Top 10 Songs for your Superman Mix Tape

Heading out to see the “Man Of Steel” at some point in your life, citizens? Don’t forget to put together a playlist to pump you up before the show. The AV Club actually put together a pretty righteous list of Superman songs on their site, which are all worth a look. However, as a man of particular tastes, I’ve got my own suggestions:

  1. Superman March by John Williams. There will never be a better theme for Superman. How can there be? The iconic piece was written by none other than John Muggle Flippin’ Williams! It’s been in circulation since the first Christopher Reeve movie up to … Smallville, surprisingly. In the very last episode, when Clark finally accepts his destiny, the march starts playing and everyone one knows that Superman is finally on the scene! Seriously, there was no bigger crowd pleasing moment than when Clark does his Superman thing and the music is playing. (Incidentally, here’s a weakness of the new theme. It’s always been rule of thumb in any theme that you can hear “Superman!” in the music itself. You definitely can when the Williams score kicks up. Not so much in Hans Zimmer’s score. Zimmer, I love ya, and “Pirates of the Carribean” is fantastic, but I can barely hear the “Superman” part. Though… it IS there.)
  2. Jimmy Olson’s Blues by Spin Doctors. A fun little number where Jimmy Olson is lamenting the fact that he’ll never get a shot at Lois Lane … cuz his rival is none other than Superman. Think it might be out of character that he keeps a Pocket Full of Kryptonite, as the song says? I’m pretty sure he pulled the same stunt on Supes every other issue during the Silver Age.
  3. Save Me by Remy Zero. The theme to Smallville, the longest running Superman show of all time. Get ready to do your slow twirls with your hair blowing in the wind! Hilariously, even John Glover (as Lionel Luthor) got to do the sexy twirl, which shows just how iconic those long locks of hair are.
  4. (Wish I Could Fly) Like Superman by The Kinks. One of the most iconic and underrated British invasion bands sing about Superman. Chorus is catchy as hell. Song basically contrasts how we’re all “nine stone weaklings with wobbly knees” while Supes is the fitness model we all aspire to.
  5. Superman by Goldfinger. Superman goes ska. Song is about “doing everything, pretending I’m a Superman,” getting to the heart of what makes Superman great. Glen Whedon wrote that Supes will always put the needs of others over his own, and the song is about that: “What? Could I do more? I’m really not sure. I know I’m running circles and I can’t quit.”
  6. Superman by Five For Fighting. The Unauthorized biography mentioned that this was the first song performed at a benefit held at the wreckage of the Twin Towers after 9/11. It gives this song a more solemn edge, which is about a hero who’s being emotionally wracked by his duty to rescue everyone.
  7. That’s Really Super, Supergirl by XTC. Not really about Superman… though it is, kinda? The singer of the song croons about how Supergirl has not time for him when she’s going out on rescues, which causes him to retreat into his Fortress of Solitude. Wait … that’s Superman’s home. Kara’s your cousin, Supes. Song just got kinda creepy.
  8. Superman by REM. Cause you need a 90’s alternative rock song on your playlist. Besides, the chorus is great: “I am … I am Superman. And I can do anything.”
  9. You Don’t Mess Around With Jim by Jim Croce. Not really a Superman song, but the part where he’s mentioned remains one of the biggest truisms about Superman: you don’t tug on Superman’s cape. (Hey, how weird is it that Man of Steel and Lone Ranger are both coming out this year? You don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger, either. Feel free to reuse this one later this year.)
  10. Sunshine Superman by Donovan. Finally, one of the few songs to mention two of DC’s heroes: the most well known one and the one played by Ryan Reynolds. “Superman or Green Lantern ain’t got nothing on me….” Plus it’s got that Donovan Summer of Love trippiness, which is always a treat.

Honorable Mention: Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down, Superman Song by Crash Test Dummies, Holding Out For A Hero by Frou Frou, Real World by Matchbox 20.

Bonus: me rocking my Superman shirt at Man Of Steel.



Top 10 Ways You Know You’re A Trekkie

So… are you a Trekkie? In this day and age where Trek fans are popping out of the woodwork thanks to the J. J. Abrams movies, it’s hard to be sure some times. Use this handy dandy list to see if you, my friend, qualify under the moniker of being the most devoted (and mocked) fandom in science fiction.

  1. Despite decrying the song as a travesty on the order of a Bryan Adams love ballad, you guiltily have “Faith of the Heart” set as your ring tone on your phone … which, incidentally, also has an app that transforms it into a tricorder. (Bonus points if you’ve managed to transform your tablet into a working PADD.)
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  3. You have a crazy impulse to elbow the person next to you whenever Nurse Chapel, the ship’s computer voice, Luxanna Troi, or the original Number One appear onscreen. The person watching with you, incidentally is not interested at all in why you find these characters fascinating.
  4. You own either pointy ears, a Klingon head piece, or a “Wesley Crushers” shirt. In absence of such material goods: you have actually written an entry on Memory Alpha.
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Top 10 Most Embarrassing Ways to Die in the Holy Bible

The Bible chronicles some of the world’s most violent times. There were people getting mutilated, strangled, set on fire, defenestrated, and beheaded. But there were just some ways to die which were downright embarrassing. Getting killed by jawbone wielded by an Israelite superman named Samson … that ain’t so bad. Crushed by the engulfing waves of the Sea of Reeds? Kinda epic really. So which were the most embarrassing ways to die in the Bible?

10 – Hung on your own gallows (Esther 7:6-10). Jewish readers familiar with Purim, the least depressing of the major Jewish holidays, know what this one’s about. The villain Haman is set to have the hated Jew Mordecai executed on some pretty tall gallows. What he didn’t count on, though, was that Mordecai was related to the ruling queen, Esther. Esther calls him out, Haman tries to cozy up with her to spare his life, and then King Xerxes walks in and totally misreads the situation. Just like in a sitcom! And I think we can all agree that most sitcoms can be vastly improved when the romantic rival is hung on his own gallows.

9 – Foiled by your own fabulous hair (2 Samuel 18:9-14). Absalom rebels against his own father, King David, but as he’s riding, his head gets stuck in a tree. And he just sorta hangs there, stuck. One of King David’s main generals, Joab, sorta takes the opportunity to kill the guy and put an end to the insurgency, despite an edict from the king that Absalom should not be harmed. But one has to wonder … how in the world did Absalom get his head stuck in the branches of a tree? Well, earlier (2 Samuel 14:25-26), the Bible helpfully informs us that Absalom, a handsome stud who was a hit with the ladies (and the men, oddly enough), had some seriously luxurious hair. It says that when he went and got a haircut, the cut hair would weight about 5 lbs. Man, I can’t even score 1 lb. of hair when I go to Fantastic Sam’s. Curse you, you handsome devil… CURSE YOU!

8. – Random shot (2 Chronicles 18:28-34). During an invasion by the Arameans, King Ahab of Israel chickens out. He gets his pal, Jehoshaphat of Judah, to dress up as him, while Ahab put on the outfit of a regular grunt. That’s because the Arameans were out for Ahab, and Ahab alone (going as far as to say they wouldn’t kill anyone except the King of Israel). Well, the Arameans were fooled at first, but I guess they got a close look at Jehoshaphat and figured out they’d been snookered. But … it ends up they do manage to off Ahab. How? One of the Aramean soldiers fires a completely random shot and it strikes Ahab down. Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!

7. – Mauled by bears for calling someone a “baldhead” (2 Kings 2:23-25). This is one of those examples that critics of Christianity love to point out. Elisha’s walking along, some “youths” (or teens as we would call them nowadays) call him a baldy, and God sends some bears to maul them. Why in the world would a just God do something as petty as that? Well, some context: 1.) This was the time of King Ahab and his descendants, and the prevailing religion was Baal worship. Anyone practicing Judaism, in fact, was considered the enemy of the state. Prophets, few that there were, had to hide out in the mountains. 2.) The Bible says there were at least 42 youths doing the taunting. There’s a good chance they were planning to do something a lot more to a known political fugitive. There’s another point: if I remember my Bible study correctly, the leader mentioned that the youths were mauled, not killed. If they were killed, the Bible would not hesitate to says so. I guess that might make this item exempt from this list … but I really can’t pass up on an “attacked by bears” bulletpoint, so there you go.
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Top 10 Best Christmas Songs

About two weeks ago, I put together a list of Christmas Songs They Should Stop Playing, Like, Right Now. I’d hate if that made me come across as some kind of crank, like the sort who complains about how songs are being played to early and what not. So in the spirit of balance, here’s my Top 10 Best Christmas Songs. This song is by no means definitive, as I’m sure you have your own favorites, too. And I too struggled with this list. Some of my favorites barely missed the cut: “Silver Bells,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Winter Wonderland,” and, surprisingly, “Run, Run Rudolph.” (Ooooh…. I’m definitely going to get an earful for that last one.)

So here’s my Top 10, both secular and religious. For the most part, it was the tunes themselves and not the messages that I enjoyed. This, by the way, is an underrated and very important qualifier, since you’re going to hear a song about 50 times each before December 25 is over.

10. Christmastime is Here — You’ll recognize this as the wordless intro song from the classic Charlie Brown Christmas Special, one of the greatest gifts Charles Shulz ever gave to the world. I didn’t even know there were words to the song … but Sixpence None the Richer did a somewhat haunting, somewhat sultry cover of the song once, and that version is in heavy rotation on my iPod this time of year. I guess I appreciate it most because it hasn’t been overplayed to death (or played at all) like other songs. And, unlike “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” the song can be enjoyed without ever having seen the original cartoon.

9. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
— the song was originally written by Bob Wells and singer Mel Torme, who says that the song was actually written on a hot summer day in order to “stay cool by thinking cool.” Ugh, the thought roasting chestnuts probably wouldn’t do much to help me beat the summer heat. It was first recorded by Nat King Cole, though the one I’m most familiar is the version sung by Mel Torme. The Rockapella version is fairly nice, too. The song’s been covered by quite a few artists from different genres, so there’s a good chance you’ll find a version you like.

8. Silent Night — This song was created in 1818 at the Church of St. Nicolas (how appropriate!) The popular story behind the song is that is was written due to a broken pipe organ, and the original version is meant to be sung without musical accompaniment. I don’t know if that story’s true, but it does underscore the undeniable truth that there is power in simplicity. Some modern attempts to dress up the song sound very wrong, as if the original spirit had been violated.

7. O Holy Night — Curse “South Park” for ruining this song. This carol, composed in 1847 by Adolphe Adam, is a fairly difficult piece and can easily be torturous is sung by someone who doesn’t know what he or she is doing. To me, it’s best sung in deep baritone. My favorite version would have to be the one sung by Jim Nabors. (Fun trivia: there’s also an anti-slavery message in the original third verse, a hold-over from the song’s abolitionist days.)

6. Happy Xmas (War is Over) — In my personal life, there’s no starker reminder of the Beatles break-up than the fates of the Christmas songs. Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” got a well-earned #1 spot on my Worst Christmas Songs list. His former bandmate, John Lennon, ends up on my best list, despite Yoko Ono’s weird warbling in the background. I guess I appreciate how Lennon could set a verse that goes “War is over/if you want it” into a christmas carol that’s both traditional and modern.
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Top 10 Christmas Songs they need to stop playing, like, right now

I’m not one of those curmudgeons like Richard Roeper or Gregg Easterbrook or several hundred shock jocks that complain about how Christmas songs get played too early. Perhaps I don’t hang around malls to often except the last days of the shopping season and I don’t really listen to the radio (thank you, iPod.)

I do agree, though, that there are just some songs that are so annoying they should never be placed on the airwaves … ever. Which ones? Here’s my Top Ten:

10. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer — This song is goofy fun the first three times you hear it, but becomes rapidly annoying with constant repetition. It doesn’t help that they whole “Santa is just a regular schmoe amirite?” thing got run into the ground some time last decade. And now there’s a cartoon special (which, to my misfortune, I glimpsed on Cartoon Network while I was flipping channels) about the song. For the love of all things holy… HOW?!?!?

  • Watch the 1983 Dr. Elmo video here.

9. I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus — The thing that irks me most about this song is the kid who sings the song. It doesn’t matter if it’s young Michael Jackson or the Cheetah Girls… the singer always sounds like that he or she should know better. The intro, which is supposed to convey childlike innocence, instead makes the kid sound like a total tool.

8. I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas — This is a song written in 1953 by John Coctoasten and sung by 11-year-old Gayla Peevey. To be honest with you, most readers of this site have probably never heard of this song, so this is more of a personal grudge. I used to work at a firm where the Lite FM radio station was piped in through the speakers. Around late November, the morning show would switch to an all Christmas format, and for some reason the DJs had a total jones for this song. They would play it EVER HOUR. It was the most irritating song ever known to man. My God, I was clawing my ears by around 9 am in the morning. For some reason, it shot to the top of the charts in ’53 … which shows how stupid the music buying public is. Remember when “The Macarena” was the number one song? Stupid American public! Stupid, STUPID American public!!!

  • I have to say, though, that pairing the song with a cheapo Christmas light display makes it slightly more tolerable. Check out the YouTube Video. Take that, TransSiberia!

7. Last Christmas — A long time ago, back when VH1 was still airing music videos, they compiled a list of their favorite Christmas classics. They were all, of course, secular in nature and sung by a Billboard Top 50 Artist. (No Boston Philharmonic concert of “The Nutcracker Suite,” for example.) As you may guess, the entire top of the list was occupied by song I totally, utterly annoyed me. Here’s the first entry. Wham!’s song is of heartbreak on Christmas in the grand tradition of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas.” First of all, if “Christmas” wasn’t in the lyrics, it would be indistinguishable from the entire music library of the Divinyls or the Eurythmics … only devoid of any actual content. Second, it just doesn’t sound like a Christmas song. Third, what kind of shopper walks around a mall thinking, “Boy, holiday cheer is all well and good, but I really wish they’d play a depressing song about somebody leaving me on Christmas”?

6. Mary Did You Know — I don’t really hate this song, a modern church music staple. However, I do not like how this song, along with “Breath Of Heaven” and “Sing Mary Sing,” has pretty much taken over Protestant Christmas services. This may seem like a shallow criticism, but it just does not sound like a Christmas song. Instead, every year, we’re very likely to endure yet another rendition of the song while amateur actors reenact the nativity, with a way modern message about how we should treat pregnant unwed women with respect or something. “The First Noel” had a Christian message and it doesn’t feel out of place during the Holidays. Why do pastors feel they have to foist on us songs that sound like they were mass produced by a gospel music factory?

  • If it’s not sung during a play, “Mary Did You Know” will often be played alongs with video clips of recent Christian movies, like this one.

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Top 10 Asian Superheroes

Top 10 Asian Superheroes

If you spend any time reading comic books, you no doubt have asked yourself this question: why do all the women have huge bazongas? A second question that you may ask is: why is every superhero a white guy?

While the first one is easily answered when you look at the typical comic book reader (a.k.a. greasy, horny fanboys), the second one is not so easy. Sure, most heroes were created back in the 40’s and 60’s when civil rights were still being debated. But how about the intervening years? Surely the era between the 1970’s until now would have seen the development of heroes with diverse racial backgrounds, right?

Sadly, this is not the case. For the most part, the heroes are still Caucasian in origin. African Americans have fared better with Storm and the Jon Stewart Green Lantern.

But what about Asians? Today, Rooktopia takes a look at the top ten Asian superheroes. Just to make it fair, I’m limiting the superheroes to those created at Marvel or DC. Otherwise, this list would be flooded with Dragonball Z and Naruto characters … and seriously, no one wants to see that.

#10 – Jubilee: Jubilation Lee has an illustrious career as Wolverine’s sidekick (hence, her early costume reminscent of Robin) and as a prominent member of the X-Men under Jim Lee. And despite all that, she ended up on Generation X as a second banana to the rest of the team. Her power is, um, “explosive energy,” and, um, and… aw crap. What kind of superhero list is this when friggin’ Jubilee makes the Top Ten?

  • No, seriously… why would anyone make an AMV about Jubilee?

#9 – Katana: Tatsu Yamashiro has no superpowers, but she does have a sword that captures people’s souls. Also, she’s a master of matrial arts, because she’s an Asian and all. And, er, she’s got a nifty sunburst pattern coming out of her right boob. To be honest, I don’t know much about Katana other than that she used to be on the Outsiders, and you got to respect anyone from a superhero team that was hand-picked by Batman. Also, “The Outsiders” is a pretty kickass name for a superhero team. Oh, that Batman! Is there nothing you can’t do?

#8 – Karma: Typically, anyone from the New Mutants would be so far down on any list that they wouldn’t rank. I mean, that team had the personality of plyboard. However, this is a list of the Top 10 Asian Superheroes, so I’m going to be reaching somewhat. Besides, she’s redeemed by her awesome incarnation in the Marvel Ultimate universe. She’s a SHIELD secret agent working for Nick Fury, and she’s one of the few mutants allowed around President Bush. That’s power, yo.

The All New Atom
#7 – Ryan Choi, The Atom: I don’t know why Aquaman always gets crapped on for having stupid powers. I happen to think aquatic powers can be quite compelling, as Aquaman’s Marvel counterpart, Namor, has proven. No, the real useless power is the ability to turn small. What kind of supervillain quakes in fear over facing a guy named “Ant-Man”? Which is why I’m a bit insulted at the new Atom. DC was in one of their affirmative action moods and started assigning monnikers to heroes of different backgrounds. Batwoman becomes a lesbian, Blue Beetle becomes Hispanic … and the shrinky-dink Atom becomes Asian. Needless to say, I would’ve been much happier if they’d made a new Asian Aquaman. MUCH happier.
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