Thursday, December 04, 2008

Journalism at its finest, Part 789


For the last half-decade, at least, most mainstream culture magazines have stopped publishing book reviews and have chopped their movie reviews down to Pizza Roll-sized nuggets of filler. That's hardly surprising, since we're a stupid country full of fat idiots. I have to admit, though, I'm a little surprised that someone is pulling down a salary to "write" movie reviews, like the following, for FHM Online. Granted, FHM is a terrible, terrible magazine, but I'm guessing they used to hire writers who could at least communicate semi-coherently, with a minimum of grunts, hoots, and bizarrely placed commas. A hydrocephalic emu placed in a room with flashing lights and an air-raid siren constantly going off while getting punched repeatedly in the rectum and being yelled at by Hardball's Chris Matthews could produce a more coherent review of the new Paul Rudd comedy, Role Models. For your enjoyment, here's the whole thing, unexcerpted, untouched by my hands (or an editor's, it would seem):

"When depressed energy drink salesman Danny (Paul Rudd) has meltdown and lands himself and his party animal coworker Wheeler (Seann William Scott) in jail, they are forced to spend 150 hours in the Sturdy Wings Big Brother program or face jail time.
Role Models feels like a dysfunctional family film. It’s got a lot of that warmness, but there is also cursing and boobies. It’s got a good moral in the end, that you would want to share with your kid, but might feel uncomfortable with the nudity, or not. It’s a little bit like a dirtier Meet the Parents.
A+ to the Casting Department for Role Models. Paul Rudd plays a sarcastic, asshole, a role he has played to much acclaim in Knocked Up. Seann William Scott plays a character that reminds us of a Stifler in his 20s. This may sound like a bad thing, they play their characters well, and work well together as a comedic duo. Besides, we always wondered what happened to Stifler.
By hearing the premise, you might have already guessed the movie's ending. Role Models falls into a lot of standard movie clich├ęs. At the same time, it’s still entertaining throughout, and easy to follow.
Role Models was originally announced under the title Big Brothers. After Big Brothers was put on hiatus and Paul Rudd was commissioned to retool the script, the film was re-titled Little Big Men. "

If you don't believe me, here is the link. This was really published, and someone was really paid to write it. This did not come from a 7-year-old's MySpace page, or not. This may sound like a bad thing, an abused, retarded emu did not write it.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shameless self-promotion

Hey, blog readers,
I'm not just a grumpy old crank who posts intermittently. I'm also a member of the world's first three-man barbershop quartet, The Spacenecks. Click here for songs about puppies, Old Glory, and the importance of prayer. I'm the blinking, indiscriminate blur behind the drum set.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kindness is its own reward

On the bus home today, I sat next to heroes. Wonderful, selfless people who would do anything to help others. Class acts. Doers of good deeds. How did I know this? They said so. A woman. A man. She does her friends' dishes if she sees them in the sink. He gave her a ride home when her car died. She drives her friends home when they're too "fucked up." People ask her all the time, Why are you doing so much for other people? Why wouldn't she help if she could, she usually replies. He agreed. It's the little things that mean so much. He tries to do little nice things for people every day. It means so much, you know. She agreed. It makes her feel good to know that people come to her when they need help. Just like when he gave her a ride when she needed one. It feels good to help. He agreed. It felt good to give her a ride when she needed one. Her appreciation was reward enough. It's the little things. She agreed. The little things make such a difference. They add up. She is glad she can be counted on to consistently help others. He agreed. When he needs a ride home from the airport, he knows that some friends, even though they've been friends for years and really are good people deep down, can't be counted on to pick him up on time, if at all. He can always be counted on to pick his friends up at the airport, if needed, or anything else. He is here to help others. She agreed. Helping others is good, and it makes you feel good. He agreed. Then they got off the bus at their stop, continuing to tell each other about the good work they do for others. It's the little things they add up it's good to be needed warm fuzzy helping agree others help pick up at airport love hugs nice to be needed feels good to help helping good helping helpiness helpism helption helpy help help.
I believe this conversation continues still, and will continue until one of the kind, helpful platonic friends dies of natural causes in the other one's arms. One minute later, the survivor will smile, shed a few tears, look heavenward, ask "Who will pick up David from the airport now?," sigh contentedly, with only a tinge of melancholy, and cease to exist. I will found a church based on their teachings.

Friday, November 07, 2008

2008 vs. 2004

In Barack Obama's victory speech, he told those who didn't vote for him that he would be their president, too.
When Bush won in 2004 with 51% of the vote, Cheney said they had been given a mandate by the American people.
Class vs. Ass, "my friends."
I can't wait to see Bush and Cheney slither away in January.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Whoo!

The Nixon/Reagan/Atwater/Bush/Rove/Cheney/Murdoch/Hannity/O'Reilly/Coulter/Limbaugh/Bush II years are over. For now.
Obama has inherited what they refer to in the biz as a "fixer-upper." I hope he can do something with it, or at least knock it down and put a roller disco/pizza parlor in its place. In the meantime, I'll be learning Chinese.
Seriously, though, it feels like something great maybe happened.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rope-a-dope

I'm listening to a radio interview with Mike Leigh, one of my favorite filmmakers, and the interviewer keeps hammering at him about what the symbols mean in his latest film. I love his answers. When asked about the symbolism of his main character's large circular earrings possibly meaning a deluded happiness that's locked in a cycle, and her taking the earrings off indicating a new way of looking at the world, Leigh politely but firmly tells him that most earrings are symmetrical by their very function, and she took them off because the next scene they filmed required a lot of tussling and struggle and the earrings made too much noise on the soundtrack. Then the interviewer asks him if the character's back pain symbolizes a reluctance to look at her past. Leigh: "You are plainly a fundamental unreconstituted top-rate intellectual, which I am not. I think it's fascinating, your analysis, but I think it's a load of old rope. I can't go along with it at all."
There is so much depth and mystery and substance lodged right on the surface of great work, and people are so afraid to deal with it directly and plainly, so they have to go symbol hunting. It's like all the music critics I used to read but now generally avoid who spend most of their word count analyzing the meanings of the lyrics, without once making an attempt to find a way of talking about the sound of these words, as sounds, as a part of the texture of sound created by the people performing the music.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Terrifying fact

I'm almost twice as old as I was when Bill Hicks died, yet every one of his non-New Kids on the Block-related jokes is topical. Holy shit.

Post Edited 2 Minutes Later: New Kids on the Block are currently in the midst of a reunion tour. I forgot. Please mentally delete the phrase "non-New Kids on the Block-related" and weep aggressively. Thank God McCain is running as inept a campaign as every non-Bill-Clinton/first-and-only-term-Carter Democrat since my birth. I also think it's astonishingly depressing that Biden is the second-poorest politician in our current Congress, yet he still makes about six times what my parents make, and no one is even remotely close to starving at either my mother's or father's home.

Monday, October 06, 2008

School


The bloom is off the rose. I want to be done. I want a real job. I want to be done. I'm too old to study for tests. To quote the eighth-graders I student-taught last spring, my classes this semester are "stupid and boring."
One of the fun parts of college, part 1 was staying up all night on weeknights. In college, part 2, all my classes are early in the morning. The metabolism of the Dr. Mystery of today is a jerk. I want the metabolism of the Robot X of yesterday. I'm tired of reading academic articles about education. The fads of today don't work. Also, the perpetuation of grotesque, monstrous, selfish, unequal, greedy, failed policies don't work. All public schools should have equal funding, you anti-Robin Hood motherfuckers. Keeping poor schools poor hurts everyone, and the kids who stop going to those schools because they have no books, computers, working bathrooms, good teachers, etc. are absolutely justified in carjacking and stabbing your ugly, handsome children. Constant group projects don't teach kids anything about individual responsibility. Standardized tests don't teach kids anything except how to take standardized tests. Letting politicians dictate curriculum standards is like letting politicians dictate medical procedure.
My biggest beef, however, is the bus. The bus is always massively overcrowded. Trying to find a seat on the bus this semester has been a cockfight of clusterfucks.
And for god's sake, when the bus is crowded, and more people get on, and you're already standing up in the middle of the bus, and there's space in the back, MOVE BACK! And if there's an empty seat, SIT IN IT! What the fuck is wrong with you? Fuck! All you selfish idiots who won't sit down in empty seats or move from your precious spots when the bus driver lets 38 more people on the bus are contributing to about 65% of the cockfight of clusterfucks! Why are you so stupid and boring and worthless? Why are you such narcissistic bags of shit? Why didn't your parents abort you? Or at least teach you some manners or public etiquette? Were they too busy calling the school every time you got less than an A- to harass your overworked teachers? Were they too busy letting their housekeepers raise you while they went to Belize for three weeks? Did they let you make important household decisions when you were three years old? Did you get whatever you wanted if you cried long enough? Does your geographic proximity to Russia give you foreign policy experience? Despite reading "all" of the newspapers, are you unable to name even one? Are you, like 50% of the people in my English classes, an English major who inexplicably has zero interest in literature or the written word of any kind and never reads any of the assigned work? Are you just a dick? Or an asshole? Or a "motherfuckin', titty-suckin', two-balled bitch" (a phrase chanted on the playground of my elementary school)?
I'm just a grumpy old crank. Like my Grandma used to say, "You can't walk across the pigpen without getting some mud on your shoes." Even better, to quote Orson Welles quoting Ferenc Molnar: "Never touch shit, even with gloves on. The gloves get shittier, but the shit never gets glovier."
No recess for the wicked!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A guest post from John McCain

You know what I hate? Pork barrel spending. I wasn't named Miss Congeniality in the Senate. Maverick. Maverick. Maverick. Pork barrel. Miss Congeniality. Obama said that Wall Street/Main Street thing, right? Let me say it fourteen times, then. Maverick. Pork barrel. Maverick. Where are my brain pills? Maverick.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My other grandmother, my dad's mother, died this morning. That makes the fourth death in the family this year. My aunt died in February, my maternal grandmother died three weeks later, and my great-uncle Fred died a few weeks after that. Now my paternal grandmother is gone, and I feel like I should be sadder. There are a handful of reasons why I'm taking this latest news so well. First, I simply have death fatigue. I'm tired of grieving. Second, my grandmother hadn't been herself for several years. Her death was sooner than expected, but still expected. She had Alzheimer's, diabetes, and renal and liver failure. She spent most of her time sleeping and repeating the same few lines of small talk over and over. I resigned myself to the fact that my grandmother was gone three or four years ago when she stopped bathing, combing her hair, clipping her fingernails and toenails, and managing her insulin and had to be placed in a nursing home. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's shortly thereafter. My dad, while definitely sad, mostly sounded relieved today. I also feel that relief. I don't want to see my relatives linger and decay, and I don't want to linger and decay myself. Third, I had little in common with my dad's mother. While I had, and have, so much to say about my maternal grandmother, an attempt to capture some of my paternal grandmother's life in as unsatisfactory a medium as a blog post would look something like this: She loved her family, liked to watch Murder, She Wrote and gossiped about the neighbors. We didn't really have conversations, just exchanges of small talk and occasional news about family and friends. However, I do remember her with affection. The last time she was well, about five years ago, I was home for a visit. My brother, sister, father, and I were eating dinner and watching a nature documentary about blue whales on PBS or Discovery. Soon, the topic of blue whale sexual reproduction came up, and the whale's gigantic penis filled the screen, popping out and wiggling around, looking for blue whale love. It was nearly the size of a medium-sized tree trunk. The narrator discussed the difficulties of attracting a mate in the ocean. My grandmother looked up from her fried chicken and said, "He's bound to get something with that thing." I will fondly remember her making way too many frozen pizzas every Christmas Eve, overestimating the size of our family by at least six people. I'll also remember mowing her and my grandfather's lawn every week for six or seven years, coming inside after I was done to eat a ham and cheese sandwich, drink a strawberry pop, and collect my five dollars.
On campus today, I heard a girl in the library answer her cellphone and say, "Hi, Grandma." I immediately thought to myself, "I don't have any grandmothers anymore. I had two of them and now I have none." I have only one grandparent left, my mother's dad. Two weeks ago, my 92-year-old great-uncle Swede had to move into the nursing home. The old generation in my family is rapidly disappearing. My parents, aunts, and uncles are slowly, but not too slowly, becoming that old generation, while I can put "middle-aged man" on my business card in less than nine years. My mother visited the cemetery in my hometown last week to see her mother's headstone and looked around a bit afterward. She said, "I know so many people there," before waiting a beat and correcting herself -- "knew so many people there." Someday, I'll be old, if I'm (un)lucky.
I decided to just get on with my life today, and the rest of the week. I went to class today. Movie night is still on for Saturday, band practice for Sunday. I made myself scarce after my aunt's and maternal grandmother's deaths, but I'm in a different place now. I think getting on with the business of living is the best way to proceed this time. What a year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

See Saw

Rick Wright, keyboardist/pianist/organist for Pink Floyd, died of cancer today. He didn't get as much attention as the other guys in the group, but he wrote my favorite non-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd song, "See Saw." I have a particular fondness for mellow, breezy, pretty psychedelia, if that description makes any sense, and this song brings home the mellow psychedelic bacon. By the way, Mellow Psychedelic Bacon is opening for Trey Anastasio at the Hepatitis Festival at some organic farm this weekend.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A great man

I came home from class today, turned on the television, and heard Maury Povich say these words:
"Cassandra tells us that she suspects her husband of stealing money from his own children to take another woman to the circus."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

New rock urban legends

It's been too long since a ridiculous rock urban legend hit the streets. What happened to the days when tales of Rod Stewart's stomach full of semen, Marilyn Manson's child acting career on The Wonder Years, Paul McCartney's secret death, and Alice Cooper's on-stage ingestion of Frank Zappa's shit (or was it the other way around?) were blindly accepted as fact on the mean streets of Anytown, USA? It's time for some new ones. Feel free to unquestioningly accept the veracity of the following claims and freely spread them all over town, or add your own!

1. After leaving Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett played shortstop for the Atlanta Braves for three seasons. He mostly sat on the bench, but he did see game time in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Montreal Expos in the 1971 season.

2. After losing an all-night poker game, former member of 'N Sync Joey Fatone became Elton John's butler for one year.

3. Jim Morrison is Chuck Woolery's second cousin.

4. The Arcade Fire's Win Butler admitted to a French journalist that he was sexually attracted to Carol Channing. The journalist later disappeared.

5. Former Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi told Ronnie James Dio that he could eat the world's biggest hoagie in one sitting. Dio scoffed at Iommi's claim and arranged the delivery of the hoagie at Ritchie Blackmore's birthday party the following weekend. Iommi never showed up, and most of the hoagie had to be thrown away. Dio begged Blackmore to give the uneaten portions of the hoagie to Blackmore's 13 Rottweilers, but Blackmore angrily replied that his dogs only eat dog food, and if you give people food to dogs, you spoil them. The dogs will forever after never be satisfied with dog food, Blackmore continued. I mean, Jesus Christ, once they get a taste for hoagies, they'll expect hoagies every day. The two men argued long into the night until their wives begged them to give it a rest. They were tired and wanted to get some sleep. The two men agreed, but on his way out the door, Dio looked up at Blackmore with a fiercely determined glare and said, "This is not over, Blackmore."

6. Amy Winehouse has been dead for six months. A Las Vegas female impersonator, Herb Friedman, has been portraying Winehouse at her recent public appearances.

7. Bill Cosby briefly recorded with Godspeed, You Black Emperor! before realizing he had walked into the wrong studio door. He wanted Studio 114, not Studio 115. He was on his way to record a voice-over for his book-on-tape, Come On, You People! Get Off the Drugs, Dammit! and assumed the experimental rock group were providing sound effects and between-chapter segues.

8. If you say you hate jam bands and emo, people will think you're pretty cool. It's a position only the most maverick, daring, and complex thinkers take. Your brave stance will win many admirers. If you also say The Grateful Dead suck, particularly if you say this to indie-rock scenesters, you will be feared for "dangerously telling it like it is."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Coincidence is either hit or miss






















I spent the summer reading every short story Flannery O'Connor wrote. I also took two classes. In an assignment for the first class, Overcoming Reading Difficulties, we were instructed to read whatever we wanted for an hour, as long as it hadn't been assigned by a teacher for a class. The next day, the professor asked each one of us what we read, wrote the titles and authors on the board, and used these titles for a discussion about reading. I liked her as a professor and as a person, and the strategies she taught us to help struggling and reluctant readers understand and engage with texts will come in handy when I start teaching. However, our aesthetics couldn't be more different. She sees reading as a social act that brings us together and shows us how, deep down, we're all the same. She believes literature is at its best when the reader can relate his/her life experiences and background with the text. She also believes the curriculum should assign books featuring characters with the same demographic background as the students. I see reading as a solitary act that benefits us most when it presents us with our differences, not our similarities. We all want to be loved, we all bleed when we get cut, we all need to sleep. So fucking what? It's our differences that matter. Over-reliance on relating our own life experiences to the words on the page creates too many opportunities for shallow, superficial readings and misreadings. We're imposing our own backstories on the text and making it all about us instead of about the work. The time to relate our own experiences to a piece of writing is after we've read it closely and understood it, not during the reading process itself. This touchy-feely, hippy-dippy, put-yourself-in-the-text approach in secondary school jarringly and abruptly morphs into pointless symbol-hunting and post-colonial canon-shredding in college. Sometimes you get lucky, but mostly you're told that literature is only as important as its analysis, criticism, and/or use as a launching pad for theory. But that's another story. When my professor called on me and asked what I read, I mentioned the O'Connor stories. She then asked suspiciously, "This wasn't for a class, was it?" I was the only one who was asked this question, and I was a little insulted. Then, another student asked what kind of things O'Connor wrote. My professor said, "Southern."

O'Connor lived in the South for most of her too-short 39 years, and most of her writing takes place there. She wrote incisively about the South, and her take on racism and black/white race relations in a specifically Southern context is one of her greatest achievements as a writer. But I felt this description of her entire body of work in one geographical word limited and marginalized her. My professor might have said other one-word descriptors: "Death." "Christianity." "Hypocrisy." "Ignorance." "Humor." "Terror." "Families." "Faith." They could apply, too, but they're equally limiting and ghettoizing. Flannery O'Connor writes Flannery O'Connor stories. To find out what that means, you have to read her, and read her closely. Like all good artists, she's too strange to fit the tidy niches where we try to shove every messy, slippery thing. And everything is messy and slippery. Except for the music of Conor Oberst. You can safely file that under "Shit," my friends.
While reading the O'Connor stories, I thought a lot about my grandmother, who died in March. See, I told you everything was messy. Here I am, doing what I tell everyone not to do. Imposing my personal life on the work. Both O'Connor and my grandmother were devout Catholics, while I'm as secular as can be. I only believe what's in front of me. However, both O'Connor and my grandmother were creative, intelligent people with wonderful senses of humor. Their strong, personal, admirable faith is something I don't have, but something I feel close to anyway. I was raised Catholic, and Catholicism will always play a part in my life. (Obviously, I'm talking about O'Connor's personality traits that come through in her writing and in reading about her personal history.) I'd like to think my grandmother read and enjoyed O'Connor, and I wish I could talk to her about it. I asked my mother last week if my grandmother read any O'Connor. She wasn't sure, but she thought so.
My grandmother's favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz, and one of her favorite songs was "Over the Rainbow." In the weeks immediately following her death, my iPod on shuffle played both Harry Nilsson's and Jerry Lee Lewis' versions of the song several times. My mother said she also heard "Over the Rainbow" on the radio several times in those three weeks. (I'm not sure which version.) She told my uncle this story on the phone. When he hung up, he turned on the radio. "Over the Rainbow" was playing. He immediately called my mother back and told her. That same uncle had recently started dating a woman, and it was going well. She had been in two abusive relationships, so when she was driving alone in her car, she asked for a sign that my uncle was a good person. "Over the Rainbow" started playing on the radio. Surely, this should instill a little faith in me, right? No. These are just coincidences. Lovely coincidences that make me think about a wonderful person I was lucky enough to have in my life for 30 years, but coincidences nevertheless. My uncle and the woman he'd been seeing have since broken up, eliminating that sign from God. Judging from the frequency of the song's appearance on limited playlist corporate radio stations in western Nebraska and Colorado, I'm guessing someone has recently covered it and had a hit with it, or the oldies stations are working it into the repertoire. And I put the Nilsson version on a playlist on my iPod. Songs in the playlist tend to come up more often on shuffle, though this could be a coincidence as well.
Last week, I watched the "Dark Side of the Rainbow" on YouTube, which syncs up Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album with The Wizard of Oz. The supposedly staggering number of synchronicities leads many gullible, conspiracy-loving and/or stoned individuals to insist that the band specifically wrote the album to match the 1939 classic movie OR some kind of cosmic interference from some mystical realm created the synchronicities for reasons we can't understand. Ignoring for now the Herculean task of attempting such a folly with pre-DVD, pre-VHS 1973 technology and the fact that the movie is 1.5 times longer than the album, there are still many problems with these theories. I agree that there are a shitload of coincidences, which send chills of delight and spookiness up my spine, particularly the fact that each song ends right as a scene changes in the movie. But, and this is a big but, for everything that synchs up perfectly, there are at least, AT LEAST, ten things that do not. I'm happy that so many freaky coincidences happen when the album plays at the same time as the film because it's a lot of fun, but in order to believe some grand design, one must ignore everything that doesn't work. We're talking about a cognitive bias here called apophenia, which is seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. Once, I rented Fritz Lang's silent classic Metropolis, but I didn't care for the score, so, roughly ten minutes into the movie, I hit the mute button and played Aphex Twin's "Selected Ambient Works, Vol. II" instead. Many movements of people and machines matched the music perfectly. Many others did not.

This is similar to the tactics those incredible douchebags like John Edward use when they claim to speak to dead people to exploit the grief of the bereaved for money. These "cold readings" usually involve a barrage of guesses. Some of these guesses are going to be correct, and grieving people desperate to hear from a loved one on the other side tend to ignore the incorrect guesses and grab onto the correct ones. Another of my recent YouTube obsessions is watching magician/skeptic James Randi debunk psychics, cold readers, mediums, astrologers, faith healers, etc. Beautiful stuff, especially when that idiot Uri Geller squirms on "The Tonight Show."






If there is an afterlife, maybe I can get together with Syd Barrett, Flannery O'Connor, and my grandmother and watch "Dark Side of the Rainbow" on a puffy cloud while John Edward and Sylvia Browne burn in hell below. I'm open to being wrong about the whole secular/skepticism thing.

By the way, I have an uncle who does a perfect imitation of the Cowardly Lion.

Friday, August 08, 2008

A poem entitled Selected YouTube Comments for Pavement's Video of "Range Life", aka Better than Anything Floyd Did After '74, Motherfucker


malkmus is bad at lip singing, but then again he rules all that is man :)

Billy Corgan sucks Malkmus's dick at being depressed

Why did they beeped out FUCK ?!? it's just a stupid word, how can a word be that bad that it's not allowed to be heard ?

Siamese Dream is a good album. Plus, Billy Corgan fucked Courtney Love, and they probably did a lot of heroin together. So, I like Corgan. Though, Pavement is probably my favorite band from the nineties.

song ends with a Squier riff. unstoppable.

I think pavement sounds simmular to the beatles great so what a happening

He means to live on the range...Out in the countryside. Away from the bullshit.

yeah you guys fucking rule,,how cool is visiting a pavement post for range life and talkin politics and terrorism,,rock and fucking roll dudes- trendy fuckin cocksuckers suck my retard vomit pussy cunt

Amazing...beautiful song...this is kinda random people but it really reminds me of travelling in Nepal aged 18 before this BASTARD "king" wormed his way in....respect to the Malkmus...............

I love Pavement. But, god, 90's clothes. Just... xD
reply: what do you wear?? - catsuit motherfucker

this is pavement isn't it?

thing is though... Stephen Malkmus said that he never dissed smashing pumpkins music... He just dissed there statement

I'm Robertson. Do you guys wanna hang? I got some beers and pizza at my house. I'm lonely.

This is awesome Pavement Rules!!!
Reply #1: Really, the band can't be considered as a whole so say "Pavement rule", if you see my point. You're refering to a single thing but it's made of several parts, i.e. band members.
Reply #2: why cant it be considered as a whole? Figure that out revolt guy
Reply #3: So, Would you say that a car "rule"? It's also a single thing made of several parts. If you talk about the sum of all parts then you say "Rules".

Good enough to almost be it
Who like music can't hear it
Doomed
Pick your pockets full of sorrow
And run away with pavement tomorrow
PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE
Now seriously, both bands are such amazing, stop being such a pusy and get over it.

Better than any thing floyd did after '74 mother-fucker!
Reply: That is your opinion which is fair enough,why the need for the insults and expletives?

i would usually skip over this song on the cd. however once i started hearing the whole song, i immediately fell in love. the song now brings me solace.

This I dont get .. Ive heard better music. He doesnt have a tune to it

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ch-Ch-Changes

I have decided to re-name my film blog. I called it "Film-Watching Robot" to match "Can-Smashing Robot," but that name has started to bother me. It implies that either the film audience in general, or me in particular, is a mindless automaton sucking up irrelevant content. That may be true, but I don't want to be the one to say it. The new title comes from a line in the movie Stroszek. Additionally, I have started posting an image of the day. I will do this every weekday unless I actually have something else to post. Toodle-oo, chummmmmmmmmmmmps.

Check out the new blog, same as the old blog. Get fooled again!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don't ask David Bowie to pick up your dry cleaning because it may not get done in a timely fashion

An exchange of comments from David Bowie's "Space Oddity" video on YouTube:

Person #1: "Good song, but God damn, he creeps me out."
Person #2: "what do you think he's going to be a regular johnny dependable"

CD cover meme

I'm not the biggest meme fan, but this one is actually pretty fun and involves two of my favorite things-- fake album covers and randomness. Click here to play the game. Here's how mine turned out (I'm guessing this fake artist would probably end up on a bill with String Cheese Incident, Trey Anastasio, and/or Bob Weir):



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The humid press of days

What does everybody do now instead of posting blog entries? Listen to Bright Eyes? Eat lemon meringue pie? Start a be-in for peace? Tell off-color jokes to aging priests with drinking problems on bingo night? I've got nothing, and I've had nothing for weeks and weeks and weeks. I can't think of any Can-Smashing content. I've written a few posts on the movie thing, and there's always a couple movies to write about per month on the horror movie thing, but I feel pretty devoid of inspiration lately. There's so much fucking content in the world! Look how many episodes of Family Matters there are! I mean, Jesus, it's fucking unbelievable.

Aw jeez! Gimme a break!

Monday, July 07, 2008

It was all worth it

Headline from Yahoo News, July 7, 2008
"Iraqis now free to pimp out sports cars after Saddam's rule"

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The uplift junkie slap-bass date-rape party plan

If you want to get depressed, take a few minutes and look at the comments for any random YouTube clip. You won't have to read too far to find incredibly racist bullshit, no matter the subject. However, on rare occasions someone posts something great like the following (commenting on whether or not the Red Hot Chili Peppers suck):
"We know more about the mythical California than anyone ever wanted to know, and really, it's just a goddamned state, for chrissakes."

I just want to thank whoever posted that for making me laugh instead of making me despair at the seemingly endless supply of fascist creeps who think every YouTube clip needs a string of comments about ridding the world of blacks, Jews, and homosexuals.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The CC DeVille/Rivers Cuomo equilibrium

These guys switched identities in the late 1980s. First up, a picture of CC DeVille from an early incarnation of Poison:






















Next, a photo of Rivers Cuomo's 1980s hair-metal band, Avant Garde. He's in the center in the top row:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Educational program flashback of regional interest

Hey kids!
In the 1970s and 1980s, daytime programming on my home state's PBS affiliate was devoted to locally produced children's shows. I wonder if this still happens. I'm guessing it doesn't. In Nebraska, the shows were written and produced in Omaha. They aired throughout the state, as well as in South Dakota and Ontario, Canada for some reason, and I watched a lot of them in my elementary school classes. Most of them seemed to be about people locked up against their will and forced to read children's books to their captors. Kind of creepy, in retrospect. Star Lore was about a group of space alien children who stared at a blank blue screen all day until they got bored. Then, an adult alien woman with a blue Afro would hit a button on a weird machine and a kid's book would pop out. In Once Upon a Time, Marion the Librarian is kidnapped by a witch and forced to read her children's books, which, once again, pop out of a weird machine. My favorite one, however, was Reverse the Curse. Two ex-librarians turned archaeologists discover the Egyptian tomb of King Hop-To-It, but the tomb is cursed. The King comes out to play, complete with gold facepaint, and informs the two women that they must stay in the tomb and decipher the hieroglyphics while passing on literary information to the King, or the curse will kill them. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, the very first episode of Reverse the Curse is now available. Come for the Egyptian curse, stay for the boogie-rock theme song, mannered overacting, and Carole King sing-along. I'm not joking.





I Googled the names of the three actors to see what they're doing now, and actually found all three. Marlin Rothe is a GLBT activist and heavily involved in theater in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Peggy Billo is involved in theater in Los Angeles and has done some bit parts on network television, and the hilariously named D. Chetley Kraft writes teacher's editions for elementary schools.

Here's the opening to Once Upon a Time. They decided that overly delicate hippy-folk was the best way to set the mood here.



Finally, I need to present the theme music to Tales in a Treehouse with Mrs. Kozeny. I wasn't a big fan of this show, which consisted of a woman in a treehouse reading a story, but the theme music sounds like a collaboration between Aphex Twin and Perrey & Kingsley.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tales of small-town life: KISS edition


Listening to Paul Stanley's stage banter this week, I realized that many of my formative childhood and young adult memories are somehow related to Kiss. Which is funny, because I was never much of a Kiss fan. Gene Simmons was, and still is, a revolting pig who could give two shits about rock and roll, though I think the rest of the band honestly enjoyed playing music. He has stated that when he and Paul Stanley get too physically decrepit to play live, they will hold auditions for their own replacements and keep Kiss going like a professional sports team. He hit a new low for me with that comment. He's got so much contempt for his fans that he is deliberately planning to let them pay upwards of $225 to see a cover band. A Kiss website for fans of the original lineup features a message board where every single contributor refers to Simmons as Mean Gene the ATM Machine. They've done more "farewell" tours than Ozzy Osbourne. If Cliffs Notes existed for the dumbest song ever written, "Rock and Roll All Nite" would be those Cliffs Notes. However, I'll always have a special place in my heart for Kiss, particularly for how they keep showing up in my personal life. Here's the rundown:
1) I came out of the womb with a love of comic books, horror movies, and rock and roll permanently imprinted on my brain by Baby Jesus, so Kiss' image was right up my alley. Some of my earliest memories consist of a total fascination with how the band looked. I hadn't heard any Kiss songs yet, but I loved staring at pictures of them, their record covers, and their images on television. I remember being four or five and seeing the Kiss episode of "3-2-1 Contact." One of the hosts got to work backstage at a Kiss concert in Abilene, Texas and interviewed the backstage crew, the lighting guys, the sound guys, etc. The Kiss stage spectacle, in all its glory, presented for a children's science show. My mind was blown. I remember being almost beside myself with excitement, and I also remember actually praying to God each day before "3-2-1 Contact" aired and asking Him to re-run that particular episode. It finally worked one glorious summer day, and I couldn't believe my luck. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, here it is. (It's not quite as exciting as I remembered it.)



2) The Ogard brothers lived four blocks away when I was a wee little man. They were several years older than me and had most of the same interests. Three or four times a year, they sold a lot of their old stuff at their mother's yard sales, and I was always in heaven. I usually left their yard sales with a giant stack of horror comics, a couple of cool robot or monster toys, and the occasional Black Sabbath or AC/DC cassette. One year, they were selling a complete set of Kiss toys. I wanted them so badly, but they were a lot pricier than the usual yard sale stuff, and I had to go home empty-handed (except for the giant stack of horror comics, of course). I don't know where they are now, but I ran into them in the bar in my hometown at Christmas about ten years ago, and they said they were playing in a few punk bands in Seattle and Portland. They were too old for me to hang out with, but I always felt a little better knowing that someone else in town liked the same weird stuff as me. It made me feel less lonely and detached.

3) My babysitter Amber told me that her cousin was in the front row at a Kiss concert in Denver and got burns on his face from a pyrotechnic mishap. I remember feeling a little scared and a little excited by the story. "I want to go where rock and roll happens," I remember thinking. "However, there is a chance I could get physically injured, which simultaneously excites and terrifies me." I'm paraphrasing, obviously. I don't think I would have said it that way at age seven.

4) I remember being in a small house in the country as a very small child. My parents are still in their twenties and are drinking in the kitchen with a few of my uncles, their friends, and whoever lives in the house. I don't remember who it was. My parents hardly ever drank because they were upset by their fathers' drinking problems, so I think it was the afterparty following a friend's wedding. My memory is really fuzzy about this, though. Here's the part I remember clearly. I started to get antsy and irritable because the only other kids there who were my age fell asleep. I wanted to look through the record collection of the guy who lived in the house, but I was afraid to ask. My intentions must have been obvious, because a nice, pretty Hispanic woman who I think was a friend of my aunt and uncle asked me to pick out some music to play. I flipped through the records happily and came across a copy of Kiss' "Destroyer." "Play this! Play this!" I yelled. The woman told me that although Kiss looked cool, their music wasn't very good. I didn't believe her, though I hadn't heard much Kiss yet. She told me to pick something else. I believe I picked a John Mellencamp record, back when he was known as John Cougar (without the Mellencamp). I think it went over well. I wish I knew the details of this evening a little better. It was the only time I was ever in that house. I wonder who it was.

5) A tale of college-town life: While at school at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, I worked at a record store. (It's sad that that sentence will soon read as "I once worked for a blacksmith.") One night, a co-worker and I joined forces at my place for a Kiss double feature. His bootleg of "Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park" was followed by my rented copy of "Runaway," starring Gene Simmons, Tom Selleck, Kirstie Alley, and robot spiders. This is not a very interesting story, but it was a good night, and it gives me an excuse to present a scene from "Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park," a masterpiece of ineptitude.



6)One of my gifts on my eighth birthday was a compilation called "MTV's Rock 'N Roll To Go." The tracklisting is as follows:
Pat Benatar - Hell Is For Children
The Cars - Drive
The Fixx - Are We Ourselves?
Hall & Oates - Say It Isn't So
Billy Idol - Rebel Yell
Kiss - Lick It Up
Cyndi Lauper - She Bop
Madonna - Lucky Star
Steve Perry - Oh Sherrie
Ratt - Round and Round
The Police - King of Pain
Thompson Twins - Hold Me Now
Tina Turner - What's Love Got To Do With It
Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days

I think "Lick It Up" might be the worst song on the album, but you know what Paul Stanley has to say about that: "If (the people who think Kiss sucks) didn't really believe that the best band in the world was the Thompson Twins, they might be here tonight and you crazy motherfuckers would show them what rock and roll is really all about, uh huh."

7) My three favorite Kiss songs.
#1: "Black Diamond." The Replacements covered this on "Let It Be." I bought the Replacements album during my senior year in high school, the day after my first experience with LSD and the day before my first and only time snowboarding. I was in Laramie, Wyoming with a friend of mine visiting his older brother. I always thought "Black Diamond" was yet another great Replacements song, and I was shocked to find out it was a Kiss cover. "But Kiss sucks," I thought at the time. Not always. This performance of "Black Diamond" during Kiss' Madison Square Garden show from 1977 rocked my balls off, then rocked my right ball onto my left side and my left ball onto my right side, then rocked my balls back off, then rearranged my balls in the correct order, then rocked my balls back on. It's pretty kick-ass is what I'm trying to say. Gene Simmons, even back then, looks like he's thinking of marketing schemes instead of rock, but Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss keep the faith.



#2: "Hard Luck Woman." Paul Stanley originally wrote this one for Rod Stewart, who failed to record it. Peter Criss steps up to the plate again, proving that you can't go wrong with a singing drummer who's dressed up like a cat. I first heard this song when it was on a K-Tel compilation of random pop music from the 1970s that I bought from the Case brothers when I was in grade school. The Case brothers were a couple of long-haired ne'er-do-wells that hung out with my mom's youngest brother, who was still in high school at the time. They used to come over to my grandmother's house and play metal guitars with my uncle. They loved Randy Rhoads. The odd thing about the Case brothers was that they were still in high school, but they owned and lived in a little house by themselves. I don't know if they were emancipated minors or if their parents were dead or in jail, but I'm sure it was very easy for them to drink beer and smoke weed without parental consent or disapproval. My grandmother drove me over there once when my uncle was hanging out with them so I could ask him if I could buy his ZZ Top - "Tres Hombres" cassette. (She was a great lady.) When the Case brothers saw me and my grandmother at the door, they turned off their lights and ran toward the back door. I'm sure they were either drinking beer or smoking weed with my uncle. I was too dumb and young to expect that unsupervised teenagers were going to be doing something untoward and wouldn't take kindly to their friend's mother and cousin unexpectedly knocking on the door, so I was baffled by their behavior. I want to belatedly apologize now, but nobody knows what the hell happened to the Case brothers. I also want to point out that I was extremely surprised this was Kiss, because I expected insane, demonic heavy metal based on their appearance. It is also worth mentioning that the song preceding "Hard Luck Woman" on the K-Tel record was "Boogie Fever."



#3: "I Was Made For Loving You." No story about this one, I just love every single classic-rock-goes-disco song. (Dig that crazy falsetto at 2:30, Starchild!)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

You like surprises, right?




I was checking my blog stats just now, and someone found one of my sites by Googling "double vaginal surprise." They were probably disappointed. All three of those words can be found on my blogs, just not adjacently. Maybe it was Paul Stanley.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Richmond, Virginia! Is this, or is this not, the rock and roll capital of Virginia?

I just downloaded seventy hot tracks of Paul Stanley stage banter, and I can't foresee any possible circumstance in which I will regret it. Here's a sample:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't be a fool, stay in school

They tell you no matter how much preparation you have, you will never be ready for your first year of teaching. After much research, I've narrowed down what I think it's going to be like to the following two scenarios:



Thursday, May 15, 2008

Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland of Earthly Delights


I love the awesome destructive power of Mother Nature. We had a kick-ass storm last night. I had been reading Flannery O'Connor short stories for about four hours straight when giant, perpetual thunder, lightning, wind, rain, and hail came barreling through town. Today, I grabbed my iPod and headphones and took a long walk all over the neighborhood. Besides the blanket of leaves and mud covering almost everything, I saw this stuff:
1) A sidewalk covered in dead birds. The wind and rain must have slapped them out of the trees, but it looked like some huge musclehead type had picked up each bird individually and threw them down on the sidewalk as hard as he could. Splat! You birds got pranked hard!
2) A huge tree branch that fell and landed on a Blazer, knocking the automobile's tailgate off, smashing all the windows out, and basically imploding it.
3) A rusty nail that I stepped on. Not only that, it was a Warner Brothers-cartoon-sized rusty nail. I thought a giant rock had wedged itself into the bottom of my shoe. Fortunately, the sharp part of the nail was bent and went through my shoe without going through my foot. A tetanus shot would have soured my afternoon.
4) An albino squirrel! Hot damn, I couldn't believe my luck. Doesn't it say in the Book of Revelations, "And an albino squirrel shall lead them?" I'm going back out on the streets later to find the squirrel, trap him, and teach him to read, write, and speak. Together, we are going to pitch a buddy-cop film idea to Paramount Pictures. I haven't decided yet whether I will be played by William H. Macy or Bernie Mac. The squirrel will play himself. We aren't going to like each other at first, me being a loose cannon who plays by his own rules, and the squirrel being a by-the-book straight shooter two years from retirement. Eventually, we bond over our shared love of tandoori chicken, the music of Roberta Flack, and taking no-good punks off the street.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fighter Hayabusa vs. King Slender

Hey, everybody. My brother restarted his blog. Read it here.

Problems and solutions. Just kidding, I have no solutions.

When you have nothing to say, throw pies. Sometimes it's absolutely goddamn embarrassing to be a liberal.



Here's the mega-retarded YouTube description:
"Thomas Friedman, the author and NY Times columnist, was invited to Brown University to give a keynote speech on Earth Day, before a packed auditorium. His talk, titled 'Green is the new Red White and Blue' was about how corporate environmentalism (based on putting a price on the atmosphere, and investing in biofuels and techno-fixes) can restore America to its 'natural place in the global order.' Luckily, this outrageous neoliberal capitalist propaganda was interrupted with a suprise visit from the Greenwash Guerrillas. Leaflets were thrown to the crowd, stating:

----------

Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face...

* because of his sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism's conquest of the planet

* for telling the world that the free market and techno fixes can save us from climate change. From carbon trading to biofuels, these distractions are dangerous in and of themselves, while encouraging inaction with respect to the true problems at hand.

* for helping turn environmentalism into a fake plastic consumer product for the privileged

* For his long-standing support for the US Occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Such committed support to the US War Machine and its proxy states overseas cannot be masked behind any twisted mask of 'green' - the US Military is the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.

* for his pure arrogance.
On behalf of the earth and all true environmentalists -- we, the Greenwash Guerrillas, declare Thomas Friedman's 'Green' as fake and toxic to human and planetary health as the cool-whip covering his face."

On behalf of the earth? The earth doesn't give a fuck about Thomas Friedman, pies, the U.S., Iraq, Palestine, Israel, environmentalists, or Greenwash Guerrillas. The earth will outlast the whole puny shebang. By the way, the U.S. military is NOT the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. That would be China, you dreadlocked fucknuts, who recently overtook the U.S. as a whole (not just the military). I'm not defending the U.S. military, I'm just stating some very quickly researched facts that are available to any human being who has two minutes and an Internet connection or science teacher nearby. Come on, assholes. Also, you morons seem to think that cool-whip is toxic. I ran some experiments on this over the weekend. I fed cool-whip to several small children. Guess what? Non-fucking-toxic.

Don't blame me, I voted for Motorhead.
(Just to clarify for some people who thought I was a Libertarian. I am not a Libertarian. I am also not a Republican. I am a hedonist with a heart of gold.)

By the way, the first thing I do every morning, as a committed environmentalist, is print a bunch of fucking leaflets.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Aw jeez! Gimme a break!


On campus yesterday, a pigeon flying overhead urinated on my arm. I had to duck into the nearest building and take the escalator to the second floor bathrooms while holding my arm in a stiff, awkward, unnatural position so the pissy dribble would remain relatively stable pooled in the crook of my arm and not trickle down, contaminating more of my flesh and dripping on my t-shirt and/or jeans. Sorry I used the word "arm" so much in that sentence, but there aren't too many useful synonyms. Left gun? Foreshank? Upper appendage? Torso-leg? Cannon #1? Hand-post? Lucille? At any rate, even after multiple scrubbings, I still felt my torso-leg was unclean. I didn't feel like Dr. Mystery again until I got home, changed my clothes, and scrubbed my hand-post several more times. Pigeon urine? What kind of jive is that?

By the way, the photo accompanying this post is the first one that popped up when I Google image searched "pigeon urine." The man in the photo is a tannery worker in Morocco, dying hides. The red dye is made of pigeon excrement, acids, and cow urine. I shit you not. Get it? Shit? Am I right? Factoid: The country of Morocco is no relation to retired professional wrestler Magnificent Muraco, who is from Sunset Beach, Hawaii and spells his name differently. His opinions on animal urine are, as yet, unknown.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Don't blame me, I voted for Chocolate Thunder


We watched Wrestlemania 2 yesterday. I hadn't seen it since 1986, when I was too young to appreciate the absurdity of the following match:
A boxing match between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Mr. T.
Guest ring announcer: Joan Rivers
Guest commentator: Susan St. James (from Kate & Allie)
Guest timekeeper: Herb from the Burger King ads
Guest judges: NBA star Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins, Cab Calloway, and G. Gordon Liddy

We live in the best of all possible worlds.



(Some facts about Darryl Dawkins: He was the first guy to shatter the backboard with his dunks. The first time he did it, Kansas City Kings player Bill Robinzine was standing under the hoop and had to duck for cover. Dawkins named the dunk the "Chocolate Thunder Flying, Glass Flying, Robinzine Crying, Babies Crying, Glass Still Flying, Catch Crap, Rump Roasting, Bun Toasting, Thank You, Wham, Bam, I Am Jam." He later named other dunks the Rim Wrecker, the Go-Rilla, the Look Out Below, the In-Your-Face Disgrace, the Cover Your Head, the Yo-Mama, and the Spine-Chiller Supreme. He also told the press that he was an "alien from the planet Lovetron," he spent the off-season practicing "interplanetary funkmanship," and his girlfriend on Lovetron was named "Juicy Lucy." I almost like sports now.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Miscellany
















1) This week's Louis Black turd-dump. Pick your poison.
Clunky sentence construction? "Central to my thesis here is the argument that if you examine any major historical event closely, you are going to find an enormous collection of bits of information that don't fit in with the overall theory of what happened."
Foolish absolutist pronouncement? "The U.S. Constitution can be read and misread any number of ways." Since Black uses the word misread here, it follows that his use of read must mean read correctly. In that case, there are NOT any number of ways to correctly read the U.S. Constitution or any other text, goddammit. The words are on the page. Read them closely, re-read them, and figure it out. Tricycle does not mean banana, unless the author tells you it does.
Very completely totally redundant word choice? "All too often, those on every side of every argument confuse the two (reality and opinion), using completely loaded language to bless themselves and validate their causes." What does the word completely add to that sentence? How about both sides of an argument instead of every side of every argument? How about letting an editor look over your column? I promise you he or she will not rob you of your writerly essence by cleaning up and tightening your prose. Your answers to questions nobody asked will remain pungently fecal (fecally pungent?).
2) My professor in my Lit Studies for High School Teachers of English class was trying to remember Crispin Glover's name today. He described him and some of his films but couldn't quite pull his name out of the ether, so I said "Crispin Glover?" Only three other people in the class had heard of him. He was in the Charlie's Angels movies, for cry eye! One girl turned to me and said, "Crispus Laughlin?" Then she had me write his name down on a sheet of paper for her, presumably for impending investigation into the Glover oeuvre. Very odd. This is my only class where people have a vague impression that something happened on earth before No Doubt became famous. I figured Crispin Glover had a place in the English major pantheon. Come on. This class pledged love for Little Richard last week. I honestly don't know what's going on. I'm learning interesting, baffling things about twenty-year-olds every day.
3) This morning, while walking to class, I noticed a burly athletic type hurriedly walking through campus while eating a large piece of bright-pink cake on a paper plate. What? Cake is not your typical on-the-go foodstuff, especially when speedwalking, double especially when the eater is hypermasculine and the eatee is bright pink. He had a huge bite precariously perched on his little plastic fork, I'm talking HUGE, pretty much half of the entire piece of cake, and when he brought this enormous bite to his mouth, it slipped off the fork and landed on the dirty ground. He then yelled, "Aw, FUCK!" and stormed angrily along. I can't tell you how happy this whole scene made me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Danny Federici 1950-2008

The E Street Band organist/pianist/keyboardist/accordionist died last week, giving me an excuse to post more YouTube clips.



Saturday, April 19, 2008

Louis Black Poop-Stained Poop of the Week

The gag is that I don't always do this every week. Here's this "week's" narcissistic bilge:

"Wouldn't we all actually be better off if, instead of grading the morality, humanity, and righteousness of all others, we instead worked upon improving ourselves? This would mean actually working on change rather than anointing ourselves, judged against the standards of those of whom we disapprove. The too easily and consistently glib will accuse me of doing exactly what I condemn here, but that is just a kind of lazy desperation to dismiss troubling arguments. I condemn no person or persons, nor do I celebrate or redeem myself in any way. Of course I wish I were a better person. Of course I am just as trapped by my emotions, experiences, and self-centered ways when dealing with the world as anyone. No Zen loss of 'self' here. No large-picture arguments against selfishness or in favor of losing identity or addressing the defining oneness of us all."

Troubling arguments? The only thing troubling is how this guy writes all the time and never improves. You'd think he'd accidentally stumble into a coherent sentence once in a while.

Here's a bonus boneheaded play from last week:

"Usually in this column, I at least try to cover every minor thoroughfare branching off from the highway of the main idea, mostly to protect the argument I'm making from being dismissed too easily because of a factor not considered or a potential not discussed (of course, many of my ideas are dismissed, so the emphasis here is on the 'too easily'). What follows is just a brief checklist on some positions, so no discussion is fully rounded or being too carefully presented."

You protect your ideas from being dismissed too easily by smothering them in incoherent, irrelevant digressions? Give clear, well-constructed sentences a try some time. It will probably work better. Maybe people dismiss your ideas because they can't find them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Belated Krautrockdolences

Klaus Dinger, former drummer of Kraftwerk and one-half of Neu!, died last month.



Thursday, April 03, 2008

Louis Black Syntax Atrocity of the Week

The set-up: Black wrote his column this week about how so-called solutions to the illegal immigration "problem" (his quotation marks, though I agree with his use of them) would cause a lot of damage. In his introduction, he writes that most people, regardless of political ideology, feel that the U.S. government is broken. He disagrees with these people, with one caveat. This caveat gives us our Louis Black prose nugget of the week:

"(As always, I exempt the current administration from this discussion because there is nothing you can say about it that is so bad that I won't agree with you -- but rather than interpreting it as symptomatic of whatever one's beliefs are about federal failures, I still view it as an extreme, diseased aberration that, as with cancer, has its origins in many different political trends but is solely owned by none of them.)"

So, cancer is caused by a combination of political trends? What? Did you hear the news? Tony's uncle died today from cancer of the testicles. They think it was caused by a combination of stagflation, Orange Alerts, and speculation about Anderson Cooper's sexuality.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Stuff to see and do

The sound cuts out a little bit at the beginning of this 1980s Magnum T.A. interview, but stick with it, the payoff is great.


Also, if you were thinking about giving some money to starving children, stop thinking that and give your money to these guys instead so they can finish their film about the ridiculously great rock and roll combo Silkworm:

"Hello everyone-
(my apologies to anyone who has already received this and/or donated)

As most of you know, we have been making this film since August of 2006. Financed out of our own pockets as well as by our family members, we have interviewed almost 60 people including Jeff Tweedy, Steve Albini, Matt Kadane, Stephen Malkmus, Tim and Andy’s parents, Jason Molina, Gerard Cosloy, and so many more friends, family, fans, and rock critics.

So you’re probably wondering why this is of any importance to you? Well, here’s the deal:

Unfortunately, this sort of independent filmmaking always ends up taking longer than expected. We were hoping to have a finished cut by August or September of this year but with the current financing, that’s a slim possibility. We were able to make the last trip to California thanks to the 30+ people who kindly donated to the cause. There are over 200 of you on our mailing list. If everyone donated five dollars that would be a huge step towards making our final trip and beginning editing.
If you can’t donate, we would appreciate it if you could post this message on your blog or website, write about it on forums, do whatever you can to get the word out to people who would like to. Everyone who donates will be credited in the film. As soon as we’re finished, we will be traveling to festivals, independent art house theaters and rock clubs to show the finished cut. Hopefully this will happen in a town near you.

If you would like to contribute to the completion of the film, please follow the PayPal link below:
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_donations&business=silkworm_documentary%40yahoo%2ecom&item_name=Couldn%27t%20You%20Wait%3f%20The%20Story%20of%20Silkworm&no_shipping=0&no_note=1&tax=0&currency_code=USD&lc=US&bn=PP%2dDonationsBF&charset=UTF%2d8

THANKS

Seth Pomeroy (director)
Shawn Girvan (producer)

ALSO: if you would like to see interview clips we’ve done in addition to the trailer and performance clips, check out our youtube page: www.youtube.com/HargroveHouse

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

People ten years younger than me haven't heard of anything






















I'm continually surprised by the complete lack of cultural reference points (or context for available reference points) my mostly decade-younger fellow students exhibit in class discussions. The immediate present (or context-free reference to the recent past) is the only thing that seems to exist. I know I'm looking at the world with ten extra years of jackassery under my belt, and I allow a lot of concessions for that. When I was 18-21, I never rented any movies that predated the late 1960s, and I hardly ever rented any non-American films. My musical taste was narrower and rooted in the present and near-past, and I stuck to the 20th century in my choice of books. However, I spent those years slowly expanding my repertoire, and I had at least heard of a lot of stuff I hadn't yet experienced. I know it's the American way to be lazy, complacent, hostile to any kind of intellectual self-improvement, and stuck in the present, and knowing a lot of cultural references isn't really that important unless you experience the work behind these references, but sweet christ, the cultural history of the twentieth century sure seems irrelevant to today's newest adults (hereafter referred to as post-pubes) (not really). Even when they know who someone is, they know him or her from some of the most irrelevant shit he or she has ever made. Examples, overheard in my classes: "Who's that guy from As Good As It Gets? Oh yeah, Jack Nicholson." A group report about the film Red River in my Life and Lit of the Southwest class included a presentation about Howard Hawks. The girl giving the presentation mentioned some of the many actors Hawks either discovered or featured in their first important roles. James Caan was one of these actors. The girl said: "He's the guy from Elf." This makes me feel 10,000 years old, even though I'm pretty new to the planet myself.
Interestingly, the reference points of the middle school kids I'm observing and student teaching this semester are much more expansive than the 20-year-olds in my classes who've never heard of Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Parker, Gary Cooper, the L.A. riots, Henry Kissinger, H.L. Mencken, the Fat Boys, Foreigner, Liz Phair, or the Sex Pistols. The middle school kids have heard of more writers, bands, and songs than my fellow English and education majors (though they claim every book is either "stupid" or "boring.") I've heard students singing 1970s and '80s metal, pre-fame R.E.M., sixties bubblegum pop, Nirvana's non-hits, and '80s gangsta rap and new wave. When I asked them about their favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes had a place in the pantheon. (Not a good movie, but, hey! It predates their existences!) I was baffled by this for weeks until I realized a lot of the parents of these 13-year-olds aren't much older than me. If I had more muscle tone, athleticism, stupidity, street smarts, a non-fear of rejection, a fear of latex, easier access to booze, and less access to drugs, heavy metal, and/or unrequited love in high school, I could be the father of a 13-year-old right now. So, this obsession with the present only (unless referenced on Family Guy) is a temporary, generational thing is all I'm saying, and I will stop worrying about it. Thanks, middle school loudmouth brats! You have actually heard of things that aren't really important but make Dr. Mystery feel better about the state of young adulthood and the health of this country's cultural references of yesterday, tomorrow, today, tomorrow.

Louis Black still sucks! Evidence here!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Soft-rock the Vote

I wish I could say this is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen, but our culture delivers gems like this every minute.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My grandmother died this morning. It was more expected than my aunt's death, but the timing of all these recent traumatic events has definitely been a shock and my immune system has taken a long vacation from the rest of me. At the risk of sounding like those idiots who say things like, "God has another angel now," or "She always had a smile on her face," (Really? Always? And no one committed her?), I want to say that my grandmother was, and probably always will be, the best person I ever knew. She based every decision, even the tiny ones, on her moral/ethical code and never wavered from it. She had a great sense of humor and absurdity, and it always made her laugh when somebody did something foolish, including herself. She constantly read books until her eyesight got too bad a few years ago, and she was a great painter. She was my biggest fan (though she would have been extremely disappointed at all the profanity on my blog), and the last words she said to me, as I left the nursing home with my uncle and his two dogs to ride to Denver International Airport less than two weeks ago, were: "You're a good-looking man. All your female students are going to have a crush on you." Then she said she wished she was going with me. She spent the majority of her last month listening to spirituals by Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and telling us all how great we were and how lucky she was to have us. I'm glad she won't have to spend another day in the nursing home. She complained about the patronizing way the employees talked to her, even though she had more on the ball than they did.
My time alone in the cave of despair has been extended for a few more weeks. I can't wait until this blog can be about people who won't take gorilla masks off, how much I hate Louis Black, and how many nachos I can eat in one sitting again.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Return from the Great White Middle

I'm finally done blasting through the tower of babble of school work that had been piling up since everything went to hell family-style three weeks ago. After a week spent burying my 50-year-old aunt, putting my wonderful grandmother in the nursing home the day after the funeral, only to have her fall and break her hip today (which was the only reason we put her in there in the first place, so she wouldn't fall), and having my flight home delayed for several hours because of snow only to land in Austin in 30 mph winds that tossed the plane around like a ball of string slapped by a disinterested cat, I'm no longer intimidated by the middle school kids I will be teaching in a couple weeks. There are far scarier things in the world. It was an emotionally raw week back home in western Neb. (home of original member of The Eagles, Randy Meisner). A lot of ups and downs. It wasn't all misery. I went out to an abandoned ranch and shot guns with my uncles, cousin, and cousin-in-law. I hit a blue rock target dead-on the first time I've ever shot a shotgun in my life. My second shot was a complete joke, and I didn't shoot anymore after that. I went to a bonfire at my cousin's the night of the funeral and confirmed how much I like my mom's side of the family and how lucky I was to be born into such an interesting, funny, unusual group of people in such a boring, unfunny, usual town. My uncle and his late wife have a bottomless group of friends whose existence in small-town Nebraska continually surprises me. They don't seem to have regular jobs, just mysterious incomes, and can only be found at bars, weddings, funerals, my uncle's house, and isolated country roads. I never see them in town for any other reason. Most of them wear leather and/or jean jackets. I'm too lazy to give them their descriptive due, so instead I will offer a formula that helps to explain these mysterious strangers' personalities. Add the essences of the following people, fictional characters, and organizations: Charles Bukowski, Jeff Foxworthy, Timothy Leary, Jack Nicholson's character in "Easy Rider," the TV shows "Roseanne" and "The Andy Griffith Show," every member of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, the Sasquatch, and "The Muppet Show" band = my uncle's friends. They all have nicknames like Choffey, Orf, Buffalo Legs, Bones, Moo, Donkey Patrol, and Inspector UFO (I only made the last two up). These people are basically cosmic hippie redneck biker philosopher-poets and their lives make up a secret history of small-town existence. I meet a different one every time I go home for a non-holiday visit and hang around long enough. My uncle and Choffey exchange a large rock every seven years. Whoever has current possession of the rock adds a couple new lines to the poem they've been writing on it for many years. At the bonfire, one of these men regaled us with a Cormac McCarthy-worthy tale of drug deals gone bad, prison time served, and $25,000 buried in the countryside near where we were drinking. The way these people talk should be written down. Unintentional poetry. Orf started calling one of my uncles Dangerous Dan McGrew and said he rode into town with a "lion on his back for a coat and a bear for a horse." My newly widowed uncle said one of the saddest, truest things I've ever heard about loss of a family member without any maudlin wordiness. What my grandmother calls the "unvarnished truth." This is what he said about his second day without his wife: "I went to the bar. Had two beers. Went home. Fell asleep in a chair. Woke up and made myself a chicken pot pie. It wasn't any good."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My aunt Donna died this morning. She was only 50. Here's what kind of person she was: When I was six or seven, she called my house to let me know that an all-day monster movie marathon was on HBO. I rode my bike over and watched movies all day with her. When I was 17, I grew a really stupid goatee that I thought was cool. My boss at the grocery store told me to shave it off. My aunt told me to tell him, "Fuck you, Tim." She was a fun person who liked to read and liked music. She had a lot of problems the last ten or twelve years that led to her early death, but that doesn't matter. From the daily phone reports I received from my mother this last week about her sister-in-law and my aunt, I learned a lot about how to die with bravery, dignity, self-respect, and humor. I feel bad for my uncle and my cousins. I spent a lot of time over there when I was a kid, listening to their records and baby-sitting their kids. It's been hard trying to get through my week and take care of business. You should be able to pause life sometimes for a few weeks. I would like to ask anyone reading this to please not email me, call me, or personally give me any condolences. I sincerely appreciate any good thoughts and concern, but please just send it out into the world silently. The English language is woefully inadequate when it comes to condolences. I know you care. I don't need to hear it. I will probably keep to myself for a few months. That's how I get through these things best. I need the shared history, comfortable silences, and humor of my family and my own self for a while. Then I'll crawl back out of my cave and get on with it. Send all good thoughts to your families (if you like them) and enjoy their company. If any of you have emailed or left a message, etc., before you've read this post, don't feel bad. I'm weird and solitary about this stuff, and I appreciate your concern. Life is good, and I'm glad I know so many good people.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Whoo!

For the first time in 12 years, I had the flu. It sucked. I think I'm coming out of it now, but for a while, I was burning the candle at both ends, if you know what I mean.

I'm considering trying Netflix, and I was browsing their inventory this morning when I stumbled across the greatest movie title in Mexican cinema history:
7 Mujeres, 1 Homosexual y Carlos*


*For those of you with even worse Spanish than me, that translates as "7 Women, 1 Homosexual and Carlos."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Larry McMurtry on Austin

Nothing much has changed. Just replace "protohippies" with the Beauty Bar crowd or anyone's moderately ambitious local rock band. Throw the Austin Chronicle staff in the mix, too. His description still fits this town a little too snugly, and sometimes his words are even more accurate today. I like it here. I wouldn't have stayed seven years and counting if I didn't. But this is a distressingly honest summation of Austin.

"... During the last two months of my stay in Austin it was my good fortune to be thrown much in the company of (author William) Brammer. We were both, at the time, in respite of wives and money, and shared a house on Windsor Road. Mr. Brammer was at that time the local culture hero, The Gay Place having been published only two years before. He was thus a natural target for anyone in Austin who was aspiring, frustrated, or bored. The inrush of Wives threatened to wrench the hinges off the door, and Mr. Brammer faced it with the courteous and rather melancholy patience with which he would probably face a buffalo stampede. In the wake of the Wives came a sweaty and verbally diarrhetic mass of bored or bitter professors, broke or bitter politicians, protohippies with beach balls full of laughing gas, and broke-bored-bitter young journalists who looked like they had been using themselves for blotters.
"In time I sealed off my part of the house and left Bill to cope with the crowd as best he could, but during the brief weeks when I spent my nights opening the door I got, it seemed to me, an adequate glimpse of Austin. It had, among other adolescent characteristics, a fascination with its own pubic hair, and a corresponding uneasy fear that its sexual development might stop just short of adequacy. Groupiness was endemic. No one might be missing from the group, lest he turn out to be somewhere better, with a wilder, more swinging group. In such a town the person who is sure of himself is apt to be literally crushed by the surging mobs of the insecure, all rushing to confirm themselves by association. "
...
"Cliquishness can be especially insidious in a town the size of Austin, where those in favor seldom if ever receive any strong-minded local criticism. ..."
...
"The emotional activity most characteristic of Austin is, I think, the attempt to acquire power through knowledge. Accordingly, Austin is the one town in the state where there is a real tolerance of the intellectual; and yet one's final impression of Austin is of widespread intellectual confusion. Perhaps the phenomenon most expressive of this paradox is the University's rare book program. For the last decade, rare books have been sucked into Austin like particles of dust into a vacuum cleaner; the University's enormous and almost amorphous acquisitiveness remains the wonder, joy, and despair of the rare book world. No one can doubt that an extraordinary library is being formed in Austin, one whose potential usefulness is very great; yet the manner in which it is being formed leaves one a trifle abashed. The Humanities Research Center, for all its riches, comes too close to being a kind of intellectual's Astrodome. The University's almost frenzied acquisitiveness seems to stem not so much from a vision of the needs of future generations as from its own immediate intellectual insecurity. A successful acquisition brings a temporary sense of intellectual power, and it is the acquisition of books and manuscripts, rather than their use, which seems to be the dominant concern; that and the creation of a symbol of prestige (the Center) which the scholarly world cannot ignore. ..."

from In a Narrow Grave (1968)