New Cracker album announced, two track previews released

CRACKER is set to release their new double album, “Berkeley to Bakersfield”, December 9 via 429 Record.

Listen to the first track “Almond Grove” from the country “Berkeley” disc.

Listen to the second track “Waited My Whole Life” from the electric “Berkeley” disc on Pop Matters.



Amazing Race Episode Season 25, Episode 4, “Thinly Sliced Anchovies” Recap and Analysis


In Scotland’s Shetland Islands, Phil Koeghan announces that “8 teams are set to start the next leg”.  Teams emerge from their tents, pitched at the foot a majestic, grass covered mountain populated by sheep, on a pristine Scottish beach.  As usual, Misti and Jim, aka “#thedentists” begin with their customary swagger.

Route Info:  Teams must take a 13 hour North Link Ferry ride back to Aberdeen where they must catch a flight to Copenhagen, Denmark.  At the airport they will find their next clue, affixed to the windshield of a Ford hybrid vehicle.

First to leave, the Dentists visit the Shetland Islands visitor’s bureau where they purchase ferry tickets and head to the local library to research flights from Aberdeen to Copenhagen.  Adam and Bethany, “#soulsurfers” depart next at 11:45 am, Keith and Whitney, “#teamnashville” at 11:53.

The Dentists find a flight arriving at 16:00 hours or 4:00 pm local time.  The rest of the teams purchase tickets for the ferry and wait to arrive in Aberdeen before they book their flights – Amy and Maya “#sweetscientists” and Shelley and Nici,“#momandaughter”, Kym and Alli “#thecyclists”,  Brooke and Robbie, “#thewrestlers” and Tim and Te Jay “#collegesweethearts” aka “The Gaysians”.  All of the teams are on the same ferry to Aberdeen.

The Ferry docks at 7:00 am but the travel agency doesn’t open until 9:00.  Some teams go straight to the airport and others search for the travel agency.  Four teams wait outside Ramsay World Travel, while Kym Alli, Brook and Robbie and Tim and Te Jay head straight to the airport and book their flights.  Strangely, each of them books separate flights.  The remaining four teams (Misti and Jim already bought tickets) book flights at Ramsay World Travel.

Kym and Alli get on the first flight at 2:00 pm.  Misti and jim are next at 4:00 pm.  Most of the remaining teams are split between 5:10 and 5:20 pm departing flights.  Tim and Te Jay depart at 5:35, with the Mom and Daughter leaving last at 6:35.

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Route Info:  Teams must now find their Ford Cmax plugin Hybrid and drive it to Malmo, Sweden, where they will find their next clue.  They must only use .1 gallon of gas or less to immediately receive their next clue.  They must use “efficient driving techniques” or find a local geography student and answer a question before getting their clue.  To reach Sweden, teams must cross the majestic Oresdund bridge that Separates Denmark from Sweden.

Kym and Alli are the first to arrive and pick up the car.  As cyclists they are environmentally aware, so they are excited by the challenge of driving efficiently.  They use only .01 gallons of gas and receive their next clue.

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Detour:  Teams must drive back to Copenhagen from Malmo.  In “Parking Space”,  they must recreate a hangout shown in a picture in a Copenhagen parking spot.  They can choose either a garden or living room setting and must finish in 30 minutes or less, or start over in a new spot.  “Wedding Cake” requires teams to make a traditional Danish wedding cake and transport it via a precarious bullet two seater bicycle along a bike path to a restaurant.  There, if the hostess approves their delivery, they will be given a receipt to bring back to Henrik at the bakery in exchange for their next clue.

Kym and Alli, as cyclists select the wedding cake task.  They still have a huge lead.  Misti and Jim arrive at the airport and head to Sweden.  Misti and Jim haven’t driven efficiently enough and must answer a question, “What are the capitols of the Scandanavian countries?”  It seems obvious that the answers are Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden.  Misti and Jim don’t know the answers and ask strangers n the street for help.  They quickly get the answers.  Since this proves to be such an easy question, no teams seem to have much trouble completing this task.

The second group of racers arrives at the airport.  Brooke and Robbie, Bethany and Adam, Whitney and Keith and Amy and Maya jostle to break out of the pack as they deplane and find their cars.  Kym and Allie begin their task but even these experienced cyclists initially have trouble balancing their cake.  The challenge with the bullet bike is that only one person pedals, while the other person must sit on a long, low rectangular seat and balance the cake.

Brooke and Robbie, Kim and Maya and Bethany and Adam, don’t drive efficiently enough and must answer the question.  Whitney and Keith cruise in under .10 and choose the wedding cake task (they’re engaged).  The wedding cake challenge seems to be the fastest overall, although more physically challenging.  Shelley and Nici are the last to arrive in Copenhagen and finally find their car at the airport, after much anguish fueled screeching by daughter Nici.

Kym and Alli deliver their cake but dropped their receipt en route.  They quickly retrace their steps and find it and return to the restaurant.  The hostess signs off on their delivery and they return it to Henrik, who gives them a Danish and their next clue.

Route Info:  Teams must now drive themselves to the Ida Davidsen restaurant where they will find their next clue.

Meanwhile Misti and Jim, despite Jim’s cockiness, get bogged down in the Parking Space task while attempting the garden room.  Brooke and Robbie choose Wedding Cake, as do Bethany and Adam.  Bethany and Adam have to switch, however, because Bethany is having trouble pedaling and steering the bike with only one arm.  Amy and Maya choose parking space and think their attention to detail will help them (Misti and Jim said the same thing).

Tim and Te Jay fail to drive efficiently but quickly answer the question.  They choose the Parking Space task.  Shelley and Nici arrive under .10 and choose Parking Space.

Roadblock:  One team member must become a waiter at the famous Ida Davidsen restaurant.  They must remember the menu number and ingredients of four items, which must be perfectly repeated to the chef.  When their order is perfect, they will receive their next clue.  Kym volunteers to be the waitress for The Cyclists, even though she was fired when she worked as a waitress in New York.

Whitney and Keith begin their delivery of the wedding cake by almost getting run over.  They are followed by Brooke and Robbie.  Team Nashville decides to switch tasks and heads to Parking Space.  Misti and Jim continue to struggle, missing the fact their flower pot is showing the wrong number of flower petals and needs to be turned around.  Kym completes the waitress task, in spite of her prior failures and The Cyclists head to the pit stop.

Pit Stop:  VM Houses, which are sustainable, eco-friendly modern residential buildings.

Brook and Robbie continue to whine their way through the bicycle task.  Other teams arrive at Parking Space and are shocked to see Misti and Jim still there.  Brook and Robbie deliver the cake and head back to the bakery.  Misti and Jim give up and head over to the Wedding Cake task after The Food Scientists complete their parking space, choosing the easier living room setup.  Whitney and Keith also do the living room (without the flower pot) and quickly complete it. Kym and Alli arrive at the pit stop first and each win a new Ford Cmax as a reward.

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Brooke and Robbie arrive at the restaurant and Robbie decides to perform the waiting task.  The final two teams arrive to perform the Parking Space task.  Misti and Jim think that the Wedding Cake task is much easier.  The Food Scientists and Team Nashville arrive at the restaurant and begin memorizing their menu items.  The Food Scientists Amy and Maya nail it and head to the pit stop.  Misti and Jim drop Danish flags off of their cake and have to retrace their steps and find it before getting their receipt authorized.  Robbie finishes the restaurant task but not before calling himself a “phenomenal waitress”.  Bethany and Adam switch the flower pot around and complete the task.  The Gaysians copy them and finish as well.

Both teams head to Ida Davidsen, followed by Misti and Jim and Shelley and Nici.  Misti does the waitressing but makes the fatal mistake of not including the menu numbers in her recitation to the chef.  Adam quickly does the task, although admits it was “gnarly”.  Shelley and Nici do it in one shot, further deflating Misti and Jim who realize that they will need to use their Save, which they won on the first leg.  Finally Misti rereads the clue, includes the menu item numbers and completes the task.  Shelley and Nici continue to argue, as Nici’s temper flares angrily.  Upon arriving Misti and Jim hand Phil their Save.  Phil gives it back to them and says it’s a non-elimination leg.  Jim admits they screwed up big time and their confidence has been shattered.


Results:  Kym and Alli 1st, Brooke and Robbie 2nd , Whitney and Keith 3rd, Maya and Amy 4th, Tim and Te Jay 5th, Shelly and Nici 6th, Bethany and Adam 7th and Jim and Misti 8th.

Next week, a double u-turn will be in play as teams travel to Marrakesh, Morocco.


This episode started off as the Misti and Jim show but ended up with them being completely humbled by the race.  As the episode progressed, discussion of mastering the Race like no other team, gave way to the realization that they would need to offer the Save in order to survive.  Let’s hope Jimbo has learned his lesson and will take a more measured approach.  If he tempers his arrogance, he’s got a chance of winning TAR 25.

Are Misti and Jim the most annoying team in the history of the race?  No, I don’t think so but his cockiness is becoming increasingly grating with each episode.  He might be in the top 10, though.  Let’s hope he’s learned his lesson and can turn his hyper competitive attitude into crushing a few competitions before he has to use the Save.  They should be able to scramble ahead of Shelley and Nici during the next leg, if they can regain their focus.

Shelley and Nici are the other team that bears watching, due to Nici’s perpetual angst.  She is a tinderbox ready to explode over the most inane things.  Her mom is level headed and cool, having much more life experience.  Will Nici learn to chill out or is an early exit in their future?  I believe the latter and expect their demise is imminent.  It’s a shame though, because they do seem to have some talent.

The most pleasant surprise is the Food Scientists.  They are just a couple of pleasant, geeky girls from Wisconsin who are really hanging in there.  I hope they continue making good decisions and stick around for a while.  They are flying under the radar now and cruising along.  Hopefully the will be featured more in upcoming episodes.

For more background on this season’s teams, click here.

This leads to this week’s rankings:

Power Rankings

1.  Kym & Alli – The killed it in Copenhagen and are a tough, athletic team.  They’re also from NYC which is a plus.  They won the 3rd leg and are in good position.

2.  Whitney & Keith – Although they finished third in this episode, they are a very tight team, well balanced with the tall, athletic Keith and the smart, supportive Whitney.  Don’t expect a lot of infighting and squabbling from this team, which is critical as the race progresses.

3.  Brooke & Robbie – They are always one moment away from a total meltdown but as professional wrestlers they have a lot of experience with physical tasks, travel and in great shape.  I don’t like their long term chances but they are on a roll now.

4.  Misti & Jim – Although they melted down horribly in this episode, the key is that it was a non-elimination leg.  They finished last and might have a speedbump in the next leg, but they do still have the Save and are generally a competent team.  Hopefully they will be more realistic in their approach going forward.

5.  May & Amy – I think perhaps they should be higher but this is actuall a pretty tight group.  They seem like a compatible, intelligent team with a chance to stick around a while.

6.  Bethany & Adam – They are a tough team but had to switch tasks and slid towards the bottom this week.  Bethany’s missing arm became an issue for the first time and I wonder if this will present further challenges down the road.  If they balance out their Roadblocks it should be okay but there may be some harrowing moments.

7.  Tim & Te Jay – They seem to be doing well so far but I don’t think they will hold up as the races grinds on through the later legs.  They seem quite together and smart, though, and may stick around longer than expected.  That’s why they run the race.

8. Shelley & Nici – They are just one meltdown away from Nici quitting the race or causing them to completely blow a challenge.  It’s a shame though, because they might have a chance to win if she would just grow up.


© Copyright 2014

Full version of “Welcome to New York” released

Taylor Swift’s latest, via Stereogum.  It sounds almost a like a dance club remix of a Taylor Swift song.  It’s catchy and I kind of like it;  I giver her credit for changing her sound up a little bit.  Seems that she’s moving straight into Katy Perry territory, though without all of the fluffy  kittens and over the top antics.  I haven’t heard the entire album yet but it also appears that it’s not loaded with Feminist anthems like Katy’s albums are.

Sonically, however, it’s not such a big leap to “Roar” or “Teen Age Dream” but Taylor’s vibe is cleaner and less cluttered.  I guess I’ll have to buy my first Taylor Swift Album.  Maybe that’s the point – this could be her first grown up pop record.

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James Marsden Joins HBO’s ‘Westworld’

Pure Fluff:

This looks really good!

Originally posted on Variety:

James Marsden has been tapped to join HBO’s upcoming sci-fi pilot “Westworld.”

The one-hour drama is inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 Western thriller about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.

Marsden is set to play Teddy Flood, a mysterious new arrival to a small frontier town. Teddy quickly proves both his charm — and his talent with a revolver — while his pursuit of a local beauty launches him on a dark odyssey.

Eddie Rouse has also been cast for the role of Kissy, a laconic American-Indian who deals cards and contraband from the town saloon.

Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Angela Sarafyan and Simon Quarterman will also star.

Jonathon Nolan is set to write and direct. Executive producers include J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk.

Marsden can be seen in the upcoming Nicholas Sparks film “Best of Me” and “Business…

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Anthony Bourdain Breaks Down Cinema History for ‘Parts’

Pure Fluff:

Excellent article about Bourdain’s CNN series “Parts Unknown”.

Originally posted on Variety:

It’s been well over a decade since Anthony Bourdain, former executive chef of Manhattan’s Les Halles and author of bestselling memoir “Kitchen Confidential,” became a TV star. With his Travel Channel series “No Reservations” and “The Layover,” Food Network’s “A Cook’s Tour” and stints on “The Taste” — for which he’s Emmy-nominated for his hosting duties for a second year in a row — and “Top Chef,” Bourdain is an old pro at this point. But when Bourdain and his longtime crew moved over to CNN to kick off the multiple-Emmy nominee “Parts Unknown,” they faced one big problem: How do you make something new while working in a genre — nonfiction television — that relies on repeating the same general formula every week?

“It’s a limited story that we’re telling, ultimately,” Bourdain says. “On every episode, I go someplace, I eat a bunch of stuff, and I come back.”

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‘Big Brother’ Matches Season High on Night of Preemptions

Pure Fluff:

It might be boring to the NY Post but the rating seem solid.

Originally posted on Variety:

Despite preemptions or delays due to preseason football, CBS’ “Big Brother” matched its season high on Thursday, an atypical night saw lower ratings for the other firstrun shows on the Big Four.

The major networks all had lower national clearances as a result of the NFL exhibition games, with “Big Brother” seen in 96% of the country (including delays that pushed it past 11 p.m. in some markets), NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 95%, and the ABC’s “Rookie Blue” in just 91%.

NBC and ABC also preempted their lineups for about 12 minutes at around 9:30 p.m. ET as President Obama told the nation that the U.S. has authorized limited airstrikes in Iraq.

Looking at the “live plus same-day” national estimates released Friday afternoon by Nielsen, CBS followed repeats of “The Big Bang Theory” (2.1 rating/8 share in adults 18-49, 8.32 million viewers overall) and “Mom” (1.8/7 in 18-49, 6.75…

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