Friday, December 23, 2011

The Ron Paul Holiday Newsletter

Hello, friends. Ron Paul here. I hope everyone is having a wonderful time preparing for Christmas or celebrating Chanukah, although if you are celebrating Chanukah, you should really consider converting to Christianity. I would hate to see such a prosperous, thrifty, shrewd people as the Jews spend eternity in endless hellfire because of their deicide of our Lord and Savior. Really, it’s just four Gospels, a few letters, and some pretty entertaining revelations, so why not?

Like all of you, I am dreaming of a White Christmas, and not in the meteorological sense, if you catch my drift. And by drift, I mean racial and religious overtones. Think of how much better this country would be if, after a long day of shopping for presents and gorging yourself on eggnog and sitting on Santa Claus’s lap, you could freely express the Christian sentiment of the holiday by saying, “Merry Christmas” to your fellow white Christians. You wouldn’t have to worry if someone would be offended because they were Jewish or if they were only saying “Merry Christmas” because they were debating whether to steal your presents. I’m not talking about the Jews in the latter example, of course. They would just buy your presents at a fraction of the price you paid. I’m talking about the blacks.

Now, friends, I know lately some have accused me of wanting to start a race war. That is hogwash. First, I abhor war, not so much for the killing as for the price tag and that you have to wear a uniform. No self-respecting Libertarian would pay for the experience of being told what to do, wear, and kill. I am also not a monster and don’t want to actually kill black Americans. I just want them to go away. You know how you may have a friend you used to like, but then you don’t like them, so you start to ignore them in the hopes they will take the hint and stop asking you to do things for them, like give them welfare or stop when they hail a cab? Most smart people would take the hint and maybe head to Liberia, but you know what they say about non-whites and smarts. So I instead think we should maybe give out welfare in the form of vouchers for plane tickets to Africa. I think that’s very generous and that while coach is no picnic, it beats being in the bowels of a ship for three months. Am I right?

Some of you may say, “Dr. Paul, some of the casual acquaintances that I say are my best friends are black. Wouldn’t it be wrong to deport them?” First, thank you for calling me Dr. Paul. Maybe if more rap songs advocated that kind of politeness and obeying local law enforcement officers, we wouldn’t even have to discuss this voucher business. Second, it is not wrong. Look, even some of my best friends are huge drains on the system, because they take and take without giving. Look at my very good friend Herman Cain, who is black. He was accused of sexual harassment because he wanted women to provide him with sexual gratification. Except for that one woman he groped, he jumped straight into his pleasure. That’s a very big government approach to getting off. Instead, he should have offered nipple or clitoral stimulation first, to set up an exchange for penile pleasure. That’s just good free market practice. Although, I want to make it clear, I do not advocate free love. Like many Libertarians, I believe in preserving my precious bodily fluids and not just giving them away for free. I expect a commitment to at least a clean house, three daily prepared meals, and anniversary fellatio. That’s the kind of romantic exchange we should demand from the invisible hand of the free market.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the blacks. Would I be sad to see some of them go? Of course. Like many of you, I have great respect for Colin Powell, Greg Gumbel (although not that hate whitey brother of his), and Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. But the truth is that we don’t need them now that we have Mexicans. They do everything we expect of blacks for a fraction of the price, from agriculture to making us feel superior. Even in two areas where blacks dominate disproportionately, sports and entertainment, we can still use Mexicans instead. Instead of Barry Bonds, we have Albert Pujols. Instead of Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez. Instead of Bill Cosby, George Lopez. And thanks to God’s glorious creations of Tim Tebow and Miley Cyrus, coupled with tremendous advances in cloning, we soon may be able to return sports and entertainment to their Caucasian roots, just like the Bible says. Then we’ll be able to build that 2,000-mile-long wall of fire along our Southern border that’s been on my Christmas list for thirty years

So, friends, as we celebrate this holiest of holidays (or should be celebrating, if you catch my drift, my Jewish friends), I wish you a very Merry White Christmas. And, in the spirit of giving, won’t you please consider donating to my campaign? After all, I am the only candidate fighting for the things you people believe in (as opposed to the things those people believe in). All I ask is that you not send federal greenbacks but make your donations in gold specie or through my new Internet service, PayPaul.

Ron Paul

Please note: The views expressed by Ron Paul in The Ron Paul Holiday Newsletter may not actually be the views expressed by Ron Paul the presidential candidate. Ron Paul’s name on the masthead and his signature are by no means an endorsement of the ideas expressed here, unless those ideas would convince you to vote for Ron Paul, in which case he’s not saying he doesn’t support them. In fact, let’s just say that Ron Paul had absolutely nothing to do with this newsletter at all, except that he would really, really love it if you would contribute to his campaign.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I had a fun lesson in parenting this week. The Lovely Becky and I are trying to get tougher about not letting Libby throw a fit when she doesn’t get her way. This actually does not happen very much, but it does occur and we figure we should nip this in the bud before leniency on having another candy cane at bedtime leads to her having a meth addiction by age fourteen (welcome to things that keep me up at night).

Libby is really good about going out in public. We are fortunate that she rarely loses her shit when other people are watching. It’s usually only in private that she pulls her Baby Joan Crawford act with us (NO COLD BOBBAS! [what we call her sippy cups of milk]). The other night we were going to go out to eat, but Libby started being crabby and arguing about putting her shoes on. We gave it a couple minutes and finally said that was it, no going out to eat. She got very upset and earned a time out, but we stuck with that threat. Eventually she settled down and all was right in the TLBrando household again.

The next night, we decided to go out to eat since we were also denied the night before. Everything was fine, but in the car Libby started getting crabby again. She has a specific Crabby Voice, a voice she can produce on cue if asked to tell people what her Crabby Voice sounds like. She started complaining about something completely random in that Little Golden Books Virginia Woolf stream of consciousness way toddlers have. After about twenty seconds, I cut her off and reminded her that it was not too late to turn the car around (hello, Dad, nice to hear your voice coming out of my mouth) and that we could cancel the night out the way we did the night before.

Immediately, Crabby Voice that had been more full of rage than a rat in a case changed into Nice Voice. No transition, no tears wiped, just a switch thrown and shenanigans gone. Tantrum? No, acting!

Good to learn before I get suckered into buying a pony.

1) “The Metro,” Berlin. At one point, this was one of the most underrated synthpop songs of the 1980s. It was lost in the critical shuffle due to the goofy novelty of “Sex (I’m A….)”  and the commercial payoff of a Tom Cruise sex (I’m not gay but my Thetan is) scene in Top Gun. But now I think due has been given and it is recognized as a great piece of Roland/drum machine/handclap pop. Which is good, because saying things are underrated has gotten very overrated.

2) “Surgical Focus,” Guided by Voices. I recently saw a picture on The Facebook of Drs. Hawkeye and Trapper of Hot-in-Toronto fame. Trapper was wearing a suave sport jacket and t-shirt, looking like he was starring in a reboot of Miami Vice. Hawkeye was clad, head to toe, in full country-and-western regalia: big hat, shirt with arrows and sparkly buttons, tight jeans, and cowboy boots, with a mustache that looked like it provided the wildest ride at Brokeback Mountain. This came after I recently saw a grizzled Hawkeye sporting a beard and insulated jean jacket like he stepped off the deck of Deadliest Catch. And these guys are neonatal doctors. Think about the next time you take your kids to your physician.

3) “Tiny Spark,” Brendan Benson. One of the other dudes in The Raconteurs, which is a bit like being one of the other guys in a scene with John Holmes. But Benson can whip out some great power pop.

4) “Up the Junction,” Squeeze. I am one of those people who rummages through the bargain CD bin at Best Buy, digging through musical chum like The Best of Mac Davis and After the Fire: “Der Commissar” and 9 Shitty Songs That Aren’t “Der Commissar” to get to a gem like Squeeze’s Singles 45’s and Under for four bucks. You just don’t get the same feeling of treasure hunting from iTunes or eMusic.

5) “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream,” My Morning Jacket. I don’t even recognize them anymore. To me, this almost sounds like a Flaming Lips song. That’s not necessarily a bad  thing, but there’s a fine line between experimenting and losing your identity musically.

6) “The Swish,” The Hold Steady. I started going to the gym (again) after about a four-ish month layoff (again), doing the hamster treadmill dance of thinking I’m running away from death. It’s not easy to make this couch exodus, so I have to distract myself from thinking I’m having a heart attack. I do that by not only playing music, but often fantasizing about being in the band playing the music. The Hold Steady are probably my biggest go-to elliptical machine rock fantasy band. I see myself playing lead guitar, looking Keef-cool while Craig Finn runs around looking like Elvis Costello after too many Jolt Colas. This is what I do to be “healthy.”

7) “Mother,” The Police. Might make the top 10 of songs I hate the most. Almost hypnotic in its awfulness. You know it’s bad when you’re saying, “Hey, could you just play the one about falling in love with the sex doll?”

8) “Let’s Go to Bed,” The Cure. Has anyone ever fantasized about having sex with Robert Smith? Even when he was young and thin and didn’t look like he was In Between Buffets? I know he’s been with the same woman forever, and I wonder if it’s because he found someone who said “yes” to the title of this song and he decided to lock that down for life. Then again, I met TLB while wearing a shirt with Robert Smith’s face on it, so maybe there is some sort of emophradesiac effect I am unaware of.

9) “When You Sleep,” My Bloody Valentine. Bloody overrated, but this is the one song that emerges from the warped drone of this album that doesn’t make me reach for the skip button.

10) “She,” Green Day. Maybe it’s because so many modern rock bands have pillaged the 80s for their sound, but classic alternative from the 1990s actually sounds older to me than, say, “The Metro.” Three dudes on guitar, bass, and drums playing catchy pop punk? No synths, no autotune, no irony? Might as well be Buddy Holly in stereo. I love it, though, even if I never would have expected Green Day to last long enough to make it to Broadway.

11) “Hey Joe,” The Jimi Hendrix Experience. So is it okay to feel groovy about a song where I guy shoots his straying girlfriend/wife and flees to Mexico? Because this is in my Holy Hendrix Trinity of “Manic Depression” and “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”. I would also totally support a female singer recording a version called “Hey Jo” about a woman going to shoot her man down, if that makes it any better.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top Ten Wednesdays: What else are we using predator drones for?

Special extra collateral damage edition!

13) Enforcing new federal Bovine Upright Larceny Law.

12) Delivering candygrams.

11) Making damn sure no one cheats in the carpool lane.

10) Showing Santa that there are consequences for putting us on the naughty list.

9) Providing additional surveillance and suppressive anti-personnel fire while stalking celebrities (ModelTMZ only).

8) Supporting additional “sanitation/improvised percussion removal” in nation’s financial districts.

7) Utilizing twin T-shirt cannons to fire XL-sized ordnance into the upper decks.

6) Ensuring that we won’t have to wait in line during the next iPhone launch (requires iHellfire app)

5) Guiding drones to our cubicles so we can do our jobs without the threat of soul-crushing ennui.

4) Getting optional tow package to pull our car home from the bar.

3) Adding panorama shots to our sex tapes.

2) Keeping those damn kids off our lawn once and for all.

1) (tie) Putting star on top of Christmas tree/Lighting the menorah.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we suspending our campaigns?

10) Taking a hands-off approach to running for president.

9) Going to prepare for 2016 by reading Wikipedia entry for every country on earth.

7) Unable to leave house after wife purchased electronic dog collar and invisible fence.

6) Decided to run for a position we were much more qualified for, president of Penn State.

4) Wanted to return to more lucrative fondling opportunities in the private sector.

2) Not prepared for the media trying to find out things about us.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

The American people are not always the brightest of the bunch. We distract ourselves with minutiae, can be incredibly shortsighted, and often act like a bunch of fickle mush heads. I include myself in that collective “we,” as I spent more time than yesterday than I care to admit checking the status of the big toe of LeSean McCoy, the Philadelphia Eagles starting running back, because his ability to play for my pretend football team could make me a small amount of money and, more importantly, convey a windfall of nerd bragging rights. Yes, we are people of the land, the common clay of the West.

Yet even the most linguistically challenged American moran can smell bullshit when it’s being served up as an electoral appetizer. And no one has served up more bullshit than Herman Cain, a man who built his fortune throwing a bunch of cheap crap on dough and saying said dish could not be refused.

His entire campaign has been one smelly serving after another, from his knowledge of foreign policy to his economic plan to his ability to keep his hands to himself. What’s kind of unique about Cain is that his strategy for covering up each scandal is bury it under an even bigger dung heap of stupidity. The current affair conundrum is the perfect example. After getting accused for harassment and infidelity, a woman comes forward to say she and Cain have had an affair for thirteen years, and affair the conveniently ended just as Cain decided to become president.

Rather than denying it—a usually fruitless but expected tactic—or admitting it, the King Solomon of Bad Decisions decided to cut this turd in half and say he didn’t have a romantic relationship with the woman, but helped her out financially because they were friends. A creative out for sure, and one that could possibly have worked until his wife said she had no idea Cain was friends with this woman.

That is where Cain’s Tower of Bullshit Babel finally collapsed. Men will be friends with women. They will help their female friends. They may even be friends with women their wives don’t particularly like. But no straight man would secretly give money to another woman behind his wife’s back for more than a decade without some kind of slap and tickle going on. Maybe it’s not full-blown according-to-Hoyle carnality, but there’s going to at least be a soiled dress, a spoilt cigar, or an uncoiled dong.

This is what I don’t understand about candidates. They know that the press will uncover almost anything about their past. If you were running on a vegan platform, the New York Times would produce that hot dog you ate five years ago when you were really drunk and starving and the scent of steamed cow lips and assholes was overpowering. Bad touches, bad grammar, racial slurs, racist pastors, drunk driving, draft dodging, South American strolls, South American snorts, shady investments, shady associates, and especially extramarital excursions will all come out. I think Obama got elected primarily because he could string two sentences together and appears to have given his presidential pardon exclusively to his wife, an old-fashioned concept so revolutionary in modern politics it seems like meeting someone who churns their own butter.

If anything, this is where Gingrich probably has a big advantage. Everyone already knows what a hypocritical asshole he is, which eliminates the element of surprise.

Okay, now that I feel so great about our democracy, I’m ready for music.

1) “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea,” The Cure. Who better to lift one’s mood than Robert Smith, because you know there's at least one other person in this world more depressed than you?

2) “O My Soul,” Big Star. I don’t always listen to power pop, but when I do, I choose Big Star. Stay catchy, my friends. Seriously, there should be a talk like the Dos Equis Guy Day. Or better yet, Talk Like the Guy Talking About the Dos Equis Guy Day. I know that would be a capitulation to advertising invading creativity, but those commercials are funnier than 75 percent of the sitcoms on TV. I would come up with something for myself like, “He once K.O.’d a man with a punchline.”

3) “Looks That Kill,” Motley Crue. A song I love from a band I hate. They are the embodiment of everything stupid about 80s metal: faux Satanism, lyrics that made Winger look literary by comparison, the inability to discern between sexy and sexist, self-destructive behavior, monstrous egos, and a bewildering look that borrowed from the New York Dolls, S&M shops, American Indians, and The Road Warrior and/or the NFL. But holy hairspray, this song rocks my face off. No intro, no lead-in, they just kick the door in and start spraying riffs and drums.

4) “S.S. Fort Jams,” Fang Island. When I lived in Da U.P., I had NFL Sunday Ticket. It was ridiculously expensive, but we were in the Packers TV market, had little competition for our entertainment dollars (especially since moose wrestling was free), and our household would suffer a severe economic setback if I hung myself out of boredom. One of the things I loved was that, if you had the Ticket, you could watch compressed recaps of all of the NFL games. They literally cut out all of the commentary, commercials, and assorted grabass into about 25 minutes of pure gridiron goodness. That’s kind of what Fang Island does with prog. They squeeze out all the fruitiness into a concentrated few minutes of pure jamming. Plus they have a guitarist who plays in a star-covered wizard's cowl, which is almost as cool as an eye-covered wizard's cowl.

5) “Rag Mama Rag,” The Band. One of those songs you have to really stop and listen to in order to appreciate. There is so much stuff going on here and everything fits together perfectly, kind of like The Lovely Becky’s holiday cookies when they in their original, not pulverized form.

6) “Spoonman,” Soundgarden. Not only the sole rock song to feature a guy on lead spoon, but also the only song ever written about a guy playing spoons. It makes me wonder if he has a whole collection of spoons. “We wanted to give the song more of a baritone, so I went with my grandma’s silver serving spoons, with a little ladle overdubbed for effect.” It also seems like a song that would have been ripe for a Weird Al parody called “Kazooman.”

7) “Honky Tonk Woman,” The Rolling Stones. I suspect that 50 percent of my dislike for the Stones stems from the tongue logo, and the other half comes from Mick Jagger. I hate watching him perform; he moves around the stage like a duck with a live Roman candle up its ass. I like Keef, I like Charlie Watts, I like Ron Wood, and while Bill Wyman is a cradle robber, he has the decency to keep his mouth closed. But the logo and Jagger make me think of Mick licking every time I hear them.

8) “Crash,” Dave Matthews Band. Goonies hate. If they ever made a movie about Stuff White People Like, any DMB album could serve as the soundtrack. It takes a lot to make me think, “Boy, I really wish I was listening to Coldplay instead of this.”

9) “Ohio,” Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. The really scary thing about Pepper Spraying Cop isn’t the act itself—history is full of authority figures abusing their authority. It’s when people like Megyn Kelly say that the abuse of that authority is perfectly acceptable. (I also don't trust people who replace a perfectly good vowel with a "y." What have you done with than "a"!) Because once you accept that a bunch of peaceful protesters can get blasted in the face with pepper spray, it’s not too great of a leap to think it’s okay for them to get tased, bashed, and eventually shot in the face, and before you know it a never-again moment like Kent State is back in fascist fashion.

10) “The Quest for the Wizard's Rod on Wank Mountain, Part LXIX: Into the Crypt of Phrygian Fartblasting,” Dream Theater. I would rather be pepper-sprayed than listen to this. At least that doesn’t last as long or sting as badly. Let’s try again.

10) “Favourite Food,” Tokyo Police Club. These guys are half the age of Cream Beaters and have already eclipsed them in songwriting ability. Speaking of youngsters, I went Christmas shopping at a store that rhymes with Pest Pie. I was looking for a gift for Libby, a Disney princess camera that she saw and begged us for. It was on sale, so, dutiful dad that I am, I went to the store and approached some blue-shirted Bieber to help me find it. He asked if it was for me, because that is such a clever and completely original joke. He couldn’t find it, and he proceeded to ask no fewer than four other Pest Pie employees, all dudes, if they knew where the princess camera was, and he started each query the same way, “Hey, [INSERT NAME OF SLACK-JAWED DRONE], you look like a pretty princess. Would you know where this camera is?” Four times. And better yet, his fine fellows asked me if it was for me. HA HA, IT IS FUNNY THAT A GROWN MAN WITH A WEDDING RING AND SOME GRAYING HAIR IS BUYING A PRINCESS CAMERA. IT MUST BE FOR HIS PERSONAL USE! I swore that the next guy who made the same stupid joke was going to get slashed across the jugular with the sharp shards of the princess camera packaging. Then, after listening to the same routine four times, I found the camera on my own. This is why people shop on Amazon.

11) “Roundabout,” Yes. The main fantasy football league I’m in involves ten guys. The most recent member is the oldest, Andy. He’s the cousin of one of the other guys and only a few years older than me, but for some reason one of the other guys started calling him Uncle Andy and the nickname stuck. He also at one point asked him, “Uncle Andy, what were the 60s like?” which set off a reaction of Uncle Andy is old jokes that have lasted about a year and a half.

These are not the same repetitive princess camera jokes; we put a lot of creativity into how old Uncle Andy is. For instance, his opponent this week named his team “1492” and wrote “In 1492, Uncle Andy sailed across the Ocean Blue.” Among other references, we have placed Uncle Andy at the Battle of Hastings, the first Thanksgiving, the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War, the assassination of William McKinley, and the Great Depression, of which we asked for tips for surviving fiscal crisis that didn’t involve cooking and eating members of the Little Rascals.. We have asked him what the world was like before electricity, running water, female voting, and football. He has been accused of being senile, confused, sleepy, and of very untoward behavior toward flappers during the Roaring Twenties. As I was typing this, someone sent an e-mail mentioning that Uncle Andy used to race chariots when he was a teen.

At this year’s draft, I had my iPod and asked for requests. Uncle Andy asked for Yes and I put “Roundabout” on. Not sixty seconds in the selection was voted down and Uncle Andy banned from making any musical recommendations. For once, I found myself having to come to his defense, much in the way I would help someone across the street or open a jar of pickles for them.

Have a good weekend.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This is me writing a blog post about Arnold Schwarzennegger talking about Total Recall

I love Total Recall. In fact, I think it is Arnold at his most Schwarzenneggerist, because he's trying so hard to be a movie star. Early campy shit like Conan and Commando were just Arnold showing he could flex and speak lines phonetically at the same time. The Terminator was a brilliant solution to the question, "How can we get people to watch Arnold for two hours when his acting is so robotic?" But Total Recall is Arnold as action hero. He tries to be loving, be tough, be dramatic, be funny, and be as confused as Philip K. Dick was when he tried to write the ending to the original story after his speed wore off. Throw in Paul Verhoven, the director who never met an exit wound or unecessary boob shot he didn't like, and you have sci-fi action comedy gold, Jerry.

But don't take my word for it. Let Arnold tell you about all the great parts of Total Recall in The Greatest DVD Commentary Ever Told.

He had me with the little laugh he gives after talking about using a character as a human shield. Who knew a T-800 came with a sense of humor?

The whole thing makes it sound like McBain talking about one of his movies. It reminded me of a little McBain bit I wrote for a Simpsons spec script I once wrote:

Homer and Bart sit in the living room, watching TV. Homer is in his underwear. On the television, a preview for a new McBain movie is running.

McBain is wearing a white dress a la Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot, along with a blond wig. He is approaching a group of Mendoza’s thugs on the street. McBain is communicating secretly with a hidden mike and earpiece.

I see Mendoza’s goons, chief.

Nice work, McBain. In that disguise, they’ll never recognize you.

The goons see McBain and begin to wolf whistle as he approaches.

MCBAIN (to the chief)
They think they’re getting a hot date, when they’re really going to get hot lead.

McBain walks over an open vent in the street. Air blows up, lifting his skirt and revealing an impressive arsenal of firearms around his waist. The goons reach for their guns, but McBain is quicker. He pulls out two submachine guns and empties the clips into the criminals. He looks down at the bodies on the street.

I guess blondes have more guns.

See McBain get dressed to kill in, Some Like It Dead.

Oh, to have been a writer for that show.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top Ten Wednesdays: What are we thankful for?

10) Declined “full-ride” football scholarship to Penn State.

9) Early Black Friday deals on pants with elastic waistbands.

7) Kid brother still hiding his bong in the same drawer.

6) Replacing ten hours of awkward family conversation with football.

5) Mother’s drinking problem will make her more receptive to the news that Lance is more than just a good friend.

3) Taking a day off from still being unemployed.

1) Boners.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I’m so ready to rock I’m just going to plug in and spin the knobs (heh-heh, I said knobs).

1) “Somebody to Love,” Queen. There are only three things I have not liked about parenting: 1) Not sleeping enough, which is thankfully subsiding in toddlerhood, 2) Cleaning up poop, which is at least being relocated toward the toilet, and 3) Watching shitty movies. Libby does in fact like a lot of decent films, and studios like Pixar have made flicks that parents can enjoy as much as the kids. But every once in a while I get subjected to some piece of regurgitated penguin food like Happy Feet, which I bought for Libby unseen because she wanted “the penguin movie.” It’s like Glee for flightless waterfowl, and the only redeeming moment in it is a fairly stirring rendition of this song. But now the sequel is out and Libby—having just been to her first movie in the theater—wants to see it. What they need to make are 3D glasses for adults that actually block the kids’ movie and play something like Mad Men episodes. "Sure we can stay for the credits, sweetie, Christina Hendrix isn't finished changing yet."

2) “Mass Romantic,” The New Pornographers. The first song off their amazing first album, but unfortunately it kind of has the effect of reminding me how much I used to like The New Pornographers. It’s like a romantic relationship that has gone to the friend zone: Three albums that were nearly perfect, followed by two that have left me feeling like we were just going through the motions together. Then we had an argument because the band asked me if I was seeing its BFF, Neko Case on the side, and I said no, I mean, we met for one solo album, and that was purely platonic. But then they found out that I secretly bought all of her albums, causing the confrontation where I said TNP just didn’t do it for me any more after Challengers. We didn’t talk for again for a while until I bought their last album, and had a perfectly pleasant experience that nevertheless only served to remind me how hot and heavy we once were, especially when I was on my slow descent into alcoholism. Now we just occasionally run into each other at Starbucks.

3) “Whiskey Bottle,” Uncle Tupelo. About as close to a power ballad as I think Alt Country gets.

4) “Cause=Time,” Broken Social Scene. There’s a mellow Dinosaur Jr. vibe on this song, though I definitely feel the absence of a J Mascis freakout solo. This may also be the first album I ever bought solely because of a high Pitchfork review. Please don’t hold that against me, the Internet and I were still young and kind of unpredictable.

5) “Caroline,” Concrete Blonde. Very much the older sister of “Joey.” I also loved that Johnette Napolitano played the bass and sang, just like a certain Canadian I admire. Although she sang about alcoholic guys, sad women, and hungry vampires, instead of music-hating priests, journeys through black holes that led to encounters with Greek gods, and union-busting trees.

6) “Light-Rail Coyote,” Sleater-Kinney. Inspired, if I’m not mistaken, by a coyote actually riding the Portland rail. That’s the difference between the West and the East. A coyote isn’t getting on the New York Subway or the Chicago El. But you never know when something wild and furry is going to get on public transportation in the West. Although in L.A., it would likely be a dude on his way to respond to an ad on Craigslist.

7) “Little Sister,” Queens of the Stone Age. Libby has started asking about having a brother or sister. That’s extremely unlikely unless The Lovely Becky has been selected as the Immaculate Receptacle for the Second Coming. We’ve had to have conversations about how some families just have a mommy, daddy, and one little girl. It of course pains me to not be able to fulfill her request, which is probably why I will eventually buy her a pony.

8) “It’s Thunder and Lightning,” We Were Promised Jetpacks. If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap! Good thing this is Scottish. TLB’s sister and some of her Canadian relatives just took a trip to the land of single-malts and exposed male legs. I was so jealous. The trip TLB and I took there in 1997 was one of the best times of my life, touring a bunch of castles, envisioning myself on the parapet slaying foes like Sir Lancelot at a wedding, and then washing the day down with Scotchy-Scotch-Scotch. The only thing I didn’t like was driving, not because it’s the opposite but because Scots drive like they are Japanese pilots trying to sink American aircraft carriers. We did a bit touring off the beaten path which involved driving down one-track roads, which wouldn’t have been so bad if there weren’t crops that obscured the road ahead. I was literally driving on faith, hoping that some giant truck wasn’t whipping toward me at speeds that sound so much more dangerous in kilometers.

9) “Teardrop,” Massive Attack. Pretty much impossible for me to not bob my head while this plays, which makes it hard to write.

10) “That’s What You Get,” Paramore. Why do I like this song so much? Between this and Rush, I cocked up Three Bulls Radio something fierce, but this is so much more embarrassing than Apollo and Dionysius fighting for the soul of man. I feel like I should be shopping for leggings at Justice while complaining about why Taylor won’t return my texts, probably because he’s with that skank Montana. And yet, what happens to the volume knob? It gets turned up. Additional embarrassing revelation: I spelled Dionysius correctly on the first try. How exactly did I get ever get laid?

11) “My Morning Song,” The Black Crowes. A little more age and gender appropriate. Turned up even louder so I can feel the slide guitar, weed, and B.O. that went into making this song. Seriously, how would you like to be stuck with Chris Robinson in a recording booth. “Hey, Brando, could you bring up the vocals?” “Sure, but only if use this bar of Dial before I wrap it in a sock and beat you unconscious.” Still, worth enduring some fried nasal passages to hear the orgasmic reprisal of the chorus at the end.

Bonus track: “Love Removal Machine,” The Cult. I can’t let this go. Working with Rick Rubin would be the reverse of working with Chris Robinson. He’d say to Ian Astbury, “Could you try the vocal again, only throatier?” and Ian Astbury would say, “I think there’s a ferret living in your beard.” By far my favorite AC/DC ripoff track of all time and a plastic, fantastic way to head into the weekend. Have a great one.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

Never has that line been more appropriate than on Nigel Tufnel Day. In honor of the best friend of the patron saint of footwear, I’m only going to play the first 11 random songs that I feel truly go to 11.

The logical choice to honor Nigel Tufnel on 11/11/11 would be to link to the Spinal Tap segment about the amps that go to 11. But my favorite part of the movie is this scene, which made me laugh louder than anything else in the movie the first time I saw it because it caught me completely by surprise. It is arguably the greatest dick joke in cinematic history.

1) “Coma,” Guns N’ Roses. It’s a bit funny that the two songs that top my list of favorite GnR ditties are “Mr. Brownstone” and “Coma.” That’s kind of like saying my two favorite TV shows are Man Vs. Food and America’s Next Top Diabetic (“Sweet! – Entertainment Weekly). Speaking of which, I think a big reason I watch Man Vs. Food is to see if someone has a heart attack on television. “I just ate 16 pounds of double-fried bacon cheddar custard éclairs, and they were so delicious, I could….OW!!! Oh, I knew I should have skipped the Mt Fudgerest sundae! Gack!” It’s like the NASCAR of eating, you watch for the crash, not the race.

2) “Big Poppa,” Notorious B.I.G. At least he wasn’t on a diet when he was gunned down by Tupac’s people. How much would that suck? You lose 100 pounds because you want to be healthy when you get older, only you die the minute you leave Weight Watchers because you’re caught in an East Coast-West Coast rap war. Ain’t that a B?

3) “White Line,” Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Neil Young and Crazy Horse always go to 11.

4) “I Get Wet,” Andrew W.K. I would have played the shit out of this when I was 16. It would have been blaring out of my stereo when I was getting ready for a party, Dep’ing my hair and rolling my cargo pants, before adding my acid-washed jean jacket (collar up, of course). Unfortunately this came out when I was 31. Which makes me feel really old because that means Andrew W.K. has been around for 10 years in recorded form. Love this video because the intro is very reminiscent of Mach.

5) “You Can’t Say Kingston Doesn’t Love You,” Title Fight. Of course, when said party turned out to be a bust and the girl I wanted to talk to was instead talking to that other guy, and the cops broke everything up before I could have my second-swig of warm Beast that my buddy snuck out of his older brother’s room, I’d have come back and put this bit of breakneck melancholy on my headphones and contemplated what went wrong while fantasizing about how it could have gone right. Strong possibility this song shows up on the Favoritist of 2011 list.

6) “Holy Flames of the Firespitter,” High on Fire. FIRE! This makes me want to drive a tank through an army of orcs. Hey Sauron, think a nazgul can stop an armor-piercing round? Not if it's forged from mithril by an elvish maiden, motherfucker!

7) “Bad Luck,” Social Distortion. Mike Ness’s arm tattoos go to 11. I think he actually has tattoos on his tattoos. I am not inked at all because tattoos don’t suit me. I would never be able to just get something small like TLB in Viking runes with the L extending up to form a spear that impales a heart (to signify that I’ll love her until I get impaled on a Viking spear). No, I’d do something ridiculous like have the entire scene from Pulp Fiction where Jules and Vincent shoot the guy that took the case storyboarded on my back.

8) “Dumb,” Nirvana. It sucks when guys like Cobain die too young, but I also have a hard time imagining what they would have done if they lived. Like I heard Hendrix on the radio the other day, and the same thought ran through my mind, but then I couldn’t imagine what he would have done. Synths in the 80s? Snoop rapping on a remake of “The Wind Cries Mary” in the 90s? Playing a guest solo on Kelly Clarkson’s album in the aughts? Same with Cobain.

9) “How Soon Is Now,” The Smiths. About as 11 as Morrissey gets. I was very sad when this popped up in a car commercial. I don’t really mind that bands need to sell their songs for advertising—they gotta make a buck. But it has to match the product. Phoenix or Band of Horses pushing a few autos? That’s fine. Morrissey doing the same? That’s almost as bad as Modern English shilling for a horrific bathroom experience.

10) “Mountain Song,” Jane’s Addiction. Insanely fun to play on fake plastic drums and an absolutely blistering live version of this, complete with Perry Ferrell looking like Peter Gabriel would have looked if he had been on heroin and grown up in LA. Come to think of it, if Cobain had lived, maybe he would have turned into Perry Farrell.

11) “Unchained,” Van Halen. If you strip Spinal Tap of their “Stonehenge” tendencies, they pretty much could be a parody of Van Halen (or VH the embodiment of ST). Tell me that you couldn’t apply this review—“the musical growth rate of this band cannot even be charted…they are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry”—to a lot of Van Halen albums? But still, I have always liked this song. It has a lot more heft and a lot less Roth-glazed ham than a lot of other songs. There's also classic Michael Anthony face around the :40 mark. I'd have looked that happy if I got to make millions of dollars slapping the top string of a bass guitar.

That’s it for today. Remember to have a good time all the time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Top Ten Wednesdays: What's derailing our presidential campaigns?

10) What God’s voice tells us tends to sound much less commanding and sane when we repeat it to the media.

9) Letting all rebuttals being handled by our parasitic twin.

8) Knowing now why voters cry, but acknowledging that it is something we can never do.

7) Public wants to give ignorant morons from states other than Texas a shot at the White House.

6) As a testament to our libertarian commitment to curbing executive authority, we have only one campaign promise: if elected, we will commit ritual suicide.

5) Endorsed by Joe Paterno.

4) Tendency to shove hands deep into pockets, throw head back, and say, “Ohhh, that’s a tough nut to crack,” when asked about gay marriage.

3) Proposed enforcing reproductive violations by setting up remote breed cams in women's va-jay-jays.

2) Campaign posters have only been printed on the sides of milk cartons.

1) To be eligible for any jobs we propose to create, each American must first sleep with us.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

The road to blogging is paved with good intentions.

I have sat down every day this week, ready to drop some golden nuggets of comedy, only to find myself unable to think of anything to say. I have been saying funny things in the bricks and mortar world, and I drop the occasional bon-mot in my Facebook status update. But when I have been trying to be funny in any form of organized form—say, in a top 10 list—I have been banging my head against an invisible wall.

There have been times in the life of this blog (six years now, holy crap!) when blogging has been unconscious for me, as if I was taking dictation from my own writing staff. There was this great collaboration between anger at the political circumstances of the country and the satirical targets that were delivered on a silver platter.

Since Hope and Change (now known as Change We’re Hoping For), things have gotten different. I’ll be the first to admit I was pulled in by the charisma of the President of the United States (not to be confused with the former Preznit). I didn’t expect a revolution, I didn’t really expect more than some redecorating, maybe a different political feng shui. What I did not expect was the extent of change to be moving around a couple of rugs and calling it a day. Or thinking about knocking out those restraining walls separating the have room from the have-not room and determining it’s the thought that counts.

I figured the current crop of GOP Presidential Clowns would light a satirical spark, but it did the opposite: it made me sad. Post-Bush, this is the best the Republicans could do? The ROM-NEY 2012 Cybernetic Candidate, a Texan who seems to think less than the previous brush-beater, the most bat-shit crazy candidate to ever gain national attention, the less-charismatic brother of Clarence Thomas, and the crazier twin of Ross Perot. To quote a certain Heather, fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

I have always been a political animal, but I’ve found myself running away from the news, throwing myself into fiction or the inanities of videogames or fantasy football. I’ve probably read more about the various pulls and strains of running back Peyton Hillis than I have about the Republican field (and goddamn my stupid ass for not believing in the Madden Curse when I traded for that 240-pound hamstring pull).

But I find myself coming around again. After struggling a bit with putting a novel in the drawer (for now) and trying to get a new one off the ground, I had my Eureka moment a couple weeks ago. I feel myself channeling the ol’ satirical spittle into a character that maybe, just maybe, could become a great literary pie-in-the-face to the brain-dead conservative movement that is both hilarious and terrifying, because what happens if one of those people actually wins? If Herman Cain was president and have Angela Markel an indecent proposal she can’t refuse, what would happen if she did? Would we be nuking Nuremburg because of blue balls? And God help the Middle East if he gets anywhere near Queen Noor.

So this is a long-winded way of saying I not only want to start blogging again, I need to start blogging again (and commenting, too). It’s the only thing that’s going to keep me sane.

Tune time….

1) “Imaginary Friends,” Nada Surf. I did have the pleasure last week of seeing the incomparable Von, the tremendous Jennifer and her trusty sidekick Grizzled, and for the first time, the man who puts the animated in re-animated, ZRM. The circumstances were both bittersweet and familiar—bittersweet in that we toasted both the passing of Von’s dad and the arrival of her birthday, familiar in that we met in a bar in my old neighborhood, a place The Lovely Becky used to frequent regularly. It was a blast. It’s so interesting to meet residents from the bloggerhood in the flesh. We get to dispense with chit chat because we have been chatting for years. We already know about things like love for Canadian progressive rock, double-entendre swordfights, and waste receptacles that have been used and abused. By the end of the first round the filtbot had pulled up a stool and joined us, and the only thing were missing was a comments box. It was awesome.

2) “Von,” Sigur Ros. Okay, how randomly awesome and creepy is that. THE PLAYLIST IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!

3) “Sex (I’m A…),” Berlin. And there’s the filthbot. Also one of the most hilarious male vocal turns this side of Right Said Fred. It’s literally like a jealous husband trying to put his arm around his hot wife while the press yell at him to get the fuck off the red carpet. Look, Mr. I’m-A-Man, I didn’t buy this album to hear you whisper “suck” during the outro, okay? Why don’t you go jump in front of The Metro?

4) “I Confess,” The English Beat. I have never been a big fan of this one. It’s a bit like the bastard child of Spandau Ballet and Morrissey. I like a more grind and less whine from my Beat songs.

5) “Super-Charger Heaven,” White Zombie. So completely in my wheelhouse. Distorted guitars turned to 11? Check. Thick, propulsive beat? Check. Completely random and hilarious references the occult? Checkity-check-check. From the “DEVIL MAN” in the chorus to the sound bite, “It is not heresy, and I will not recant!” I am sucked in completely whenever this is summoned in iTunes.

6) “Digital Love,” Daft Punk. Wow, that’s quite a three-song switch. The only bad thing about hearing Daft Punk is that I instantly wish I was someplace where I could be dancing to Daft Punk. I love how they save the heavier bass for the first couple minutes of the song. And how many Francophone neu-disco anthems have a killer guitar solo at the end? It’s like someone constructed a dance song based on results from a focus group consisting of only me.

7) “She Bangs the Drums,” The Stone Roses. They are touring! I know it’s sad and that nostalgia is the first sign you’re both old and no longer cool (not that I ever was the latter, but a boy can dream), but the idea of hearing this live makes me really fucking happy, and I may speak in tongues during “I Am the Resurrection.” Judging by the current pictures, though, I wonder if they are doing this to raise money for Botox injections. Regardless, I’m happy to throw in what will certainly be a very un-rock-and-roll amount of money for tickets.

8) “Fight Till You Die,” Pennywise. Bad Religion minus the thesaurus, which will either make this sound like pedestrian punk or music to Piscean ears. This album was prime Discman commuter material for me when I was fighting crowds on the subways of New York. Back the fuck off, I’m wearing a sweater vest and shirt with a banded collar!

9) “It Could Be Sweet,” Portishead. This past Halloween has taught me that I would sell out my country, my parents, and possibly my wife for a couple of Hundred Grand bars. The Lovely Becky bought them for the kids, but instead I have been devouring them with the ravenous bloodlust of an alien from War of the Worlds. It’s one of the most perfect confectionary creations ever: chocolatey, caramely, chewy, and crunchy, a precisely balanced representation of the four candy groups.

10) “How Deep Is Your Love,” The Rapture. I got Pitchforked when I bought The Rapture’s debut based on an elusive 10.0 from everyone favorite hated arbiters of indie rock taste. This, however, is a great song, precisely because it is a song, not a bunch of beats, bleats, and serrated guitars that covered their first record. The keyboards even pack a little Funky Bunch punch for good measure.

11) “A Forgotten Chapter in the History of Ideas,” The Fucking Champs. If you have a metal bone in your body, you will be compelled to bang your head for the first two minutes of this instrumental riff-o-rama. Imagine if Metallica had decided to stop sucking and singing sometime in 1989 and you get an idea of what this sounds like. I always have this album in my car because whenever I need to channel my inner Road Warrior and battle through traffic, this makes me feel like I’m wearing football shoulder pads and carrying an Easton aluminum bat that’s topped with a skull. METAL!

Bonus track because I’m a pleaser, not a teaser:

“Kiss on My List,” Hall & Oates. I was talking to TLB the other day and made mention of something being irrelevant and she said, “You mean like John Oates.” This elicited a stern reprimand from me, because Oates is much more than a pretty mustache. He is the digestive enzyme that makes songs like this so yummy in my musical tummy. He is not Andrew Ridgeley with a hairy lip (ironically, Ridgeley has more hair on his lip than his head these days). And who doesn’t want to have someone’s kiss on their lips as we head into the weekend?

Have a good one, and if you can’t love the Oates you want, love the Oates you’re with.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I have not been writing nearly enough and it’s bringing me down, so I’m going to skip the usual liner notes and jump straight to the album for inspiration.

1) “Straight in at 101,” Los Campesinos! I’m not sure how I feel about thinking in social media terms. I spend a good deal of time doing mental likes when I read or listen to conversations, and I become disappointed when I hear something tremendously entertaining that I can’t share here or on The Facebook (yes, I have boundaries, although they porous). Recently I had a hilarious exchange that ended with someone saying, “I couldn’t come in a condom if I fucked for 12 hours.” My first thought was that I wanted to go out and share the whole thing, but for confidentiality reasons I can only offer the punchline and not the setup. Other times I encounter something that I can share and immediately stop paying attention to the rest of the conversation because I’m trying to remember the wording for a status update. I fear this has already made me stupider than I was B.Z. (Before Zuckerberg).

2) “Pyramid Song,” Amnesiac. I like Radiohead, but I rarely find myself fired up to listen to Radiohead. Maybe some of the songs on The Bends and occasionally “Let Down.” Usually I’m more subdued, thinking, “oh, Radiohead, nice,” which makes me wonder if I actually like them or am just being a pretentious music tool.

3) “Let Them Eat Rock,” Upper Crust. I have mixed feelings about the Wall Street occupation protests. Not mixed because of the occupation—I feel like those protestors should have broken into the posh boardrooms and left behind some toxic assets of their own. But the whole thing feels too disjointed to be effective. Maybe it’s because my perception has been filtered through the media, which decided the whole thing was disjointed five minutes after it started and will hold onto that view like a dog chomping down on its favorite chew toy. But part of me wonders if there is an inherent disjointedness in liberal protest and grass-roots movements, a tendency to say, “discover your desks, children” instead of trying to focus on certain messages that would resonate more, because that would make it less grass-roots and more movement. Consequently, instead of these protests raising serious questions about wealth, money, and influence, we're listening to people discuss the presidential merits of the CEO of the worst pizza chain in the country who just unveiled one of the most regressive federal tax plans in history. All of this is making Canada sound more appealing to me, plus moving there would significantly increase my chances of meeting Rush, dazzling them with my wit, and being invited to join the band as an honorary fourth member (a fantasy that’s only slightly less realistic than “President Dennis Kucinich.”)

4) “Destroy 2000 Years of Culture,” Atari Teenage Riot. Of course, then I hear something like this and want to cut off the head of the Wall Street bull and put it in the bed of the Goldman Sachs CEO. Maybe we need more screaming Germans telling us what to do.

5) “All Right (Oh Yeah),” Local H. Pack Up the Cats gets on my list of Seriously Underrated Albums of the 1990s, but making lists like that also gets on my list of Tired Memes I Should Stop Doing. Except I can’t help myself. I make lists all the time, sometimes just for myself, and then argue mentally with what’s on the list of the order. Like, should Pack Up the Cats be on the Seriously Underrated list or on the Seriously Overlooked list because it was a pretty well-received album? The lesson here: You should feel sorry for The Lovely Becky for having to live with this.

6) “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” KT Tunstall. I try not to get too hung up on whether music falls into the dude or dudette category. After all, I unabashedly have proclaimed serious love for “Since U Been Gone” and at least one Paramore song—how much masculine shame could I possibly have left in the testosterone tank? But KT Tunstall does inspire a bit of guy guilt. I’m sitting home alone right now listening to this and I still feel a little bit wimpy for not just listening to this, but liking it. The worst part is that recognizing how stupid that is has absolutely no impact on how I feel.

7) “Changes,” David Bowie. So the Arab Spring has turned into the Arab Ass-Whooping. TLB asked me yesterday if I had seen the Quadaffi/Gaddafi/Raffi/Saltwatertaffy death pictures. Surprisingly I hadn’t, save for a brief glimpse of some blurry video on Anderson Cooper (which I shouldn’t bother watching because all I can think about is how dreamy he is instead of whatever catastrophe he’s discussing). This is another sign of Internet overload. Ten years ago I would have been online looking for grisly Dangling Chadaffi death video. Now it takes something more than just a bloodied body to catch my viewing attention, especially when there are so many cute pets doing AMAZING tricks to grab my clicks.

This is also a lesson to any kids out there thinking they want to be a dictator. Remember, someday you’ll be in a spider hole or an irrigation ditch or a Romanian funhouse/presidential mansion, being dragged to your (hopefully) quick death by the very people who once praised you for convincing them to confess their love for you after 37 hours of “enhanced” interrogation. In the interim, you only get to have endless wealth and complete power for three, maybe four decades, tops. So resist the urge to stage a coup and instead stay in school, get your law degree, and take oodles of PAC money so you can rise to power the legitmate way, lest you someday be cornered in a Tripoli port-a-john that gets turned upside down, drowning you in the most unwashed of masses. Although I would definitely watch that dictator death on Tosh.0.

8) “Is There a Ghost,” Band of Horses. On my list of Recent Album Openers That…, never mind, I’ll just click Like.

9) “#1 Hit Song,” Minutemen. Subversive 80s triple albums…those were the days. Mister, we could use a man like D. Boone again.

10) “Mrs. Robinson,” The Lemonheads. I know it’s such an alternative-by-the-numbers cover—take beloved classic song and play it faster, loudier, and sloppier—but I am always happy to hear this. Makes me want to dance at a Kum And Go with Winona Ryder and Janeane Garofalo while we complain about what a cobag Ethan Hawke is.

11) “Wasted Years,” Iron Maiden. If I had to pick one singer who I think it would be the most fun to sing like, the Bruce Dickinson would be one of the finalists. There’s something so entertaining to me about his Katherine-Hepburn-in-a-leather-codpiece delivery. Sure, I would love to shatter stage lights by channelling my inner Geddy or belt out sexual fruit metaphors like Robert Plant, but the Dickinson vibrato is hard to top for pure fun, especially because I’d be able to yell things like, “Scream for me, Sao Pa-u-l-l-l-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-!!!!” between songs. Again, feel sorry for TLB.

Bonus non-metal track for metal haters (because I care about leaving everyone with a feel-good song for the weekend):
“Battery Kinzie,” Fleet Foxes. If you take your speakers, point them at your car, and play this song through them, snow will melt off your windshield, guaranteed!

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How my brain works

I'm at my company's office for a couple of days of meetings. This morning I went into the kitchen to get coffee. Some nice soul had left a coffee can next to the coffee maker, with a note that said, "A gift from New Orleans." The first image that flashed into my mind was opening the can to find a shrunken head inside.

I need an off switch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays: What new TV shows are we watching?

Extra TiVoLicious Edition!

20) 20,000,000 Broke Girls (Syndicated nationwide)

19) Twitter Wars! Only on The History Channel

18) Terror No More: Conservatives attempt to win the War on Terror by traveling back in time to convert Muhammad to Christianity (Fox)

17) C.P.A.—Watch the excitement add up! (CNBC)

16) Creepy Uncle (Adult Swim)

15) David Hasselhoff and Charlie Sheen star as two swinging private dicks in the detective comedy Herpes and Clap (Spike)

14) Better Versions of Shitty American Knockoffs of British Shows (BBC America)

13) American Economic Horror Story (Fox Business News)

12) See TSA agents find more than contraband in Is That a Bomb in Your Pocket or Are You Just Glad to See Me? (Lifetime)

11) America’s Got Desperation (All major news networks)

10) Hear the screams as we go from hair to bare on Waxed to the Max with Kelly Clarkson (Bravo)

9) The XXX Factor (HBO)

8) Really Hardcore Internal Organ Pawn (Discovery)

7) Yelling About Sports—24/7/365 on ESPN

6) Soon We Will Rule the World, My Minions! (OWN)

5) Aaron Sorkin returns with the new White House drama Hope-Less. (NBC)

4) See what happens when hot dog vendors take off their rubber gloves in Wiener Wars (NGC)

3) Man Vs. Myocardial Infarction (Travel Channel)

2) Greeters! (WalMart Network)

1) Flee, the story of a high school glee club that still finds time for love, laughter, and song amid a zombie apocalypse. (Chiller)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why was our conviction overturned in Italy?

10) DNA evidence found covered in Alfredo sauce.

9) Prosecution’s portrayal of us as a sex-crazed, thrill-seeking nymphomaniac made us very, very, very sympathetic to the Italian court.

8) Received a credible alibi when Iran testified that we were spying on their nuclear reactors during the night in question.

7) Our Italian defense lawyer leapt over every accusation rolled out by the prosecution and hammered away at every flaming cross-examination hurled at the defense until he killed the guilty verdict.

6) Surprise testimony by Roberto Benigni put court in such a good mood, it had to acquit.

5) Defense made compelling case that we were victim of mistaken identity and that the real killer was Amanda Hugginkiss.

4) Plea bargain allowed for acquittal in exchange for immediate execution of entire Jersey Shore cast.

3) Pissed that the Brits leaked the original verdict online, so court aired the alternate ending instead.

2) Found out that prosecution’s entire case was lifted verbatim from an episode of Red Shoe Diaries.

1) Guy with the beard and star-spangled hat sitting in the back of the court kept making throat-slashing gestures to the judge.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I don’t know why the United States went through the trouble of coating blankets with cholera and giving them to the Indians. They could have just had the Indians handle toddlers. I went from phantom illness last week to chest cold today, courtesy of my little bundle of germs.

In fact, I had to explain to my daughter why it's not a good idea to lick random objects. We were in the post office last week, and the counter walls have some glass panes. My daughter decided that said glass was eminently lickable. I told her not to lick the glass, but that only seemed to increase the lick appeal of the glass, but also created a punchline to a joke she kept repeating over and over, laughing each time I pulled her away. I had to take her out of the post office and deliver a lecture about why we don’t lick glass.

--Libby, don’t lick things like glass or walls or anything else.


--Because it’s yucky and you’ll get germs.

--What are germs?

--Germs are things that make you sick.

--Why do they make you sick?

Here we reached the three-question maximum most parents run into. I could have patiently explained the mechanics of bacteria transfer and the immune system and whatnot and turned this surface-licking incident into a teachable moment. Instead, I said:


Because all I wanted was a) to have her not get sick and b) to avoid being the parent of a kid who licks things. Now, this behavior is perfectly normal among three-year olds. However, my daughter is the size of a five-year old, which is where random taste testing of counters, walls, and windows ventures into “look at that kid” territory.

Of course, this didn’t completely end our dialog. She quickly found a whole in the complete ban of licking. In the car, Libby asked:

--Can I lick suckers?

Which, of course, she could. We further elaborated that suckers were okay, as were ice cream and popsicles. Within 60 seconds my child had already found four large holes in the licking ban. I can’t wait for her to outsmart me on things like borrowing the car, dating that boy who needs a haircut and needs to look at me when he talks, and if drinking is bad for you why does Daddy seem so happy while watching football or gambling with Uncle Tickle?

On to the tunes….

1) “Rock the Casbah,” The Clash. I think that every time a pundit says “Arab Spring,” Thomas Friedman should have to take a drink, and then the lazy butthole who uses that phrase has to suck the moisture out of his mustache. It’s been almost a year, time to talk about this like big boys and girls and not parrots asking for a cracker.

2) “Ragged Wood,” Fleet Foxes. Makes me want to don a flannel shirt, climb a redwood, and yodel. Which is much better than donning a flannel shirt, climbing a redwood, changing into women’s clothing, and hanging around in bars.

3) “Beat on the Brat,” The Ramones. This song is the anti-“Luka.”

4) “In the Meantime,” Helmet. Fuck and yeah. Helmet’s re-entered my rotation a bit because I’ve been trying to get my doughy ass back into shape and songs like this make me feel like I can dead-lift a stack of Marshalls and carry them up a stair machine made of skulls.

5) “Weekend,” Smith Westerns. Chicago kids who do manage to inject just the right amount of Beatlemania into their songs. One of my favorite songs of the year.

6) “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You’re Told),” The White Stripes. I think this was written about Todd Palin.

7) “Three Days,” Jane’s Addiction. A band I would have liked a lot more if Perry Farrell didn’t creep me out so much. I have always found him unsettling, and that makes it hard for me to love Jane’s Addiction, even when they produce a song like this that’s a mind-blowing mesh of grunge, punk, progressive rock, and love oils. But it always makes me think of Perry Ferrell, his oversized head and aggressive nose and hair that alternates between bleached dandruff trap and greasy 70s porn helmet. Him singing a 10-minute song about a druggy threesome conjures the mental image of a funk so powerful even George Clinton would have run away screaming in fear. The papier-mâché album cover showing a little bit of shaft doesn’t help.

8) “Elevation,” U2. It’s like they got together and said, “let’s write a party song.” Not for some party after a Live Aid or the Concert for Grenada or Artists Against Excessive Restaurant Portion Sizes. An honest-to-goodness party where Larry Mullen, Jr. actually smiles and The Edge puts on a foam hat with two beer holders and Adam Clayton dyes his hair five colors again and Bono uses “party” as a verb. No donations are solicited, no guilt is issued, and they vow to not stop partying until Sting finishes having sex in the back bedroom.

9) “Ace of Spades,” Motorhead. Makes me want to don on a leather jacket, climb a Harley, and yell at the guy in flannel who’s yodeling from a tree.

10) “The Flame,” Cheap Trick. I still can’t believe this is how I commemorated my wedding to The Lovely Becky. It’s a case study in being careful with what you play at the start of a relationship. It’s not like I could have made a mix tape of Ozzy or Dio songs when we started dating. I played with fire as it was by slipping “Closer to the Heart” in there. I couldn’t pick The Cure because I was actually happy (this is pre-happy Robert Smith), and New Order was too quick and dancy. Any kind of metal ballads were out, and I worried that going the Styx or REO route would make me seem like too much of a pussy. So I reached for the next “best” thing, because hey, they recorded “Surrender” and that song rocks, and this song was slow and it was about love and it would be perfect!

11) “The Boys Are Back in Town,” Thin Lizzy. I don’t go out of my way to play Thin Lizzy that much, but I’m always happy when it pops up. A great song for getting ready for the weekend.

Speaking of TLB, The Countess came out in paperback this week, and TLB has been doing quite a lot of great blogging about the book and the infamous lady who inspired it.

Have a great one.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ancient and Modern

[The following is Special guest post by Zombie R. McDonald, Chief of Neurosurgery Buffet Tasting at Empire of the Senseless. ]

Welcome. Welcome to the Cheesehead Infestation Installment of Circle Jerk At The Square Dance. For those of you that know Brando, or worse, share his allegiances, this may... not be pleasant.

Because we did wager blog posts upon the outcome of the Bears-Packers game, and despite the “utterly random football stylings of Jay Cutler” the Bears did fall.

And I need to interject here that I totally liked the Bear’s throwback uniforms.

Hey, I ain’t gonna rehash the game here. You can get that elsewhere. I recommend calling Brando, if you don’t mind a lot of profanity. And some tears.

But I come here not to bear-y the Bears (see what I did there?). OK, I will leave the fucking funny to Brando. FACK, amirite?

I have to admit that over the first few games, the Packers have been lousy at pass defense. Also inexplicably, the Lions are in first place, mainly because they stomped the shit out of a couple of teams to result in a similar 3-0 record, but have a huge advantage in Points For. But in the end, the Packers are 3-FUCKING-0, the Vikings are winless, and the Bears....well.

Yanno, I grew up in Wisconsin. Probably saw a few Bart Starr games on the t-v, not that I remember. I know we saw at least one game when they still played in Milwaukee. I saw a finals game at Lambeau, the last game played before they finished the Big Remodeling.

But the Packers have always been known as a tough team, and one of the longest lived teams in the NFL; what the NFL won’t tell you is that the Packers are a SOCIALIST team, owned by a non profit corporation, with any number of cheeseheads holding stock certificates, but also unable to move anywhere else. No fucking wonder the NFL made it impossible for any other team to organize around the same ideals. But fuck you; we believe in blue collar workers in Wisconsin, and that’s what we do. Until, of course, Turdwaffle Walker slimed his way into the Gov, but my blog will cover that somewhat more. O, I digress. Also of some interest is the fact that the waiting list for Packers season tickets has topped 80,000 names.

Growing up in Wisconsin, with nearly-genetic sports allegiances, we viewed people from Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois with suspicion at best. These are the people who have, with us, formed some of the most long lasting and legendary rivalries. They called us Cheeseheads. We not only wore it proudly, but turned it into money making opportunities; we aren’t stupid.

But fuck me, I ain’t here to talk about football. I am here to talk about friendship.

I have to admit that I have never been good at making friends. I have always been more than a bit of a geek, and kind of bookish; that did not bode well in high school and when I made friends, those friends were deep. That continued into college; I had acquaintances, and I had those I called my FRIENDS.

And I have always recognized that I don’t make friends easy, but I do it HARD. Few friends, but they are loved.

And so, what happens when the Internet intervenes? Through luck, chance, and the fact that I just became an obnoxious presence at several blog sites, I came to know some people: Jennifer. Snag. Von. Fish. Pinko Punko. MenD. Plover. Thudner. Chuckles. Kathleen. mikey. Righteous Bubba. Those fuckers who live upside down. I am sure I am missing someone, and I blame it on the drink and the tears. And I came to know those people, and I call them my friends.

They are as much friends as anybody I have ever known, and not the less because I haven’t met them all.

Wife Sublime and I refer to them semi-sardonically as “imaginary digital friends” and she is is always bemused when we travel somewhere and inevitably meet some of them. (It is surely a random happenstance that whenever this happens, there is drunkenness)

I really looked forward to meeting Brando when his wife did a book reading up here, and unfortunately child sickness prevented it; perhaps Brando might get over his Wiscons-aversion long enough to visit Summerfest next year.

Brando and I share a number of weird, geeky commonalities; not the least of which is a love of the band Rush. We both wave that banner in the face of daily ridicule and uncoolness. And rock on.

But here; One of my first ever concerts, as a weedy highschooler, was Rush on the Permanent Waves tour. And a couple of years later, I took a young lady to see the Moving Pictures tour; it was her first real rock show, and apparently the noise, the crowd, and the lasers disrupted her higher cognition to the point that she eventually married me.

There are all kinds of ways to find friends. And if they mean something to you, then the interface----digital, music, or meatspace--- what’s the difference?

There are two ways to end this post. One would be to talk about how much I love all the people who read the shit I sometimes write, and the other would be:

Friday, September 23, 2011


I woke up in the middle of the night with a blinding headache and sweating from head to toe. I had felt fine before bed, but my head throbbed and I felt a wave of nausea that was on the fence of stay in stomach/sprint up the esophagus. My first thought was that this must be what menopause feels like.

I tried to go back to sleep, figuring it was just a fluke, but I couldn't shake how much my head hurt and how much I was sweating. I started thinking about how I had missed my blood pressure medication this week. Yes, I have high blood pressure. The doctor believes its from family history and my practice of strapping a bag of chips to my face and eating like a Cool Ranch mule all day long. I like to think it's from being so hot that my blood just boils. Either way, I have to take pills to control said gluttony/hotness. There was a screw up with my refill this week, causing me to miss five days of pills, until I finally got them yesterday.

So my brain switched from menopause jokes and sleepy nonchalance to what if I'm having a heart attack/stroke/lycanthropy episode? I quickly ruled out the latter, as the only thing I've been scratched by recently is a cat, and werecats tend to just sleep all day and lick themselves, which makes it an attractive disease. Regarding the heart attack/stroke angle, I told myself in my best Balkie inner voice, "Don't be ridiculous." But I kept thinking that I'm old enough to not completely write it off. Unlikely, yes. Impossible, not at all.

I thankfully fell back asleep and woke up before work with the same symptoms but a clearer mind. I figured if I was going to die, it would have happened already. I also told my symptoms to TLB, who assured me I was indeed overreacting and probably ate some bad leftovers the night before. Laughing at my paranoia, I asked her if she thought when she'd met me that she'd wind up with the neurotic version of me for the rest of her life.

"No," she said. "You were pretty cocky back then. You felt like you were hot shit having lived in San Diego, you were tan, you were in really good shape...."

I began faux-sobbing, although a part of me was crying a little inside.

I debated calling into work. When you work at home, it's hard to justify taking a sick day because you lose the "don't come in and infect everyone" excuse. Usually if I'm not horking, I'm working. But my mind pulsed like house music at a night club, so I decided to take the day off, sleep, and soak in the aching joy of the sick day, when I feel like I'm 12 again and home from school.

In lieu of the random 11, I'll just do one song today:

Incidentally, the Zombie and I have a little wager on this weekend's Bears/Packers game: the victor gets to post whatever he wants on the other's blog on Monday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top Ten Thursdays: What should we be getting a MacArthur genius grant for?

10) Pheromone that causes men to become aroused when their female companions shop for shoes and handbags.

9) Hemp-powered engines that make everyone hungry for green energy sources.

8) Genetic crop research that causes Brussels sprouts taste like donut holes.

7) Discovering a new element, Sheenium, that is impervious to toxic levels of stimulants, sexually transmitted diseases, and film roles.

6) Creation of eGarlic app that protects e- readers from bad vampire fiction.

4) Digital video recording technology that takes our recorded programs and automatically just shows us the good parts.

2) Holothin® technology that makes us appear svelte to others without having to sacrifice our love of Ding Dongs.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I am using Skype today for the first time (sadly for work rather than anything naughty). I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long, because in retrospect it would have been nice to use during the three years I was in the UP's Overlook Hotel. (All snow and no sun make Brando go something something.) I also feel rather silly because, while I am not necessarily a cutting-edge tech guy, I tend to adopt fairly early in the new tech progress. I jumped into e-mail back when I had to go to the computer lab at school to access it. Of course, I used this newfangled technology to e-mail D&D trivia questions to my old Dungeon Master and best friend, Tom. Yes, Al Gore built this system with his bare hands so I could send messages like “How many hit dice does a Mind Flayer have?” Seriously, how have we survived as a society?

Speaking of Tom, he is coming to visit this weekend. Our D&D days are decades behind us, but as I’ve mentioned before, we still play an old board game called Grav-Ball that is like hockey set in zero gravity with a heavy lead ball and a killer robot for a referee. We are intensely competitive about it and have saved all of our sheets listing the players on our teams from the ages of 14 to the present day. It is ungodly nerdly but we love playing it. In fact, should the two of us ever find ourselves spending the shower portion of our golden years in a nursing home, we would probably spend our days playing Grav-Ball and yelling out things like “assault!” and “strike with ball!” until the orderlies sedated us.

However, this does remind me that I’d best make any attempts to romance The Lovely Becky before my friend arrives, because there is a minimum two-week loss of attraction after she watches me play this game.

1) “Hurt,” Johnny Cash. Who’s ready to slash their wrists this weekend? Love the song but it’s harshing my impending nerdgasm.

2) “Mr. Tamborine Man,” The Byrds. It’s appropriate that this was released in 1965 because it really sounds merger of both ends of the Sixties. There’s the poppy British Invasion sound in the ringing 12-string guitar, but a flowers-in-your-hair vocal delivery that foreshadows said flowers in said hair.

3) “Game of Pricks,” Guided by Voices. The recorded version sounds like 90s lo-fi Byrds, although they tended to Who it up when they played it live. I was listening to a lot of GbV for the first time in a while yesterday, including the entire Live From Austin City Limits where they sounded completely drunk. Seriously, Robert Pollard is well on his eighth or ninth sheet near the end of the show. That’s the “aw, fuck it” attitude that made them so entertaining and also prevented them from being huge despite writing some of the catchiest rock songs since the British Invasion.

4) “Mystery,” Dio. Really, really, really not very good. I loves me some “Rainbow in the Dark” or “Last in Line,” but the last thing Dio ever needed to do was slow things down and reflect on the mysteries of life. It’s a good illustration about sticking with what you know, which in Dio’s case was dragons and demons.

5) “Back in the U.S.A.,” MC5. The things we learn from Wikipedia. Since iTunes showed this was released in 1970, I wondered if it was written in response to The Beatles “Back in the U.S.S.R.” So I consulted our truthiest online resource to find out, no, it’s a cover of a Chuck Berry tune and that The Beatles song was a bit of a parody of the Berry song. The more you know…. I also have to take this moment to admit (if I haven’t before) that I am a Wikipedia junkie. When I was a kid, I used to go to the library a lot and read encyclopedia entries (control yourselves, ladies). I’d be looking up something for school and then find myself looking up everything but what I needed to look up for school. That was especially true if the encyclopedia had anything about the occult, tanks, rock music, pro football, or female anatomy (not necessarily listed in order of interest). That would often spur a trip to the stacks to find out more about Aleister Crowley, the firepower of a Panzer versus a Sherman tank, or something called the G-spot. And now I can do all of that on one site right from my desk, with the addition of not being burdened by boring facts or the library’s fascist requirement to wear pants.

6) “Seether,” Veruca Salt. During the 90s, while I enjoyed a lot of the music coming out, I definitely looked back longingly on the 80s—the bubblegum of the pop, the politicalness of the punk, and the pomposity of the power metal. During the first decade of the Aughts, I found myself looking straight ahead as the Web opened up a cornucopia of indie rock that I might not have otherwise overlooked had a Wikipedia entry on Winston Churchill not mentioned that his favorite band was The New Pornographers. But now, with 2011 nearly in the rearview mirror, I am going through a bit of 90s nostalgia. I’ve been combing eMusic for 90s alternanuggests like this, fun blasts of distorted Nirvana-esque pop that were the popcorn shrimp of alternative radio. I just find it funny that my nostalgia skipped a decade.

7) “Come on Eileen,” Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I was about 12 when this song came out, in that mid-point where my interest in dragons still competed with my interest in girls. On top of that, I came from a conservative Catholic family and went to Catholic school, which meant I was well acquainted with the word “fuck” but not necessarily well educated on all that went into said word. I remember talking about this song with a pair of female classmates who were a little more world wise than I was. They kept making a comment about “come… on Eileen” and I kept saying, “Yeah, that’s the name of the song. What’s so funny?” They repeated it a few time and laughed at my inability to get the joke. Let me tell you, there are few things more emasculating at that age than being out-dirtied by a couple of girls, and the psychological fallout is probably that I go out of my way to know the slang for every possible organ, act, and occasional felony.

8) “Born Slippy (Nuxx),” Underworld. One of those songs that can only be listened to while dancing or driving, and even driving is a stretch. Like a lot of electronica back in the 90s, it’s stretched by endless percussive repetition, which is great if you’re drunk at a club, not so great if you have to, say, focus on something. Plus it makes me think of Trainspotting which makes me think of creepy babies and appalling toilets.

9) “Calgary,” Bon Iver. I never expected “snow-blown Wisconsin folk” and “Kanye” to go together, but the autotuned falsetto works really well on the new Bon Iver album. I even get a little bit of a Daft Punk vibe when the drums and synths show up. He managed the tough trick of still sounding like himself without repeating himself from the first album.

10) “Back of the Van,” Ladyhawke. Love, love, love. First, it manages to sound of the 80s without sounding like a pale imitation of much better songs. More than that, it really nails the nervous excitement I felt when I was a teenager and finally had left those dragons behind. The first time I ever kissed a girl (avert your eyes, TLB) was in the back of a friend’s van—and not just any van, but one of those conversion vans that could quickly be converted to a heavy petting zoo. My friend and his girlfriend were in front, while I and my date were in the back, riding to the beach at night. I had never done more than held hands with a girl, primarily because I had the romantic self confidence of a frightened ostrich. I was now poised for my first kiss, and I was so nervous, it’s a wonder I didn’t piss all over the futon cushion in the back (seriously, this van was a hotel on wheels, it’s a miracle that my friend’s parents let him drive it). But said kiss happened and every bit of nervousness and memory of previously missed opportunities and razzing from my friends melted away into just pure happiness. The funny thing is, while I was way more confident in myself by the time I met TLB the following year, my first date with her was full of the same nervousness, until we broke the ice and found a warm bliss center inside. This illustrates again why music kicks ass; as much as I love reading and movies and games, no other form of pop culture lets me personalize it as much as music.

11) “Walking to Do,” Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Great, great tune, one of my favorites by him, with a breakdown in the middle before he comes back with a louder version of the chorus. I listen to a lot of Ted Leo at the gym and I always think this sounds like the perfect concert closer, so it’s a fitting way to end the list today.

Have a great weekend and let your nerd flag fly!