery resolutions to many of the season’s thorny episodes — hiding the seething underbelly of moral decrepitude and degeneracy.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m working on the house is to turn on my “everything but audiobooks” playlist and try to see how many of the songs I can identify by artist as it plays. My Amarok collection includes roughly 460 artists, with 8oo-some albums and 11000 tracks (98% of that music legitimately purchased or downloaded legally, btw). So it’s a personal thrill to be able to name artist after artist. But it wasn’t until Avery said something during our last painting session that I started pondering how I recognize the artists, even when it’s a deep track that’s playing.
We have a CD full of music for Avery in the car. It’s got some kid’s music staples, but also good wholesome or entertaining music that I want her to enjoy. She likes “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “Stroller Town” (JoCo), but she also likes “All things little” (“All the Small Things” by Blink 182) and “The cloud song” (“Get Off of My Cloud” by The Rolling Stones) and “Lollipop” (The Chordetes). We have the Monkees version of “I’m a Believer” on the CD as well, which she refers to as “The Shrek Song” because the Smashmouth cover of that song appears in Shrek, which she saw at her Grandparents’ house and became a favorite at our house for about a month. Oddly, when I’ve played the Smashmouth “I’m a Believer” for her off my iPod, she recoils, suggesting that it isn’t the correct “Shrek song” because it’s different from the Monkees version. All that is delightful in itself. But here’s where it gets weird for me.
We were painting–she was helping with a tiny roller–and Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie” came on. After a minute or so of rocking out, she said:
This is kinda like the Shrek song.
I agreed, as would be expected since Diamond wrote “I’m a believer,” though the Monkees had the big hit with it. It wasn’t until later that I realized that somewhere in the song structure and lyrical style, Avery recognized a connection across these two different songs. I’m still boggled.
Talking with Avery about the parent’s council meeting we’d just had at her day care center, the Kangaroo Korner:
A: But why did you stay back there?
B: We were having a meeting.
A: Did you sing songs?
B: No, we didn’t. Grown-up meetings are kind of boring, we just talk.
A: Not like my meetings.
B: You sing at your meetings?
A: No, my meetings are to play with my Korner friends.
Kenny Rogers did it well before, but there’s something about the melancholy rockabilly style of Cake that makes mournful songs just heartbreaking. I just listened (while hanging drywall) to their cover of “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town.”
Ruby seems like a pretty big jerk in the early part of the song, but when he says this line, my heart just cracks open: “I’ve heard them say it won’t be long until I’m not around.”
Of course, then he says he’d kill her if he had a chance, so there’s that.
I’m a little surprised Cake didn’t shift the line “that crazy Asian war” to “Arab war,” as is their wont. I’m still fond of the change to “I Will Survive” in which they say “I should have changed that fucking lock, I should have made you leave the key.” I’m pretty sure Gloria Gainer didn’t say fucking.