Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What did we learn during the State of the Union?

Special extended applause edition!*

12) Iran has been trying to obtain large quantities of secret herbs and spices from a “Colonel Sanders.”

11) Economic stimulus is like male arousal: the more pressure you apply, the less likely it is to happen.

10) The Iraq surge would be working even better if it was electrical.

9) Tax hikes make Baby Jesus cry tears made out of Bambi’s blood.

8) North Korea has been all cleared up since we applied that pimple stuff Jessica Simpson sells.

7) From now on, the Verizon guy will be wearing a trench coat and carrying a black bag.

6) Opportunities to travel abroad and see exciting action are the highest they’ve been in 40 years.

5) The writer’s strike caused this year’s State of the Union to be mostly repeats.

4) “Bombing Iran” is on Vice President Cheney’s bucket list.

3) Those who can’t do, veto.

2) We actually still have a president in the White House.

1) That we’re going to lose one of our greatest resources of unintentional comedy next year.

*Billy Pilgrim, this means you should start at #13

Monday, January 28, 2008

John Gibson's to-do list

X Piss on someone’s grave. (don’t forget to shake)

X Kick a puppy.

X Keep watching Brokeback Mountain and punching crotch every time it moves until it learns to stop moving at the sight of Jake’s supple buttocks and Heath’s —OWWW!

X Masturbate to videos of white women giving birth.
(make sure that Mexican housekeeper cleans up the stains this time)

X Drop washers into a blind beggar’s cup. (no giggling when he thanks us)

X Check fine print on contract to see if there’s any way to get soul back from Satan.

X Discuss how a Boston/New York Super Bowl is another manifestation of the gay agenda. (launch undercover investigation of role of tight ends—OWWW!)

X Develop new, innovative ways to deliver backhanded racism to blacks. (remember, inner voice=colored, outer voice=black)

X Ask crippled guy in wheelchair to get something off the top shelf for us. (think of good FDR joke)

X Take extra laxitives to generate enough material for The Big Lead. (remember to remove pants before "producing" show)

X Enter Ed Begley, Jr. look-alike contest. (try to look like less of a pedophile this time)

X Audition for role of evil albino in DaVinci Code 2. (try to look less evil this time)

X Call Osama bin Laden to find out exactly how he feels about a Democratic political victory. (and beg him again for another 9/11)

X Boil Sean Hannity’s rabbit because he broke it off with me. (and keep punching crotch until we no longer want him—OWWW!)

X Scrub Rupert Murdoch’s balls until I can see my reflection. (give them a spit shine this time.)

Write another book about how liberals are the one’s destroying Christ’s message.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I learned this week that married couples who fight tend to live longer—assuming that they don’t get run over or shot or set on fire during said fight. This means The Lovely Becky and I are screwed. We really don’t fight. It’s mostly because we’re so close to being the same person that it seems pointless. I may as well get into an argument with my reflection. Here’s one example: TLB went upstairs last night to crawl in bed and watch TV. I seized the opportunity to play some Rock Band, and pretty soon was thwack-thwack-thwacking away on the plastic drums. After about a half hour, I heard TLB come downstairs. “Sorry,” I said, “is that totally loud and obnoxious?”

“It’s loud, but it doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I wasn’t coming down here to yell at you, so go ahead and play.”

She heard me playing toy drums to Iron Maiden and wasn't bothered by it. That’s true love right there. It also means we’ll be dead by 50, run over while holding hands by a guy in an SUV fleeing his wife as she pursues him while firing at him with a gun. They will of course live to be 90.

1) “The Ship Song,” Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Classic sad song. It could be used as a montage of men about to charge into battle, yelling in super-slow-mo as sabers rattle and cannons explode, or for that part in a John Cusack romantic comedy where he realizes he’s been a twat and should settle down with the girl he left. That’s flexibility.

2) “Black Sabbath,” Black Sabbath. One of those first songs on a first album that foreshadows everything you need to know about a band’s career, from forging an entirely new genre of music to being too goofy to sustain for long without looking cartoonish (see also: Danzig, dilemma of being shirtless and wearing Goth eyeliner when 50 and).

3) “Rat Fink,” The Misfits. Okay, that was spooky. It’s like I said Danzig’s name and he appeared. Hmm, let me try this: Selma Hayek Selma Hayek Selma Hayek? Anyone? Poop. I’ll try a more traditional one: Beelzebub Beelzebub Beelzebub. Aw, fuck, now my office is full of flies and a demonic shadowy presence. Excuse me while I open a window and fetch my Rite of Exorcism.

4) “Love on the Rocks With No Ice,” The Darkness. Great, now my iPod is possessed with shit. The Darkness tried to combine AC/DC riffs with Freddy Mercury theatricality. They occasionally succeeded. This, however, is like Freddy Mercury’s mustache playing guitar in a schoolboy outfit that’s three sizes too small. Horrifyingly amusing.

5) “Don’t Know,” The Dodgers. That’s better. I love when Latin incantations and holy water work. The Dodgers are one of my best finds from the great 2007 Summer of Raiding Record Collections. Classic 70s power pop, all shimmery like the Southern California sky when the wind picks up enough to blow the smog toward Barstow. Not easy to find as I think this is long out of print, but worth seeking if you like groups like Big Star.

6) “Daft Punk Is Playing in My House,” LCD Soundsystem. Booty-shaking. Worth it for the bass line alone.

7) “My Rights Versus Yours,” The New Pornographers. The modern masters of guitar-based pop music. They always find the right blend of catchy and quirky, so you’re humming along because you want to, not because some insidious We-Built-This-City musical code has been downloaded into your brain.

8) “Little Doll,” The Stooges. Really captures the transition from the 60s to 70s punk. The guitar solo is all acid-trip Jefferson Airplane squealing, but the beat and attitude are all Ramones. So far the exorcism is holding up.

9) “Columbia,” Oasis. I was watching The Seven Stages of Rock on VH1 Classic (a great series to catch if it’s still running), and the last stage was on British indie bands from the 90s. They interviewed guitarist Noel Gallagher of Oasis, he of the Bert unibrow. And while he spent some of the time talking about the band and their music, he spent a lot of it talking about how much money they made and being filmed driving a Bentley. It was like a blueprint of how to be a Giant Rock Cock, and not in the funny cucumber-in-aluminum-foil way.

I have nothing against rock stars or other artists getting rich. I’d rather see someone who produces art for a living make money than someone like Donald Trump. But when you’re a rock and roller, you’re supposed to crash that Bentley into a pool or into the Playboy Mansion or choke to death on your own vomit in it. You’re supposed to at least pretend that you have contempt for your own wealth. If you instead act like the point of making music is to make money so you can buy more Bentleys, then you’re just Donald Trump with a guitar around your neck. Or in other words, Gene Simmons. But despite all that, this song does rock, and I forgive much because of rock.

10) “All Systems Red,” Calexico. Maybe you’ve seen those Christian rock commercials, where all the white people and the one Photoshopped black person stand enraptured while listening to groups that sound like Lava-soaped Nickelback bleat about higher powers and giving unto him and other squishy spiritual clich├ęs that make this genre so Ned Flanders. Well, this Calexico songs triggers that rapturous feeling without having to sing about The Rapture. It starts out quiet and slowly builds to a towering crescendo of guitars and vocals that I actually feel on my skin. It’s the kind of music I hope I hear in heaven or at least catch a few notes of while on a smoke break in hell.

11) “Superhero,” Jane’s Addiction. Works much better as the theme music to Entourage than as a song, because as theme music it means it will lead to something entertaining, instead of remaining a four-minute reminder of why Jane’s Addiction should have stayed broken up.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Study: White House made 935 false statements on Iraq War

Administration nearly made its goal of 1,000 lies

WASHINGTON - A new study by two non-profit groups reveals that, in the two years following September 11, President Bush and other top administration officials made 935 false statements about the risk posed by Iraq, falling 65 lies short of their goal of 1,000.

According to the report, members of the White House began targeting Iraq immediately after the September 11 attacks, believing the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had somehow been involved. But the administration lacked a key ingredient for going to war: evidence.

Bush convened his advisors and outlined options. While Secretary of State Colin Powell asked for the administration to gather evidence, Vice President Dick Cheney argued that if they waited too long, Hussein would have time to perfect his army of "flesh-eating flying zombie monkeys." The Vice President's argument convinced President Bush to authorize a secret initiative calling for 1,000 false statements that would support a war with Iraq by the fall of 2003. It received the code name, "Operation: Pants on Fire."

Using the Afghanistan operation as a cover, key administration officials underwent months of covert Straight-Face Training from the C.I.A. The training would allow the officials to deliver any statement, no matter how outlandish, without winking, crossed fingers, laughter, or swear-to-Gods. The training was almost a complete success.

"We never could quite get President Bush's smirk reflex under control," said one intelligence official who spoke under the condition of anonymity. "But once we realized he always smirks, we concluded it would be a dead giveaway if he didn’t smirk."

The study shows that the White House used a full arsenal of lies. It relied most frequently on STDs—Subtle Truth Distortions that could penetrate almost undetected and not be exposed until much later, such as discussing raw, unconfirmed intelligence as if it had been vetted and deemed factual. However, the administration occasionally deemed it necessary to launch much more powerful SHT (Super Hyperbole Transmissions) at the media, massive high-load deceptions designed to obscure their excessive implausibility by spreading clouds of ignorance and fear across a wide viewing area. This was a favorite tactic of the Vice President's office, where officials referred to the technique as "skull-f--king the facts."

One of the most obvious SHTs occurred when National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, after admitting there was "uncertainty" about Iraq’s possession of nuclear weapons, followed up by stating, "We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." However, the largest SHT came from Secretary of State Powell’s presentation about mobile biological weapons labs at the United Nations, a delivery that nearly tripled previous levels of SHT delivered by the administration.

White House officials developed a number of even higher-yield deceptions that never made it past the prototype stage, most of which remain classified. One such statement, recently declassified through a Freedom of Information Act inquiry, showed that the President intended to declare in his 2003 State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein, "ate babies every day for breakfast," a statement designed to appeal to undecided soccer moms. However, the C.I.A. believed that Iraq would retaliate by releasing sensitive intelligence about Vice President Cheney's baby-eating activities. Instead, the President unleashed a smaller SHT about Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium from Niger.

While the White House set a goal of 1,000 lies, that number was later deemed unnecessary. One former White House official, who wished to remain anonymous but is most definitely not a former Secretary of Defense, illustrated the high level of discussions about how many lies they would need.

"We actually weren’t sure 1,000 lies would be enough. But then it only took 67 lies to get the Democrats on board, and most of the mainstream media stopped fighting around lie 279."

With all significant resistance subdued, some called for an end to Operation: Pants on Fire. But as the source explained, "It was so much fun we kept it going. We could have easily hit 1,000 if we wanted—hell, I've lied three times in the same sentence before. I could have gotten us the last 65 in a one-hour interview with Wolf Blitzer. But we ultimately decided to conserve some of our STDs and SHT until after the war started."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we preparing for a recession?

Special extended layoffs edition!

15) Offering tax rebates in the form of scratch-off lottery tickets.

14) Assaulting real estate agent and mortgage broker so that we’ll have a place to live for the next 8-15 years.

13) Crossing border to seek new economic opportunities in Canada.

12) Selling excess children to science.

11) Replacing expensive toilet paper with worthless stock option certificates.

10) Traveling to Vegas to start a lucrative new act, imitating celebrities crapping their pants for money.

9) Conserving blog posts until we have something interesting to say.

8) Electroshocking Alan Greenspan’s testicles until he tells us how to get out of this and/or for getting us into this.

7) Cutting down heating bills by lighting selves on fire.

6) Auditioning for spot on Extreme Home Takeover.

5) Increasing size of investment portfolio by focusing on porn futures.

4) Creating cheap, homemade SUV hybrid by attaching a sail to the Hummer.

3) Two words: grad school.

2) Finding employment in the one booming sector left in America, the military.

1) Goodbye McMansion, hello McJob!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Name my child and win a prize*

I am crazy busy with work this week and have haven't had time to read blogs, let alone write on mine. However, The Lovely Becky has a contest for naming our forthcoming offspring, TBD. I want to give our child a good, Christian name. For instance, if we have a boy, I want to name him Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. TLB isn't so hot on that, so much so that she's willing to let people looking for "dry humping jerk pants" name the child instead.

Random 11 may have to be postponed tomorrow but I will try to post if I can.

*Contest owners reserve right to define "win" and "prize."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What new shows are we pitching to Bravo?

Extra reality TV exemption from the writer's strike edition!

Story by: Jennifer
List by: Brando

12) Inside the Porn Actor’s Studio

11) Top Perkins Chef

10) Fleeing Bobby Brown

9) Make Me a Sears Catalog Lingerie Model

8) Lube, Oil & Unfiltered

7) Carson Kressley Exploits Every Gay Stereotype in the Universe and Invents Some New Ones

6) Hollywood Waxing

5) Get a (Key) Grip!

4) Real Housewives of Duluth Watch Real Housewives of Orange County

3) Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Syphilis

2) Project Product Placement

1) Let's Make a 60-Minute Reality Show Out of Anything!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

There’s really nothing quite like using the Intertubes to find new and exciting ways to waste time. One of the guys at a message board (such a 1997 waste of time) I frequent posted this very funny meme for generating a band, album, and album cover:

1) The name of your band is the first article title on the Wikipedia Random Articles Page.

2) The title of the album is the last four words of the last quotation on the Random Quotations page.

3) The album cover is the third picture in Flickr’s Interesting Photos from the Last Seven Days.

Here are three I made. I’m really surprised at how believable the first and third are:

Just like you can write a song about anything, you can name a band or album after anything. Give it a shot, it's really fun. On to the tunes.

1) “A Dangerous Woman Up to a Point,” Destroyer. Perhaps a veiled Hillary Clinton reference? I kid, I kid. An odd but enjoyable song, with a kind of loungy soft rock feel with sing-speak lyrics. So, really, the opposite of Hillary Clinton.

2) “Muswell Hillbillies,” The Kinks. Classic. Since the song mentions the state, I will relate this true Brando fact: I am descended from hillbillies. The German namesake side of my family settled in West Virginia back before it even become West Virginia. It’s kind of like saying you came over on the Mayflower, except the Mayflower is on block pontoons and running a wind-generated moonshine still. My humble heritage would also be one of those annoying sound bites I would beat into the ground if I were running for president, the line I would use to show that I'm the kind of candidate you could have a glass of dangerous illegal alcohol with. When the elites who came over in the Mayflower try and put the working people of America down, I take pride in the words, “Ich bin ein West Virginia hillbilly.”

3) “Hey Fuck You,” Beastie Boys. I think if Mitt Romney adopted this as his campaign song, he’d be doing much better.

4) “Three Hours,” Nick Drake. After you’ve gotten all the “Hey Fuck You” out of your system, it’s easy to be Nick Drake for three hours.

5) “Faster Gun,” The Wrens. I have said it before but it bears repeating: if you like jangly guitar-based rock music, you really should own The Meadowlands. This track has a Pixie-ish beat with cryptic lyrics that are hard to hear, yet come at you with the mysterious attraction of a coded message from Little Orphan Annie (minus the commercial for Ovaltine part.)

6) “Teeth in the Grass,” Iron & Wine. A slithery folk song that’s like a snake in the grass. What The Wrens are to indie rock, Iron & Wine are to indie folk. I love the way he sings so softly, you have to practically lean into your speakers.

7) “Hard to Explain,” The Strokes. It’s hard to explain how the drumbeat in this song is made by a human and not a machine.

8) “Waitress in the Sky,” The Replacements. A not exactly NOW-friendly rant against airline attendants, from a group who I’m sure were absolutely nightmare passengers. I’m sure the attendant version would be “Talented Assholes in Row 12.”

9) “Brothers Gonna Work It Out,” Public Enemy. Still impressive how revolutionary this sounds. The mixture of eloquence and anger, the steady beat mixed with the chaotic samples floating in the background, and the perfect balance between Chuck D’s calls to action and Flava Flav’s chiming that lightens up the mood just a bit.

10) “Out Ta Get Me,” Guns N Roses. Still impressive how dangerous this sounds. It’s not easy staying edgy in a culture where you can’t even get a callback for the cast of Lost unless you have a police record. But this song works for the same reason Johnny Cash still works: it’s lived in, with a delivery that says I’m not fucking kidding, I’ve lived this. However, not dangerous: Axl's kicks in the video I linked to.

11) “La Villa Stangiato,” Rush. My favorite rock instrumental of all time. Ten minutes of time changes, bloopy synths, and a guitar solo that starts off quiet like it’s invited you in for tea before it melts your face off. In other words, full of all the things that made it difficult to get girls to like me. But I’m married now, so I get to play this and still have sex! And if I was running for office, that’s why I would explain we have to let gay people marry, because homosexuals deserve the right to torture their spouses with music they hate and still have conjugal relations. Ich bin ein Master Debater!

Have an awesome weekend.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

O-Bama Beret

Over at The Republic of Dogs (now with a new and improved Wordpress flea collar), Res Publica was talking about Obama's New Hampshire speech:
Still an amazing speaker. I still have no idea what he’s talking about. But it sounds great. I could listen to that shit all week, and I say that without any sarcasm.
This led to some discussion that while Obama has a great beat, people weren't sure about his lyrics. As Res put it, it's all blah blah change blah hope.

And maybe that's true. But then again, maybe it means Obama is just singing the catchiest political pop song since Bill Clinton's, "Let's Go Crazy (For This Centrist Agenda)." It's certainly much better than George W. Bush's "U Will Die 4 Me."

Here's what I think: Obama is the "Raspberry Beret "of the 2008 elections. You're not really sure what it's about, but it sounds great and makes you want to dance. Those blah-blah-blahs are really la-la-las. And what great pop song doesn't repeat its chorus over and over and over again?

That inspired me to write the following song about Obama.

(The Song Remains About) Change

Come stand with me for change
la la la la-la
and join the people on the range
la la la la-la
Who’ve become quite estranged
la la la la-la
with the policies of the deranged
la-la la la-la la la la

I am still fired up and ready to go
From my Iowa win and my NH show
Forget my words and just feel the flow
Cause you’re the grass roots and I’m Miracle-Gro

I don’t scream at all like Howard Dean
la la la la-la
and I'm black but don’t use Afro sheen
la la la la-la
Now even I don’t know what I mean
la la la la-la
But I’m still the best candidate you’ve ever seen
la-la la la-la la la la

CHORUS x 357

I know there are some A&R bloggers out there interested in signing me, but I already have a lifelong recording deal with TLB Matrimoniacals, Inc. The contract is ironclad, I have total artistic freedom, and the groupies are to die for.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Best first lines

The Lovely Becky is asking for people to post their favorite first lines from books over on her blog. It's for edumactional purposes. Stop on by and look smart by quoting some literature to the professor.

I would leave something but I'm sadly illiterate. I write by smell.

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we choosing our candidates?

Special extra desperate negative campaigning edition!

12) Going with what the Magic 8-Ball said.

11) Seems like a guy we could have a beer with, unlike that other asshole we thought we could have a beer with back in 2000.

10) Only name recognized was the guy who was on TV, on that show, the one with the crimes.

9) Well, I was going to stand for this one fella, but then Floyd said if I did that, I was dumber than a sack of pig poop, and I thought that was a pretty convincing argument, so I stood for the other fella.

8) Like a candidate who has the conviction to stare a mountain of scientific evidence in the eye and say, “I’m sticking with Genesis.”

7) Really seemed like he was for change, which resonated with us because we’re homeless.

6) Want a candidate who understands the plight of the rich lawyer with a guilty conscience.

5) Love the way he talks tough out of both sides of his mouth.

4) Can use his magical pixie powers to make federal deficit disappear in his pocket.

3) Believe it is time to put someone with breasts in the White House, and Huckabee’s out since he lost all that weight.

2) Uh, 9/11? Anyone? No?

1) Picking the one with the hottest ass.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Well, the Iowa Caucus has cocked up the 2008 Election conventional wisdom. This will certainly give the pundits plenty to talk about. I imagine Wolf Blitzer's whiskers will be in full Viagra mode during The Situation Room today.

I have to say I was surprised by the results. On the Republican side, Huckabee seems to be turning into the GOP Jimmy Carter, the outsider who shakes things up. He has a long way to go and I think he'll fade eventually, but stranger things have happened (see "Primates, election of 2000 and"). I wish The Colbert Report was back on TV because you know Colbert would be taking credit for Huckabee's "Colbert bump."

Obama winning the Democratic caucus isn't as surprising to me. He's had a lot of supporters doing grass roots work in Iowa, and he has arguably the most charisma of any candidate from either side. But Clinton finishing behind Edwards, even if it was by just a small amount, did surprise me. It's going to be an interesting few days before the New Hampshire primary.

I'm Brando and I approved this message. I also approve of the following songs:

1) "Relative Ways," …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. The sun is making a cameo appearance today after being overcast since, I don't know, November, and this song is a perfect fit. Chiming guitars and a sunny beat with some throaty vocals to add a little conflict. Everything's always more interesting with conflict.

2) "Radar Gun," Bottle Rockets. You Can Write a Rock Song About Anything I. This is a catchy little ditty about a cop with his new radar gun. Seriously, that's all there is to it. The b-side would probably be "Stop Yer Jaywalkin' (All Over My Heart)."

3) "Ohio (Live)," Neil Young. From the amazing Live at Massey Hall album. Ol' Neil Young delivers an absolutely chilling, stripped-down version of this on an acoustic guitar. One of the best political songs ever written, so good I have no snark.

4) "Amerika V. 6.0," Steve Earle. You want to catch my attention, start off a song with a huge drum beat like this song does. This is pretty standard Steve Earle, with a dirty guitar lick escorting lyrics about being broke, being mad, and being screwed over. I even dig the retro America with a K, even if that is so 1992.

5) "Accidental Babies," Damien Rice. I do a cover version of this called "Totally on Purpose Babies."

6) "Allure," Jay-Z. Welcome to Yo, CJSD Raps! I'm your host, Beaty B. Seriously, here's what gets me about Jay-Z: he makes me feel out of touch. I waste my time pride myself on staying on top of what the kids are listening to, but recently in an e-mail exchange with my brother and some other guys in their late 20s, we got on the subject of biggest artists of the last 20 years. They all agreed Jay-Z was one of them. And the only reason I even know any Jay-Z songs is because I have a copy of Danger Mouse's The Grey Album, which I like better than this because it sets Jay-Z's lyrics to samples from The Beatles' White Album. So I am feeling pretty white and Dockers-ish right now.

7) "Satan Gave Me a Taco," Beck. You Can Write a Rock Song About Anything II. Beck singing a Soggy Bottom Boys-style song about getting a crappy taco before dissolving into what seems to be a food-poisoning inspired rock fantasy of going on tour. It's actually inspiring me to get back to my concept album, In the Blog of the Comment King. The album tells the story of a pale, proscrastinating, and sarcastic boy who sets out on a mystical adventure to leave the greatest blog comment EVAR!

8) "Little Fat Baby," Sparklehorse. Just a really nice, mellow song. Since I have nothing else to say about it, I'll mention that the birth weight of my youngest brother, Snake Anthony, came up in an e-mail today. He was 11½ pounds when he was born, and he had the melon of a six-year old. He was so big and mature-looking that when my mother brought him home, he was smoking and in dire need of a shave.

9) "It's a Curse," Wolf Parade. Now that I'm hopelessly addicted to playing toy drums in my living room, I'm hearing/seeing beats when I hear songs that would be a perfect fit for Rock Band. Wolf Parade are great Rock Band candidates. This song has a big meaty beat that I could probably manage to thwack out, with a few fills to keep things interesting without me kicking over the kit in frustration.

10) "Since U Been Gone," Kelly Clarkson. I get in arguments all the time about this song. TLB makes fun of me because I actually purchased this on iTunes. When I met Adorable Girlfriend, the Uncanny Canadian, Chuckles, and Officer Gleason in Chicago over the summer, we actually got into a spirited discussion of whether this song sucked, with OG and I forming a "this song rocks" bloc. So here's my theory: This song is Hillary Clinton. Because it's Kelly Clarkson and American Idol, people will hate it no matter what. But take the same song and give it to Dave Grohl or Ted Leo and people go, "Wow, that's a pretty good song."

11) "So It Goes," Nick Lowe. What Annoys Me About America, Part MCMXXVI. When this album came out in the UK in the late 70s, it was called Jesus of Cool. But You-Know-Who forbid we crucify our Lord again by putting his name on a rock and/or roll record. So in the US the name was changed to Pure Pop for Now People. The plus side is that the name change didn't dilute this absolute pure pop gem of a song, and it also gave us a pretty awesome album cover. The truth is, though, that I think our nation is still so uptight that 30 years later, this album would still get a name change. If anything comes of the 2008 election, I hope it results in the pole at least being tugged a little bit out of our national ass. Can't we all just relax and rock out together?

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Behind the Rock Band

I: Overture

I have always been fascinated by the drums. I wanted to play them when I was a teenager, but economics and the confines of sharing small houses with five other family members made that impossible. So when I heard that a game called Rock Band was coming out, and that it would do for drums what Guitar Hero did for guitar, I had to have it.

For months, I dropped hints to my wife, The Lovely Becky. She would always shake her head and give me her best how old are you look. But she never said no.

One day, while shopping with her at Target, I spied the box on the shelves. It was big, bulky, and geeky. I saw my chance to tell Santa what I really wanted.

Pictured: Rock Band Bundle
Optional ridicule included

"Hey look," I said with trembling nonchalance. "They have Rock Band in stock. Huh, I thought those would be all sold out."

The Lovely Becky let out a sigh, a long breath that signaled her acceptance that resistance would be futile. "Is that what you really want?"


"I was going to get it for you. You don't mind if you're not surprised?"

"No!" Several dogs howled at the sound of my squeaking excitement.

"Put it in the cart. But you can't open it until Christmas."

II: Father Christmas, Give Us Your Game Peripherals

I waited and waited. And after Christmas, waited some more, until we could return home to the Xbox and I could play the game. The Lovely Becky sat on the couch and watched me open it up. "Can I play it?"

She rested for four full measures before agreeing. "Go ahead."

Rock Band includes a guitar and microphone, too, but I was all about the rhythm stick. I set up the drums.

Pictured: Rock Band drums
Rhythm not included

I hooked everything up, plugging the kit into the USB port on my Xbox. I created a drummer character, Branimal, a bearded, red-headed skin basher who would rock me to the top.

Pictured: Character creation in Rock Band
Spouse's loss of sexual attraction included

The game loaded and I selected Weezer's "Say It Ain't So," the easiest song to start with. I played the easy level, getting the hang of the bass pedal and finishing the song without too much trouble. At one point, when I was doing well, the virtual crowd started singing the song back. It was more invigorating than a grown man should admit.

"You have no idea how much happiness this is going to bring me," I told my wife.

"Actually, I think I do," she said, shaking her head.

III: I Want to Rock n Roll All Nite, and Play Xbox Every Day

Nietzsche once wrote of man's eternal struggle with rocking, "Don't need nothing but a good time. How can I resist?" And indeed, how could I resist? I was having more fun than I had ever had with a video game. I bumped up the difficulty on the drums and rocked out with a fierce competence somewhere between Micky Dolenz and Meg White. I passed song after song, crossing cities and venues and genres as I played "Wanted Dead or Alive" in Chicago, "Gimme Shelter" in New York, "Epic" in Boston, "Blitzkrieg Bop" in L.A., and "Paranoid" in Seattle.

The crowds roared. I acquired money, fame, prestige—or I should say that Branimal acquired these things. Truthfully, our personalities were beginning to merge, much like Garth Brooks and Chris Gaines. I began living the Rock Band lifestyle, partying between gigs. The whole experience was intoxicating.

Pictured: Branimal with his "rhythm juice"
Hangover included

IV: Welcome to the Boss Level, Baby, You're Gonna Die

I had it all. I was playing—actually doing something the mimicked the drums. I nailed the songs one after another, getting four and five star ratings with ease. My rise was meteoric. I was at around minute 27 of my own Behind the Music special. But little did I know there were a dark 33 minutes to go.

I kept playing more and more. The songs became more complex. The pressure to do well mounted. I needed a little something to take the edge off.

Pictured: White Thunder chasing white lightning
Paranoia included

Then in Stockholm, it happened. I took on "The Electric Version" by The New Pornographers. The off-kilter rhythm and complexity took me by surprise. I made it halfway through before, amid the hostile Viking boos of Swedes, I failed the song. The music went dead and I was left dejected.

I went into practice mode, slowed the beat down, and figured it out. I returned to the stage and gave it my all. Yet I managed a paltry three stars, a mediocrity that sent me into a Grand Funk, especially after I saw this guy dominating a Metallica song on Expert. Would I ever be that good?

V: The USB Port and the Damage Done

I managed to get through the other Stockholm gigs, except one, the final song: "Green Grass and High Tides," by The Outlaws, a Freebird-esque southern rock stomp that was as long and difficult as the Iraqi occupation. The last extended solo, when the drums kicked into overdrive with a rhythm I couldn't keep up with, beat me down in 4/4 time. I retreated to my couch and tried to find some concoction that would make the notes slow down and my foot speed up. But nothing worked. Every time I hit that second solo, I failed. Soon I didn't even care about trying. I just wanted to make the pain go away. I hit Rock Band bottom.

Pictured: The unlocked Keith Moon level
Rehab not included

VI: Baby, We Were Born to Restart

I was strung out, hung up, upside down and inside out. Is this what I had wanted during that fateful stroll through Target? No, I just wanted to play along with my favorite songs and have a few laughs. Instead I was lost in a world of high scores and five-star ratings and unlocking that next level. I had forgotten that Rock Band is about the music. It was an epiphany, like when KISS put their make up back on and stopped playing every song they recorded after Destroyer.

So I have a new lease on life. I quit chasing perfection and let Rock Band be a game. I do the best I can, and if that doesn't work, I just try again later. I even gave singing a shot, making a new characternamed Branzig. I even did okay on the vocals. Most of all, I had fun, which is what Rock Band is all about.

Just be careful, because this game is so fun, it's like crack.

No bloggers were harmed in the making of this post. Some events have been dramatized to make them seem more rocking and less dorky than banging on plastic drums in front of your cats and God. All drug paraphernalia is legally purchased and not used for anything at all unsordid (honest, I have the prescriptions!). Branimal is the legally created nickname coined by my brother Tickle during a poker game where I was playing with uncharacteristic aggression. This post was made possible by the TLB Foundation, dedicated to giving husbands with Peter Pan complexes a chance to live their nerdy ass dreams. It's the best foundation in the world.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What resolutions are we making?

Special extra effort edition!

14) Require proper foot signals and two forms of ID before reaching under stall.

13) Switch gambling efforts to the legal, less offensive sport of banana slug fighting.

12) Make sure to put a pin on the map every time we dump a body.

11) Remember that we blow the breathalyzer and talk to the officer.

10) Send a dominatrix, an Irish Wolfhound in heat, a bag of meth, and a fleet of paparazzi to Perez Hilton's house.

9) Start new Do You Have a Problem With Me and My 9mm Eating This Bag of Mallomars Diet.

8) Let the children know we're going to keep drinking until they stop disappointing us.

7) Construct new missile shield using destructive high-pitched shrieks of Hannah Montana fans.

6) Stop smoking so much….uh…um…man, I know this…that stuff we put in the bong….

5) Finish fall-out shelter soon.

4) Triple the number of robot political calls, because nothing excites voters more than being interrupted six times a day by the disembodied platitudes of your candidate.

3) Return baseball to its good, clean roots of spitballs, corked bats, and throwing games for money.

2) Remove words like assface, jizz mopper, and shit-flinging monkey fucker from our vocabulary before the baby arrives.

1) Keep researching our novel about procrastination.

Have a very Happy New Year. Only thirteen more months before the source of most of my jokes leaves office!