Friday, September 19, 2014

"Brokedown Merry-Go-Round" Show of the Week: The Awesomes, "Euro-Awesomes"

I feel fucking awful for the next person who has to touch that fourth phone.
Every Friday in "'Brokedown Merry-Go-Round' Show of the Week," I discuss the week's best first-run animated series episode I saw. "Brokedown Merry-Go-Round," a two-hour block of original score tracks from animated shows or movies, airs weekdays at 2pm Pacific on AFOS.

If The Tick was the Seinfeld of the superhero comedy genre (as was the hangout sitcom No Heroics during its brief run in the U.K.), then The Awesomes is the Get Smart of the genre: each week, the bumbling lead character manages to save the day despite his ineptitude, and often due to the help of his work family. But while Maxwell Smart's bumbling ways stemmed from his arrogance and ego, the physically frail Professor Dr. Jeremy Awesome's bumbling ways (as a combatant and an actual superhero, that is, not as a leader/strategist, which he's far better at doing) are due to a low self-esteem instilled by an unsupportive and distant father. If Prock had taught himself to be more assertive towards the currently absent-from-Earth and retired Mr. Awesome (Steve Higgins), who spent much of his time as a dad supporting his protégé Perfect Man (Josh Meyers) and belittling Prock (either due to Prock not being as perfect as Perfect Man or Prock not listening to his doctors' warnings to not use his secret time-freezing superpower because it gives him nosebleeds within seconds), you can damn well bet that Prock would be frequently Zack Morrising the world to move frozen people and objects around (like he did on Earth 4 during "It's a Mad Mad Mad Parallel World") instead of using that power only to talk to himself.

Manipulating time is a power anyone, including myself, would want to have, which is why Prock's inability to appreciate his ability and figure out how to make proper use of it (or how to work around the pain chronokinesis gives him) is both amusing and infuriating. So when Prock's mentor-turned-nemesis Dr. Terfenpeltz (Bobby Moynihan) points out to Prock that he's not using his time-freezing power to its fullest potential in "Euro-Awesomes," I thought to myself, "Word." The evil scientist is basically voicing the frustrations of Awesomes viewers like myself who can think of a million things to do with time-freezing if it were possible and also wish that Prock would be a little less intimidated by his own chronokinetic power, even though it does turn his nose into a Ragú ad.

I bet the Euro-Awesomemobile drives on the wrong side of the road.

Prock finally figures out how to use that power to defeat somebody: in this case, Dr. Terfenpeltz, who wants to collect superheroes' powers to conquer the world (Prock tricks Dr. Terfenpeltz by allowing him to absorb his chronokinetic power and then withholding from him the caveat that chronokinesis is painful). While it's nice to see some progress in Prock's struggles with time-freezing, it'd be wise for The Awesomes to continue having Prock learn something new about his powers every once in a while (his other power is the ability to block Dr. Malocchio's mind control) because Prock wouldn't be as interesting anymore if he became more like Perfect Man, who, by the way, has been far from perfect lately (both having to hide at Awesome Mountain from the law and being unable to do superhero things out in the streets like he used to do are driving Perfect Man crazy and causing him to talk to basketballs as if they were Wilson the volleyball from Cast Away). Much of what made The Greatest American Hero unique--as well as, frankly, more enjoyable than the character of Superman, whom a rather deluded-at-the-time DC Comics thought The Greatest American Hero was ripping off--was Ralph Hinkley's often klutzy attempts to be a hero without the supersuit instruction manual he kept losing. As we see during DVD or Hulu rewatches of that old Stephen J. Cannell show and now the storylines for both Prock and the disheveled Perfect Man in "Euro-Awesomes," a hero who's imperfect or always learning makes for better storytelling than a super-perfect man who's always got it together.

There's also some progress in Prock's love life during "Euro-Awesomes," as he realizes his current girlfriend Jaclyn Stone (Amy Poehler) is no Hotwire (Rashida Jones), and both he and Hotwire, who developed feelings for Prock during her time as a mole working for her evil dad Malocchio, finally get the guts to kiss each other. While it's good that The Awesomes doesn't have to prolong Hotwire's Metal Fella arc anymore now that everyone on the team finally knows she's alive and has been pretending to be Metal Fella because of her guilt over betraying them, I'll miss her terrible impression of a male superhero because it gave Jones more to play than just the sexy mole/love interest.

Metal Fella takes fashion advice from an '80s robot because an outdated Speak n' Spell always knows what's cool.

Even though The Awesomes is a comedy, it takes its action scenes seriously, just like the original Get Smart did (despite Max's klutziness and what has to be the whitest white-guy walk in TV history, Don Adams--or his occasional stunt double--did an awful lot of hitting and running and jumping and clinging to the tops of cars). The climactic battle where Dr. Terfenpeltz's giant mecha absorbs the powers of both the Awesomes and their European counterparts is nicely visualized and reminiscent of the Super-Skrulls from various Marvel titles and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

This is also how the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame originally ended.

And it would be an awkward phone call where Impresario turns into Sheep-Man. Shout-out to the late Judy Toll, the stand-up who came up with that great Sheep-Woman awkward post-break-up phone call joke.

Another treat in "Euro-Awesomes," which was written by DC Comics veteran and Awesomes staff writer Judd Winick, is its gags about Euro superteams like Justice League Europe and Excalibur (a British offshoot of the X-Men), which are the most Judd Winick-y part of the episode. The cleverest creation out of all the Euro counterparts Winick and the other writers came up with has to be Mademoiselle Hunchback, an icy French beauty who transforms into Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame when she Hulks out and plays hard to get in front of a smitten Impresario when she's in her more conventionally feminine form. You got to love how of all the superhuman forms she could have taken, like maybe a She-Hulk physique, a crystalline-armored body or a wolf, she prefers to change into Charles Laughton.

Her favorite stripper wouldn't be Esmeralda. It would be Danny at the end of the season 3 premiere of The Mindy Project.

Mr. Awesome let Prock down as a parent, and now Dr. Terfenpeltz, the father figure who, unlike Mr. Awesome, could have helped Prock to become the genuine superhero he'd prefer to be instead of a mere lawyer/doctor/thinker/delegator, has let him down too. "Euro-Awesomes" doesn't brood over these father figures who keep disappointing Prock, but this history of underwhelming father figures is kind of depressing when you think about it, and it's where The Awesomes gets unexpectedly sad (and maybe even tragic) in a way that Get Smart couldn't because '60s sitcoms were incapable of depth and dark humor (aside from that one time when KAOS murdered a secretary by drowning her in a phone booth, which struck me as really dark back when I was a kid discovering Get Smart reruns in the '80s). My advice to Prock?: Stop looking for a father figure. That "Ask Dad, He Knows" cigarette ad sign young George Bailey saw in It's a Wonderful Life got it half-wrong. Dad doesn't always fucking know. Maybe the newly reformed Hotwire will be that long-sought-after figure who boosts Prock's self-esteem about his abilities and won't let him down like Mr. Awesome and Dr. Terfenpeltz did. A smart guy is nothing without a 99 by his side.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

iApplaud the iPod's demise

He's clearly listening to Adam WarRock's 'Waka Flocka Swanson.'

Apple is quietly retiring the original iPod line after 13 years. Boo-fucking-hoo. I bought two iPods--I had my first one, a third-generation iPod Classic, engraved with a line from De La Soul Is Dead, "I got the bidox, let's do this like Brutus!," back when Apple allowed customers to have any kind of message engraved on the back of their iPods for a few extra bucks--and both those excellent rectangles died on me after only two or three years of use.

It's an excellent rectangle for those two or three years, and then afterwards, you're just bitter over how it's no longer excellent. I haven't bought another iPod since my second one, a black iPod Nano that replaced my dead third-generation iPod Classic, stopped working smoothly a few years ago. Even though I recharged its battery repeatedly, the Nano was starting to turn itself off in the middle of songs, just like how I chloroform myself whenever I hear an Iggy Azalea track coming on.

I spent so many hours filling each of those iPod hard drives with music and organizing the playlists that when those devices finally broke down, I felt like all those hours of curating were wasted. It made me wish walkmans didn't become obsolete because unlike iPods, an entire library of music wouldn't get wiped out along with the tape player when it would break down.

These days, I rely on just my MacBook to bump music. Apple needs to build portable music players that last longer than two or three years. The day when it does that is the day I cop another portable music player.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Brokedown Merry-Go-Round" Show of the Week: Space Dandy, "Lovers Are Trendy, Baby"

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is hardly as spacious as Star Trek IV and Space Dandy always make it out to be.
Every Friday in "'Brokedown Merry-Go-Round' Show of the Week," I discuss the week's best first-run animated series episode I saw. "Brokedown Merry-Go-Round," a two-hour block of original score tracks from animated shows or movies, airs weekdays at 2pm Pacific on AFOS.

Kimiko Ueno is a writer to watch. She's responsible for two of Space Dandy's funniest episodes, "I Can't Be the Only One, Baby," a frenetic half-hour that's grown on me since its airing in July, and last season's "Sometimes You Can't Live with Dying, Baby," a riff on the zombie genre that features the show's most sublime use of its Douglas Adams-style narrator (his matter-of-fact narration is an element of Space Dandy that plays better in subtitled Japanese than in English because matter-of-fact foreign narration, whether it's delivered by a Japanese announcer or a British documentarian, is just funnier, and not for xenophobic reasons).

In "I Can't Be the Only One, Baby," the pulling of "cosmic pubes" caused Dandy, Meow and QT to ping-pong back and forth between other dimensions. In those other realities, they had awkward and often argumentative encounters with their parallel counterparts, who were completely different from all the other much more identical parallel counterparts we saw in previous and subsequent episodes, that is if Space Dandy viewers' theory that each episode takes place in a different reality is a correct one (the counterparts Dandy, Meow and QT met in "I Can't Be the Only One, Baby" more closely resembled the stars of animated shows that are way more popular in Japan than Space Dandy, which has failed to catch on with the Japanese public and is a more popular show over here in America). For instance, in one reality, Meow was a sexy woman in a dance leotard instead of a male cat, while in a much more emo reality, he was a terrifying-looking cyborg with a frozen smile who spoke only in creepy-sounding electronic meows that would constantly drive his morose shipmate Emo Dandy to want to kill himself. And like "Sometimes You Can't Live with Dying, Baby," "I Can't Be the Only One, Baby" made sublime use of the narrator at one point and had him bickering with his parallel counterparts as well.

If you're attempting to get rid of a stalker who's been making you feel miserable, walk around in a bikini. That always makes a stalker think sensibly.

Good thing we were spared the corny-ass gag of Dandy's weird pompadour mullet thing getting erect.

Ueno also wrote "Rock 'n' Roll Dandy, Baby," a Behind the Music-like rockumentary parody where would-be rocker Dandy spent more time bickering with his bandmate over what to name their band and how their merch should look than actually creating music. "Lovers Are Trendy, Baby"--in which Scarlet (Houko Kuwashima), the prim Alien Registration Center clerk who always rejects the unregisterable creatures that Dandy brings to her, pays the pompadoured alien hunter to pose as her boyfriend in order to ward off her stalker ex-boyfriend Dolph (Kazuya Nakai)--isn't quite as funny as those three previous Ueno episodes, but it reteams Ueno with director Masahiro Mukai, who helmed the chaos of "I Can't Be the Only One, Baby."

Mukai brings much of his visual panache from the cosmic pubes episode to this one as well, especially in any scene involving the machine gun-wielding silver and red mecha from the show's opening titles, which finally makes an appearance here and turns out to be piloted by Dolph. Because this is a sci-fi comedy show full of spaceships and giant mechs, instead of stalking Scarlet in a tourist disguise or in a Spider-Man costume, Dolph spies on her from the cockpit of his floating mecha, the winner of the least conspicuous stalker vehicle of the year.

'I. Must. Break. Dandy.'

You keep expecting Mukai to stage a battle between Dolph's mecha and Dandy's Hawaii Yankee, a Hawaiian shirt-wearing mecha that's been absent this season, but they never get to the fireworks factory, and "Lovers Are Trendy, Baby" is the lesser for it. However, "Lovers Are Trendy, Baby" scores points for getting a man and a woman who's constantly repulsed by him to bond over the film and TV work of Chuck Norris, action genre veteran, famously wooden actor, ubiquitous Internet meme and right-wing nutjob.

For most of the episode, Dandy and Scarlet have nothing in common, and Dandy is constantly at his worst behavior during their pretend dates on the romantic getaway planet known as Trendy. He spits game at some other hottie in the middle of his beach date with Scarlet, which sends her unleashing her fury at him, while my favorite running gag has Scarlet frequently apologizing to little kids for Dandy snatching their belongings from them and making them cry.

You'd be frightened too if the disembodied head of Hunter and McCall's ugly police captain started crawling around the room.

But then Dandy unearths Scarlet's DVD copy of Missing in Action from the mess he's made of her house after he tries to protect her from a man-faced spider straight out of John Carpenter's The Thing (if that house is a vacation rental, I can't wait to see the discussion she'll have with the constantly broke Dandy over how to cover the damages), and their adoration of the Missing in Action star begins to bring them closer together and raises the possibility that this fake couple could turn into a real one. Dandy and Scarlet also out themselves as fans of the short-lived Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos, an actual kids' cartoon and one of many inspirations for Adult Swim's upcoming '80s cartoon spoof Mike Tyson Mysteries, which will star the voices of Mike Tyson and Norm Macdonald.



For some reason, I'm having flashbacks to Chris Rock's old "Terry Armstrong" bit about athletes who always refer to themselves in the third person. Chuck Norris' intro for Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos makes Chuck Norris' show look like a fake Chuck Norris cartoon from Robert Smigel, but it's not a Smigel TV Funhouse segment about the Chuck Norris-ness of Chuck Norris. Karate Kommandos was an actual half-hour piece of shit from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! creators Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, whose Ruby-Spears studio also produced the inexplicable Rambo cartoon, which was a 30-minute commercial for a Rambo action figure line, and the occasional TV Funhouse target Mister T, which starred the A-Team scene-stealer as the coach of a multiracial team of mystery-solving gymnast kids (Mister T makes the Brady Kids Saturday morning cartoon look like Shakespeare).

He ties a sweater around his neck, a fashion tip he picked up from Kirk's son in the Star Trek movies and all the asshole villains in '80s teen movies.

If Dandy and Scarlet bonded over the much more revered Bruce Lee, whom Spike Spiegel idolized and emulated during Space Dandy general director Shinichiro Watanabe's more serious Cowboy Bebop (and is far less problematic to Asian Americans as a martial arts hero than his white Way of the Dragon nemesis), it wouldn't be as amusing. Because Dandy the bumbling lout and Scarlet the lonely office drone are kitschy Watanabe characters, as opposed to badass Watanabe characters like Spike and his femme fatale love interest Julia (although Scarlet has a badass side that she expresses in her Jeet Kune Do skills), it makes more comedic sense for Scarlet and Dandy, who's delusional about his prowess with the ladies, to idolize the similarly delusional Norris than to idolize Bruce. The star of both Karate Kommandos and the frequently ridiculed Walker, Texas Ranger was under the delusion that America would take seriously his warning that re-electing President Obama would bring about "1,000 years of darkness." (Dandy's also delusional about being an intergalactic celebrity, just like how Peter Quill thinks "Star-Lord" is a name everyone in space is familiar with during Guardians of the Galaxy. Junichi Suwabe, the Chris Parnell-esque voice of Dandy in Japan, is great at portraying this delusional and self-absorbed side of Dandy, so it's fitting that Suwabe was chosen to dub for Chris Pratt in the Japanese release of Guardians that's opening over there tomorrow.)

The references to a real-life obscure cartoon instead of a made-up one with a dumb-sounding and unconvincing fake title are a nice touch in Ueno's script, as are Scarlet's evident fetish for '80s action stars (it's not surprising that one of her exes is a blond jerk named after Dolph Lundgren) and the episode's open ending, which was clearly influenced by Watanabe's love of ambiguity. For anybody in the audience who might be a shipper of Dandy and Scarlet (and I keep coming back to this, but God, the word--and very concept of--"shippers" make me wish they never existed), the ending is pure torture, but for the rest of us, it's one of many reasons why Watanabe, whose work has proven that he's as far from the dark ages of Ruby-Spears as one can get, makes several of the best animated shows to come out of Japan.

Aw fuck: according to the alien writing, it's in Region 2 only.

Alien alphabet soup, of course, has lots of disembodied eyeballs in it.
According to Space Dandy's alien alphabet, the logo on Scarlet's bikini says "Elle."

Tip-Top Quotables: "Late-night talk is a Johnny Bravo suit if there ever was one," plus a few other great lines this week

All that's missing is a Zoltar machine to lure away some weird kid who wishes to transform into a pre-Turner and Hooch Tom Hanks.
(Photo source: Blu-ray.com)
My favorite monthly section in old Source magazine issues was "Hip-Hop Quotables," in which the Source editors printed out their favorite new rap verse of the month, from the first bar to the last. "Tip-Top Quotables," which I've named after that Source section, is a collection of my favorite quotes of the week from anywhere, whether it's a recent TV show or a new rap verse. "TTQ" won't appear on this blog every week. It'll appear whenever the fuck I feel like it.

* "If you're ever in a 90's thriller DO NOT GO TO THE FAIR"--comedian Karen Kilgariff, live-tweeting Sleeping with the Enemy

* "Julia's 90's eyebrows make me feel abusive"--Kilgariff

* "Trauma from years of abuse melted away when he brought her to his job and forced her into a Van Morrison montage so beautiful"--Kilgariff

All my blank cassette tapes from the '80s and early '90s came in this exact same fucking transparent shell with that green Stealth Bomber thing on the side.
(Photo source: Redefinition Records)
* "The horns on 'Moving With The Gang' for instance just about stretch through the mesh of distortion and crackling fuzz, but it provides a natural lo-fi authenticity that many try to emulate today. It sounds like an aged cassette you picked straight outta' the shoebox and click-clacked into the player."--my Word Is Bond homie Hardeep, describing one of the early '90s demo beats hip-hop producer K-Def recently unearthed from crates of his own beats

* "Oh, it's terrible. It's unbelievable. And the commercials are so loud. And the thing about the music in Hannibal, it is very trance-y, in a way. When it's working, you're in that reality, you're not even in your living room anymore. And then when the commercial comes on, it just jars you right back. It's a bummer, I hate it."--Hannibal composer Brian Reitzell, on his dislike of NBC's commercial breaks during Hannibal

* "Student debt has tripled in the past decade. It has surpassed Bob Marley's greatest hits album as the thing seemingly every college student has."--Last Week Tonight's John Oliver

* "In recent years, states have slashed funding for higher education by 23 percent. Public institutions have responded by raising tuition rates, forcing students to take out ever larger loans. Why else do you think that colleges have so many fucking a cappella groups? They know they sound stupid. They just can't afford instruments anymore."--Oliver

* "Let me speak right now to all current freshmen in college who have student loans: okay, you need to stop watching this show right now. You don't have time for this. Get out there and enjoy the fuck out of your college experience because you may be paying for it for the rest of your life. I'm serious. Drink beer from a funnel. Kidnap a mascot. Find out if you're gay or not, and even if you are not, have some gay experiences. Do it now. It doesn't count. Become that weird guy on campus who rides a unicycle from class to class. Find out whoever the Winklevoss twins of your school are and steal their idea for a website and shoot fireworks out of every bodily orifice you can fucking find."--Oliver



* "And us non-white-dudeish artists have to stop longing to be put in the box of mainstream late-night talk show hosts. Late-night talk is a Johnny Bravo suit if there ever was one. We diverse voices, as usual, have to create our own boxes and continue innovating America's pop culture... like always. And then we have to try to act not surprised when 'mainstream' (read: white and male) steal it... like always."--comedian and one-time late-night talk show host W. Kamau Bell, on late-night TV's frustrating lack of diversity (and here's another reason why I like Bell: he's the only comedian of color who would use the Johnny Bravo episode of The Brady Bunch as an analogy to describe the increasing irrelevance of late-night talk shows)

* "Most people don't realize this, but you can quietly remember September 11, 2001."--Jenny Johnson, rehashing a tweet from last year, but it's a terrific one

* "MEDIA: Stop calling Ray Rice beating Janay Rice 'a domestic dispute.' It was DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! They weren't just arguing about the dishes!"--Hari Kondabolu

* "But wouldn't it be productive if this collective outrage, as my colleagues have said, could be channeled to truly hear and address the long-suffering cries for help by so many women and, as they said, do something about it? Like an ongoing, comprehensive education of men about what healthy, respectful manhood is all about. And it starts with how we view women. Our language is important. For instance, when a guy says 'You throw the ball like a girl' or 'You're a little sissy,' it reflects an attitude that devalues women, and attitudes will eventually manifest in some fashion. Women have been at the forefront in the domestic violence awareness and prevention arena, and whether Janay Rice considers herself a victim or not, millions of women in this country are. Consider this: according to domestic violence experts, more than three women per day lose their lives at the hands of their partners. That means that since the night of February 15 in Atlantic City, more than 600 women have died. So this is yet another call to men to stand up and take responsibility for their thoughts, their words, their deeds and, as Deion says, to give help or to get help, because our silence is deafening and deadly."--CBS sportscaster James Brown

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hickory dickory Dock, peep the new score by Ad-Rock

Dock Ellis: The Pre-Curler Years
The late Dock Ellis' primacy as a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates was way before my time, so director Jeffrey Radice's No No: A Dockumentary does a solid job chronicling a transitional period in baseball I was never really aware of, since I'm someone who doesn't pay much attention to baseball outside of whatever gets covered in the news. Now in theaters and on VOD after well-received screenings earlier this year at Sundance and SXSW, No No interviews Ellis' surviving teammates and uses footage of both Ellis in his heyday and an interview with Ellis from towards the end of his life to recall the period when black baseball players like Ellis became the first of their profession to criticize the baseball establishment for its racial slights at the time. The outspoken Ellis' iconoclasm--he got in trouble with the MLB for wearing hair curlers on the field--coincided with the rise of the Black Panthers and the emergence of Soul Train and Shaft in pop culture.

But, of course, the part of Ellis' life in No No that's the most fascinating--even more so than Ellis' activism--to audiences at Sundance or SXSW and anyone who's renting No No on iTunes is the no-hitter Ellis threw while on acid at a 1970 Pirates vs. Padres game. Ellis was the ultimate high-functioning addict, pitching terrifically while whacked out on something, whether it was LSD or Dexamyl, a.k.a. greenies, the stimulant that's still popular among baseball players as a form of medication to get through the most physically demanding aspects of the game.



Pitching on acid for nine straight innings isn't exactly a simple thing to do, as the late Robin Williams detailed during his final HBO stand-up special Weapons of Self Destruction. A clip of Williams' Weapons of Self Destruction bit about Ellis' infamous no-no (that's baseball slang for a no-hitter, by the way) is very briefly featured at the start of No No.



But Ellis' heavy drug use eventually spiraled out of control--due to grief over the 1972 death of his friend and Pirates teammate Roberto Clemente--and it ruined his career and marriages, so after his retirement, he got sober and became a drug counselor. While No No isn't exactly an anti-drug piece--the Radice doc mocks the clumsiest tactics of the anti-drug contingent by frequently cutting away to unintentionally silly footage from Dugout, a poorly acted 1981 educational filmstrip produced by the Kroc Foundation (the charitable group founded by Joan Kroc, wife of '70s and '80s Padres owner Ray Kroc, the McDonald's tycoon) to warn kid athletes against drug use--the doc's tough-minded exploration of the consequences of addiction would have pleased Ellis, who came to view the addicts he helped get clean as an achievement that was more important to him than any of his past feats on the pitcher's mound.

Adam Horovitz is a far better Jewish rapper than 2 Live Jews.
The other part of No No I looked forward to the most before its debut on VOD last week--besides the discussion of the LSD no-hitter--was its original score by Beastie Boys member Adam Horovitz, who made his debut as a film composer when he scored The Truth About Lies, an as-of-yet unreleased Odette Annable indie comedy that was first shot in 2012. Ad-Rock's funky No No score is reminiscent of the Beasties' instrumental interludes during Check Your Head and Ill Communication (which were compiled in the first Beasties album I bought, as well as one of the earliest CDs I bought, 1996's The In Sound from Way Out). It perfectly suits the doc's segments about the brashly attired, politically conscious pitcher's '70s heyday.

The No No score is also the closest we'll ever get to a second Beasties all-instrumental album, because I doubt Ad-Rock and Mike D will continue recording as the Beasties without the late MCA (and I wouldn't blame them). Horovitz's score is used judiciously too: thankfully, there's no score cue during the doc's most emotional moment, when Radice plays archival audio of Ellis tearing up and sobbing while re-reading aloud a letter of support he received from Jackie Robinson, the legend who paved the way for Ellis' accomplishments as both a pitcher and an athlete fighting discrimination.

Outside of the doc, the Horovitz score isn't available anywhere. The closest thing to the score's wordless soulfulness is, of course, the Beasties' first and last album of original instrumentals, 2007's The Mix-Up, particularly the lava lamp swagger of "Off the Grid." To borrow the words of an old Impressions tune featured prominently during No No's appreciation of the 1971 Pirates' predominantly black roster, The Mix-Up is a winner--just like Horovitz's new score and No No: A Dockumentary itself.