Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe...

Okay, this is too hilarious/wrong/bizarre/sad/awesome not to post:

A man in the U.K. is wanted by authorities for repeated counts of aggravated butt-sniffing. The “butt bandit” (that’s my new name for him) stalks his victims in grocery store aisles and while they are comparing labels, he silently brings nose to ass for a sniff. Noooo! Watch him in action as he is caught committing multiple acts of butt-sniffery on this supermarket surveillance tape. The “butt bandit” is considered armed (with a nose) and dangerous to all unsuspecting butts no matter size, shape, gender, or smelliness.

News items like this make me feel better about myself. No matter how shitty things get, I can always look at people like this and think, "Yeah, my life might be sucky, but at least I'm not that guy." Imagine having an uncontrollable urge to (repeatedly) sniff the ass of a random stranger in public. And then getting caught on video. And then having that video end up on the internet, so that every asshole (heh) with a computer can watch endless clips of you nose-deep in some grocery store clerk's butt.

Now, don't you feel better?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Novelty, Schmovelty

I have been OD'ing on seventies schmalz lately thanks to John, who has loaded up a bunch of old Top of the Pops episodes on my hard drive. Top of the Pops was the UK equivalent of American Bandstand, with the top acts of each week lip syncing their songs for a rhythmically-challenged audience of teenagers. The interesting thing about these TOTP eps is the high number of bizarre novelty songs frequently appearing on the British charts. Below are clips of some of the weirdest.

Joy Sarney
Naughty Naughty Naughty

Joy Sarney appeared on Top of the Pops in 1977 singing this song, which was (shockingly) her only hit. It's a love song about Punch from the Punch and Judy puppet show. At one point you can plainly see the puppeteer's arm poking out through the cheap set. This song made it to #26 on the UK chart. I have to ask, was everyone high in the seventies?

S-S-S-Single Bed

This is s-s-s-serious crap. Watch this one at your own risk; the sheer ugliness of the singer's outfit (hot pants, tank top, white cape) made my eyes burn and her migraine-inducing voice sounds like Britney Spears on helium. And the guy in the Kansas City jersey? Is so high it's not even funny.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Egyptian Reggae

Jonathan Richman is a respected musician and (supposedly) a trail-blazer in the seventies punk movement. He is probably now best known for his role as the guitar-strumming Greek chorus in There's Something About Mary. It's a bit hard to swallow his alleged punk status--especially considering this song--an instrumental number that sounds neither Egyptian nor vaguely reggae-ish (and certainly not punk). That said, I do have a peculiar fondness for this video. I can watch it over and over and never get sick of it. I think it's the dancing camel. I am obsessed with the dancing camel.


Take a close look at the bloke on the mike, if you can make out his features behind all the groovy seventies hair. Look familiar? That's Paul Young, of Everytime You Go Away, Oh Girl, Come Back and Stay, Do They Know It's Christmas, and a bunch of other shite that only I remember because back in the day I owned No Parlez, The Secret of Association, and his Greatest Hits. Recorded with his first group, Streetband, Toast is a far cry from all the earnest blue-eyed soul stuff Young would become famous for in the later years. Looking at this video--I have to ask yet again--was everyone high in the seventies?

The Wombles

The Wombles was a kids' show in the UK, and (if their Wikipedia page is to be believed), the most successful band of 1974, with albums in the UK charts for more weeks than any other act. The freaky thing about this, uh, "band," is that they weren't one hit wonders, like most novelty acts. They appeared on Top of the Pops numerous times, continued to sell records throughout the seventies, and even had a hit as late as 1998 with the dance mix Remember You're A Womble, which peaked at #13 on the UK charts.

I'll leave you with that little bizarre bit of trivia, and the Wombles themselves with their hit Wombling Merry Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A review of stuff I hate vs. stuff I love...

The Suck It List

Stella’s Fish Café
I can’t get past the name. I don’t know who Stella is, but I know that the words “Fish” and “Café” don’t belong together. It brings to mind fish-flavored coffee, which, ew. Plus, it’s not even a café, just another restaurant/bar, like a pretentious Old Chicago. With fish.

Chino Latino
I refuse to be swayed by the cheeky billboard ads and the glittery sign. Too loud, too yuppified, and the food is crap.

Paisano’s Pizzaria (St. Paul)
This place is utter crap. Mediocre food, messy dining room, excruciatingly horrible service. You’re better off staying home, heating up a frozen grocery store pizza and eating in front of the teevee.

Two words: food poisoning. Five more: dine at your own risk.

The Salon For You
I used to live above this place when I lived in St. Paul. I decided to check it out, and left with a fabulous haircut that I was extremely happy with, along with some funky reddish/pink highlights. Two months later I went back looking for the same stylist. She no longer worked there, they told me, but the owner of the salon was available to do my hair. I felt like I was in good hands—after all, if she’s the owner, she has to know what she’s doing, right? Wrong. She refused to do highlights because some weeks before I had experimented with a temporary color rinse and she said she wouldn’t color over that “as a matter of principle.” (?) Then, she proceeded to give me the worst haircut I’ve ever had in my life, and that’s saying something (I came up in the eighties, remember?) She just took the scissors, gave me a blunt cut straight across the ends, and she was done. It looked so horrible that I had to scrape together some more money and go find somewhere to get it fixed. Happily, I ended up with Mackenzie at Hair Police (see below). Her take on my botched ‘do? “Holy crap, this looks like it was done by someone who’s never cut hair before!” Thank God for Hair Police.

American Apparel
I understand that they’re famous for making their clothes in the USA by non-sweatshop labor, so good for them. But do their all-American, non-sweatshop workers have to make such fugly clothing? I mean, I don’t want my clothes made in Laos by a barefoot 9-year-old, but I do want clothes that are attractive and wearable. (Seriously, who buys this crap?)

Skintight shiny spandex? Really?

There was a time when nearly every scrap of my wardrobe came from Ragstock. Their clothing and accessories were quirky, functional, and reasonably-priced. Unfortunately, they have since gone straight down the crapper. I think they changed clothing suppliers or something, because they’re stuff has taken a sharp nosedive quality-wise; cheap-looking clothes that are more expensive than the lines they used to carry. And most of the clothing doesn’t even come in larger sizes—if you’re above a size 8, you’re shit out of luck. Also? Rude, unhelpful staff. (Oh Ragstock, why hast thou forsaken me?)

Luvs It

Live bluegrass every Saturday night, plus damn good pizza. You can’t go wrong. Bring a date here and they’ll think you’re offbeat and original for discovering it. You’re welcome.

Nina’s Coffee Café (St. Paul)
My original St. Paul hangout, located directly across the street from my first Twin Cities apartment. Great coffee, great atmosphere, and a fabulous place to hunker down and get some writing done. I’ve seen Garrison Keillor there twice! (He owns the bookstore down below Nina’s—Common Good Books.)

Buffalo Exchange
Since Ragstock has fallen out of favor, Buffalo Exchange has picked up the slack. I love this store. Fantastic clothes, shoes, and accessories, all reasonably priced. It’s all thrift/resale, but the staff are fairly picky about what they buy and they always have a good selection of clothes that tend towards the “gently-used” rather than simply “used.”

Eye of Horus
Yeah, I’m a bit of a hippie—you got a problem with that? Didn’t think so. Even for a non-hippie, this is a cool store. It has a wide selection of candles, essential oils, and incense—stuff anyone could use, right?—along with tarot cards, crystals, runes, and mojo bags, for those of us with more esoteric needs. All this, plus a friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Nicollett Village Video
Who needs a Netflix subscription? I’d rather support independently-owned video stores like this one. Village Video has nearly every movie category imaginable, including a wide range of foreign and cult films you can’t find anywhere else. They also have a huge “Brit Vid” section, featuring shows like Spaced, The Tomorrow People (remember that one, fellow Gen-Xers?) and Not the Nine-o’Clock News. It rocks. Hard.

Hair Police
As long as I live in the Twin Cities, I will never go anywhere else to have my hair done.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I'm a bit pressed for time (and internet access) tonight, so I can't do the proper post I was planning on. Instead, here are some of my favorite clips from some of my favorite obscure Brit-coms; sort of a "Greatest Hits" list.

The first batch is from the show Pulling. It's a brilliant show that--as much as I love it--hits a bit too close to home for me sometimes.

Donna (the main character) tries to impress an old school friend with her fabulous new digs and her sophisticated flatmates...

Karen (the slutty one--and my favorite) gets confused...

Karen is also a nursery school teacher....

From Big Train, a fantastically bizarre BBC comedy from the late nineties that featured a young Simon Pegg....

And more...

By the way, remember when Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol? Damn, the nineties were weird.

This rocks so hard....

And last but not least, the amazing Steve Coogan in "Alan Partridge and the sex people" (great band name, by the way):

Stay tuned, will do a proper post soon.

Monday, November 09, 2009

I saw This Is It over the weekend, and was blown away. I think everyone—Michael Jackson fan or not—should see it. You come away with a new respect for the man and his artistry. Whether or not he was talented isn’t debatable—even his detractors couldn’t argue with that—but what impressed me the most was his insane dedication to his craft. He obsessed over every detail of the show, from beginning to end, and not in a diva/superstar “flatter me and make sure my lighting is perfect” sort of way, but as a true, bona fide artist who was really at one with his work, an artist who truly cared about the quality of the entire performance and making certain it was presented to his audience in the most authentic possible manner.

Two things you have to get over first: obviously, Jackson wasn’t well, and didn’t look it. In fact, much of the time he looks downright ghostly. The other thing is, yes, it’s an obvious bid to cash in on his death. I think the latter in particular is keeping some people away, people who feel they shouldn’t see the film as a matter of principle. I am telling you, get over yourself and see it NOW while you can still catch it on the big screen. Everyone needs to violate a few principles once in a while, and this is one of those times.

Seeing the film reminded me—yet again—how sad the current generation of entertainers is in comparison. And I’ll take this opportunity to point out a few, just because they make it so damn easy.

Exhibit A: Hilary Duff.

Ten bucks says she's listening to pubescent punk goddess Miley Cyrus's cover of "Baba O'Reilly" on those things.

I don’t think Duff has done much singing as of late, as she appears to be focusing on an acting career. I actually caught Hilary Duff’s performance in War, Inc and I’m guessing Meryl Streep isn’t feeling too threatened by it. (The entire movie is a giant dried up dog turd, incidentally. I love John Cusack as much as the next Gen-Xer, but when he makes a bad film, he doesn’t fool around. See also: Grosse Pointe Blank and Pushing Tin). One entrance in Duff’s musical catalog is particularly horrifying. It’s her cover of The Who’s "My Generation." I checked it out, and it’s every bit as execrable as you’d imagine. I found out about this remake on, which is where I get most of my news these days. They sum up Duff’s hatchet job better than I ever could:

People try to put your generation down, do they, Hilary? Maybe it's because your generation has a habit of mistaking glorified Mouseketeers for musicians. Or maybe it's because your generation gave rise to a version of the music industry that asparagus-pisses in the face of everything rock stands for. Either way, it looks like Hilary's in the process of following her own advice and just f-f-f-fading away.

Exhibit B: Britney Spears and her tired lip-synching.

Holy fucking shit. I think this is the un-sexiest image ever caught on film.

It seems that a certain official in the land down under is calling out Britney Spears and her puppeteers for foisting her phony, bland, karaoke-track lip-synching ass on their fair country.

Virginia Judge, the Minister for Fair Trading for New South Wales (the Australian state that includes Sydney), said she is considering options to make sure fans aren't misled when buying tickets to Britney's Circus tour concerts. Some seats are going for more than $1,300.

"It is Britney's 'prerogative' to lip-sync, and it is my job to make sure consumers know what they are paying for up front," Judge said in a statement released by the government.

Australia, I now totally forgive you for producing Russell Crowe.

Exhibit C: Kid Rock

Actual mug shot. Not kidding.

My friend Marcus and I once decided that Kid Rock looks like a heavily tattooed janitor who definitely can’t work past 5:00 tomorrow because his cousin is giving him a lift downtown to meet with his parole officer, and this time for sure he really positively CAN’T be late, motherfucker, or he’ll get his ass sent right back to the slammer (I believe we also decided he’d served time for something involving crystal meth and domestic abuse).

Kid Rock recently sort of covered/sampled/raped “Sweet Home Alabama” and substituted the original lyrics for his own, which sounds about right. Other than that, I believe he is best known for giving the pork sword to Pamela Anderson, and for being the President of the Asshole Douchebags of America (Eminem is the VP).

In conclusion (going back to the original point of this post), I strongly encourage you to see This Is It. Think of it as paying your respects to the memory of a true artist whose legacy will—let’s hope—far outlast the dog shit-encrusted footprints of the current crop of glorified karaoke-fied lip-synching strippers and abominable musical whores exemplified above.

On a side note…I’m really into the high-falutin’ polysyllabic words today, aren’t I?

My latest offense

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Day 'o the Dead!

I would have posted yesterday on Halloween, but I was too busy getting drunk and trying to keep my Magenta wig on straight, an effort that required every brain cell I have left.

Today I thought I'd post a little something for the kids, because I believe the children are our future and we don't want them having all the fun that we had; the little bastards are spoiled enough already. Here is an anti-LSD vid from the sixties. It seems the makers of this short really know their subject matter, as whomever produced this video seriously had to be tripping their balls off. Not only does it function as (sort of) an anti-drug PSA, it also has a strong pro-vegetarian message--definitely a cause I can get behind.

Next time you are about to stuff a hot dog in your face, you're going to think of this video. And scary, hairy, screaming trolls.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Joshua Path plug:

This is the video he recently posted for his cover of "Don't Fear the Reaper." It's a brilliant version, spookier than the original. If you are squeamish, heed the warning at the beginning...there will be blood!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Other Side of Summer (Songs), Part II

Because winter sucks.


Dave Matthews Band "I Did It"

Say what you want about DMB; this song fucking rules. It's apparently about wizzing your tits off on 'shrooms. The video is certainly fitting, if that's true. Summer 2001, I remember driving along 96th, smoking a P-funk light, buzzing on Xannies, Merlot, and Nyquil. I had hit a rough patch and was depressed/ambivalent about my job, my boyfriend, and pretty much my life in general. I cranked this song and thought--screw it! The whole world can kiss my ass! This happens to be an awesome "FUCK YOU, LIFE!" song. We've all been there.


No Doubt "Hella Good"

I remember this being a very fucking hot summer in Indiana. I was working two part time jobs, renting a tiny room from a friend of mine and basically living the starving artist's dream. The rest of this CD sucks ass, but this song is cool.


Fleetwood Mac "Say You Will"

Very sentimental about this one. I spent the summer packing up and saying goodbye to my life and my family and friends in Indianapolis. I was leaving behind someone I loved (dead-end relationship) to be with someone else I loved in St. Paul. That relationship bit the dust about four months after I moved to the Twin Cities (thank GOD!). But, still, here I am...


The Killers "Hot Fuss" (whole album)

I was spending my first summer on my own in an unfamiliar city, but it was also very exciting. I felt like I could pretty much be whoever I wanted, since no one knew me. I was temping at a sales office that summer. One of the younger sales reps burned this CD for me, and I've loved the Killers ever since.

Finn Brothers "Everyone Is Here" (whole album)

I saw them at the Guthrie that July, and met Neil Finn after the show.


Gwen Stefani "Hollaback Girl"

One of the best summers in recent memory! I had just quit my (much hated) job of 10 months at Mt. Zion in St. Paul, and was living off money my dad had set aside for me. The money was supposed to be for my wedding, but since I hadn't been in any danger of getting hitched, he said I could have it whenever I wanted. I took him up on it that June and spent the entire summer writing my book, biking St. Paul, and stumbling from happy hour to happy hour with my friend Shane. It was like being a teenager again. This non-sensical Gwen Stefani song epitomizes a great chapter in my weird little life.


Fergie "London Bridge"

This was another good time. I started working as a massage therapist that August, and it was the best career move I ever made. I went from temping and being flat broke to actually having money and being able to keep myself in cool clothes, new shoes and real food--plus I met some great friends. Shane and I (we were flat-mates at the time) could finally afford to move from our depressing neighborhood in Little Canada to bright, shiny new digs in Uptown. Life was good.


Of Montreal (Basically their entire discography)

My ex Matthew (who dumped me in May of that year) introduced me to Of Montreal, and I quickly became obsessed with them. In fact, I spent pretty much this entire summer listening to Of Montreal and licking my wounds.

Lily Allen "Smile"

I also spent a lot of time listening to this song while trying to get over Matthew. Although I didn't do all the evil things Lily does in the video, I was hoping that one day I could relate to what she was singing about. And whaddya know? Once I stopped caring, I did.


R.E.M. "Man-Sized Wreath"

The summer started out promising. Marcus came up to visit and we saw R.E.M. at the Xcel Center in early June (it was the day after Obama had announced his candidacy at that same venue). This turned out to be one of the best live shows I'd ever seen. Michael Stipe did this song justice. (The accompanying video pales in comparison--you really had to be there).

Black Kids "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You"

This is one of those bands that gives me hope for modern music. I absolutely fell in love with this song the first time I heard it on the Current, and I went out and bought the CD the same day. (I didn't download it...guess I'm old-school). The album was the backdrop to what was (at the end) a shitty summer, with the whole Simon Reid debacle and everything. On a lighter note, I saw the Black Kids at 7th Street Entry with DeAnna later that year (October, I think) and they rocked the house. That lead singer is a bit of all right.


Franz Ferdinand: "Tonight" (whole album)

Has there ever been a more badass song? I think not.

This album ruled my summer. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And-archy in the UK

I just returned from a magical 3-week holiday in England. Words cannot express how much I love that country; I must have some kind of mystical past-life connection to it (...and I'm Irish! My ancestors would consider me a vile traitor!) I hung out with Ian, went punting on the Cam river, nearly killed myself bouldering on the Dorset coast, explored great Cornish towns like Tintagel, Land's End and Polperro (pictured), ate lunch at the hotel that inspired Fawlty Towers in Torquay, fell in love with the town of Clovelly and all its cats, went book shopping in Hay-on-Wye (Wales), and generally had an amazing time.

I will get around to posting the second half of my summer song list--now that it's nearly winter--but first (for Ian), here is one of my favorite Morph shorts.


Friday, September 11, 2009

The (Other) Songs of Summer, Part II coming soon.

I want to take advantage of increased site traffic to plug the subject of my next interview. Joshua Path is an L.A.-based singer/songwriter whose song "Spider of Love" is currently being featured in the Season 6 trailer for the TV show House.

Path is a brilliant songwriter and musician, and I've become a big fan. His latest CD Headlight in the Sun is available on iTunes, or you can order it on his website. My favorite songs are "Angels Don't Come Around Here No More," "Spider of Love," and the title track "Headlight" in particular really gets me.

Check him out. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Other Side of Summer (Songs), Part I

Not to keep harping on Rob Sheffield, but I have to again take issue with his opinions on popular music. The latest Rolling Stone features his list of "The Songs of Summer," wherein he highlights "the best summer jams of the past 20 years." The list is extremely hip hop and R&B heavy, which just a smattering of pop/rock songs in the mix. Thus, most of his selections are songs that I couldn't stand or don't even remember.

I like hip hop, but I'm very picky. Most of the mainstream American "bitches n' ho's" tripe bores the shit out of me. The hip hop artists I tend to like either hail from outside the U.S. (The Streets, M.I.A) or are from another era altogether (old school Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys). As for R&B, I can only get into 60's and 70's Motown. The rest...snoresville.

So then--in answer to Rob Sheffield--here is my summer song list. Some of the ones I've picked are ones I actually disliked; I chose the songs that evoke my most vivid summertime memories, for better or worse.


Wilson Phillips: “Hold On”
When I was sixteen I had a summer job as a cashier at Milano's, a (now defunct) fast food pasta restaurant in Broad Ripple. Most of my co-workers were also in high school, but they were all going into their senior years at Broad Ripple High School and I was just a lowly junior: to them, I might as well have been a ten-year-old in pigtails. Thus, all the shit work was foisted upon me. When it was slow I had to mop the floors, scrub down all the booths and tables, and (ugh) clean the toilets. The music piped into the store was all soft-rock adult contemporary--Michael Bolton, Phil Collins, etc. And the number one song I used to have to listen to while on my hands and knees, scraping gum from the bottom of the tables? Wilson Phillips's “Hold On.” That wretched, chirpy, faux- inspirational piece of dog doody was played at least once an hour, and I absolutely hated it. Even the name “Wilson Philips” conjures memories of that white Oxford shirt, the khaki pants, the ugly brown loafers and that goddamn green visor I had to wear as part of the Milano's uniform. It was the opposite of sexy (like Wilson Phillips).

Bell, Biv Devoe: “Poison”
Another song I loathed, but this one at least has a positive memory attached to it. Mike was a cook in the kitchen and was the one person there I was cool with. I had a bit of a crush on him, too. Mike was one of those hip hop white guys, before that style and attitude became the norm among high school boys. He wasn't the greatest looking guy—bad hair, ugly glasses and one of those unfortunate peach-fuzz mustaches—but he lifted weights a lot and had a killer bod. Plus he was sweet and funny, so that went a long way towards his attractiveness. Mike was a big fan of Bell, Biv Devoe (or BBD, as they were called) and LOVED this song. He used to listen to WTLC in the kitchen when the manager wasn't around, and he would crank “Poison” and dance around to it whenever it was played. Note: for you youngsters, “Poison” was probably one of the worst songs of that era, featuring the lyric “Never trust a big butt and a smile.” (So...beware of Rosie O'Donnell, I guess?)

The Sundays “Here's Where the Story Ends”
My sister turned me on to The Sundays that summer. Great band, great song.

The Cure Disintegration
After spending my days taking shit from surly Milano's customers and scrubbing floors and toilets to the sounds of Wilson Phillips and Bell Biv Devoe, Disintegration was like a soothing balm for my psyche. Genius album--Robert Smith at his moodiest. I listened to it constantly, especially “Pictures of You.”


Jesus Jones: "Right Here, Right Now"
This song pretty much defined that summer for me--so much so that I referenced it in a short story I that wrote (to be published, stay tuned...).

Paula Abdul: "Rush Rush"
My friend Amanda and I LOVED this video for one reason: Keanu Reeves. It was in heavy rotation on MTV that summer, and we would call one another whenever it came on. The video is a gigantic hunk of Velveeta; a laughable homage to “Rebel Without a Cause,” complete with hammy acting and cringe-inducing dialogue. I still love it.

Crowded House – Woodface
This cassette lived in my Walkman for the entire summer. After the previous summer working at Milano's, I made a conscious choice to remain unemployed and instead spent most of my time lounging by the pool, baking myself to a rich golden brown hue and listening to Neil Finn sing “And the excess of fat on your American bones/Will cushion the impact as you sink like a stone.” Awesome.

Elvis Costello “The Other Side of Summer”
I am including this song for its title, and because I remember my friend Zak making fun of the video. “Who's that in his back-up band, the Go-Go's?” NOTE: I couldn't find this video on YouTube, so you'll just have to imagine a girl group playing back-up for Elvis Costello while he sings this on a beach.


Tom Cochrane: "Life is a Highway"
This is the summer after my high school graduation. I was excited to be done with high school, but a little bit depressed and lost in a Ghost World (see the movie) sort of funk. The highlight of that summer was taking a road trip with my then-boyfriend to hang with my sister in Tulsa, then on down to New Orleans to visit his family. This song was played a lot, and reminds me of long summer days on the open road with my man, scarfing down Cheetos, Corn Nuts, and Diet Coke.

The Black Crowes: "Remedy"
This band always reminds me of Tulsa. The Black Crowes, weed, and Tulsa—sort of fitting.


4 Non Blondes: "What's Goin' On"
I was in school to become a court reporter during this time. We didn't have summers off, it was more of a “tri-mester” sort of thing, with short breaks in between. I heard this song a lot that summer while driving to school in my first car--a 1988 white Toyota Corolla. Other than that, not a lot of musical memories from that time.


Whale: "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe"
My boyfriend was crazy about this song. He had the CD single (guess he didn't care enough to buy the whole album). Rick and I had a big debate over whether the singer is yelling “Get off, get off, get off my face,” or “Get off, get off, get off of me.” Turns out the lyric is “Get off, get off, get off my bed.” We were both wrong.

Meat Puppets: "Backwater”
My friend Heidi and I decided this song was about toilets flushing. It sort of exemplifies nineties music for me: dull and stoned-sounding, with a lot of guitars. There were tons of bands back then that sounded exactly like this.


Presidents of the United States of America: "Lump"
This was not a good year for me. I was really sick that summer, and this song reminds me of being sick. I didn't really hate the song though. Sometimes I sort of liked it, and would crank it in when I was in my car. Sometimes I couldn't stand it, though. It was one of those songs I had to be in the mood to like. Probably the best thing about it is the parody that it spawned, Weird Al's “Gump.”


Primitive Radio Gods: "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand”
A beautifully sad, hypnotic song that peaked during another depressing summer. I had a bad temp job at a gigantic company that financed student loans. It wasn't the worst temp job I ever had, but definitely one of the most mind-numbingly boring. This song reminds me of that job, and being depressed. This was in my pre-medicated days, by the way. Thank God for Paxil.


Sugar Ray: "Fly"
I'm twenty-four years old and living with my boyfriend of six years in a two-bedroom apartment that I think is pretty fancy. It's the last summer that Rick and I are together. I'm about to be dumped and I don't even know it. This song is constantly on the radio. I hear it every morning while I'm driving to my latest shitty temp job. I liked it the first 200 times I heard it, but now it's starting to wear thin. Sort of like my relationship did.


Barenaked Ladies: "One Week"
This was my first summer relationship-free since I was seventeen, and I was sowing some wild oats. I had a brief fling with a cute alcoholic named Chris who was in a local improv comedy troupe, and he loved this song. It was my introduction to the Barenaked Ladies, and I've been a fan ever since.


Smash Mouth: "All Star"
This song was an important one for me, because it was one of the things that inspired me to quit the soul-sucking insurance job I had at the time and find something I liked. After leaving there I landed a gig at the Indianapolis Art Center where I made even less money, but I was finally happy. It was all worth it. And I owe it (partly) to Smash Mouth.


I seriously can't remember one song that was popular that summer. I may have blocked it out any musical memory I had from that time, as it would have been the heyday of Britney and Eminem, and I'd rather hear Meat Loaf sing the entire Indianapolis phone book than risk getting “Oops I Did It Again” stuck in my head (just typing that is risky...). This was the summer I was in love with an earthy, nature-loving artist who listened to a lot of folksy stuff like Simon and Garfunkel and Cat Stevens. Forced to choose, I'd say “The Boxer” and “Silent Sunrise” are songs that stand out, because both songs remind me of him.

"Look at their eyes! They're on pot!" (Almost Famous reference. Email me if you don't get it.)

Next time...part II

Monday, August 10, 2009

I like Rob Sheffield. I loved his memoir Love Is a Mix Tape, and he's usually good for a laugh when he appears as a commentator on those VH-1 pop culture shows. However, I take issue with his music reviews in Rolling Stone. (I also take issue with music critics in general, because I've always questioned their validity; music critics seem to me like they're just writing to impress other music critics. Also, I am certainly not going to buy the new CD from a boring jam band just because some drooling geek in Spin gives it five stars. Similarly, if someone is into Rihanna, they're going to buy her crap CD no matter what Tweedle McFartpants in Rolling Stone says about it. But that's a whole other post...)

Sheffield reviewed the latest Daughtry release in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. I don't know much about Daughtry, other than it's fronted by some bald dorkus whose last name is Daughtry. Oh, and I think he was on American Idol too. That's about it. But check out what Sheffield has to say about him and his band in his review, titled "Daughtry's Lady-Killing Cheese Rock":

Ladies love Daughtry, and and it's never been simple for the men in their lives to figure out why...(H)e has no interest in playing cool; all he cares about is ovary-melting power ballads. Hell, he even calls his band by his last name, a corny trop that rock stars haven't dared since the days of Winger and Montrose....He brings in chick-rock titans like Richard Marx and Nickleback's Chad Kroeger, and teams up with Vince Gill for an ace country heart-tugger...Daughtry is cocky enough to know the ladies love him even more when he makes their boyfriends suffer.

Okay, Rob? First of all, never ever use the term "ovary-melting power ballad" again. Because, ew. And second, why are Richard Marx and Chad Kroeger (who?) considered chick rock? I've always thought of chick rock in terms of bands like the Go-Go's, the Donnas, Elastica, and the Runaways. In other words, chicks that rock, and not candy-ass has-beens like Richard Marx, who is not a chick (despite his hair), or the other lite-rock denizen he cited, Vince Gill. (I still have no idea who Chad Kroeger is, and can't be bothered to google him). I also resent Sheffield's insinuation that most anyone with XX chromosomes gets off on this sort of watered-down dreck. I mean, does he only hang out with menopausal 50-something grandmothers? Is his view of women so narrow that he believes every single damned one of us listens to Michael Bolton while watching Lifetime TV and daydreaming about meeting Celine Dion? Because if so, he's better off writing for Reader's Digest.

Just to clear up any confusion, here's a video of some REAL chick rock.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

And speaking of the other kind of "birther," here is my friend Tim's rant on Angelina Jolie. He sent this in an email to me, and it's too good not to share. I'm posting it here (with his blessing, of course).

...For me, the making out episode with her brother(?) was the tipping point, which she followed up by having limousine sex with Billy Bob on the way to some Hollywood function. After that, she could do nothing right in my eyes. The episode where she accused the U.S. of holding up progress in Darfur comes to mind. Never mind that China, with it's oil concessions in Sudan, has been the principal impediment there. But, she's a fast learner, and soon with her own personal foreign policy advisor (yes, really) she was offered membership in the Council on Foreign Relations (unbelievable!). God, how I long for simpler times when the entertainment elite had the good graces to separate their altruism from their incessant celebrity narcissism. The post-celluloid career humanitarianism of Audrey Hepburn comes to mind.

In the end, we can only hope the public appetite for all Brangelina all the time dissipates. The actor Michael Douglas said it best a few years back, "I don't know about Brad Pitt leaving that beautiful woman (Jennifer Aniston) to go hold orphans for Angelina Jolie. I mean, how long is that going to last?" Unfortunately, it's already lasted far too long.
Bill Maher's birther rant:

Word to the third. Well-timed and well said, Billy boy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Here is another article I wrote, published this month in The Edge magazine (online edition). They asked for stories about special bonds we share with our animals. I wrote about Shelby, my little princess.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

No time for much today, so I'm just going to shamelessly promote myself...

Check out my interview with author Clane Hayward here.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Time for another rant!

Jon Voight in drag. Oops, I mean, "THE HOTTEST CHICK IN THE WORLD!"

Today I will pick apart Angelina Jolie, because a.) I can't stand her, and b.) I can't fucking escape her. Every damn time I go to the supermarket her big forehead is staring at me from the latest cover of Us. Every time I log on to the internet I am bombarded with ridiculous "OMG! Brangelina!" headlines. She sticks a malnourished leg out her front door and we get ten straight days of coverage on how fabulous she allegedly looks. She is photographed eating a Saltine and it's "OMG, is Angelina pregnant again?" And I realize that some of my wrath may be misdirected: after all, it's at least 50% the fault of the media for following her around and filling those asinine, tree-destroying rags with photos of her and Brad and their eighteen preciously-named babies. But I wouldn't mind (or even notice) if she didn't annoy me like she does. And, without further ado, here are the main reason she bugs.

Let's start at the (sort of) top....

"Acting" ability: It would appear that not only is Jolie a graduate of the Nicolas Cage School of Ham-fisted Overacting (witness her scenery-chewing in crap like Gia, Alexander, and Girl, Interrupted), but she also studied with Hayden Christiansen at the Academy of the Petrified Forest (witness her painfully wooden acting in...well, everything else). Does this make her "versatile"? Perhaps. I think it just means she sucks. And what's with some of the roles she's taken on? No offense to Mariane Pearl--who suffered enough way before Jolie portrayed her in A Mighty Heart--but come on. Angelina Jolie can't even play a skinny white woman, a role she should have nailed by now. A pair of brown contacts and a frizzy wig and suddenly she's multi-racial? Seriously? I mean, a good Caucasian actress--Cate Blanchett for instance--wouldn't be able to pull that off. And I don't care if Angelina's father is (reportedly) an asshat; Jon Voight can act circles around his daughter (raw sewage like Anaconda and Tomb Raider notwithstanding). Too bad she didn't inherit any of his talent.

Lifestyle, quirks: Remember when she first became famous, and she was all raven-haired and goth-y, and in interviews she always talked about her knife collection and how she cut herself and she craved the taste of blood and would do everything short of open a vein right in front of reporters so she could prove just how fucking edgy she was? I do, and it was the first thing about her that set off my bullshit detector. I read that and thought, what the fuck? Is she fourteen years old? Because that's the only age that that kind of lame acting-out (and subsequent bragging) would be considered cool, and even then only by easily-impressed suburban teens who wear black lipstick and shop at Hot Topic. And still, the media ate that shit up with a spoon. "Wow! She's dark!" (YAWN!) And then she further compounded the stupidity by marrying Billy Bob Thornton (despite claiming to be a quasi-lesbian. Again, YAWN!) and she wore a vial of his blood around her neck and they would suck face and paw at one another at awards shows (and wherever else cameras were present). And when the rest of the world--thankfully--responded with a resounding YAWN, she ditched Billy Bob and adopted her first kid, a photogenic Vietnamese toddler she named (ugh) Maddox, and PRESTO! suddenly she was a saint. She eighty-sixed the black clothing and bloody vials, swathed herself in flowing gauzy dresses, and essentially declared to the world (via patronizing interviews and her serene, barf-enducing demeanor) "Look how enlightened and evolved I now am! I adopted this adorable ethnic orphan for the good of all humanity and what have you done for the world lately?" Which, okay, she's an insufferable egotist, but she gave a needy kid a home, so good for her, I guess. But still? She was full of shit. And a half-dozen adopted and biological babies later? She's still full of shit, and an even bigger egomaniac, collecting orphans like Precious Moments figurines and popping out three babies in two years (which, seriously? Is pretty gross.) And--if I may go back to her public transformation from Psycho Goth Chick to Lady Madonna--she reportedly cut all ties with her father after he told an interviewer that he worried his knife-collecting daughter was emotionally unstable. Keep in mind that this was shortly after her big switch-over and Crazy Angelina had become soooo 5 minutes ago, but I guess Jon Voight didn't get the memo that it was taboo to bring up his daughter's past weirdness now that she was Mother Angelina. Her solution to his evil parental concern? Screw you, dad! (To paraphrase my grandmother: you made your bed of crazy, bitch, now lie in it!)

Purported beauty: Let's get this straight. I'm not "jus jellus" of Ms. Jolie's alleged gorgeousness. I'm not jealous, because I don't find her attractive. Her increasingly gaunt appearance, her fivehead, her spongy lips? Sorry, not my thing. And that's fine, whatever. What I resent is the insistence of EVERYONE--men, women, websites, magazines (both tabloid and "respected" ones)--that she is abso-fucking-lutely the most stunning creature ever to walk upright and that us mortal women are supposed to just PASS OUT at the sight of her earth-shattering beauty. Bleh. And, also? Nope. Another thing that bugs is that Jolie fits squarely into that warped equation of "95 lb. frame + boy hips + B cups = OMG so voluptuous and HOTT!" Only in modern-day Hollywood could anorexics with fake tits be considered curvy. And by the way, I happen to be a fan of actresses such as Drew Barrymore, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Scarlett Johansen, Reese Witherspoon, and other starlets who bear the Hollywood-endorsed "hot" stamp of approval, lest you think I'm just some troll who hates the so-called pretty people. And speaking of pretty....

Her man: She can have him. Brad Pitt hasn't done anything for me since Thelma and Louise, and that was nearly 20 years ago. I've moved on. Nothing against the Bradster; he actually seems like an affable, fairly down-to-earth guy. He's also reportedly a huge pothead, so he'd probably be fun to toke up with (but not as much fun as Matthew McConaghey. Dude puts the "HIGH" in "hi-larious!). But, like the single friend who's cool until he/she couples with an annoying partner and slowly becomes just as repellent as they are, the Angelina curse seems to have hit Brad. He joins her in that creepy W photo spread where they portray 60's-era parents with six kids. (Dammit, don't encourage them! Also, why does Angelina appear to be wearing a swim diaper in one of the pics? Is Brad into water sports? Scratch that--I don't want to know). He goes on Oprah and TMI's all over the place about his kids' puke and other bodily fluids. (If I were still enamoured with Brad Pitt, that would have cured my crush right there). And through it all, the couple insists that they want to be left alone by media vultures and paparazzi. "Go away! We want to be regular people and raise our kids privately! Oh, hey! People magazine--you want to buy photos of our newborn? Here ya go! And W magazine, you want these photos of Angelina breastfeeding? There's one where you can almost kind of see her nipple a little bit! Sexy, huh? That would look great on your cover! Wait--hold on a minute--leave us alone! We're intensely private people!" Yeah, see my point? It's rather tiresome. In short: Brad, get a clue.

So, what's next for the biggest pair of lips in show business? You know what I hope? I hope Angelina and Brad renounce the public life, become missionaries, and abscond to a village in some remote country where not even the most daring paparazzo would follow. I mean, think of all the orphans Angelina would have access to, right on the doorstep of her mud hut! Even better? No more crappy Angelina Jolie movies!

Plus, I'd never have to think about her ever again. That'd be a good thing.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'm a hothead. Literally.

Dammit, I can never be normal. It's not my fault. I don't know who or what is the cause of this, but I know the blame for my various abnormalities does not rest soley on my shoulders. It can't; there are too many other factors (parents, family, environment, disorders, medication, etc.) working together to make up my general weirdness. But I'm just here to complain, not to point fingers.

Now that summer is in full bloom in Minnesota (i.e. the temp has finally climbed above 75 degrees), I am reminded for the umpteenth time how much I hate to sweat. Don't get me wrong, I love summer. I just hate what it does to me. I sweat a lot, and not in the usual, predictable areas where humans are supposed to sweat. I sweat profusely from my scalp, which sucks ASS, especially for someone who spends as much money on her hair as I do. It's not an issue when I'm in my car, where I always have the A/C cranked to full capacity, or in a chilled restaurant or coffee shop. But when I'm out and about and exposing myself to the heat of the sun and the Midwestern humidity (biking, walking to the store, or just doing typical summertime stuff) my hair tends to look like I've just finished swimming the English Channel.

Sweat on other areas of the body is fairly manageable: there is deodorant for the pits, cotton underwear to cool the ass and various naughty bits, and powder and smear-proof makeup for the face. But if, like me, you are afflicted with Sweaty Head Syndrome (SHS), there is not a whole hell of a lot you can do. Compounding the problem is my hair, which is thick and heavy to begin with, so my head probably sweats twice as much as other people living with SHS. I mean, what do I do? Pull a Britney Spears and shave my melon? Not bloody likely. I look bad enough with short hair--I shudder to think what my giant white head would look like naked.

I did google searches on both "excessive scalp sweat" and "sweaty head" and turned up some information, but nothing very useful. I learned that SHS is clinically known as "cranio-facial hyperhydrosis." I also came across a website that promised "Four Tips To Stop Your Head From Sweating," which was bogus, because three of the remedies that it recommended (scalp deodorant--seriously!, anticholinergic drugs, and risky surgery that involves cutting the nerves) are pretty much out for me. The fourth "tip" was a link to a website hawking a book entitled (hilariously) Stop Sweating and Start Living. At this point, however, I'm about ready to order it. And by the way, why hasn't anyone invented some sort of medical head vaccuum that sucks the sweat glands dry? Because that actually sounds appealing, and fairly feasible. Better than (ew!) scalp deodorant, anyway, which I don't even want to know about.

It's good to know that I'm not alone, as I found a funny blog post from a fellow SHS sufferer.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Too good to be true?

Sorry to keep beating this dead horse (like the media keeps doing), but it seems Palin just announced she is resigning from office. Does this mean she will quietly fade into the ether and take her fucked-up bass-ackwards family with her?

Oh please please please please please!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

And they say all the good ones are taken...

I can't stop giggling about this.

It was posted on two days ago, just hours before the news of Michael Jackson's death broke. Gawker routinely posts oddball findings from the internet. I don't know who has the time or inclination to dig these people up, but I gotta hand it to them--this one's a doozy. Single ladies, take note! Mark is a high school physics teacher looking for love. Are you the Goddess he seeks?

Here are some of the attributes his Goddess is required to possess (see my comments in italics):

3.2. Body:
She is extremely attractive. She's HOT. She turns heads wherever she goes.
She is sexy. VERY sexy.
She is beautifully dressed and beautifully groomed.
"Beautifully groomed" makes me think of one of those long-haired purse dogs all done up in pink ribbons and bows.
She has a trim waistline. Alternatively, if her waistline is ALMOST (but not quite) trim, she is willing to trim it down for me and keep it trim for me. No exceptions
So basically what he is saying is, "No Fat Chicks."
She has excellent posture.
Is he going to test her by making her balance a book on her head? My mom used to do that to me. (My posture still sucks).
Her hair is her own and at least TO HER SHOULDERS.
Notice how he is adamant that her hair be "her own." Beyonce is going to be crushed.
Alternatively, she is willing to grow her hair long for me and keep it long for me. No exceptions.
I love how the two things he is absolutely unwilling to bend on are her waistline and the length of her hair. Deep.
Her voice is not low or raspy. (Alto is fine; baritone is not.)
This is the biggest WTF? right here. Baritone? Is it even possible for a woman to have a baritone voice (without some serious hormonal injections)?
She is in excellent health, although she may have some minor health issues she is working on.
Which minor health issues are acceptable? Piles? Flatulence? HPV?
She is tobacco free and drug free. She is either alcohol free or nearly so.
Well, that leaves me out.

In addition to being a high school physics teacher, Mark is an entreprenuer. He has a Global Vision (always capitalized) that involves some sort of software that promises to revolutionize the computer industry, bringing LIGHT (LIGHT is always in ALL CAPS) to the world. His description of the whole thing is pretty damn vague; a combination of corporate managerial doublespeak and New Age dreck that made my head hurt. He is very clear, however, that he stands to become a billionaire:

....marriage includes financial and legal dimensions, and the complexities of my Global Vision will necessitate a pre-nuptial agreement. I will be generous, giving the Goddess I seek 100% legal control over an appropriate portion of the anticipated wealth.

Yes, she may be a Goddess, but she still gots to sign a prenup! But she will have control of an "appropriate portion" of his money. (What is an "appropriate portion", anyhoo?)

Here are Mark's thoughts on chivalry:
I am intensely chivalrous, and, if you date me, you are required to respond to my chivalry as a LADY. You are the GIRL. Chivalry is about you allowing me to HONOR the girl in you. This means you let ME walk on the street side of the sidewalk, and you let ME open all doors for you (including when you are exiting from my car). It means you let ME decide where I would like to take you (e.g. what restaurant, what concert, what hotel, etc.), and when I tell you where I would like to take you, you tell me your FEELINGS with the understanding that if I sense that you are uncomfortable or disappointed with my offer, then I will change it because my goal is to make you HAPPY. It means that when I offer you flowers and gifts, you accept them graciously.... you should have empty vases in your home. It means that you let ME pay for everything on our dates, even if you have a lot more money than I do. It means if we are at a restaurant and I am hungry and you are busy talking, that when our food finally arrives you realize that YOU must take the first bite, and by ignoring your food as you keep yacking away you are making me starve!

Can he be any more of a control freak? Also, "yacking away as you are making me starve"? Nice.

And--you know it!--he has an extensive list of qualifications for his Goddess's sexuality.

3.6. Sexuality:
She believes in the light-filled MAGIC of sacred sex. She wants to utilize this magic to manifest our Global Vision. She realizes that her sacred sexual union with me is crucial for manifesting the Global Vision.
She is free from all physical and emotional impediments to the complete expression of her sexuality.

And are you ready for this? Cause it's hilarious:

If she has been a prostitute, that is GOOD!! We can discuss it at length. I have written a book (not yet published) entitled, Resurrecting the Innocence in Prostitutes. Fascinating topic! And it's an important part of my Global Vision.

His vague Global Vision includes resurrecting the innocence of prostitutes? How exactly does he do this? (Actually, I don't think I want to know...)

And more about sexuality, because he goes on and on and on about it:

She intensely longs to be worshipped as a Goddess by the right man... a man who knows EXACTLY what he is doing. He teases her hard and relentlessly, which makes her laugh uncontrollably. (He already makes me laugh uncontrollably, so that's believable). The sound of his voice, his words, his appearance, the way he looks at her, his powerful mind, his radiant heart, his intense sexuality, his confidence, his poise, and his very presence.... weaken her knees, fill her stomach with butterflies, send shivers up her spine, make her heart pound, overwhelm her with desire, and make her VERY wet. She cannot help but surrender herself to him, melting naked into his arms, whereupon he worships her as a Goddess.... he is the priest, she is his altar. She becomes the Goddess he is worshipping... she is elevated into extreme Goddess-ecstasy.... exploding and screaming!.... so many times you lose count.
The lady I seek somehow KNOWS deep down inside that if she surrenders herself to the right man and is worshipped by him as a Goddess in just the right way, she can move mountains.... she can move the whole world! She WANTS to make this sexual magic happen and to bless the world with the resulting miracles.

He also claims to be a tantra master (see below). For the record, I had a brief involvement some time ago with a guy who also claimed to be tantric (sadly, it wasn't Sting). The guy was seriously one of the worst lays ever. Ladies, take heed if a guy tells you he is into tantra. It is a complete and utter bullshit line frequently used by middle-aged white guys who are fundamentally insecure about their sexual prowess. But I'm not bitter.

Some of his sexual claims:
Extremely passionate tantra master who does not ejaculate (except on rare occasions). Stays fully hard through multiple male orgasms without ejaculating.
Yeah, one word: VIAGARA
Can and will genuinely DELIVER (orgasms) so many times you lose count.
Vasectomy (but I can have it reversed).
100% straight (i.e. heterosexual).

Not to be nit-picky, but I didn't think it was possible for anyone to be "100% straight," according to Dr. Kinsey's scale, anyway. But I'm just an unenlightened mere mortal. What do I know?

I am looking for a balanced woman who has the courage to unite with an extremely strong man and dance this exquisite Love Dance with him. I am looking for a woman who will LET her man LIFT her into extreme ecstasy.... FOR LIFE.

If you are looking to do a little Love Dancing with a controlling, narcissistic hippie, (or if you're just in the mood for a good laugh), Mark's website is here.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009

I'm pissed off, I'm bummed out, I'm in shock. I was ten years old when Michael Jackson peaked with Thriller, so I was there; I remember him before he went completely off the rails, when he was just known for being Michael Jackson. I don't think anyone born after 1980 can really understand the impact he had, and that's tragic. I hope that when the dust settles, he is remembered most for being a phenomenal performer and artist.

I found a clip of the Thriller video, edited down to (mostly) just the dancing. When this video came out, I had to run out of the room for the first 5 minutes because the part where he turned into a werewolf scared the holy hell out of me (I was a big weenie). But I always came back in the room for the dancing part.

R.I.P. King of Pop

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dave Caves

As you may have heard, David Letterman and Sarah Palin have been feuding because of a joke Dave made on his show last week.

The break down is this: Palin was in New York with her family and attended a Yankees game with one of her daughters. On his June 8 show, Dave made a joke about Palin's daughter getting "knocked up" by Yankees' player Alex Rodriguez (Madonna's gross ex-mantoy). Palin then got her Victoria's Secret High-leg Briefs all in a wad, crowing that Dave's joke was "perverted" because the daughter she had attended the Yankees game with was her 14-year-old daughter, Willow, not Cutty Sark or whatever the hell she named that older one who did get knocked up by her cute (but dumb as hell) hick boyfriend Levi. There then followed an assinine "But it was the older slutty daughter I was talking about, not the one that's still jailbait," half-assed apology from Dave. That wasn't good enough for Palin, so here's what Dave said last night:

Even though I wish he hadn't have caved, (if only because I love Letterman and hate Palin and her ilk with a passion), I feel his second apology last night was sincere, articulate, and heartfelt. The same cannot (ever) be said of Palin. Here was her response:

"(I accept) on behalf of all young women, like my daughters, who hope men who `joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve."

Right. I loooooove how she suddenly becomes a feminist when it's convenient for her, like when she criticized the media for being "sexist" back when she was campaigning with McCain. Meanwhile, back in her home state she makes women pay for their hospital rape kits and would have them carry their rapist's spawn to term, since abortion is murder (it's fine to kill moose and gun down wolves from choppers, though).

By the way, why does anyone still care about this woman? Obama dispatched her and Old Man Potter months ago. Go away, Susie Moosekiller. You were good for a laugh, but you're just old news now. Fuck off back to Alaska, and try to keep your underage daughters from following their older sister's stellar example.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dog lovers, I'm looking at you.

America loves them some dogs. Dogs, dogs, dogs...everywhere. Even people who aren't into the big lovable messy slobbery drooly kind are into dogs now: witness the booming trend of neat little purse dogs. (Which begs the question--what does Paris Hilton, et al do with all the doggie doo that must accumulate in their designer handbags? They must go through purses like Kleenex).

I'm a cat person myself--if I tried to stuff one of my cats in my purse I'd need plastic surgery afterwards--and that's part of the reason I prefer them to dogs. I like that cats think for themselves and they're smart enough to say "HELL NO!" to some of the things that dogs willingly go along with. But, that's why most people like dogs. And I can respect that. Dogs are pretty cool.

So it's time for y'all to put your money where your mouth is, and contribute to the International Fund for Animal Welfare's campaign to stop the dog massacre in China. I donated, and you should too. Read on...

A massive cull in the Chinese city of Hanzhong has claimed the lives of more than 30,000 dogs - and now we need your help to make sure that it never happens again.

The local government ordered the mass slaughter of all dogs as the result of a few cases of rabies deaths. Dog killing squads are stalking the streets, mercilessly beating dogs to death with sticks and rocks.

Friendly dogs - even healthy family pets - are being slaughtered right in front of their owners. Can you even begin to imagine how you'd feel if that happened to your dog?

Click here to donate to IFAW's campaign to stop the slaughter.

This is just my own .02, but what the hell is up with China? What unbelievable ASSHOLES.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My cousin's voice on Real Time With Bill Maher

I am posting this because my cousin Jon did the voiceover on the "Spring Break in Mexico" skit at the beginning of this episode. Jon is a voiceover artist, musician, sound engineer, sometime actor (he was an extra in The Outsiders! Yes he was!) and all around cool dude. Some of his other projects have been recording the radio spots with William Shatner, and doing the sound mixing for music for the old nineties TV show Real TV. He rocks.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I have been reading up on tattoos over on Cracked, and it's been quite enlightening. I learned, for instance, what message my tattoos are truly sending out to the world. The one on my ankle, apparantly, says "Cute Little Princess, now with real tattoo accessory." I can live with that. The other one on the small of my back says, "Yes, buying me a drink will totally work." Scarily accurate.

As for the tats themselves, I'm fine with the on my ankle. It was an impulsive decision I made when I was 21. It's meaningless, small, and inoffensive. My other one--on the small of my back--was an asinine decision I made when I turned 30. I will be having that one removed sometime in the (hopefully near) future. With a belt sander, if necessary.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Talkin' Bout My Generation

Gen Xers are reaching the stage where we've settled down, signed mortgages, popped out a kid or five, developed crow's feet, gotten fat, gotten bald, and generally begun that rapid downhill slide towards middle-age. Predictably, Hollywood is looking to cash in on our nostalgia. According to various movie sites, here are just a few Reagan-era dead horses that are set to be dug up and beaten: Footloose (rumored to be starring--ugh--Zac Efron), Red Dawn, Top Gun, Tron, Short Circuit, The Goonies, The Karate Kid, and Weird Science.

And I just read over on jabootu that they're planning to retool Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, a 1985 film that starred a young Sarah Jessica Parker.

I remember seeing the original Girls in the theatre. I wanted to see it because I was a Cyndi Lauper fan and naturally assumed that the plot had something to do with her (it didn't). But Sarah Jessica was cute and likeable, her love interest was the perfect tough-yet-sensitive dreamy James Dean stereotype, Helen Hunt was enjoyable as the quintessential wisecracking best friend, the rival girl was cartoonishly bitchy, and the story--which revolved around the goody-goody heroine and her new wrong-side-of-the-tracks boyfriend competing in a dance contest--was total paint-by-numbers "Omigod, don't let the mean girl win!" broadly overacted 80's dramedy.

I shudder to think what they'll do with the new version. I'm guessing it will star one of the High School Musical kids, a Jonas brother, a Gossip Girl, Robert Pattinson, and a wink-wink cameo for us oldsters (something like Helen Hunt popping up as the heroine's music teacher), with soundtrack by Miley Hannah Cyrus Montana.

Hearing about this latest planned remake was the final straw for me. I would like to take this opportunity to implore all studio heads and the powers that be in Hollywood: on behalf of my generation, for the love of all that is holy, please STOP raping our childhood memories.

Or, at the very least, don't use a Jonas brother to do it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Amazing Adventures of Morph -- Episode 1

Ian introduced me to Morph a while back, and now I'm hopelessly addicted. I've been watching episode after episode of The Amazing Adventures of Morph, and I keep going back to this, episode 1 of the series.

The original one is hands-down my favorite, partly because it features Gillespie. I love Gillespie. I love how he raises his eyebrows salaciously when Morph jumps into his arms. I love the big pile up fight he gets into with the other clay people. I love his buttons. I love that his name is Gillespie. He rocks.

I also love this episode because it's the one where they write a book. I look at this and wish I'd had similar help with my novel. It would have been awesome to just orate into a microphone while a little silver tin-foil girl inside a box took notes. I would have adored having a clay creature to untangle all the strips of paper and organize it into pages--pages that simply slipped into a professionally bound book.

I think that's how Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I'd Rather Be Blogging

More Shelby photos to come, as well as more frequent updates.

One of my resolutions this summer is to blog more (I really challenge myself, don't I?). Life has been complicated lately: cat issues, emotions and stuff, endings, beginnings, edits, rejections, query letters, and trying to get a million things accomplished at once. Additionally, I have been turning my attention to the nefarious time-hoovering black hole known as facebook, which has sucked away time better spent on my blogging. But no more! I'm not quitting the facebook, just taking a little vacation from it while I use the brain cells I've been devoting to it to post stuff here. When it comes down to it, I'd rather have people reading my blog than my facebook page. Besides, how many more useless "Which (80's sitcom character, teen movie, one-hit wonder) are you?" quizzes do I need to take, anyway? (For the record, I am Punky Brewster, Say Anything, and Haircut 100, respectively).

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I promised a Shelby photo montage, and here it is. These are just a handful of shots from Shelby's first year (there are MANY more, but these were the best of the bunch).

So cuuuuuute! This is Shelby at the shelter, the day we picked her up. We adopted her on April 1, 1995 from an all-volunteer feline rescue organization in Indianapolis called Cats' Haven.

Me and my old boyfriend Rick holding Shelby and her mom, who was being cared for at the shelter. Her name was Kimmy and she was one badass cat!

This is (from left) Shelby with her brother and one of her sisters. She had another sister identical to the black and white one who had already been adopted.

Me and Shelby the night we brought her home. This is at my first apartment, the one that Rick and I shared on Evergreen Court in Indy. Vertical blinds, beige carpeting, avacado green fridge. I remember it well. Notice that I had yet to discover eyebrow tweezers.

Shelby and my mom. She was crazy about Shelby, her "grandkitten."

Shelby with my stepdad. He's usually not that into cats, but Shelby could make a cat lover out of anyone.

Awwwww! Have you ever seen anything so adorable????

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

In Loving Memory of my sweet Shelby Valentine

Shelby passed away on May 4, 2009 after being diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in late February. It has been a very hard few months for me, knowing that the end was near for her, but I tried my best to make her comfortable, pamper her (even more than I usually did!), and give her extra love and attention.

I miss her terribly, and I had to wait to post this tribute to her until I was feeling up to it emotionally. I also envisioned putting up a montage of photos of Shelby--as a kitten and throughout her life--as a kind of "Academy Awards In Memory Of" type of deal. I will still do that, because Shelby (diva that she was/is) would absolutely expect that sort of a tribute. I have to wait to get my scanner fixed before posting all the photos I have in mind, but will do that as soon as I can.

Peace to my little Shelby Valentine
Febrary 1995 - May 2009
She is loved and missed by all who knew her, human and feline alike.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

This is a review I wrote that was supposed to run in 360 Magazine last year, but then it, yeah. Here it is in a much cooler, financially stable context. (This blog will not go bankrupt, I promise you that).

The Hypocrisy of Disco by Clane Hayward

Most twelve-year-old girls think their mothers are crazy, but Clane Hayward had real reason to doubt her mother's sanity when she moved them out of their dilapitated cabin and into the middle of a California redwood forest to avoid paying rent. She didn't believe in landlords, because "no one can really own the land. The land abides and we will live on it by the grace of God."

The Hypocrisy of Disco is Hayward's memoir of her tumultuous twelfth year. Born in San Francisco in 1967, "just before the Summer of Love," to H'lane, a deeply weird, perpetually stoned hippie earth mother, and Claude, a part-time trucker who is rarely around, Clane is a flower child who longs to live a normal life "where everything has a regularness and sameness."

"Nothing in my life moves in a straight line," muses Clane. In the redwood forest with her mother, her brother Haud and half-sister Ki, Clane's bedroom is a tarp stretched on the ground at the base of a tree. Next, the family relocates to a field near Monte Rio, California, then to an abandoned ranch, and later to a tent just outside a trailer park. Clane is never quite clear on the reasons for their unorthodox lifestyle. "(Mom) says it's because she's a gypsy. I have pictures in my head of all the places I've ever lived, and some of them don't make any sense to me."

Feeling lonely and isolated, Clane finds solace in C.S. Lewis books and her own imaginings of a fantasy life where she lives in a house, sleeps in a real bed, and has a mother who makes her cucumber sandwiches and lets her paint her toenails.

Despite the inherent tragedy of a young girl spending a significant part of her childhood homeless, Hayward's book never feels like a downer, and there are moments of real joy, like when she sneaks off to a friend's trailer to eat junk food and watch The Muppet Show ("The Muppet Show is the greatest thing I have ever seen."). Later the same friend takes her to the roller rink, where Clane marvels at the colored lights, the mirrored ball and the thumping disco music: "My heart is pounding as we rent skates and change into them and glide, a little clumsy at first, onto the rink and pause at the fence to look at everyone going by and then....we fling ourselves, whooping, into the thick of the skaters on the rink, arms flailing, hair flying."

The Hypocrisy of Disco is a fascinating read that needs a sequel, or at least a continuation. By the concluding scene—-Clane's thirteenth birthday party--I was satisfied, but itching to know more. What was Clane’s adolescence like? How did she go from rambling California vagabond to Texas middle school teacher (as the author's book sleeve bio indicates)? One can only hope that Ms. Hayward has more books inside of her; a life like hers begs more volumes.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What I've Been Reading...

I'm Perfect, You're Doomed: Tales From a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing by Kyria Abrahams

If I were unimaginative enough to rate books and movies in terms of “grades” (“duh, guess this one gets a D...”), I'd probably give I'm Perfect, You're Doomed a B-, an A for effort, and in the top margin I'd scrawl a note in red ink: “Definitely engrossing, but should be funnier. Keep writing!” But I'm sure Kyria Abrahams doesn't need my encouragement to keep writing, and she knows more about being funny than I do, (she's now a stand-up comedian, after all). That said, I liked this, although with a title as awesome as I'm Perfect, You're Doomed, I was expecting more.

I did learn a lot about the Jehovah's Witnesses, a fundamentalist sect of Christianity that boasts followers like Michael Jackson and Prince. The basic gist of the religion is this: theirs is the one true religion, and Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and everyone else (including followers of other branches of Christianity like Catholics, Mormons, Episcopalians, etc.) are all poseurs and are going be wiped out in the Armageddon. Only Jehovah's Witnesses will be spared and get to live on in a world free of atheists and other icky sinners. The Armageddon could happen tomorrow, it could happen twelve years from now, it could and will happen basically at the whim of Jehovah, so you'd better watch out, you'd better convert, and you'd better not miss any meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Oh, and celebrating any kind of holiday—Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, and even birthdays, is strictly verboten.

It's disturbing, but also quite hilarious when told through the eyes of Abrahams, a typical eighties child who loves Ricky Schroeder of Silver Spoons fame, even though her mother tells her that he “doesn't seem like a very nice boy.” From the age of eight, when Kyria is considered old enough to attend the Fellowship School, she is locked in an internal battle between adhering to the Witnesses' strict religious code and engaging in sinful activities such as attending the birthday parties of “worldly” friends and collecting Smurf figurines. Smurfs are demons, apparently, and there are stories circulating throughout Kyria's congregation about a Smurf doll that spontaneously came to life—right in the middle of the Kingdom Hall—screamed “Oh, shit!” and then burst into flames (because, y'know, Smurfs are evil and they hate Jehovah). Kyria becomes even more conflicted when she hits puberty, starts listening to ungodly bands like The Cure, and develops crushes on worldly boys (in Jehovah's Witness-speak, “worldly” is not a compliment). She longs to follow her heart and her hormones, but still wants to be a good Jehovah's Witness; the possibility of getting caught breaking the rules and thus being “disfellowshipped” is constantly hanging over her addled head.

When Kyria turns eighteen she marries a fellow Jehovah's Witness—a twenty-four-year-old part-time math professor and “stinky nerd” named Alan. She can barely stand him to be in the same room with him, but she is desperate to escape her warring parents and be able to have “legal” sex. At this point in the book things become murkier. Kyria becomes increasingly unsympathetic and downright nasty; treating her new husband horribly and trying to have sex with his friends. You almost want to give her a good shoe in the ass and tell her to grow up. On the other hand, such behavior seems understandable coming from the child of a dysfunctional home, a girl who grew up learning not to get too comfortable in “this” world, since any day now Jehovah would wipe out all the bad stuff so that the real believers could live a better life in “The New System of Things.”

By the end, Kyria thankfully grows up a little, gets gently knocked around by life and those fearsome “worldly” people, and is able to find her place among the sinners. I'm Perfect, You're Doomed isn't the best memoir I've ever read, but it is eye-opening, often humorous, and smartly written. And it's a good thing that Kyria turns out to be far from perfect, thank God—er, Jehovah—because who'd want to read about someone who is?

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody

I was reluctant to pick up this book, mostly because I didn't love Juno, the film based on Cody's Oscar-winning screenplay. While it was a great story (not to mention wonderfully cast and well-acted), I found the hipster dialogue distracting, and the wink-wink cleverness rather annoying. I had heard good things about Cody's stripper memoir Candy Girl, but I wasn't keen to slog through more suffocatingly cool prose that her fans love so much.

Thankfully, the book isn't plagued by the same issues that caused Juno to crash in on itself. Candy Girl turned out to be a funny and very well-written account of Cody's stint as an exotic dancer, a year she spent in the employ of various Minneapolis strip clubs while settling into a new relationship with her musician boyfriend. Her writing is wry and sharply observed, and she doesn't skimp on dishing the juicy details while examining the bizarre quirks of an industry that is paradoxically exploitative and empowering (both for the dancers and the spectators, it seems).

Cody is determined to wring as much from the stripper experience as possible. She dances at all kinds of clubs, from the classiest to the seediest and everywhere in between. One is a cabaret-style bar with delusions of intellectual grandeur: the patrons puff expensive cigars and the walls are lined with shelves holding leather-bound books that no one reads. Another club is a gaudy neon nightmare that routinely holds “panty auctions” where a dancer prances across the stage wearing panties bearing the club's logo as the customers bid on the chance to prize a pair of undies straight from a stripper's body. One club, Dreamgirls, is staffed by such a ragtag crew of mohawked dancers and verbally abusive managers that Cody hilariously dubs the venue “Night Terror Girls.”

One thing I didn't need was the book's second-to-last chapter, “A Stripper Was Born,” a sort of denouement wherein Cody attempts to explain away her decision to pursue a brief career as a dancer. The chapter's placement is odd, and I think it would have served her story better had it been included at the beginning of the book—if it needed to be there at all. It seems superfluous for Cody to justify her choices, since it's pretty clear at the outset that she is a free-spirited nonconformist who is comfortable with her body. Plus, she's a writer, first and foremost. She got a great story out of it. That seems as good a reason as any to climb up on the pole and give it a whirl.