Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Top Ten Wednesdays: What are we thankful for?

10) The chance to show off our extensive collection of novelty gravy boats.

9) That a request to pass the potatoes will trigger a much-needed conversation on why nothing we ever do is good enough for Mother.

8) The annual family Heimlich Manuever Food Toss.

7) Sarah Palin (sincerely).

6) Sarah Palin (satirically).

5) The free zombie apocalypse training we'll receive by shopping on Black Friday.

4) The way white people use gluttony and excessive shopping to commemorate our eviction from our ancient tribal lands (American Indians only).

3) How our new Snuggie allows us to remain dressed at the table while also allowing us to not wear pants.

2) Relieving all that pent-up family tension through our "neck" massager.

1) The yearly reminder that, no matter how bleak, miserable, and hopeless our lives may seem, we're still doing better than the Detroit Lions.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Heading out early

TLB, Libby, and I are heading out early today to visit my parents for Turkey Day. It's going to be Libby's first trip riding face-forward, which should allow her to contribute to our conversation.

TLB and I were talking about what it will be like when we take Libby to the movies for the first time. Libby's taken a shine to some TV shows (especially Sesame Street), so we know it won't be long before we're being begged to take her to a real movie. That prompted this exchange:

TLB: I can't wait to take her to the movies.

Me: Really?

TLB: Oh yeah, it'll be so much fun.

Me: You do know what kinds of movies we'll have to see? Can you say Baby Geniuses?

(A short time later, a loooonnnggg commercial for the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie played.)

TLB: Oh. My. God.

Me: See, that's what we're going to have to go see.

TLB: That looks terrible.

Me: I think I'd rather watch Space Chimps than Alvin and the Chipmunks. At least chimps have the potential to be funny.

Have a good weekend, and safe travels if you're getting a head start on the holiday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What are we learning about Sarah Palin in Going Rogue?

Special extra padding to justify the price tag edition!

15) Thinks Air Force One would look totally bitchin’ with a stuffed moose head on the nose.

14) Got off on the wrong foot with the McCain campaign when she asked, “what’s that horrible nursing-home smell?” before turning around and seeing McCain standing behind her.

13) Would improve relations with Iran by buying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a smilely-face tie.

12) Believes that oil is high-octane poopies left by angels during their war with Lucifer.

11) Swore off curiosity forever after overindulging in it one night with Miss Alaska roommate.

10) Considers the missionary position the hottest form of prayer.

9) Will make first act as president transporting David Letterman to an uninhabited tropical island and hunting him for sport.

8) Owns world’s largest collection of camouflage thongs.

7) Believes that illegal immigrants should have to return to their home countries, just like the American Indians did.

6) Reveals that her biggest disappointment was learning Bristol’s conception was not immaculate.

5) Thought she discovered a magical talking mirror before realizing it was Tina Fey dressed as her.

4) Bakes a fresh batch of Rapture Brownies every New Year’s Eve, just in case.

3) Vows to put a carcass on every hood if elected.

2) Likes to end every paragraph with a ;-)

1) Is just like any other hockey mom, if those hockey moms were state governors, hand-chosen for the vice presidency, recipients of money from conservative PACs, and had multi-million-dollar book deals.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No Friday Random 11 today

Hoped to get a Random 11 done today, but I am awash in work that cannot be put off. I am also a little tired from watching the Bears bleed to death last night against the 49ers, which led to this post: I Lost My Quarterback Rating in San Francisco. I really hate being on Eastern time, especially when it involves staying up to watch a hapless team punch itself in the balls for three-and-a-half hours. I need an intervention.

I am also going to be doing a couple special Random 11's in the coming weeks. I want to do another Favorites of 2009 -- I've got a playlist of about three dozen songs that I'm trying to whittle down, and I found some really great stuff this year (thanks, eMusic). I'm also going to take a stab at a Random 11 for the Aughts, my favorite 11 songs since 2000.

One funny music-related note: I am a fervent eMusic subscriber, mostly because it's a very cheap way to get a lot of indie rock. However, they entered an agreement with CBS/Sony this year, which allowed them to add a lot of old major label stuff...including many guilty pleasures for yours truly. I've already added some Hall and Oates, Ozzy, and Quiet Riot, and I have some REO and Journey in my queue. But I am almost ashamed to admit how excited I was when I found this:

I know that other song was bigger, but this was my favorite song to play to death from Play Deep. When I found eMusic added this, it prompted this conversation with The Lovely Becky.

Me: You know, The Outfield were an underrated power pop band. They were really pretty good.

TLB: Um, no they weren't.

Talk about say it isn't so. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we celebrating the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street?

10) Acknowledging Oscar the Grouch's influence on the American Teabag Movement.

9) Giving The Count a supporting role in the next one…two…three Twilight movies, ah ah ah.

8) Taking Snuffleupagus to the salon for a good Muppetscaping.

7) Raising money Grover needs for counseling after realizing he is the monster at the end of the book.

6) Alleviating Big Bird’s midlife crisis by replacing his old nest with a new Porsche.

5) Declaring a National Talk Like a Yip-Yip Day.

4) Taking Elmo to the Champagne Room for the tickling of his life.

3) Vowing to not stop pushing until Ernie and Bert can legally wed.

2) Giving Cookie Monster a lifetime supply of insulin.

1) Commemorating 40 years of intelligent, groundbreaking, unforgettable children’s programming—programming that taught us how to count, remember our ABCs, use our imaginations, share with others, and be better people…programming so timeless that our children love it as much as we did when we were children—by making a bunch of low-brow jokes about the Muppets.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Super Suck

Yesterday, I came downstairs at halftime of the Bears game—with the Bears down 31-7 to the Arizona Cardinals—and announced, "I fucking hate football."

Of course, the Bears came back and made it interesting, before a Jay Cutler interception ripped my heart out again. The good news is, my eyes are open and my hope is officially crushed. No more thinking things might work out. My team officially sucks. I'll still watch, but now I can just sit back and be critical, which is much more entertaining than waiting for a crappy team to finally fulfill its crappy destiny.

In fact, last week, one of Tickle's friends, Grumpy Fog, said he was quitting the Bears completely. (Keep in mind this was after a 30-6 Bears win, which is why he's Grumpy Fog.) Grumpy Fog decided that life was too short to watch a football franchise that was not only headed in the wrong direction, but had been headed in the wrong direction for most of his life. This set off a round of discussion of what Fog would actually do on his Sundays—he didn't say—and a plea from our friend Smoke, who often can't see Bears games because he lives in Vegas. "Fog, don't do this. Where am I going to get my grumpy Bears news?"

The other good side is that grumpiness tends to fertilize comedy, and I find it much easier to write about the Bears when I'm mad. My latest blog post has Jay Cutler begging Denver to take him back.

It could be worse. I have been watching the Detroit Lions this year as well, with a friend who is a lifelong Lions fan. After the Bears debacle, I was happy for him as the Lions raced out to a 17-0 first-quarter lead at Seattle, before being outscored 32-3 in the next three quarters. He just kind of sat there and laughed it off, because, you know, it's the Lions. I sadly suspect I'm going to be in that same place for the next few years.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

One of the great things about being married to The Lovely Becky—aside from the obvious great things—is that I have gotten to meet a lot of writers thanks to her. Yesterday I met Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, on tour to support his new book, Hell.

I’m an afterlife obsessive, and Butler’s book, about a newscaster in hell, is right up my alley. In the space of the few pages he read, he managed to deliver a vision of hell that is both horrifying and hilarious, with allusions to Dante, Ann Boleyn, Federico Fellini, Humphrey Bogart, and Dante’s Beatrice, with a meta-fictional appearance by Butler himself—all with vivid prose packed with more zinging jokes than an episode of 30 Rock.

It was one of those readings where I’m not only entertained and enlightened by what the author is reading, but inspired to push myself to be a better writer. It’s the act of watching a master who’s in complete control of his craft, who doesn’t worry that you won’t pay attention or think he sucks or will close the book, because he projects the confidence of someone who knows you won’t. I’m sure that winning a Pulitzer does wonders for said confidence, but I was amazed at how Butler had the room in the palm of his hand with the first sentence. That’s what I want, and I felt the gears in my head already turning, analyzing my own book-in-progress, looking for ways to turn it into something that causes a room full of strangers to hang on my every word.

As I said, being Mr. TLB has its author-meeting privileges, and I had a chance to chat with Mr. Butler, who was as nice and friendly as he was commanding. “Becky tells me you’re into comic writing,” he said to me. I felt a flutter of nervousness. What should I say? A simple, “yes, I am” hardly seemed the response of someone who is into comic writing. But what if I told him about my book and got one of those, “Oh, that’s nice,” polite-but-uninterested responses that would send me into an overanalyzing funk for days, nay, months? (Did I mention I need to take Troy McClure’s advice and “Get confident, stupid!”?)

In the nanosecond psychological tug-of-war, I decided to go for it. I gave him a quick, back-catalog-copy synopsis. He actually laughed, made a couple of related quips, and said, “I’d like to read it when you’re done.” I was dumbfounded by this, because he said it with such genuine interest that I thought perhaps I’d given the synopsis for someone else’s book. He then repeated this invitation later, and I told him I’d take him up on it.

If that’s not inspiration to not only finish this sucker, but turn it into something that could have a Robert Olen Butler blurb on it, then I should just hang up my Word right now. Luckily, it had just the opposite effect.

Time for some tunes...

1) “Perfect Kiss,” New Order. Dance mixes can certainly stretch out even the most ordinary songs to prog-lengths. Few of those mixes ever justify listening outside of the club, however, because they are simply stretched out versions of the original. Not so with Substance. The tracks here are epic, not just in length, but in their soul. “Perfect Kiss” is a perfect example, full of twists, turns, and returns, with a relationship story that says so much despite the Twitterish length of the lyrics.

2) “Bullet in the Head,” Rage Against the Machine. Much like the John Woo film of the same name, not nearly as interesting and forceful as the title would imply. This Rage song could use more rage.

3) “Jemima Surrender,” The Band. Jennifer’s been blogging about visualization lately, and as soon as this song started, I was immediately in a dank roadhouse bar, watching The Band cranking it up a notch for the drunks who manage to stop crying in their beer long enough to stomp their feet.

4) “Goodbye Caroline,” Aimee Mann. Her songs are almost always perfectly populated. There are little elements—a twinkling piano, a tugging guitar solo—that are exactly where they need to be, not just supporting Mann’s wordplay, but telling their own little parts of the story. She strips it down in the clip but the banter is very funny.

5) “Revolution Calling,” Queensryche. Operation: Mindcrime is one of the most under-appreciated metal albums of all time. Seriously, stop laughing. Ok, wait, come back, I promise not to write 100 more words about Queensryche, but instead use the title to set up one of my patented Friday Random 11 Random Segues.

Speaking of revolutions calling, today I read the dumbest fucking thing I’ve read from a major pundit in quite some time. Not surprisingly, it was from Charles Krauthammer. The Post’s resident lawn gnome argued that the Democrats have overplayed their sweeping victory in 2008, seeing a liberal mandate where there wasn’t one. Okay, I disagree, especially since the liberal wing of the party continues smothered between the flabby folds of the conservative and “mainstream” Democrats. But Krauthammer’s reasoning: that the election results of this week signal a resounding anti-mandate mandate. So, a small sample of elections completely outweighs a huge national election from just one year before. Jesus H. Christ, is it any wonder why newspapers are dying when they have to dole out salaries to people like this? You get the sense that conservatives would cut open an animal right now, point to the intestines, and say that those intestines clearly show that the Obama Administration is doomed.

6) “Fixed Income,” DJ Shadow. Sounds like it really belongs in a Tarantino movie, when a character is smoking a cigarette he or she rolled herself and thinking about the person he or she just killed/is going to kill/is going to free from a group of horny, sadistic, hillbilly furries.

7) “Magical Mystery Tour,” The Beatles. Poor TLB. It’s difficult being in the minority of a pop culture opinion, especially when that opinion is, “I don’t like The Beatles.” But the recent flurry of videogame-fueled Beatlemania pushed her over the edge. She came home from writing at our local Starbucks and declared, “I now hate The Beatles!” Apparently the incessant playing of the Fab Four had put a lemon in her latte, pushing her from mutual non-aggression to open hostility. Although increasing one’s anger and hostility probably helps when your writing a novel from the perspective of Elizabeth Bathory.

8) “Garageland,” The Clash. I’ve never thought of British bands as being out in the garage, flailing away until the neighbors call the cops, because having a garage big enough for a band seems like an American phenomenon. But then again, where would an up-and-coming British punk band practice? Probably not under a tree in Cornwall.

9) “Staying Fat,” Bloc Party. A good song to play when doing activities to avoid staying fat. Also an indictment of my post-Halloween candy binging.

10) “Fire,” The Jimi Hendrix Experience. At one point, Hendrix sings, Move over rover, and let Jimi take over. He then rips into a guitar solo, which I think is supposed to represent the taking over. The solo is amazing, but lasts a mere 12 seconds, before Hendrix says, That’s what I’m talking about and continues rocking. In real life, however, that 12-second solo would turn into a blues song called, “I’m Sorry, Give Me 30 Minutes and We’ll Try Rocking Again.”

11) “Morning Glory,” Oasis. The angriest eyebrows in rock. For all their faults—and there are many, starting with those Politburo-style caterpillars over their eyes—Oasis know how to make big, fat, rocking songs. Often derivative and annoying, yes, but those traits are often stomped by 50-story layer of overdubbed guitars and a nasally vocal that still manages to sound huge.

Here’s to a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What will we learn from today's elections?*

10) OMG, everything!

9) These three races will tell us all that we need to know about whether the Obama administration has been a big, fat failure!

8) We have a representative race and a mayor’s race and not just one, but TWO governor’s races! Our home schooling in statistics tells us that’s a significant sample of the national mood!

7) In fact, if the two Republican and one Conservative candidate guy all win, then Obama may as well resign because it means the country wants him impeached!

6) Especially since he’s just a foreign-born Muslim who is serving illegally!

5) (huh, huh, huh…give us a second to catch our breath….)

4) Okay, where were we? Oh, yeah, gay marriage, the scariest thing to come out of Maine since Stephen King! If that fails in Maine it means, in no uncertain terms, that America is still a Republican country, even if it elected a bunch of Democrats!

3) Finally, if Michael Bloomberg wins again in New York, it means America still loves rich people and hates every socialist policy of this administration. Three huzzahs for money!

2) What it all means is that every American has had it up to here with this socialism and is saying, "I'm a teabagger, too!"

1) Come to think of it, after this election, we won’t even need another election, because it will signal that America loves conservatives and wants them to run everything forever! So say goodbye to President Obama and all hail Queen Sarah!

*This list sponsored by the American media, who desperately want you to pay attention to the most important election of our lifetimes, or at least, the most important election since the last election, and will do anything to get you to pay attention to us, even if it means asking Karl Rover for his "honest" opinion. And please patronize our sponsors!