Thursday, June 29, 2006
In some cases, it's not so important that the video is on YouTube -- a-ha's Take On Me is available elsewhere, though I'd love to see the Family Guy riff on it -- but Pitchfork has a good eye for the endearing and the strange.
In this case, the one you have to check is the Bjork video, which features about 90 seconds of people making random noises in a bar and ... a cat. It actually calls to mind two Saturday Night Live sketches (both of which, of course, I'd love to see on YouTube or anywhere else) -- the Smigel "Fun With Real Audio" in which the swan Bjork wore to an awards ceremony comes to life and starts pecking everything in site, and "Toonces, the Driving Cat."
(I checked at Yahoo, and they don't have Bjork's fantastic video for Human Behavior, which is unfortunate. As much as I liked that video, it did prompt a funny conversation with my mom:
ME: Well, it's a pretty good song.
MOM: How can you tell?)
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
To explain the weather of the past few days in the D.C. area, we turn to the voice of reason on Family Guy, Brian:
You want an explanation? God ... is ... pissed!
Here's a funny story from our day underwater, thanks to an impressive roundup in the Post. Police rescued some people from cars as the waters rose around them. Then two men, defying all human survival instinct, jumped back in the water. And so the police rescued them again.
What happened next, from the Post and a police sergeant:
"These two guys hit the officers, swung on them for no reason," Bergin said, adding that they went back into the raging waters "we think for their cellphones."
They are now safe, dry and in jail.
Quick Family Guy aside: In the episode in which Quagmire is married, they say Mayor Adam West has decreed that all graves be covered in concrete as protection from zombies. Twenty years ago, Adam West was in a film called Zombie Nightmare, which was perfect fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000 despite the inclusion of Tia Carrere. In this low, low-budget vehicle for bad metal music, West is a police captain. Who turns out to be corrupt. Who turns out to be corrupt because the zombies actually want him. Or something like that.
(Fun read: Check out the comments at IMDB on this film, starting with the behind-the-scenes story from one of the lead actors. The trivia behind that film is fascinating, and everyone seems to have a good sense of humor about how bad it really was.)
Friday, June 23, 2006
You'd think journalists would know not to shoot the bloody messenger.
But political journalists, I've found, get quite defensive when you propose anything that challenges the convenient little tools they use to cover politics. Journalists have reduced politics to a neat and tidy red-blue divide akin to the Yankees and Red Sox. Everything fits neatly into that frame. Do not dare question the frame! Everything can be explained as benefiting one party or the other! There are no original thoughts!
And it never occurs to political journalists that young people aren't tuning out of political coverage because they're stupid. Quite the opposite. They know a sham when they see it.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Hmmmm ... Copeland and Ben Folds ... that could be interesting ...
Demolition Man has a couple of Copeland trademarks -- subtle variations on the cymbals, a crisp snare drum that he only hits when it suits him, tom fills thrown into the middle of nothing. It starts with a classic fill in which he basically plays THROUGH the song like Keith Moon with technique, landing in his basic pattern about halfway through the next riff. He lays back during the verses, then brings the snare back into play to add a bit of urgency to the chorus.
Without Copeland, this isn't much of a song. He turns it into something special. It's rare that a drummer can do that.
2. Santana, Black Magic Woman. This is more of a complaint than a compliment. Any radio programmer who sets this one to fade out before the percussionists take over for the last 90 seconds or so should not be allowed to program an iPod, much less a radio station. It's like listening to Livin' La Vida Loca on the radio in Ireland, where they pronounced his name "Ricky Mar-TEEN" but played a remix that took out any Latin influences.
And yet I'm sad to see that it's been canceled.
It's probably just the excessive Anglophilia I carry around, though I also like to see worthwhile institutions carry on as long as they can.
The good news is that Later with Jools Holland is a great show, undoubtedly better than Top of the Pops. Jools is a marvelous MC, and the diversity of music on the show is simply wonderful.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Perhaps they can start at Screech's house. Dustin Diamond, who apparently didn't save enough money from beating a game Horshack in celebrity boxing, is selling T-shirts so he can keep his home.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I have been a little distracted by the World Cup lately, so I have no idea what's going on in all the things about which I normally blog. Does today's music still suck?
I did catch a little bit of MTV2 while I was watching Italy-Ghana in the gym. They were in the midst of a Puerto Rico block. I didn't have the sound on, but from what I can gather, Puerto Ricans are proud of their gold chains and ample cleavage. The videos looked pretty much the same as any other hip-hop videos except that some people displayed a Puerto Rican flag on or near said cleavage.
The good news is that I do have one musical find to report -- the new Weird Al song, available through his site, is decent. Not one of his very best, but he has a few good lines. Those of us who are tired of hearing from "gamers" about the superiority of reality as constructed by The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy will appreciate his line about Halo 2. The parody target, James Blunt's You're Beautiful, is a good choice -- it's a listenable song even when Al takes it in another direction.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Rather than collate five of these, I'm going to start going one at a time, posting whenever I hear or think of a good one.
And here's one for today:
"Charged with insults and flattery, her body moves with malice. Do you have to be so cruel to be callous?"
Like a lot of great comedy, it's funny because it's true. Any statement that begins, "If I had more (time/money/Axe body spray), I'd ...," is invariably full of shit.
And yet, we all make those statements. I've been catching myself doing it more and more because I work in an office with a few people who have too much free time (it's journalism, so the "too much disposable income" tag doesn't apply), and I've been occasionally envious of the time they spend working out, playing tennis, bicycling, having second careers and taking actual vacations.
It's especially easy to be envious in an urban, professional-minded area such as this one that has a lot of recreational activities and is full of people who live interesting lives. A former co-worker of mine recently wrote a piece for the Post magazine about taking her mom for a rare travel excursion to Costa Rica, where my former co-worker has been many, many times. You can't move on the interstates on weekends because so many people are either going to the beach or the mountains. We drove through D.C. and Arlington today, and we saw people kayaking in the Potomac, wandering around monuments and just generally enjoying themselves.
We have, of course, tied ourselves down in ways that make even a simple trip like this morning's outing relatively rare. Since we moved to the area, we've always had at least one dog -- for some years, a geriatric dog needing special care. Now we have a kid. We will have a second. (That's not the confession.) We have a house with a demanding yard. If I want to hit the bike trail, I have to make sure I'm not sticking the love of my life with babysitting chores that can't fit on top of her occasionally oppressive work load.
And this area aggressively markets lifestyles other than mine. When I say "aggressively," I'm not kidding. Northern Virginia has built so many freaking huge condo towers full of costly amenities that they've started using the "Live In Our Tower, You'll Get Laid" advertising approach. Check the Post real estate sections, and you may see an ad in which a guy holding a wine glass in an immaculate new condo is looking for a place to put down said wine glass because a gorgeous woman has a hand on his thigh and a "let's break in that new expensive piece of furniture from the retailer advertising on Page 6" expression.
They know their audience. The dating scene is so heavily skewed toward men in this town that attractive women often end up (temporarily, at least) with someone less appealing than George Costanza. Or perhaps a congressman. So it's not unreasonable to think that a good-looking guy in a condo tower full of Yuppies might find himself in pleasant company without leaving the building.
Since I'm not single and spend at least part of every day rejoicing that I am not, that line of advertising isn't going to appeal to me. But the condos, on occasion, look inviting. We've been watching a lot of Small Space, Big Style on HGTV (highly recommended), so we now think we could deal with a major reduction in square footage. And I enjoy flowers and grass so much more when I know I'm not going to spend entire afternoons attempting to take care of them and screwing up royally in the process. (Grass seed, I've decided, is a scam.)
But the fact is we wouldn't suddenly spend our afternoons kayaking and our evenings partaking of the Arlington social whirl if we lived 10 stories over a fitness center in Ballston. That's not really us.
And that's why this excellent post at Crooked Timber rang true, even if the comments were overrun with some rather tedious bleating from the "childfree" folks. (Yes! We get it! We'd have more money if we didn't have kids! In other news, summer is hotter than winter, Freddy Adu is a pretty good soccer player, and Britney Spears is now better known for her tabloid appearances than her singing or acting career.) That post is a reaction to this one at 11D, in which we find some of the funniest reading you'll ever see on the topic of partying vs. parenting:
Well, last night I wanted the kind of fun that involves staying up all night, smoking a pack of cigarettes without guilt, and doing body shots in a Mexican restaurant on West 3rd Street.Great reading, but I related more to the Crooked Timber post because he confesses something that I, too, will confess:
Yeah, yeah. You can't maintain your party-hardy, couch slacking ways for long. I mean nobody wants to see a forty year old woman licking salt off a guy's neck and coughing up big phlegm balls from the smokes.
Even the slacker thing becomes old, too. Steve always brings up his old roommate, Tiny, as the poster boy for the aging slacker. Tiny is still in the four bedroom apartment on 146th Street with the rotating cast of crazy roommates found in the Village Voice. He's still blowing his money on video games and pot. He is a professional slacker. Of course, he hasn't had a girlfriend since the first Bush administration and is getting fat from all that Chinese take-out.
At age 36, I still have never been drunk.
It's only shocking if you don't know me. First of all, I'm the sort of person who's convinced he'll get caught the one time he does something everyone else does, which is one reason why I didn't drink or do much else to defy authority when I was underage. Second of all, I went to college young (17 and four months) and naive, and when I got my first glimpse of drunk people around me, I thought they looked pretty stupid. Thirdly ... OK, I should warn you that this gets kind of gross ... on the thankfully rare occasions that I vomit, it comes out my nose as well as my mouth. That makes me shy away from anything that makes vomiting a realistic possibility.
Finally, I have a hunch I'd be a mean, nasty drunk. Deep down, I'm angry about a lot of things, and I try to vent that in healthy ways while maintaining an outwardly positive and pleasant demeanor. Toss a bunch of alcohol into the mix, and I'm liable to start screaming about the officiating in the 2003 NHL playoffs until I'm no longer tolerable company.
And so I proudly join Crooked Timber and 11D in saying, "You know what, I really don't regret my lifestyle choices. Even if I were childfree (I'd miss my little guy), dogfree (who'd greet me with a wagging tail each day?), rich (OK, I could deal with that) and single (couldn't deal with that at all), I wouldn't be living some glamorous lifestyle full of outdoor adventure and indoor erotica."
The grass in my front lawn is brown in places and bare in others. But it ain't greener anywhere else.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
There are two problems. I'm getting older, and the Web is getting younger. I'll never be on Facebook -- any other than a five-minute browse to see how it works would qualify as "creepy." I don't have much use for MySpace for the following reasons:
A. I'm not in a band and therefore have no music to upload.
B. I already have a blog, a home page and various other public Web presences to upload. If someone wants to find me, it's not difficult.
But I have finally felt the urge to give deli.cio.us a full-fledged try. The one who posts here known as "AG" -- far more Web-savvy than I am but also beyond the age of 20 -- will attest that I hadn't quite found a use for the "social bookmarking" thing.
I had tried something similar to deli.cio.us -- Yahoo's "My Web." That didn't go so well. It asked me to import my bookmarks, which I did. Now they're all tagged in accordance with my filing system. So a lot of things are simply "reference" or "occasional browse." All the presets that came loaded with various iterations of various browsers are tagged something like "zzzz Toshiba stuff."
Why deli.cio.us? It kept coming up. The hip people at work all swear by it. And it seems to feature in half the "extensions" in Firefox -- one that lets you save to deli.cio.us with a single click, one that lets you repeat tags, one that reads your mind and automatically saves your page to deli.cio.us with whatever tags are in your head.
One thing I'll say for deli.cio.us is that its saving and editing functions are remarkably advanced. I've seen other "ajax" applications (basically, pages that let you shift and edit modules without reloading a danged thing), and this is by far the most sophisticated. It's really impressive. As you edit a bookmark, it suggests tags based on your existing tags and whatever other folks have tagged the same page. It's so intelligent that I actually fear it. I'm convinced it could reach through the screen, yank off my shirt, tag it and spit it back at me.
So it's a pretty neat way of saving and organizing bookmarks. And then I can import THAT into Yahoo and do whatever I want with it. And yes, I found it mildly interesting to see how many other people had saved various pages of mine.
Beyond that, I'm not quite convinced. Does anyone really want to see what I've bookmarked? Everytime I see it on someone else's page, I think they're saying to me, "Hey, I took my bookmarks and made ... a page with ... words ... bigger than other words."
If you're interested, take a peek.