Soon, the supercomputer known as Watson will assist professionals in the fields of finance, healthcare and telecommunications. This past February, however, the question-and-answering machine developed by IBM (I Beat Mortals) was in no mood to be helpful. Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter -- two of the greatest contestants in the history of game shows -- competed against Watson in a "Jeopardy!" exhibition match that benefited their respective charities. Though the humans' intellectual prowess on past programs had made the pair legends (not to mention millionaires!), their efforts against the computer were at the level of a clueless "Wheel Of Fortune" wheel spinner choosing an already-turned-by-Vanna White letter. With the ability to tap the buzzer in 10 milliseconds, Watson out-clicked Jennings and Rutter in 24 out of 30 Double Jeopardy questions to win the $1 million top prize. The machine's final total was a whopping $77,147, which almost doubled the combined tally of the flesh-and-blood duo. Paraphrasing a bit from "The Simpsons" ("I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords!"), Jennings accepted his second-place check ($300,000) with a chuckle. Watson wasn't completely omniscient, though. In the category of U.S. Cities, the Final Jeopardy answer read: "Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest for a World War II battle." The computer's response of "What is Toronto?" drew gasps from the IBM researchers and others in the audience. "What is Chicago?" was, of course, the question on Alex Trebek's card. As a native of Canada, the "Jeopardy!" host would've been somewhat justified to call Watson a "dumbass" at that particular moment.
The Pursuit Of Happiness weren't an airport based in a large American city, but Toronto was the launching point of the group in 1985. Piloted by Moe Berg (guitar/vocals) -- who bore a strong resemblance to The Kid Who Had A Report Due On Space from the encyclopedia adverts -- TPOH also featured Dave Gilby (drums), Johnny Sinclair (bass) and sisters Tamara and Natasha Amabile (backing vocals) in the cabin. 1986 saw the release of the band's debut single, "I'm An Adult Now," as well as a grainy video of the song filmed on the streets of TPOH's hometown. Still an unsigned act in early 1988, the group put forth another independent 45, "Killed By Love," that failed to generate the attention of the previous wax. Before inking a deal with Chrysalis Records, the Amabile sisters parted ways with TPOH and were substituted by Kris Abbott and Leslie Stanwyck. Todd Rundgren was tapped for production of Love Junk -- the band's first LP. Would the pairing be a match made in Utopia?
TR's knob-tuning on the record more than meets Moe Berg's once-stated ambition of "crossing AC/DC with ABBA." The fellas strike their tools with the force of 21 Australian lightning bolts, while Abbott and "Not Costello" Stanwyck touch all harmonious bases of said Swedish supergroup's better half. If such a hybrid scares you, there's plenty of gold for fans of Andy Partridge, Dave Faulkner, Pat DiNizio and David Lowery to pan. Re-recorded for Love Junk and again released as a single, "I'm An Adult Now" would climb to #6 on the Billboard Alternative songs chart. No matter the take, Berg's cynical look at the expected behaviors of 18-and-overs makes it a classic in the annals of modern rock. (Oxymoron, anyone?) Sample snapshots: "I can't even look at young girls anymore/People will think I'm some kind of pervert/Adult sex is either boring or dirty/Young people can get away with murder" and "I'd sure look like a fool, dead in a ditch somewhere/With a mind full of chemicals, like some cheese-eating high school boy." "Killed By Love" was also redone for the album, and the heavier mix lifts the lines. You might want to call Cupid's Crane Service to excavate its final words from six feet under, though ("My passion was your weapon/It put a blindfold on my eyes/The last sound I heard was laughter as you buried me alive"). Yo, Moe: Is that the guitar riff from INXS' "The One Thing" in your band's "Hard To Laugh"? If so, nice appropriation, man! Double kudos for the lyric, "Everyone asks you why you're so serious/'Cause your woman's got a body that would make most women delirious." Give me a Robin Scherbatsky in a Canucks sweater who'll be faithful for a week. After that, she can cheat with Ted, Barney, Rick Moranis, Dave Stieb, the Farriss brothers and you to her black heart's content. One word of caution when "Looking For Girls" like Robin and otherwise: BEWARE! ("She might be a Catholic/She might be a nurse/She might give me a child or gonorrhea or something worse/She might be a painter or a Communist, with my luck/But that's the kind of girl you really want to fuck"). "Man's Best Friend" is not an ode to a four-legged companion, but it removes the fleas from a situation that's dogged many ("Well I guess it's no secret to any of us/How I feel about you/But to live it out vicariously through him/Is the best I can do"). The Stones-like groove of "Beautiful White" balances a sweet story that's told with somewhat of a smirk ("She's got a big grey overcoat/She just dumps on a chair/But she paid a lot for those trousers/She'll handle 'em with more care").
To quote Watson's creators: "Let's build a smarter planet." One listen to Love Junk is a good start. Even if you're a "cheese-eating high school boy."