Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Death Trip


Last year, my grandfather died. He had been sick for a long time and had a good life. His funeral was held at a place I am familiar with, King-Lynk funeral home in Ft. Madison. It was a nice, well-attended funeral and the funeral director was able to put together a nice slideshow featuring pictures of the deceased at various stages of his life accompanied by Ferlin Husky's gospel hit "Wings of a Dove". Now, I came to appreciate my grandfathers favorite music too late in life - he was a big Johnny Cash fan WAY before it was cool - and I can dig on a nice gospel tune done right. However, Ferlin was the only thing on the menu all during the visitation and it got to be a grim joke towards the end as God's pure, sweet love was spread around for the 50th time that afternoon.

Now, everyone should know by now that music plays a big part in my life and, as anyone who's wrestled with me for control of a car stereo can attest, I am pretty particular about what I like. And so, in the interest of preserving it in case of my untimely demise, I have decided to post the music I want played at my funeral on this blog. I came to this decision after having a re-occurring nightmare of lying in state while "The Time of Your Life" by Greenday plays softly in the background. It... haunts me.

So anyway, here it is. Notice that, in the interest of harmony, I have not included a lot of my more esoteric fare and nothing that I have noticed really irritates some people (Killdozer, Daniel Johnston, etc...). If you have similar fears, please feel free to post the listing for your own mortuary mix-tape in the comments and I'll make sure you are put in the ground with a smile on your face.

Now all of these songs can be found on my iTunes under the soundtrack heading "funeral party mix". And I did put some effort into making them segue from song to song, so don't fuck with the order.

1. "Come Down Softly to my Soul" - Spacemen 3
2. "King of Birds" - R.E.M.
Shut up.
3. "Cocoon" - The Decemberists
4. "Buckets of Rain" - Bob Dylan
5. "Felt Good To Burn" - The Flaming Lips
Tee-hee, I know. Hopefully, the fuzz combined with sad small talk with drown out most of the cussing/violent imagery/references to drug use.

And all your dreams, and oh, God blessed your soul
I saw you were holdin' your head
But we couldn't have been dead
'cause you stood up and moaned and said,
I wasn't wavin' goodbye, I was sayin' hello.

6. "Spider in the Snow" - The Dismemberment Plan
7. "Tired of this Life" - Dawn Landes
8. "Thirteen" - Elliot Smith
Yeah it's a cover. Sue me
9. "Hangman" - Fire on Fire
10. "Love Love Love" - The Mountain Goats
11. "Which Will" - Nick Drake
12. "Wayfaring Stranger" - Johnny Cash
13. "Jesus, Etc" - Wilco

Jesus, don't cry
you can rely on me honey
you can combine anything you want
I'll be around
you were right about the stars
each one is a setting sun

14. "Chasing After Deer" - Midlake
15. "Miles From Nowhere" - Cat Stevens
16. "Guiding Light" - Television
17. "Mercy" - Mojave 3
18. "Atmosphere" - Joy Division
19. "Soon" - Low
20. "Here" - Pavement
21. "So It Goes" - Tom Waits
22. "Homeward, These Shoes" - Iron & Wine
23. "Every Fool has a Rainbow" - Merle Haggard
Thanks, Grandpa.
24. "After Hours" - The Velvet Underground
It's the version on the Quine tapes: "I'd like to introduce my drummer Maureen, we call her Moe..."

So there you have it. If not played at a reasonable volume on a decent sound system, I will haunt every one of you motherfuckers from beyond the grave.

Oh, yeah, and sorry for not posting for a long time, blah, blah, blah...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Jocko Homo

Throughout history, mankind has competed in contests designed to test personal and group stamina, speed and coordination. And it's been well documented that the participants in these contests were routinely observed by groups of smaller, fatter individuals who scientists believe were absolutely convinced that they knew their favorite team or contestant was totally going to blow it. "Xithiachutichu is getting paid how many goats to drop the fucking head in these kind of pressure situations?" the drunken Mayan would scream at his bored son in the stands in ancient Mexico, "They should have sacrificed his dumb ass last season!" Of course, historical records of these exchanges are sketchy at best, but thankfully today we have the technology capable of preserving these types of shrewd analyses for generations to come. Today, I have spotlighted just a few representative websites designed to be suppositories of such fan wisdom. Enjoy!

Website: Bleed Cubbie Blue

Team: Chicago Cubs

Current Team Condition: Business as usual. The Cubs as of this writing are 41-41 with one of the highest payrolls in the major leagues. After a few years of being Cinderella stories during the regular season and then turning back into pumpkins the minute October arrives, the Cubs have decided to suck outright this year, helped along by bizarre deals made during the off-season including trading the popular jack-of-all-positions Mark Derosa and former Cub hero Kerry Wood to the Indians and acquiring the hot-headed, injury prone Milton Bradley. An early injury to star player Aramis Ramirez has hurt the Cubs offensively but perhaps no injury is as emblematic of the Cubs current season and indeed their well documented history of futility as the one recently suffered by starting pitcher Ryan Dempster: he broke his toe trying to jump over the dugout railing after a Cub win at Wrigley field.

Webmaster: Al Yellon. Al's one of the best webmasters out there, at least as far as fansites are concerned. He's been a Cub fan for years and his game reviews usually strike a great balance between insightful commentary on the game itself and his experiences as a life-long bleacher season ticket holder. I always count myself lucky that I stumbled upon Al's site right away when I was looking for a Cubs blog, as there are SO many blogs that forgo the human aspect of baseball in favor of sterile statistics and unreadable charts.

Commentators: BCB, as a member of SportsBlogNation along with all the other sites on this list, has "benefited" from a recent partnership with Yahoo Sports which now advertises and links to it in their box scores and news stories. This has had the effect of turning every game thread into a 1,500+ comment clusterfuck full of "funny" pictures of cats and TWSS* posts. It's reading these threads that gives Cubs fans the reputation they so richly deserve as they usually devolve into a long series of posts featuring pictures of Erin Andrews or whatever sports babe is currently popular.

Sample Wisdom From The Masses: "Now that Ryan Dempster is out on DL I truly believe the cubs should go after pedro, pick him up and allow him to become starter. When Dempster returns to full strength, trade him to a team in need, for another hitter the cubs REALLY need. I understand that Dempster has contributed but i think he is the cubs worse pitcher and the rotation could then be: big z harden lilly wells and pedro. Pedro has proven before that he is a great pitcher and i think deserves another chance to show his stuff on the big stage. If pedro doesnt work out, which i believe he would the cubs still have marshall to fall back on. The possible hitters the cubs could get would be big ones like 2B men Luis Castillio Miguel Tejeda Cristian Guzman Clint Barnes or a possible back up to theriot at short in Cesar Izturis Jhonny Peralta Edgar Renteria and maybe to protect ramirez a back up 3rd in Pablo Sandoval or similar players. This is just a few examples f but im sure a couple of those deals could work. A good result and the most realistic one to me would be Jhonny Peralta because the Indians may want another pitcher with there struggles, and you can see with the recent trade of Mark Derosa, there hungry for answers. GO CUBS and make a deal!!!!!!!!" - cooltrev

Website: Blog A Bull

Team: Chicago Bulls

Current Team Condition: Insane. After quite literally winning the lottery to acquire Derrick Rose in the NBA draft and coming within one game of beating the previous year's world champion Boston Celtics, the Bulls made some front office changes and now seem determined to undermine any chance to build on those successes. Just recently, they let Ben Gordon, who's heroics in last years playoffs led to some of the most exhilarating games the Bulls had seen since the Jordan & Co. were dominating the league, walk and he was immediate snapped up by the rival Pistons. Then they signed his replacement, Jannero Pargo. Seriously.

Webmaster: your friendly BullsBlogger. Another old hand at the blogging biz, YFBB is knowledgeable and able to put together very well constructed posts on just about any subject. He's great at breaking down the intricacies of the somewhat arcane salary cap and tax structure that NBA teams are cursed with and has a knack for exposing the odd patterns behind the statistics. Sometimes, however, he does seem like a debbie downer - after some of the more exciting wins last year, his headlines read like the team lost - but overall he's one of the best.

Commentators: All over the place. Most of the posters are at least as lucid and informative as the webmaster, but the ones that aren't seem to have their hearts in the right place, it's just that they seem to type by mashing their face on their keyboards. Most of the heated discussions right now are centering on the speculative fate of Tyrus Thomas, the Bulls' young, talented and butt dumb power forward with half of the posters seeing him as trade bait and the other half wanting to hold on to him and refusing to admit the Bulls fucked up by drafting him. Also, the "Don't Tase Me, Bro" guy from a few years ago posted a long, rambling diatribe a few months before his performance in front of John Kerry. So there's that.

Sample Wisdom From The Masses: "the beauty of the NBA channel is watch the bulls playoff series with the celtics without emotion………if you people do the same you will see a short non defensive player hold onto to the ball to long and yes making a great shot……then you will see that same guy not ever try to fight thru a screen to contest a celtic player to make a game winning shot or send into overtime…….gordon stiffled roses’ development and what JR, Gar and Pax are saying THIS IS ROSE’S team not your s BG7….so to pay 10 mil a year for a 6th man is plain dumb……and yes i do think they have a plan……the trade to get salmons and miller was excellent……and i think the trade they plan to make to get bosh is going to smart as well…….so i think tyrus will have to eat is words when he says “He is the starting PF” yeah you are but in Canada……." -bluezman7

Website: Windy City Gridiron

Team: Chicago Bears

Current Team Condition: Cautiously hopeful. Last year, the Bears underperformed spectacularly thanks to a worn-out and aging defense and inexperienced quarterback. With the addition of Jay Cutler, they have addressed one of the issues that plagued them last year, but a lot of questions remain, including an untested receiver corps.

Webmaster: Windy City Gridiron is a relatively new addition to SBN and when it first began it was run by someone named WCG and he was terrible. Writing poorly worded headlines that were often misspelled and chock full of erroneous information, he started being called out for the lack of quality in the comments thread. Since then, the blogging has been taken over by ChiFan13 and former commentator GeauxBears and the site has improved considerably. Now it's a valuable resource for information especially during the off-season.

Commentators: One thing I noticed about the football blogs as compared to blogs of other sports (except maybe hockey) is the willingness of posters from other teams to visit a rivals team's blog and talk shit. Indeed, some of the fans of other teams sometimes become regular posters who can be counted on to post in the game threads dedicated to that weeks match-up, at least up to the point when their team starts to stink up the joint, at which point they mysteriously disappear.

Wisdom From The Masses: "obviously, you watched every single game for both the Jets and Vikings last season in anticipation of this post. You’re right, the Vikings did play the hapless Lions twice last year, which everyone likes to throw in the faces of the rest of the NFC to tell us “lucky” we are. Here’s some teams for you, Cincinnatti, Rams, 49’ers, Seattle, Buffalo Bills (twice) offensive juggernauts all. What do they have in common???? Oh, yeah they all played that formiddable Jets defense last season, no wonder their stats were so far below the Vikings.

I can’t believe you are making me defend the team I hate the most in the NFL, but you are quite the expert and I’m sure in line for the next scouting position on Jerry’s staff, so how could you possibly be wrong." - BearFan611

Website: Second City Hockey

Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Current Team Situation: On the way up. After a very good playoff run that saw the team make it to the Western Conference Finals only to lost to the hated Redwings. During the offseason, the 'Hawks have made some deals to improve their team including signing an absolute monster in Marion Hossa to replace the departing Martin Havlat. Unfortunately, they've also made some really boneheaded mistakes like screwing up their offers to their free agents this year which they may end up paying for. A very good young team that will only get better.

Webmaster: SCH is run by two Chicagoans, SamFels and Matthew Dirt, both of whom are very knowledgeable and have followed the team for years. They attend most the games and sell a homemade "real fan's program" called The Committed Indian outside the United Center before the game starts. I was curious and ordered the electronic copy for a few months and found it really funny and insightful. During the playoffs last year Dirt titled each of the game treads after Mastodon lyrics, so he's got that going for him.

Commentators: In a word, scarce. Hockey, of course, is no where near as popular in the U.S. as it is up north and you have to be able to get an obscure extended basic cable channel to even watch the games in some parts. Most news posts are lucky to get 10 comments, but usually those comments at least will add a little bit to story. But as hockey fanatics, the comments are sure to be pretty informative and profane.

Wisdom From The Masses: "FREE WILLY!!!! GO HAWKS!!!! I’m hopin’ for that initial goal too – I couldn’t stomach another 60 minutes of the clam trap. Really enjoyed the CBC pre-game story on the 4 Vancouver Hawks and their peewee team they all played together on – the Pacific Vipers. Just awesome. They all agreed of the 4 (Ladd, Fraser, Brouwer, & Seabrook) that Seabrook was always the standout, although Seabrook himself siad he always thought Fraser had the best goal celebration moves. - Hungryhawk

*In case you were wondering, TWSS stands for "That's What She Said" and allows for emotionally stunted men who have never felt the touch of a real, live woman to imagine that they are wittily zinging the previous commenter by giving their post a sexual connotation that was not originally intended.

For example:

Poster A: Boy, I sure do like the way Carlos Zambrano is pitching this year but I can't help but think I'd rather have his penis in my vagina.

Poster B: omg TWSS dood!

...aaaand scene!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Male Mystique

The male gender has a lot going for it, generally speaking. We tend to get paid more for doing less than the average female. Urinating standing up is very convenient and fun. Mustaches and beards can be groomed into many fresh and exciting shapes. All of this, however, rarely makes up for the fact that, however forthright and upstanding we may seem in our profile, we are all just quivering masses of neurosis and raging hormones on the inside. And I don't think I've ever found a site that really captures this seemingly disparate situation as perfectly as Psychotic Letters From Men does.

Straddling that fine line between bat-shit insanity and simple patheticness, PLFM is your one-stop shop for stories about that guy who took his affections a little too far. Thankfully, none of the stories on PLFM ever devolve into physical violence as it does so depressingly often in police blotters all over the world, but it's hard not to be amused by a fully grown man dressed up in a Hershey Kiss outfit screaming at a disinterested co-worker that he knew she was allergic to chocolate but that "I'm a piece of chocolate you can have!" The video above comes from this site - apparently the object of our four-wheeling Hercules' affection ran so far that even the internet, with it's unlimited resources, cannot find her. A good thing too: somebody who made a parody version of this video became the target of psychotic and profane comments when the romeo in question found out about it. One suggestion for reading this site: open your ITunes and cue up "My Body Is A Cage" by The Arcade Fire and push play every time you read something along the lines of "Derek didn't get the hint." or "Linda wasn't ready for what happened next." It's psycho-tastic!

Why do some men seem to focus their romantic intentions on unwilling subjects so stubbornly that PLFM is riddled with stories that end in restraining orders? Personally, I blame an unceasing sex drive and John Cusack movies. However, YouTube personality bill122460 has another theory: women be bitches.

Bill is one of the founders of the TFL (True Forced Loneliness) movement which postulates that the only reason women won't date homely, poor guys that are really nice is because they are secretly in league with the NWO: a rogue government-created organization that is working hand-in-hand with feminists, the WWE, MTV, and well, just about every entity that has ever been even tangentially connected in conspiratorial circles. Bill and his corpulent co-founder and friend, then enemy, then friend again, Dwayne Holloway have been spreading the gospel of TFL for months and Bill himself has somehow amassed a staggering 485 videos outlining how feminism caused 9/11. I usually listen to his slurred rants in my headphones while working on legal forms at work. It really seems to make the day fly by when Bill starts talking (quite seriously, I assure you) that McDonalds is kidnapping children, sacrificing them to Satan, and then grinding up their meat to put into Big Macs.

So there you have it. I suppose the true nature of the male mystique is somewhere in between the two extremes.

Where have all the cowboys gone, indeed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I quit girls

Just some random thoughts - Larry King style!

Why does Harmonix wait until I'm virtually broke to announce the release of a whole lotta awesome Iron Maiden tracks for Rock Band? And why do they make me have to figure out how much money 2000 Microsoft Points costs?... I work in an area right next to the IT staff and yesterday I could hear them arguing the relative strengths and weaknesses of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective vs. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls... The difference between right-wing kooks and left-wing kooks is the ability and general inclination to kill another human being for their dumb beliefs... My sister has decided that she loves Lady Gaga.... Fun City in Burlington will let you purchase plastic bottles of beer and float around in pool with a bunch of kids for as long as you want for $10... The band Japandroids have surely released one of the top 100 most rocking debut albums of all time... Bruiser Brody was one of scariest badasses every to get murdered in a shower stall by a Puerto Rican... David Letterman's writers may have mixed up Sarah Palin's kids, but surely "Number 5, Alex Rodriguez loves to rape children!" would have a suitable replacement joke... Synecdoche, New York is a great film if you don't mind devastating character studies about aging and loss... Despite this, it grossed less that 1/100th than a movie about giant talking robots that shoot each other... The Chicago Cubs organization continue to pretend to be a major league club, but this flies in the face of empirical evidence to the effect that they clearly do not know how to play baseball... I've spent a criminal amount of money buying old role-playing games from the eighties on eBay because I'm a broken human being... I would probably have a more favorable opinion of Twitter if it had something to do with titties... If I can't find anything else on television, I will settle for watching an episode of Cops... While re-watching Repo Man recently, I noticed a joke I hadn't before... It was "The Rodriguez Brothers do not approve of drugs." "Neither do I, but it's my birthday."... I enjoy WFMU's Beware of the Blog, but mostly for the features about old radio/TV personalities... When I'm on the phone at work, there are countless times where I want to roll my eyes back into my skull so bad that it actually causes me physical pain... The fact that Fox and Friends currently airs repeatedly on a basic cable channel will always blow my fucking mind... You know, I really don't mind the taste of rye whiskey, and this terrifies me....

Well, that should be enough for now. That was kinda fun.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Totally focused!

Apparently, every school in America's budget is due today so I really haven't had a chance to put together a decent post. Instead, I'll answer the question that's on everybody's lips these days: "YHP, why are you so fly?". After watching the next video, you'll understand how I keep my dance card so full. See ya next week. Maybe.

Friday, May 22, 2009

YouTube Superstar: Chris the Parade Kid

I'm not going to lie to you, things haven't really changed all that much since last week. I'm still kind of down, due mostly to the severe ineffectiveness of Chicagoland sports teams: Since Sunday the Cubs are 0-4 and the Blackhawks are 0-2 in their playoff series. Add to this my own NHL09 slump (0-4 with 2 different teams) that has actually seen me cry out to an indifferent god for just a single fucking light in the darkness. So as you can see, I'm in need of a little pick-me-up that only three days of no work and nice weather and Chris The Parade Kid can bring.

Chris is a delightful enigma. He appears to be a white male of indiscriminate age (made harder to define due to his omnipresent high vocal register) who dons over-sized cardboard Spock ears, mom pants, some sort of (presumably) stuffed bra and sleeveless lycra top and bounces up and down to various pop music songs while swaying his arms at irregular intervals. He received the moniker of Parade Kid from his frequent appearance in his Georgia hometown's annual Independence Day parade wearing his usual "elf" outfit (sorry about the Lenny Kravitz):

Why does he do this? Is it the result of some explosive combination of mental retardation, psychological problems or bizarre sexual fetish? All three? What's his deal with Harry Potter? And what the fuck is a Pikachu Wall? I believe the answers to all these questions are: who cares? He's obviously comfortable with who he is and what he does and by existing he has brought minutes of amusement and bewilderment to bored cube-dwellers like myself. And for this I salute you, Chris. May we non-elves experience just a pinch of the joy that seems to follow you wherever you bounce.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I got so much trouble on my mind

First off, let me apologize for the lack of posting. I wish I could say I've been negligent due to some huge event in my life or something, but this would be untrue. I vaguely remember having plans for some dumb-ass thing a few weeks ago, but before I could post it, a couple of things happened that really sapped my will. Like I said, nothing earth-shattering, but bad enough to make me hate the human race a little.

1: The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey on torture. Now I know a lot of you have probably seen this report, digested the finding and have gone about your merry business, but when I first heard about the findings I felt like I was punched in the gut.

I was never a very religious guy. I was lucky enough to be raised in an almost completely secular household and really only attended my grandparent's small Episcopalian church on Easter Sunday and maybe Christmas. The experience left me with an overall impression that religion was kinda boring. The preacher droned on while I fidgeted in my pew, every now and then kneeling down or standing or following along with some hymn being read in a monotone voice. But one thing I understood was that for all it's faults, "big C" Christianity generally promoted the best impulses in people. Sure it could seem condescending at times and pretty fucking hypocritical, but throughout history, it's track record is pretty decent. The vast majority of current charities in the US are Christian and great advances in many, many fields of science and technology where developed in conjunction (or at least sometimes not in direct opposition) with religious organizations. And on a personal level, how many of us know some fuck-up who seemed determined to destroy his or her family with drinking or drugs only to be born again and become a positive influence?

Does nobody remember the Inquisition? The horrible atrocities visited on innocent parties during the Crusades? Where in the goddamn bible does it say it's OK to suffocate people if they're from the mideast? Does "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." ring a bell with you dumb fucks? Doesn't that MEAN anything to people anymore?

Never mind. I know. "Homos, pornography, abortion, blah blah blah...". It's less of a religion now and more of an exclusive club and, Jesus Christ, is that ever sad.

Alright. Deep breath.

2: So I was visiting a friend of mine after work one evening and this person's TV was tuned to one of those "fatties lose weight as some skinny bitch screams at them" shows. Not The Biggest Loser, but one of the many knock-offs. And I was only half paying attention to it when they did some sort of demonstration involving a hamburger and fries. They were cutting it into sections, probably explaining the fat content or something. Immediately following this segment, we, the viewer are whisked off to the local Subway. But you could only tell it was Subway because the host said "Let's go to Subway!" and then they appeared in some kind of mirror-universe Subway where the "Sandwich Artists" are all fresh-faced young people instead of greasy, bored teens furtively taking trips to the cooler to get high. Then the camera leered at the fresh vegetables being prepared and the "Healthy Choices" sticker on the immaculate sneeze-guard. Then they went to commercial.

HOLY SHIT! Did I just see them stuff a whole goddamn ad for a fast food joint INTO THE FUCKING SHOW ITSELF? How long have they been doing this? This went way beyond product placement or "This episode of 'Let's Exercise An Become Less Chunky' is brought to you by...". This was a soulless infomercial being passed off as a TV show. All I could think about is the poor kids across America watching this shit and thinking it's normal! It made me want to scream and piss on my TV and boycott Subway and send a letter to...

Oh, shit, the Blackhawks game is on!

Eh, so, in conclusion, uh, stop being Christian and meatball subs or something...


Friday, April 24, 2009

Is That All There Is, Is That It Now?

Approximately 500 years ago today (give or take), YHP discovered the joys of heavy metal. While perusing the tape collection of his then current girlfriend, he came upon a copy of "...And Justice For All" by Metallica. This was pretty surprising, in that she rarely seemed to be into anything harder than Firehouse. I sort of half-remembered a black and white video about an army dude who totally got fucked up and a chubby-cheeked head-band wearing drummer grimacing musically that was pretty cool, so I asked if I could bring it home and check it out. It was love at first listen.

From there, it was on to Megadeth, Anthrax, and anything else that would annoy my parents (quick story: Years later I was listening to P.J. Harvey's Rid Of Me in my room and my mom asked me if I was listening to Satanic music. I responded, and I quote, "No, mom, this is, like, my generation's Joni Mitchell!" I was such a putz.) Against their hopes, this was not a phase I grew out of. Even though it eventually morphed into a taste for punk and hardcore, I still love and listen to metal. Not enough to follow that road into black metal or thrash (except for Venom and Tankard, which I find, for different reasons, totally hilarious) mind you, but bands still playing classical metal, such as Motorhead, still give me a thrill.

Given this, it's hard to pinpoint why I never really got into Iron Maiden when I was younger. They've got everything I look for in a metal band: awesome guitar gymnastics, a long and storied history, incredible album artwork that featured an affable mascot (who fought and killed Margaret Thatcher!), goofy faux-philosophical lyrics, etc... But still, for some reason, it never really clicked. I think it may have been a problem of finding the right album to wade into, which I didn't find until I picked up a used copy of A Real Live One at IC's own The Record Collector one afternoon. Keep that in mind while purveying this weeks "Pointless List" - you never forget your first love.


4) Can I Play With Madness?

When I was looking up some info on this one I found the original video on YouTube (embedding disabled, I'm afraid) and the memories came flooding back. I used to LOVE this video when I was younger, not particularly because I liked Maiden at the time but because I was a huge Monty Python nerd and it features my favorite Python, Graham Chapman, in one of his final TV appearances. This is one of my favorites of the sub-class of Maiden songs I like to call "Bruce Dickenson Discusses Human Nature with Some Kind of Wizard".

Favorite Phonetic Lyric: "He said do you wanna know the truth, son?/Oh, I'll tell you the truth!/YOUR SOUL'S GONNA BURN IN A LAKE OF FIIIIIIIYAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

3) Wasting Love

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so it's a "power ballad". Fuck you, dude, it still kicks ass. Power ballads can work if, and only if, the band performing them have a reputation for making ears bleed. This is a scientific fact. It's just that sometimes, after blasting out an incredible set, they start thinking about the road ahead and the loneliness and their absent sweethearts and it just sort of happens. Don't fault them just because you have a heart of stone.

Favorite Phonetic Lyric: "Dream on brother while you can/Dream on sister I hope you find the ooooone/All of our lives covered up quickly by the tiiiiiiiiiiides of tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime (sniffle)"

2) The Evil That Men Do

A great solo guitar intro leads to another rock solid rock anthem punctuated by another incredible solo by Adrian Smith. This song is easily mistaken at times with Run To The Hills because of the similar structure (and FYI, you can assume I'm a huge fan of all Maiden's more conventional hits [RTTH, Number of the Beast, etc...], I'm just pointing out these particular songs for praise because they are often overlooked). Dickenson at his most biblical.

Favorite Phonetic Lyric: "Living on a razor's edge/Balancing on the Ledge/Living on a razor's edge/Balancing. ON. THE. LEDGE-AH! (gotcha!)/Balancing on the leeeedge!/Living on a razor's edge/You know!/YOU KNOW! (chorus)"

1) Judas Be My Guide

Speaking of biblical, overlooked songs, how come this one isn't more recognized (or at least popular enough to be featured as DLC for Rock Band)? Complex harmonies, timely message, great stickwork by Nicko McBrain... I think Fear Of The Dark is just underrated as a whole.

Favorite Phonetic Lyric: "FALL DOWN!/You better pray to your god for mercy/SO KNEEL!/And help the blade cut clean!" (Note: I quote this part as much as possible in many inappropriate situations)

So there you have it. And yes, I know some of you Paul DiAnno fanboys might argue with this list and for good reason. It's just that I have a hard time even considering the first two albums as actual Iron Maiden productions (I have the same problem with the Josh Weinstein episodes of MST3K). Not that the DiAnno albums suck by any means, on the contrary - they're pretty rocking in their own way. But controversy aside, I hope my little list made you stop a while and ponder the majesty and violent beauty of one of mankind's greatest art forms.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quick Notes

A: I'm going to make an effort to update more frequently, hopefully every week. Look for me to post on Thursday or Friday. Hopefully these posts will be more entertaining than reviews of whatever DVD I watched last night or the nachos from our company cafeteria, but I ain't promising anything. Forgive me if I go on long digressive rants about these damn teenagers today with their big pants or post a series of "CUBS WIN WOOOOO!"-type things - just check back next week for some real content.

B: I was heartened to find that Todd Totale over at Glam-Racket has finally found time to alert his readers about the horrible violence that is possible in the American workplace to those who don't pay attention to their work, and, consequently, the danger inherent in accidentally hitting pressurized gas canisters with a mallet causing them to propel themselves through the air into your supervisor's office hitting him in the face and killing him. That's why it's such a shame that he hasn't used his large fanbase to publicize the very real and very serious problem of crazy people trying to cut you with knives. I guess Mr. Totale simply doesn't care if you or your family is accosted by miscreants wielding the dreaded Mexican Sacatripe or knives hidden in lipstick containers (popular with prostitutes!). This is where he and I differ. I beg of you, please, PLEASE watch the following video with someone you love. It even contains a wonderful musical interlude that young people can't resist. And remember, with these tips you can make sure you never die in no ghetto. Absolutely never. Period.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Goodbye To All That

It was way past midnight
And she still couldn't fall asleep
This night the dream was leavin'
She tried so hard to keep
And with the new day's dawning
She felt it drift away
Not only for a cruise
Not only for a day

As I've stated before in one of my many posts on one of my many failed blogs, I love summertime in Iowa City.

There's just something about the way the town empties out for a couple of months, leaving a mostly deserted ghost of a mid-western town to rebuild for the next wave of rich kids to arrive in the fall. The streets are quiet and you can see the smiling faces on the young children walking around with their parents in the just south of uncomfortable heat of an Iowan summer. The pedestrian mall, instead of being a haven for backwards-baseball-hat-wearing bros shouting into their cellphones, becomes a gentle, brick-strewn path full of elderly folks enjoying a walk and pseudo-intellectuals congregating at the many coffee shops. You can easily get a table at one of the fine restaurants and there always seems to be a free seat at the bar at one of the thousands of taverns. It's hard to leave when you travel on vacation and it always looks beautiful when you get back. And for all these reasons, it's going to be bittersweet experience when I move away in the fall.

Yes, the time has come for your's truly to seek shelter in another locale. The nights sleeping on my old futon is playing havoc with my back muscles and next month I'll be turning 36 in a neighborhood filled with 20-year-olds. I can take a hint. It's time to move on. So I'd like to use this space to say goodbye to some of the individuals who made living in IC such a... place to... exist... for a while: my fellow neighbors.

Looking back, I can see now how spoiled I was three years ago when I got sick of living in my little basement efficiency and took my landlord's offer to move into a larger one bedroom a few blocks away. My neighbors at the old apartment were mostly hippies and artsy types - quiet and accommodating. I kick myself now when I think about going to look at my future domicile and barely noticing the wide upstairs balcony and the yard full of empty Busch Lite cans. I disregarded the carpet full of cigarette burns and the broken cabinets - I mean, after all, Dallis said he would fix them before I moved in. But it never occurred to me that I would be moving into a "party house". I mean the few other renters I met was an older guy who was REALLY into the WWE (bonus!) and a guy with some mental handicap who was on an assisted living arrangement. It really didn't occur to me that they lived below in the basement apartments and the college students who I would see everyday were in class at the time. Now I know the older dudes didn't mind living there because the ceiling in the basement wasn't as paper thin as the ones upstairs.

As soon as I moved in, the ebb and flow of a college student's social life became glaringly obvious to me for the first time: drinking on Sunday through Wednesday followed by heavy drinking on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Evenings when I wasn't forced to blare my TV or stereo to drown out the steady diet of Tupac and Eminem songs that shook the light fixtures in my room were punctuated by the ever present Official University of Iowa Motto of "WHOOOOO!" outside my window. Violent arguments over cell phones brought the 5-0 to my door at 3:30 a.m. one morning and it was often a grim amusement to try and guess what kind of shit (sometimes literally!) would be waiting for me on the lawn or in the parking lot when I shuffled groggily off to work in the morning. Ever been woken up by a chorus of douchebags drunkenly singing "Margaritaville" next door to you in the early morning hours? It's as pleasant as it sounds.

So when I got my notification that my lease was up for this year (along with the increasingly standard rent increase) I took a pass. I found a 2-bedroom in nearby Coralville that includes stringent noise control rules and an August move-in date which gives me one more summer in IC to enjoy. Just the thought of the relative quiet of my new digs has filled me with a strange inner peace. The yelling and the constant squeaking of the ceiling above me doesn't bother me as much and just a few nights ago, I got an aural present:

" got out of OUR bed, went downstairs, and SUCKED MY BROTHER'S DICK... ON MY FUCKING BIRTHDAY!"

I look at the clock - just passed 2 a.m. It's Chunky Gal and Rapper Dude, they are fighting.

" fucked Tommy, you fucked Greg, you fucked all my friends! You let Greg put his dick IN YOUR PUSSY!"

All of a sudden I realize I haven't heard their stereo blaring out some bass-heavy dreck in a while (maybe it's broken?) and, for some god-forsaken reason, the song "Captain Of Her Heart" by the Swiss group Double pops into my head. I heard it on the radio a few days before and promptly forgot about it, like much of the world did a few months after it was released in 1986.


Slowly, I piece together a narrative. Chunky gal finds one of Rapper Guy's ex-flame's number on his cell phone and calls it. Accuses boyfriend of infidelities. Boyfriend repeatedly brings up Chunky Gal's many past indiscretions, including providing oral gratification to his sibling on the night of Rapper Guy's birthday party. Rapper Guy denies that he and Chunky Gal are involved using a sort of reverse "Single Ladies" logic. Bemused downstairs neighbor smiles and turns over on his futon while Kurt Maloo's breathy baritone whispers through his brain.

Too long ago
Too long apart
She couldn't wait another day for
The captain of her heart

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Glorious Day (not a Jay Cutler post)

This makes it twice this year my home state has surprised and delighted me to the point where I have literally wept tears of joy. As a friend and relative to more than a few people who are directly effected by the court's overturn of this stupid and vindictive ban, let me add my own thanks to the wise members of Iowa Supreme Court. History will vindicate your decision.

Oh, and if anybody knows Jay Cutler's number, let him know I'm single and willing.

Unanimous ruling: Iowa marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning upheld a Polk County judge’s 2007 ruling that marriage should not be limited to one man and one woman.

The ruling, viewed nationally and at home as a victory for the gay rights movement and a setback for social conservatives, means Iowa’s 5,800 gay couples can legally marry in Iowa beginning April 24.

There are no residency rules for marriage in Iowa, so the rule would apply to any couple who wanted to travel to Iowa.

Shelly Wolfe and Melisa Keeton, who waited for word of the ruling outside the Polk County Recorder’s Office, immediately called their pastor anyway to make plans.

“We’re going to make it legal,” Keeton, 31, of Des Moines said.

Wolfe, 38, and Keeton, who is 21 weeks pregnant, went through a commitment ceremony two years ago. Their marriage certificate was among the 26 that were put on hold when Polk County Judge Robert Hanson’s decision to open the door for gay marriage was delayed until the high court could weigh in.

Third state to allow same-sex marriages

Today’s decision makes Iowa the first Midwestern state, and the third in the country, to allow same-sex marriages. Lambda Legal, a gay rights group, financed the court battle and represented six couples who challenged Iowa’s 10-year-old ban on gay marriage.

Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady, who wrote the unanimous decision, at one point invoked the court’s first-ever decision, in 1839, which struck down slavery laws 17 years before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of a slave owner to treat a person as property.

Iowa’s gay marriage ban “is unconstitutional, because the county has been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage,” Cady wrote in the 69-page opinion that seemed to dismiss the concept of civil unions as an option for gay couples.

“A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution,” Cady wrote.

The ruling, however, also addressed what it called the “religious undercurrent propelling the same-sex marriage debate,” and said judges must remain outside the fray.

Some Iowa religions are strongly opposed to same-sex marriages, the justices noted, while some support the notion.

“Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring that government avoids them,” the opinion says.

The ruling explicitly does not affect “the freedom of a religious organization to define marriage it solemnizes as unions between a man and a woman,” the justices stressed.

The case, Varnum vs. Brien, involved couples who sued Polk County Recorder Timothy Brien in 2005 after his office denied them marriage licenses. Hanson sided with the couples last year but then suspended his decision pending a high court ruling.

• Read the summary: Iowa Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage.
• Read the full opinion: Iowa Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage.

“We won! It is unanimous!” Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal exclaimed when the ruling was announced. “Today the dream becomes reality … and Iowa constitution’s promise of equality is fulfilled. Iowans have never waited for others to do the right thing. Iowa took its place in the vanguard of the civil rights struggle, and we couldn’t be more proud to be part of this.”

Gov. Chet Culver e-mailed a response to reporters that said: “The decision released this morning by Supreme Court addresses a complicated and emotional issue, one on which Iowans have strong views and opinions on both sides. The next responsible step is to thoroughly review this decision, which I am doing with my legal counsel and the attorney general, before reacting to what it means for Iowa.”

Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay civil rights, said today’s decision could mean as much to gay couples outside Iowa.

“I think it’s significant because Iowa is considered a Midwest state in the mainstream of American thought,” Socarides, a senior political assistant for Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin in the early 1990s, said Thursday. “Unlike states on the coasts, there’s nothing more American than Iowa. As they say during the presidential caucuses, ‘As Iowa goes, so goes the nation.’”

Opponents, supporters react

Opponents have long argued that allowing gay marriage would erode the institution. Some Iowa lawmakers, mostly Republicans, attempted last year to launch a constitutional amendment to specifically prohibit same-sex marriage. This is because they have tiny, tiny little minds.

Such a change would require approval in consecutive legislative sessions and a public vote, which means a ban could not be imposed until at least 2012, unless lawmakers take up the issue in the next few weeks. Leaders this week said they had no plans to do so.

Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton, nonetheless called for an immediate move to amend the constitution.

“The decision made by the Iowa Supreme Court today to allow gay marriage in Iowa is disappointing on many levels,” he said. "I believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman, and I am confident the majority of Iowans want traditional marriage to be legally recognized in this state Also, I hate homos because my daddy didn't love me enough."

“Though the court has made their decision, I believe every Iowan should have a voice on this matter and that is why the Iowa Legislature should immediately act to pass a constitutional amendment that protects traditional marriage, keeps it as a sacred bond only between one man and one woman and gives every Iowan a chance to have their say through a vote of the people.”

State Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant, major dickhead, said he would support a constitutional amendment. However, he also believes lawmakers would have to work on parallel legislation that would grant civil unions or some sort of way to grant legal rights to same-sex couples.

“I firmly believe marriage should be between a man and a women but at the same time, I believe we should address these issues,” Heaton said. “I would rather recognize a civil union than to have same-sex marriage. After all, everybody knows that once a man gets a taste for the delicious flavor of cock, he becomes a slave to it. I'm living proof!”

Diane Thacker’s eyes filled with tears as the ruling were read to an crowd opposed to gay marriage that had gathered on the north side of the judicial building.

“Sadness,” she whispered.. “But I’m prayerful and hopeful that God’s word will stand. Hopefully He'll get to it between making black babies in Rwanda starve to death for being heathens and helping the Hawkeyes get a good bowl seed.” Then she added, "My mailbox is made of pickles!"

Thacker said she joined to group “because I believe in the marriage vow. I can’t see it any other way.”

Democratic State Sen. Matt McCoy of Des Moines, saw the decision a different way.

“I’m off the wall. I’m very pleased to be an Iowan,” said McCoy, who is openly gay.

Voices from outside the state quickly took sides. The Iowa Supreme Court’s Web site was deluged with more than 1.5 million visitors as of 11 a.m., court spokesman Steve Davis said..

Doug Napier, a complete and total douche of a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund in Arizona, said the Iowa Supreme Court “stepped out of its proper role in interpreting the law.”

Napier said the legislature should place a constitutional amendment on a statewide ballot to let Iowans decide.

The Defense of Marriage Act “was simple, it was settled, and overwhelming supported by Iowans,” Napier said. “There was simply no legitimate reason for the court to redefine marriage.”

Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, a New Jersey group, said “once again, the most undemocratic branch of government is being used to advance an agenda the majority of Americans reject. Wait, we're still talking about slavery, right? What year is this? ”

“Marriage means a husband and wife. That’s not discrimination, that’s common sense,” she said in a press release. “Even in states like Vermont, where they are pushing this issue through legislatures, gay marriage advocates are totally unwilling to let the people decide these issues directly.”

Mark Kende, a constitutional law professor at Drake University, described the ruling as narrowly written and “very well reasoned,” and predicted it will have national, possibly international, influence. But it also could create new, inter-state legal battles, he said. Couples who flock to Iowa to marry may not have their marriage recognized in other states that prohibit same-sex marriage, he said.

The decision also is limited to civil marriages performed in county buildings, he said.

Meanwhile, Kate and Trish Varnum, whose surname will forever be attached to the historic decision, called it “a great day for Iowa.”

At a press conference this morning, Kate Varnum said: “Good morning… and I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé. Today I am proud to be a lifelong Iowan.”

Trish Varnum added: “It’s been a wonderful adventure, and we’re looking forward to the next wonderful adventure — as a married couple in Iowa.”

A Des Moines Register poll in 2008 of Iowa lawmakers showed that a majority of Iowa’s lawmakers —123 of 150 — said they believed marriage should only be between a man and a woman. It was unclear whether those lawmakers had enough votes to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Iowans have mixed feelings on the issue

An Iowa Poll in February 2008 showed that most Iowans believed marriage should be only between one man and one woman. However, the poll also showed that a majority of Iowa adults supported the creation of civil unions that would grant benefits to gay couples similar to those offered to heterosexuals in marriage.

In the poll, 62 percent of Iowans said they believed marriage should be only between a man and a woman. Thirty-two percent said they believed same-sex marriages should be allowed, while 6 percent were unsure.

Iowans were split, however, on whether the state constitution should be changed to ban gay marriages. More than half of Iowans who responded to the poll supported civil unions for same-sex couples. About four in 10 Iowans opposed civil unions, and 4 percent were unsure.

More reaction from elected officials, religious leaders

Harkin, a Democrat, issued a written statement today that said: “my personal view has been that marriage is between a man and a woman, and I have voted in support of that concept. But I also fundamentally believe that same sex couples in a civil union should be entitled to all the basic legal protections and benefits of marriage.”

“I know that this decision will be very hard for many to accept,” he added. “But I also know that it will provide many committed same sex couples and families important rights, as well as an important sense of recognition and belonging.”

Religious leaders who support gay-marriage rights praised the ruling as an affirmation of equal rights for all Iowans.

“The court’s ruling shows Iowa is a place that celebrates fairness and equality for all Iowans,” said Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. “It upholds the spirit of Iowa’s constitution, which clearly states each of us has the right to equal protection and recognition under the law.”

The Rev. Mark Stringer said he cried when he heard of the decision. Stringer performed the only legal same-sex marriage in Iowa when he officiated a ceremony for Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan in 2007.

“It was such a sense of relief to me as someone who has cared about marriage equality,” Stringer said, adding that he is happy gay couple will have the same rights as he and his wife.

“It’s really an astounding moment under our history,” he said. “What really excites me is that Iowa is the first in our area of the country. We are being a leader in civil rights, which will be part of our state’s history.”

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, whose office represented Brien, said has no plan to seek a new hearing on the case or appeal to the federal courts. Sarcone said the case involved “a substantial time and monetary commitment” for the county, although he did not know the dollar amount. Assistant County Attorney Roger Kuhle, who argued the case to the high court, traveled to England and Canada at county expense to take sworn statements, he said.

“This was never anything personal,” Sarcone said. “We have a responsibility to defend the recorder. We defended the statute, and we had a fair and full hearing in the district court and the supreme court. Everything was done with dignity.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Coffy Vs. Foxy Vs. Sheba Vs. Friday Vs. Jackie

A Pointless List dedicated to one of my favorite actresses, Ms. Pamela Suzette Grier.

Top Five Pam Grier Movie Roles

1. Sheba Shayne

Sheba, Baby is probably one of my least favorite Pam Grier movie. It's got a workable storyline and the locales are nice and gritty but she just doesn't get a lot to work with on this one. Her romance angle with leading man Austin Stoker is just terrible - absolutely no spark and most of the dialogue is just awful. Pam plays Sheba Shayne, a tough Chicago private detective returning to Louisville, KY to protect her father's business.

Money Quote: "You better talk, big man, before I put my number one foot down your number one mouth!"

2. Coffy

Coffy stars Pam as... well, Coffy! That appears to be her full name in this one. She's a nurse driven to vigilante justice after her sister gets hooked on drugs. This one really pushes Pam's inherent sexiness to the limit with some of her costumes and she spends the whole movie alternately enticing men and then blowing their brains out. It also features the infamous scene where she pulls a 9mm out of her afro. Good times!

Money Quote: "It was easy for him because he really didn't believe it was comin', but it ain't gonna be easy for you, because you better believe it's comin'!"

3. Foxy Brown

A lot of people, including myself, get this movie and Coffy mixed up. And for good reason as it turns out that the director, Jack Hill, actually intended it to be a sequel to Coffy. Foxy is a nurse (again) who turns to vigilantism (again) when her boyfriend gets killed by some gangsters under the employ of a creepy brother and sister duo. This one also has a great star turn from Antonio Vargas, better known as Huggy Bear, the informant pimp from the Starsky and Hutch TV series. He plays her no-good brother in this one and has one of movie history's greatest lines: "That's my sister, baby, and she's a whoooole lotta woman!" Indeed.

Money Quote: "You pink-ass corrupt honky judge, take your little wet noodle outta here and if you see a man anywhere send him in because I do need a MAN!"

2. Friday Foster

I just saw this one recently as was blown away by it. What a cast! Pam and Yaphet Kotto have such a great rapport, I wish they had more opportunities to work together. Also, not credited but very noticeable is a young Carl Weathers as one of the bad guys. Pam looks fucking AWESOME in this movie and she plays an ex-model photographer who barely picks up a gun through the whole film! This would be at number 1 if it didn't kind of sputter at the end. Still recommended highly, though.

Money Quote: "You treat a person like a person... and a woman like a woman."

1. Jackie Brown

I'm sure when Quentin Tarantino announced that his next movie after the wildly successful Pulp Fiction would star Pam Grier a lot of people probably rolled their eyes at this bit of "stunt casting". But, damn if he didn't get it right. Pam acts her ass off in this one, outperforming such heavyweights as Robert De Nero and Samuel Jackson. And she does it with such a casual flair that it looks effortless. Her platonic relationship with Robert Forster's bail bondsman brought a tear or two to this jaded old fart. It's a brilliant jewel in a the crown of a fabulous acting career.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Food Product Review - Banquet Homestyle Bakes: Cheesy Ham & Hashbrowns

It's no secret that your's truly loves terrible food. The greasier, the unhealthier, the unappetizier the better. My chili is like a obese, flatulent siren, luring people who should know better into rocks of gastrointestinal distress. And every week when I go do the shoppin', I usually pick up one box of my cruel temptress Betty Crocker's dry-macaroni-and-cheese-powder concoctions otherwise known as "Hamburger Helper". Now I'll admit to dabbling in some of the other Helpers: namely the Tuna variety (the tetrazzini is my favorite) and the Chicken Helper with mixed results, but I usually by the next week I'm crawling back to that sadistic little anthropomorphic white glove's bowel candy. But this week a huge box just above the Helpers caught my eye:

"Homestyle Bakes? What's this? Cheesy Ham and Hash Browns? I like me some hash browns, cheesy or no, but do the really expect me to buy a whole ham just so I can make this? They must really think me a fool, using the promise of hash browns and cheese just to pressure me into buying one of their fancy, expensive hams! Nice try, Banquet! It almost worked! I'll just be putting this back on the shelf, I think I saw a new Oriental-style flav- But what is this?"


Here are the contents freed from their box. One can of "savory" ham and cheese, one bag of something that is, I think, potato-based and a silver bag which is helpfully labeled "Chive Crumb Topping". This bag also lists a couple of ingredients, namely "wheat" and "milk". Now, I'm no smart-healthy-food-knowing-guy but the last time I looked at a food pyramid I'm pretty fucking sure I saw wheat and milk propping up a few of the sections. I'm feeling healthier already!

OK, now that it's been proven that this is some healthy shit right here, let's start, as the directions tell us, by opening the can of "savory" ham and cheese and getting this party started!

Well I can't say I was prepared for the color. That's a pretty unnatural hue for any foodstuff and the ham doesn't look "savory" as much as "cut into little squares and drowned in artificial cheese". But, hey, it's still early. Let's add the hash and gets to brownin'!

Now we're cooking! Keep in mind, I used the range instructions so the "bakes" part of the "Homestyle Bakes" isn't really part of this review. One of these days I will pony-up for a casserole dish, but for tonight I'm gonna cook this like some Helper which, strangely enough, is exactly how it's printed on the back of the box. Here is the finished product:

So even with the generous application of wholesome wheat and milk, that crazy neon orange color still shines through. Now, for some folks, this may be a warning. To me, it's a challenge!

The texture is not unappealing. The hash browns softened nicely into something resembling potatoes and the cheese glop thickened a little anyway. So let's have a bite.

Overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. You can barely taste the ham or the potatoes at all through the all-encompassing yellowness of the cheese and yet the cheese itself is not really all that cheesy tasting. However, it did not once trigger my gag reflex and as far as I know my eyesight hasn't suffered, so I'll give it a pass.


Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm so bored with the USA

What happened America? When did every single program produced in the US become "reality shows" populated by cut-rate actors pretending to be "real people". When did it become acceptable to base one of these shows around an over-the-hill douchebag hair rocker and his attempts to fuck skanks? Does every fucking show have feature a British dude yelling at people? You still find timeslots to give to scripted comedy but forget to add anything resembling funny material. Why? It's not that fucking hard. The Brits are able to manage and even the fucking Canadians and NEW ZEALAND are now currently kicking our asses when it comes to the funny. NEW ZEALAND FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!


Was somebody pitching ideas and you got bored and said "Fuck it, give Howie Mandel a game show where people point at suitcases to win prizes"? Thank God IC recently added Boomerang to their cable lineup, the plots from The Herculoids beat out anything on 24. As far as I know Zandor never ordered Igoo torture a fucking baby to stop their crazy planet from getting destroyed. Who fucking watches this shit? "Oh, did you see last night's House? House was being a real dick to someone and then ended up saving that person's life! It was great!"


Look, all I'm saying is that if you take away a man's baseball and football, you gotta replace it with something or at least make the Bulls learn how to play basketball so I can watch them without being embarrassed. OK?

Oh, and nice try having Spongebob quote some dialog from Pete and Ray. Too little, too late, assholes.

Friday, January 30, 2009

YouTube Superstar - Daniel Songer


Welcome to the first of what I hope to be an ongoing series about one of this country's greatest resources: YouTube entertainers.

When I moved to IC some 10 years ago or so, one of the things I loved most about this time was the fact that their cable company carried an honest-to-god Public Access TV network. I've always been obsessed by these channels - they just seem the ultimate in democracy: a TV station that will let anyone record a program about anything. Sure, most of the content is pre-packaged features from various organizations looking to get some attention for little effort: churches, cults, ultra-left-wing concerns, etc... Also, with the University nearby, it's also a beacon for "wacky" obviously stoned students looking for a creative outlet, but there was also some great personalities at work - people who, for various reasons, HAD to get their stories out there.


Now, PATV is in danger of becoming an extinct species. This is a depressing situation all around, but thankfully we do have another source for amateur entertainers, besides, you know, American Idol.

Now YouTube has it's own problems that stem paradoxically from it's greatest strength - it's easy accessibility. Currently, YouTube is mostly a cesspool of crappy videos, but if you can find a good filter (say, PoETV) you can find some gems among the flotsam. I feel Mr. Songer is among those gems.


Make no mistake, Daniel Songer is a renaissance man. Dancing, poetry, comedy... some guys can do it all and Dan The Man, well, he can also do... things? Dan is from Georgia, this much we know - also he IS NOT GAY. We know he is not a homosexual because he tells us so repeatedly in every single video. He does, however, have a weakness for the ladies and most of his offbeat stories usually revolve around trying to impress them with less-than-successful results setting up the punchline.

And then the awkward silence.

And then he swipes his hand through his thinning hair.

Jump cut. Then on to the next "joke"!


I can't explain it. Is it the way he bellows every word he says and then cranks it up even louder every time he hits the "punchline"? Is it the mystery of the person behind the camera giving him a count - who is that guy and for God's sake, WHY? Is it my inherent hipster's need for a source of ironic anti-comedy?


Nah, it's probably the dancing.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Another holiday, another trip down south, another chance to blog about the peculiarities of America's favorite down-home tourist trap, Branson, MO.

OK, so I'm cheating. Lambert's Cafe is technically within the city limits of nearby Springfield. But my mom and sister always makes it a target destination every time we visit.

Every. Single. Time.

Why you ask? Do we as a family just enjoy waiting outside with 200 other strangers for an hour, then running the gauntlet to our table to order $12 entrees while underpaid high school students continually ask us if we want some sorghum? Hell, no!

We do it 'cause of the kids. The kids love it!

This year we decided to get there early and it paid dividends. By getting there at 10:30 in the morning, we were able to secure a table after only a 45 minute wait! So, after passing the time visiting a wine & cheese shop, a toy store, a furniture warehouse and a clothing consignment shop, we were primed and ready to experience the giddiness of hearing our name announced over the old-timey public address system and made our way to our seats.

An intimate dining experience!

After you get seated and order, an underpaid high school student in suspenders will eventually make his/her way to your table with a metal bowl filled with "pass-arounds". Now, as far as I know, these pass-arounds (not to be confused with reach-arounds, unfortunately) come from a tradition that allows subsidy-enriched farmers in the Springfield area to dump their unused cattle feed on Lambert's property, which is then scooped up, fried in hog fat, and then served to hungry customers.

Not shown: the grease stain left on the napkin

Those pass-arounds are only the beginning of the Lambert's dining experience (or The Full Lambert, if you will). Soon, one of the many Lambert's worker drones (usually the prettiest male with the most complicated haircut) will delight the whole section with a display of pastry-based marksmanship that is unique (as far as I know) to this particular chain of restaurants:

The majesty of Lambert's - truly evidence of a wonderful world!

After all the rolls are "throwed", all that's left is to eat your sub-standard entrée, push your way through the crowd to the exit and leave Lambert's with a little more happiness in your heart, a little more cholesterol in your veins and a lot less money in your checking account.

Bon appetite!