The Glutton

Not-So-Easy Listening

Dalton Ross on Barry Manilow, crime fighter. Plus: EW's senior editor reveals his obsession with a reality show starring cats, lists annoying TV catchphrases, and answers reader mail

MANILOW
Image credit: Barry Manilow: Larry Busacca/WireImage.com
MANILOW

Dalton Ross on Barry Manilow, crime fighter

I want to move to Sydney, Australia. And why not? I could chug Foster's all day, rock a Vegemite sandwich, and, who knows, maybe even run into Crocodile Dundee! But there's another reason I'm considering heading to the land down under (where women glow and men plunder): the creativity displayed by their public officials. Take Councilor Bill Saravinovski. He and authorities in the suburb of Rockdale are concerned about a posse of young punks who have been loitering and causing a ruckus. Instead of talking to the kids' mommies and daddies or hauling them off to jail, they've come up with alternative method of dissuasion: Barry Manilow.

Apparently, not only does Barry Manilow write the songs that make the whole world sing, he also writes the songs that send Aussie hooligans running away in absolute terror. It seems said officials plan to pipe Manilow tunes over loudspeakers in car parks and other areas of business in which the ''hoons'' have been congregating. People are ''intimidated'' by the young'uns, claims Saravinovski, and ''Daggy music is one way to make the hoons leave an area because they can't stand the music.'' (Daggy seemingly being an Australian term for really, really sucky.)

Will it work? It's got to! After all, it's been done before. An Aussie mall did the same thing a few years ago, except they blared Bing Crosby (who evidently is even daggier) to get rid of the unwanted ruffians. But this got me thinking — what if I wanted people to leave me alone? What if I went all 1983-style and started carrying around a boombox everywhere I walked, blaring out music anytime I wanted to drive someone away? But what music would I play? No one song or artist will do, so I've compiled an initial list of people I'm likely to encounter on a regular basis and the song most likely to guarantee their immediate departure:

My kids (Dale, 5, and Violet, 3)
This first one is a toughie because while they certainly would be content to listen to ''The Cha-Cha Slide'' 56 times in a row, they'll also rock out to pretty much anything. That means I'd need something really slow and really depressing. I'm thinking ''How Soon Is Now?'' by the Smiths would probably do the trick, although a song like that may also send them to therapy for life. That's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

My wife
Wow, this is almost too easy. I'd say approximately 99 percent of my record collection would do the job here, but just to be safe, I'd probably have to go with ''Mr. Roboto'' by Styx or ''Giddyup Go'' by Red Sovine. For those of you unfamiliar with the first song, I envy you. For those of you unfamiliar with the second, it's an unintentionally hilarious first-person ditty about a trucker who names his truck Giddyup Go after his son's first words, comes home one day only to find out his wife and son have left him, and then, many years later, is reunited with his son when he sees him driving his own big rig named — you guessed it — Giddyup Go. At various points throughout the song, Sovine acts like he's about to start crying, which not coincidentally is what happens to my wife every time I put this tune on.

My mom
My mother has always had curious taste in music. I remember finding a box of her old 45s from when she was a young lass, and among them was one single promising ''three minutes of golden silence.'' Naturally, I put it on, and it was, indeed, a case of truth in advertising — the whole record was completely blank. Why anyone would pay money for a record with no noise on it is beyond me, but there's my mother for you. I also remember once being young and playing the Beastie Boys' License to Ill in the car. My mom listened for a few songs of self-boasting and bravado before coming to the conclusion that ''they must not be very good if they have to keep reminding people what their names are.'' In any event, my mother is a pretty huge prude, so I figure tossing on the Geto Boys' self-titled debut is a no-brainer. If the first track, ''F--- 'Em,'' doesn't freak her out, the one about killing a woman and then having sex with the corpse should do the trick.

My neighbors
My neighbors are nice people, but let's face it — they're neighbors. There's a reason people build fences. Me, I don't need no stinkin' fence — I'll just bust out a little ''Super Bowl Shuffle.'' (By the way, we are building a fence. Seriously.) The Chicago Bears recorded this back in 1985 when they were en route to winning the Super Bowl. It features players like wide receiver Willie Gault bragging, ''Now I'm as smooth as a chocolate swirl/ I dance a little funky, so watch me, girl.'' Football players should be seen and not heard — especially when they are rhyming ''down to the bone'' with ''the 46 zone.'' (No, not even a verse by Jim McMahon, the self-proclaimed ''punky QB,'' can save this disaster. ) And seeing as how I live in the shadow of Giants Stadium, I don't need to worry about any rogue Bears fans dancing a little funky over my way.

My coworkers
This is extremely difficult because you have to account for the tastes of an entire staff who pride themselves on having very eclectic interests in music. Plus, if you put on something truly cheesy, you run the serious risk of achieving the opposite result, as a large portion of the EW population will actually gravitate toward the offending song to revel in its badness (we call this ''the 'Mr. Roboto' effect''). I'd need something truly bad, yet something with which no one was familiar and had no nostalgic connections to whatsoever. Which is why there is only one band up to the task — my own. Back in college I sang in a punk band called Boba Fett. We thought we were hot stuff and played a few gigs before our drummer punched out the dean of students, and got thrown in jail and out of school (true story). In any event, I once gave EW's Dan Snierson a CD with a few of our songs. Any time over the next few months I attempted to get a reaction from him, the guy would get really quiet and change the subject as quickly as possible. Message received. I'm pretty sure any of our songs would serve the purpose here, but if I had to pick one I guess it would have to be ''Geezer,'' just because I start screaming ''Your Ozzy rules!'' over and over at the end for no apparent reason. No one wants — or needs — to hear that.

If you have any suggestions for other tracks guaranteed to drive people away (''Christmas Macarena'' is another viable candidate), please let me know.

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OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

We humans have embarrassed and humiliated ourselves ad nauseam on reality television over the past six years, sooooooo...it's time to let other species in on the fun! Which is why I'm obsessed over the announcement about plans for an upcoming reality show starring...cats! In this new Animal Planet program (sponsored by Meow Mix), felines will compete to be the best sleeper, catch the most mice, and have the loudest purr. Along the way, a cat will be eliminated each day with the last one winning the coveted title of Meow Mix's Feline Vice President of Research and Development. I'm just going to stop typing for a minute to let that all soak in........................... Once again — just to make sure we are all clear about this — these are cats. Competing for a job. On national television. The last time I was this excited about anything, people started blaring Barry Manilow tunes over loudspeakers to get me to calm down.

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THE LIST

This week's list topic comes courtesy of Miranda Zaborowski, who would like to know my Top 5 Most Annoying TV Catchphrases of All Time. Your wish is my command, Miranda.

1) ''Wubba, Wubba, Wubba'' (Club MTV)
Operating under the premise that adding ''Downtown'' to the front of her name wasn't quite annoying enough, Julie Brown also coined the worst catchphrase ever.

2) ''Whoa!'' (Blossom)
Two words: Joey Lawrence.

3) ''Catch you on the flip side'' (Kidd Video)
What does that even mean? What — and where — is the flip side? I guess it was a reference to the fact that the Kidd had been exiled into a bizarre animated world thanks to the nefarious Master Blaster. Or maybe it was a nod to the flip side of a record. But I still don't get it — or care.

4) ''Let's do it to them before they do it to us'' (Hill Street Blues)
This motivational mantra from Sergeant Stan Jablonski was not awful in itself, but cheesy in the fact that it was a blatant attempt to create a new catchphrase after the death of Michael ''Let's Be Careful Out There'' Conrad. Like most sequels, this one failed to live up to the original.

5) ''Is that your final answer?'' (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)
This was annoying for a few reasons: the first being that it's just kind of rude, insinuating that a person may be waffling and unsure of him or herself; the second being that it was repeated approximately 827 times per episode.

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READER MAIL

A lot of helpful suggestions on how to handle last week's iPod dilemma.

The iPod song selection dilemma is well understood. I resolved it by rating all of my songs. I put them all in the iPod then rated my favorites three stars or above. They automatically make it into a Top Rated playlist, which is what I use for everyday listening...but I still have all of the other stuff in there for those times when I might want to listen to something offbeat. — Danny Grooms

Danny, the rating system is a nice call. I'm going to give it a try. Probably after I order a DVR. Which could mean never. Thanks, though.

''All killer, no filler'' indeed. I started putting everything on my iPod but I made myself a rule: If I skipped a song twice, off it went. That is why although I started out with my Monkees' Greatest Hits on it, the iPod is now mercifully without ''Heart and Soul'' and ''That Was Then, This Is Now.'' — Winona Patterson

Damn, Winona — you rule your iPod with an iron fist! What happens if I bust out two subpar columns in a row (which could in all likelihood be happening right as I type this)? Does that mean I'll get dropped from your reading rotation like poor little Peter Tork? I fear your high standards and bold decision making.

My friend Amber and I have been making up an imaginary celebrity best friend club, populating it with funny, sarcastic, and ''regular Joe''-acting people who we think it would be cool to hang out with. So far we have Bonnie Hunt, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Carell, and Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville (did you see his Cribs profile? Awesome). So anyway, I thought you might be interested in joining since you seem to have our same kind of vibe... Who would you like to invite to the inaugural BBQ? — Tink

I'm afraid I'm not allowed to join if it's a celebrity best friend club. The most ''celebrity'' thing about me is that Fred Schneider from the B-52's once cut the bathroom line in front of me at a party. (Bastard.) But I'd be more than happy to pose as a bartender and spill drinks on people. As for my wish list of attendees: Iggy Pop, Ricky Gervais, Bruce Campbell (more on him later in Reader Mail), Ted Knight (if we could bring him back from the dead somehow), Sideshow Rahim from The Simpsons, and my boss (so he could see what cool friends I have and give me an immediate raise).

Pete Nice was one of the best rappers of that era. You have no clue what you're talking about. — Jason

The most surprising thing about this e-mail was that it was the only one blasting my inclusion of 3rd Base's Prime Minister Pete Nice as one of the Top 5 Worst White Rappers of All Time. I expected more Baseheads to rear their ugly...uh, heads. Anyway, a lot of people — correctly, I might add — took me to task for not including Snow on the list. Others nominated include Fatboy Slim (whom I'm pretty sure doesn't rap), D-Natural, the Notorious B.A.G. (Brian Austin Green), and Jesse Jaymes, this clown who has made a living off of performing rap songs for basketball teams (including ''Go NY Go NY Go!''' for the Knicks and ''I'm a Mavs fan'' for the Dallas Mavericks). I still say the Pillsbury Dough Boy is worse.

Guess what? You and Lisa Rutherford are in luck — Jack of All Trades is set to be released on DVD the very same day as Brisco — July 18. ''Ze dragoon! Get heem!'' And if you don't know Bruce Campbell's dashing swashbuckler spoof series from 2000, then you don't know Jack. — August Krickel

I may not have not gotten a lock of flak for Pete Nice, but I did for stating that Jack of All Trades was not coming out on DVD when, in fact, it is set to be released in a few weeks. (In my defense, I wrote most of last week's column from a hospital where a family member was having some heart procedures done and I couldn't get online to check its status — yes, I am crassly relying on your sympathy to forgive me.) In any event, I was a fan of this show and Bruce's ham & cheese performance, and I humbly apologize for not being more on top of it.

What can I apologize for next week? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles — as well as your list of best room-clearing songs ever — to theglutton@ew.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below.

Originally posted Jun 13, 2006