Context is King

Disclaimer: I am wholeheartedly aboard the #MeToo train. Hell, I’m a feminist snowflake, if that’s the language you want to use. Our sisters, daughters, mothers, and friends deserve better, quite frankly. However, I also acknowledge when “cancel culture” goes too far. Political Correctness usually has the noblest of intentions, but now and then it gets in the way, and creates division where there has previously been none. Case in point: the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

Watch this video.

Here are the first two times this song was ever recorded for distribution, from the 1949 film “Neptune’s Daughter.” We start with Ester Williams and Ricardo Freakin’ Montalban (!) doing the version we all know…the wolfish male predator and his hesitant quarry. Okay, yeah. It looks really bad. When he grabs her arm…repeatedly…to prevent her escape…oof. Not a good look. At least in the radio versions, like Dean Martin’s 1959 rendition, or the (far superior) Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer version from 1949, we don’t actually see the couple. We can imagine that she really does want to stay, but feels guilty, because people back in the late-40’s and 50’s were completely repressed, and slut-shaming was rampant…like, he’s almost doing her a favor in making the decision for her. Still, when you see Ricardo essentially chase her around the room, it’s a little unsettling to modern eyes.

And then we get to observe the other couple, and, uh…well, now!

I mean, come on! Showing her KNEE! Like some shameless HUSSY!

From the same film, we see Red Skelton doing a cartoonishly bad accent, and the tables have turned…his lusty adversary is Betty Garrett, and she demands, like any liberated woman, to have her needs met, by God. Years later, in her powerful “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” Thelma Houston expressed her similar desire thusly:

 

“Oh baby, my heart is full of love and desire for you

Now, come on down and do what you’ve got to do…”

 

Do what you’ve got to do. Yes. TELL HIM, SISTER!! That was the disco-clad Sexual Revolution in the Swinging’ 70’s, but even then, fairly bold. A woman? Demanding sexual gratification from her mate?! CLUTCH THOSE PEARLS!!
“Okay, great…but what’s your point? That we should forgive Montalban’s character for his aggressive courtship?” Well, no. Not entirely. But we have to realize that A) it was a wayyyyy different time and B) the scene exists primarily as a way to set up the much more comedic scene which follows. The Red Skelton stuff would have been somewhat humorous in and of itself…but after seeing the “male” version, it’s even more impactful when Betty Garrett throws her conquest on the couch…sits on him…and turns out the light. She’s in complete control, and there’s not a damn thing Red can do about it. And as a viewer, we all sort of agree that he really doesn’t want to anyway. And, ultimately, as things tended to do in the screwball comedies of yesteryear, everything worked out, and both couples found love. Here’s the official “Neptune’s Daughter” synopsis from IMDB:
 
Scatterbrained Betty Barrett mistakes masseur Jack Spratt for Jose O’Rourke, the captain of the South American polo team. Spratt goes along with the charade, but the situation becomes more complicated when they fall in love. Meanwhile, Betty’s sensible older sister Eve fears Betty’s heart will be broken when Jose returns to South America. She arranges to meet with the real O’Rourke and love soon blossoms between them as well.
 
This brief description leaves out that Eve is an aquatic dancer (hence the movie’s title) and that she’s actually partnered with a man (the omnipresent Keenan Wynn) in a swimwear company. Partnered. Equal. She is, by 1940’s standards, a powerful, professional woman. Athletic, smart, cunning, and protective of her younger sister. Does it make Ricardo’s Jose O’Rourke (his character’s actual name, and Beto O’Rourke is totally biting his rhyme, yo) any less creepy? Not really. But it implies that Eve was more than capable of fending for herself. And that makes a huge difference; she’s not some meek little virgin, not some naive waif who simply doesn’t stand a chance against the machismo of a young Khan Noonien Singh. (And who among us can truly say that? Not I. I’m a 49-year-old heterosexual male, but if he wanted to chase me ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares Maelstrom, well, heck…no mere mortal can resist such masculinity, especially if it smells of rich Corinthian leather.) I digress. Okay, in conclusion, I’ll simply say that yeah, “no” means “no.” Still. But it’s never wise to take isolated incidents out of context. Do the homework. Read the entire article. Watch the interview. Consider everything before leaping to condemn. And above all, relax, people. Have fun. Kiss him or her. If they slap your face, stop. Pretty simple.
 
Enjoy the holidays, everyone.

Video Breakdown – ‘Til Tuesday, (Believed You Were) Lucky

Before I get into this crazy-ass video for what really is a great song, let me lament that there aren’t more Aimee Manns in the world. There was a time, not long ago, when female singer-songwriters covered the earth in thick herds visible form space. Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and scores of others…there was Lilith Fair, there were the Indigo Girls on commercial radio…it was glorious. Now we have Taylor Swift. And Gods love her, she’s fine, but…she ain’t no Aimee Mann. Taylor’s simply not as talented. She’s not as deep. And no, she’s nowhere near as enthralling and sexy. Sigh. It’s true: I have harbored a crush on Aimee since the Voices Carry video, through her cameo on Rush’s Time Stand Still, continuing with I Should’ve Known and shit, even up to ’til now.

But let’s be honest, in this video…she’s a little wacky. But then, the whole thing is wacky. This track was co-written by Jules Shear, and fun trivia fact: he’s the “Jules” in ‘J’ for Jules, another brilliant song from this under-achieving album. Both ...Jules and our featured song for this Video Breakdown used to be part of a mixtape my old roommate Marcus would play in the room we shared in college. He’d packed it with soothing melodies to facilitate soundly sleeping, even if sometimes each of us would actually be quietly shagging our female companions in our respective twin beds. Hey, man…college.

So, let’s begin by watching the actual video, shall we? Open it in another tab if possible, because you may want to flip back and forth. Ready?  In the words of Fred Schneider,here it ’tis…

Away we go.

00:00 – Oh! Lindsey Buckingham?

00:09 – Surprise! It’s Debbie Harry! Or…wait…

00:16 – Is that a picture from The Haunted Mansion? A saw? A bow? A bow-saw? (Also, Aimee? Aimee! We’re over here!)

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.18.19 PM

Camera one, Aimee. Camera one. Camera ONE.

00:33 – And this was your father’s lightsaber…

00:49 – I think they could only afford greenscreen for the top third of this shot.

1:04 – Magic 8-Ball getting’ mighty preachy.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.20.36 PM

The new ones just say “Reply hazy. Fuck you.”

1:08 – Robo-hand has sweet knuckle tats like Robert Mitchum or Jake Blues.

1:10 – ILLUMINATI CONFIRMED!

1:13 – “Crap, guys. I couldn’t find a clover or horseshoe graphic. Let’s just spell out ‘lucky’ if it’s all the same to you.”

1:20 – “Aimee, show ’em the thing!”

1:23 – Birds: We’re free! Free from 8-ball enslavement!

1:30 – Black hole sun.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.22.55 PM

Are those…birds? Or did someone drop a bunch of Playtex gloves?

1:34 – Aimee? Hey! Over HERE!

1:40 – Wherein Aimee steps in a hole or something, and domino doors, because…um…

1:49 – WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.25.11 PM

Memories. Memories were in the box, asshole. And what looks like a spider.

2:00 – Took me a minute to realize that the shadows were from the objects still falling, ostensibly, from the previously-mentioned box. Nice touch. I guess whoever was in charge of continuity earned their paycheck on this shoot.

2:08 – What is that shit? Ash?

2:10 – Oh! Bubbles! We’re underwater with goldfish. That is lucky! (But goldfish can’t read.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.26.54 PM

|AT LEAST IT’S NOT MONOPOLY! HAHA!| (Translated from goldfish.)

 

2:13 – “Say, I wonder what my fate holds?”

2:14 – “FUCK! That can’t be good! Aw, man…”

2:18 – So we’re doing this again? This ‘Twilight Zone’ crap?

2:23 – Zoom in on young Peyton Manning.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.28.34 PM

He’s just patiently waiting for his chance to yell “OMAHA!”

2:30 – The Australian ‘Watership Down.’

2:40 – Finally! Dr. Who!

2:43 – Finally! The Doors!

2:45 – Aimee, open your eyes all creepy-like.

2:46 – Nice touch with that ‘Spock’ thing you’re doin’ there.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.30.00 PM

Actually, it looks more like a Dr. Evil move…

2:48 – The ‘Infinity Ticker-Tape” thing never really took off.

2:52 – Kids, that is a nice transition. Seriously, good match-dissolve.

2:59 – “ARE YE READY, KIDS?” (Because life. Life. In a pineapple. It’s de bubbles. Under the sea.)

3:03 – Those have to be snooker balls or something. Stupid English people gotta make everything fancy.

3:07 – “Lucky” is a great white-trash baby name, FYI.

3:12 – Time-lapse rose to symbolize…patience? I guess?

3:16 – Aimee puts her band on a pedestal. (No, fuck YOU!) Except…she’s up there, too…and Peyton does’t have his damn drums! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR DRUMS, PEYTON?!

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.32.07 PM

CAMERA ONE! GODDAMMIT, AIMEE!

3:22 – It is ALWAYS camera one! ALWAYS!

3:31 – ILLUMINATI!

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.33.16 PM

Laugh all you want, and then tell me what other reason there could possibly be for this. Huh, smart guy?

 

AAAAAAAAND SCENE.

So, to recap: Aimee Mann is a very talented singer/songwriter, but has no idea which camera to look into. The drummer for ‘Til Tuesday would grow up to shill pizza for Papa John’s. And in the 80’s you absolutely HAD to have a video. For every song you released. Sometimes your director had just depleted his last ounce of creativity trying to get Whitesnake to go in a more creative direction and, failing to do so, had gone on a three-day coke and alcohol bender before showing up on the set screaming “EIGHTBALL! WE’RE DOING THE EIGHTBALL SHOT!” (Double-meaning totally implied.)

Thanks for reading, and check out “Everything’s Different Now” by ‘Til Tuesday if you ever get a chance. Good stuff.

 

 

The Doors of Ice and Fire

Okay, hear me out.  I’m throwing this blog together without giving it much thought, because, well…I just have to make sure I’m not completely crazy.  Or, you know…more crazy than I already believe myself to be.

I was listening to some tunes recently.  In particular, a bunch of songs on my Spotify playlist of Vietnam War-era songs.  Anyway, the Doors classic “The End” comes on.  If you aren’t familiar with it, well…okay, here’s a YouTube link with the lyrics (which, as it turns out, might be helpful for what’s to come.)

I’m sitting here listening to this thing and a really strange, and seemingly far-fetched theory starts to manifest itself, and it’s so nutzo that I can’t shake it.  So indulge me as I explain my latest crackpot fan theory.  Ready?  Here it goes.

The lyrics to The End at least partially influenced the story of George R.R. Martin’s epic “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, which many of you know as the book version of “Game of Thrones” (the very popular HBO series.)

No, really.

So without any further forethought (I’m seriously doing this before I over-think it and think better of it) here are the lyrics to Jim Morrison’s epic song and how it relates to GRRM’s epic tale.  I’ve made my notes in red.


This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again
(The coming of Winter and the White Walkers)
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land
(The Stranger represents death and the unknown in pantheon of The Seven. He leads the Dead into the underworld)
Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah
(Children of the Forest? Waiting for the Summer Rain that will come after the long winter.)
There’s danger on the edge of town
Ride the King’s highway, baby
Weird scenes inside the gold mine
Ride the highway west, baby
(The Kingsway. Also, “The Gold Mine” could be Casterly Rock)
Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby
The snake is long, seven miles
Ride the snake…he’s old, and his skin is cold
(Snake=Dragon. A lake called “The Womb of the World” lies near Vaes Dothrak. Vaes Dothrak translates to “City of Riders”)
The west is the best
The west is the best
Get here, and we’ll do the rest
(Westeros)
The blue bus is callin’ us
The blue bus is callin’ us
Driver, where you taken’ us
(Possibly the Blue Graces, the Blue Winter Rose of Winterfell, The Blue Bard, or even Daario Naharis, who sports a three-pronged beard dyed blue in the novels.  Also ‘Daario Naharis’ almost sounds like ‘blue bus’ if you’re ridiculously stoned, I suppose.)
The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall
(The assassins who serve the Many Faced God in the House of Black and White)
He went into the room where his sister lived, and…then
(Jaime and Cersei Lannister? Or is this Tyrion’s POV?)
he Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door…and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want to kill you
(Tyrion again?)
Mother…I want to…fuck you
(Sweetrobin in the Vale? Or a reference to the Mother of Dragons?)
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
And meet me at the back of the blue bus
Doin’ a blue rock
On a blue bus
Doin’ a blue rock
C’mon, yeah
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me
(Jaime releasing Tyrion, or Dany and her dragons?  Theon and Jeyne/Sansa?)
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end
(And now his watch is ended.)

Brotherhood Without Bass  (See, some of you will totally get that)

Brotherhood Without Bass (See, some of you will totally get that)

Well, it’s fun, anyway, to think that way back when George was first contemplating a new fantasy world in which to set his masterpiece, maybe he smoked an enormous bowl and listened to The End.  Hell, maybe he tripped acid and watched Apocalypse Now.  We’ll never know for sure.  Or maybe he’ll explain it all in the afterward to the last book in this series. HA!!  GOTCHA!  THERE WON’T BE A FINAL BOOK!  HAHA! HAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!

Oh, now I’m sad.

Video Breakdown – Material Issue, Valerie Loves Me

I had a blast breaking down the perplexing nonsense of Belly’s song “Slow Dog” because, well…the nineties.  The thing is, I really enjoy that song.  But early-to-mid nineties music and fashion, however enjoyable it may have been, invites people to make fun of it.  As a former college radio DJ and flannel-and-Doc Martens-wearing “alternative/punk” kid, I still create Pandora stations that sound like the legendary KROQ must’ve sounded back in the Jed the Fish/Rodney on the ‘ROQ days.

But the videos?  Man…they were usually ridiculous.  They were all grainy, shaky handicam shots or some asinine attempt at edginess.  Sometimes they told a story.  Sometimes they just put the band in wacky situations, like a piss-poor version of the Beatles’ “HELP!”  Sometimes they borrowed form all these formats and added some ‘live’ performance shots of the band itself.

For example:  this.  “Valerie Loves Me” by Material Issue.  One of my favorites from that era. The first time I heard the song I was POSITIVE that the band was one of the hot English acts: bands that cropped up in large part thanks to the “Madchester” scene that gave us Happy Mondays, Blur, Inspiral Carpets, and later branched out to the Soupdragons, the Farm, and Oasis under the group heading “Britpop.”  Material Issue fit nicely into that sub-genre of Alternative music, and I was stunned to learn that they actually hailed from Chicago, Illinois.

Huh.

Anyway, here’s the lackluster video to the amazing song.  Watch it, then join me for the breakdown.  Then watch it again and go “Oh, yeah!”

Okay, we begin with…RUN!! IT’S ENGLISH PEOPLE!!  (Editor’s note: we’ve already established that this band is from Chicago, not anywhere in England.)

:05 – Oh, hey!  It’s not English people, it’s a Liv Tyler look-alike!

:10 – Thank goodness.  The lost Gallagher brother.

:23 – Freddie Highmore is now in a band, but cannot afford a shirt that fits.  Perhaps he will grow into it?  Let’s hope!

D'awwwww...they grow up so fast!  (And unattractive!)

D’awwwww…they grow up so fast! (And so unattractive!)

:29 – Remember when you had two hoop earrings in your left ear and none in your right?  Remember?  God, I do.  I also rocked the glittery Ankh on a French hook because ALTERNATIVE!

:33 – Sorry. It’s not Liv Tyler, it’s Ally Sheedy circa Short Circuit.

Seriously...is this even the same girl?!

Seriously…is this even the same girl?!

:59 – Young Ric Ocasek is just plain creepy.  Give her some space, dude!

Who's gonna drive you home NOW, bitch?

Who’s gonna drive you home NOW, bitch?

1:02 – Ally Sheedy says “Ha ha!  AS IF!!  L8R, sucka!”

1:23 – Uh-oh.  Mike Ness’s bastard kid is creepin’ in the girls’ room.

1:26 – My bad.  It’s really Arnold Horshack.  And he is SO BUSTED!

1:52 – “Hey, you gotta quarter?”

2:03 – It’s either “Hey, look at that hot piece of ass!” or the “Hey, why am I wearing sunglasses inside a dim, smoky bar?”

[INSERT CSI: MIAMI 'YEAAAAAHHHH!!!! HERE]

[INSERT CSI: MIAMI ‘YEAAAAAHHHH!!!! HERE]

2:12 – Air/Water.  Your choice.  Fuckin’ England. (Ed. note:  Chicago.)

2:18 – DOUCHENOZZLE ALERT!!

Beard?  Check.  Tie?  Check.  Shades?  Check.  Conclusion: 100% douche.

Beard? Check. Tie? Check. Shades? Check. Conclusion: 100% douche.

2:30 – One of my favorite parts of this song is completely wasted in this video.  Jim Ellison screaming “VALERIE LOVES ME!” is such a powerful, anguised counterpoint to his usual sing-song English (CHICAGO!) style of power-pop…and he doesn’t even get a closeup or a camera-shake.  Lame.  Probably why Ellison took his own life in 1996.

2:35 – That guy is totally rocking a Kurt Cobain-style shirt.  Man…the nineties…

2:45 – OH SHIT! GUYS!  SHE’S HERE!!

2:47 – The Aryan Drummer Brotherhood approves.

"Ich liebe Valerie! Und so spielen sie auf dem Schlagzeug!"

“Ich liebe Valerie! Und so spielen sie auf dem Schlagzeug!”

2:49 – Jesus, Horshack, could you be any creepier?

2:56 – “HA HA!  LOOK AT THOSE DWEEBS!  NICE SHIRT, HIGHMORE!”

We are totally going to be in that new 4 Non Blondes video, girl!

We are totally going to be in that new 4 Non Blondes video, girl!

3:04 – She is totally fucking with them.  “RUN, GEEKS!  RUN ALL THE WAY BACK TO ENGLAND! (Chicago.)

FADE OUT.

Conclusion: great song.  Average video.  They get points for almost having a narrative.  The loveable losers in the band crush on Valerie (Fun fact:  all the girls in the 90’s were either named Valerie or Veronica) and spend the video trying to woo her, only to have her drive off at the end.  And you know she’s totally gonna hook up with that douchebag with the tie.  Fuckin’ ties, man.  That’s life, man.  That’s life.

But Valerie loves me…

String Theory, Gun Control, and How it All Really Doesn’t Matter

Well, now that right there is a title.  Ain’t it grand? On Facebook I solicited ideas for blog subjects, and my buddy and occasional teammate and verbal sparring-partner Luke gave me that one.  I thought it pretty much summed everything up, so here we are!

But, of course, it does matter.  Not going to delve too much into a discussion about the multiverse, but here’s the thing about time/space: it’s constant and already there.  Imagine a map of the United States, and straight railroad line from New Jersey to California.  The railway itself is time, carrying us towards some future destination.  We see the landscape pass by and that how we perceive or measure time.  But here’s the thing:  just because we leave New Jersey behind (and for good reason.  I KEED!) doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.  It’s still right there, but our train is going full steam ahead.  All the States we pass though are like days, weeks, years that we’ve traveled through.  They still exist, right where we left ’em.  The trick is getting the train to stop and backing ‘er up.  Is it possible? I think so.  But in order to do that you must lay down some new tracks and leave the old railway behind.  And when you do that, you’ve just created another new set of possibilities.  This happens anyway, every time you make a choice.  Every time you decide to go back to sleep instead of getting up, order Dr. Pepper instead of Coke, watch the rerun of The Jeffersons instead of going for a walk.  There’s an alternate timeline where you kissed your high school crush at that dance instead of chickening out.  And in that reality, you ended up getting married to your crush and having two kids before seeing your marriage fall apart and within that reality there’s also one where you reconcile and end up being married for 60 years and seeing your grandkids go to college.  And one where you murder your true love.  Damn.  Thanks, Luke…you’ve just brought everyone down.  Asshole.  I love you.  (Even though this section really didn’t deal with string theory or gun control.)

He looks so cute when he's all victorious and stuff.

He looks so cute when he’s all victorious and stuff.

Okay, next we have Joe Schultz (whose own idea to crowd-source his blog was the inspiration for this one.)  He says to write about the band Rush.  Dude…did you even read the last paragraph?  Tell me that wasn’t basically the blog version of “Freewill?”  Or maybe “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” since the ORIGINAL story concept had Snow Dog losing.  Plus, By-Tor shows up  in “Caress of Steel” and kills the Necromancer so that the three travelers can escape, which means he’s the hero of the story. See, who knows if he would’ve made that sort of decision if he hadn’t been literally taught a lesson by the defeat at the hands of Snow Dog?

I swear to God, this is one of the top-8 images for "By-Tor" on Google.

I swear to God, this is one of the top-8 images for “By-Tor” on Google.

Jesus, this thing is turning out to be a lot geekier than I had planned.  Okay, how about we hear from a lady?  Kellie wants my thoughts on crispy bacon v. chewy bacon.  Dude.  I don’t know what chewy bacon is all about because I won’t eat the filthy motherfucker.  That shit better not even make it to my plate less’n you wanna feel my PIMP HAND.  (I am 100% legit, folks.  No brag.  Just fact.)

Who the hell would ever even try to market "chewy bacon?"  Makes no goddam sense.

Who the hell would ever even try to market “chewy bacon?” Makes no goddam sense.

Brandin’s question is whether “liking” your own status is the same as laughing at your own joke.  It is.  It totally is, and Joe Schultz does it ALL. THE. TIME.  Then again, Joe needs me to explain to him when things are funny.  True story.

This is actually Joe's profile picture.

This is actually Joe’s profile picture.

USMC and Royal Marine air-traffic controller and all-around officer and gentleman Rob (true story: he’s so bad-ass that he’s actually commanded Marines for two different COUNTRIES.  You’ll never be that awesome, so don’t even try) wants to ponder “Crazy dreams about having to pee because your body is trying to wake you up to go before you wet the bed.” This would really be a good question for Dream Analyst Lauri Loewenberg.  It’s hard for me to really speak about with any sort of experience, because I usually just pass out and wake up in a pool of my own piss and blood. Often, upon awakening, I discover that I’m clutching what seems to be some sort of scalp or pelt.  Weird.

Uh-oh!  Gotta go potty!

Uh-oh! Gotta go potty!

I also had some more musical suggestions, so I’ll cover them all at once.  Joseph (not Joe Schultz) said to write about how excited I am for the Social Distortion show at Piere’s in Ft. Wayne on June 29th.  Extremely.  I’ve seen them before, but to have a legendary band like that playing in our backyard is so wonderful.  Darryl suggested that I wrote about the differences in various styles of Heavy Metal.  The problem is, I’m really not a big “metal” fan.  I prefer punk.  Or Rush.  Plus, as a guy who’s never really followed the genre, I don’t know whether some things I like actually are considered “metal.”  Five Finger Death Punch certainly seems like metal to me, but is a lot more enjoyable than much of what Drew Cage plays on Bear Metal every Saturday at 10m on 98.9 the Bear and online at 989thebear.com!  Sure, there are several bands I can get behind…old-school stuff like Slayer and cheeseball stuff like Manowar…Atreyu seems pretty rad for a more modern band…but, yeah.  That’s pretty much it.

This.  This I know.

This. This I know.

Honorable mentions:  2-ply v. 3-ply toilet paper (see also:  crispy bacon v. chewy bacon), my friends Nick and Shannon getting married, how much fun I had at the last FWDG bout, how I resist the societal pressure to “grow up” and act like a 42-year-old, and the Boston bombings.  Some of these things make me happy, others make me sad, and (other than the toilet paper thing) all deserve more time/space/respect than I can afford at this point.  So, go enjoy the weather and we’ll catch up later, mmmkay?  Thanks!

Celebri-daze!!

Holy crap…it’s almost been an entire month since my last post, and that one was a throw-away quickie.  Been busy, folks.  My radio station has been slowly transitioning to a new location, kids are busy, I’ve had shows like Best Ink Season Two to watch (TEAM TERESA!!!!) and Far Cry 3 to complete (with the GOOD ending, thank you.)  So I figured I’d jump back in with another Hollywood Nooz style entry.  If these things keep doing well, I’m going to have to create an entirely new blog for this stuff.  That way NOTHING will get updated.

Without further ado…

CROWE JOINS THE SHOWE!!

Powder blue is the new tangerine!

Powder blue is the new tangerine!

Buoyed by his recent critically acclaimed turn in the big-screen adaptation of Les Miz, gruff-but-loveable Kiwi Russell Crowe has stunned the music world by agreeing to appear as part of this summer’s hottest ticket:  the eagerly-awaited tour of pop diva Britney Spears.  Brit decided to forgo any more reality-TV judging gigs in order to wow live audiences with mediocre lip-synching, and decided to bring out the big guns!  “I always loved Russell as ‘Wolverine’ but had no idea he could sing!”  As for what drew the burly, bearded, boy-band wannabee to the tour, Russell admitted that he initially “thought ‘Les Miz’ was just a flick about French lesbians and professional wrestlers.  Imagine my shock when it turned out to be this gay Occupy movie!  Loved it. And the outfits?  FABULOUS.”

KIEDIS IS KIP!

Modern-day D'Artagnan Kiedis answers questions at the "N4pole0n" press conference

Modern-day D’Artagnan Kiedis answers questions at the “N4pole0n” press conference

Staying in the world of music, we were excited to hear the bombshell that Miramax dropped last week when they announced another gritty reboot, this time of fan-fave cult film ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ slated to begin pre-production in the next few weeks.  The newly re-branded ‘N4pole0n’ already boasts Jon Hamm and Jennifer Lawrence as part of the cast, and at the press meet-up it was announced that the coveted role of Kip Dynamite would be going to none other than Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis! “I’ve acted before, so it’s not like I’m completely out-of-sorts” said the star of Point Break and that one Charlie Sheen film.  “Plus, with my history of drug addiction, I feel like I can convey the proper gravitas and self-torture that the role of Kip demands.  I’m, like, totally stoked, dude.”  The Jim Jarmusch-helmed drama should hit theaters in time for the Holiday 2014 season.

GAME OF CLONES!!!

We may finally have an explanation for what’s taking author George R. R. Martin so long to finish his sword-and-sorcery epic ‘A Song of Ice and Fire!’  It may have very little to do with the ongoing HBO adaptation; even as the smash-hit ‘Game of Thrones’ sails into its third season, another GRRM project seems to be taking up most of the author’s time.

Perhaps now it'll be 'Between Two Dramatic Turns!'

Perhaps now it’ll be ‘Between Two Dramatic Turns!’

It seems that over the last dozen years or so, Martin has kept an intricate journal of his life.  Now Paramount is keen to reap some of that ‘GoT’ cash, and has optioned the diary for a big-screen biopic starring Hollywood funnyman Zach Galifianakis as a young George R.R. Martin.  Pre-production is already underway, with Galifianakis doing location shoots in Harlem and San Salvador.  The ‘Hangover’ star told us about what drew him to the project: “Well, George is a shabbily-dressed fat guy.  And since John Goodman is way too old, that pretty much leaves me.  Now, please…just leave me alone.”

Video Breakdown – Belly, Slow Dog

Hey, gang!  Kind of an experiment here, and we’ll hafta see if it turns into a regular feature.  What we’re gonna do is watch this video together and see how it performs.  See, the 1990’s were a magical time.  The Alternative revolution had thrown wide the doors of musical variety, at the same time that mainstream rap and hip-hop were finding their way into regular ol’ Midwestern (i.e., white) households.  One of the bands that had sort of middling success was Belly.  Belly was fronted by the amazing Tanya Donelly, who had been in the indie college band Throwing Muses and then co-founded The Breeders with Kim Deal (Pixies.)  Anyway, in 1993, Belly released their debut “Star.”  It was great.  The smash-hit “Feed the Tree” made it to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.  The follow-ups “Gepetto” and this one, “Slow Dog” failed to make much of a mark.  But now we’re going to see if this video helped or hindered this mainly-forgotten band.  Here’s the video.  Sorry if must wait through an ad.  That’s the way of things.  It can’t be helped.

First impressions:  We get it, 90’s.  Jump-cuts are cool and interesting.  Even better when you de-saturate the colors.  Edgy Al-TER-na-tive!  And, oh!  Let’s put a blurry disc at the bottom of the screen.  Yeah.  It’ll sort of be like the Pixies video for “Here Comes Your Man” but in reverse!  (Never mind that the whole Pixies video was basically the band saying “fuck you, 120 Minutes” right down to the very obvious lack of any sort of lip-synching and the “inflated” head on Black Francis/Frank Black.)

"Hey, Pinfield!  LIKE OUR FUCKIN' VIDEO?"

“Hey, Pinfield! LIKE OUR FUCKIN’ VIDEO?”

The blur-disc-lens thingy serves another important purpose in this misfire of a video.  See, Tanya Donelly is a cutie.  You might even say she’s downright gorgeous.  However, during the mid-90’s Modern Rock revolution, you were supposed to act like you WEREN’T gorgeous.  “Gorgeous” was for total posers, you guys.  So you dressed the hot babes in ModCloth retro dresses and put them just out-of-focus so that it looked like they were, like, totally just like me and you only WITH MUCH MORE HIDDEN PAIN!!  ON THE INSIDE!!

Poor, unfortunate, ugly 90's chick.

Poor, unfortunate, ugly 90’s chick.

Also, remember when those granny boots were in?  Often worn in conjunction with (ironically) babydoll dresses or, I shit you not, maternity dresses?  (Seriously, 90’s…you were weird.)

Anyway…we’re like :45 seconds in and we already know just about all there is to know about this video. We’ve seen a guitar smashed by a blonde chick with a pixie haircut.  We’ve observed a pensive surfer dude lean against the wall, trying to sort out life and all its ups and downs (why, pain?  Why must you BE?!?!) Also, we’ve been treated to some rusty things, some spindles, and the contents of my grandfather’s old tool shed being spilled onto the floor.  GODDAMMIT, YOU WILL PICK THAT SHIT UP OR I SWEAR TO GOD I’M GETTING THE BELT!

OMG, you guys...life is so hard...Hollister isn't open for, like...thirty minutes!  I'm totes bummed!

OMG, you guys…life is so hard…Hollister isn’t open for, like…thirty minutes! I’m totes bummed!

But most importantly, we know this:  the video for this song doesn’t have one momentary, fleeting, thin, tenuous relation to the lyrics of the song itself.  This was a HUGE problem in the 90’s.  See, classic videos from the 80’s often told a story.  Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” was a good example.  Even so-called Alternative or Punk bands tried their best.  The Ramone’s “I Wanna Be Sedated” didn’t tell a story so much as make the viewer feel exactly like the song suggested.  The sped-up pace of the background characters and goings-on was a brilliant way of visually matching the song.  Even into the early-90’s, we had a sort of symbolic story-telling…remember Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy?”  Powerful stuff. Even Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” dealt with scary dreamlike images.  Remember when the semi truck hits the bed right at the “BOOOOOMMMM!!” part of the song?  Golly! Then, well…U2’s “Numb” happened.

You guys, this is going to make "Lemon" look like a sick joke!

You guys, this is going to make “Lemon” look like a sick joke!

“Numb”  happened the same year that Michael Jackson joined Eddie Murphy for “Whatzupwitchu.”  Holy shit, things were getting bad.  We should’ve seen the signs…like in Ace Of Bass’s videos.  Including, well…”The Sign.” At least in the U2 video, they’re trying to be artsy.  See, the main vocals in “Numb” are handled not by the bombastic Bono, but the monotone drone of The Edge.  (Rock stars used to have AWESOME names.) As a result, they tailored the video to Edge’s more sparse, mumbled, spoken-word type delivery and subjected him to a variety of distractions including, but not limited to, feet.  On his face.  Yep.  But even with this sort of nonsense going on, the video STILL MADE SENSE.  See, he’s numb!  He ain’t CARE ‘bout yo feet up in his grill, ya heard?

Yes, this actually happened.  No, it was not supposed to be funny.

Yes, this actually exists. No, it is not supposed to be funny.

But then, well…everyone started getting “artsy.”  The old go-to “live concert video” was pretty much out, so they staged “concerts”in strange settings, before weird crowds of too-cool people, and the irony was that in an era where cheese and bullshit were eschewed and bands that participated in such chicanery were shunned, total bullshit dominated the airwaves at Mtv.  And in some cases, the lure of cutting-edge CGI effects was just too much. (Kurt Cobain cashed out at just the right time, it would seem. Can you imagine a video for “Rape Me” done with Lawnmower Man graphics?) This begs a follow-up question:  is it better to have an Mtv that shows virtually NO music videos, or one that only shows complete shit?

Okay, back to “Slow Dog.”  I’ll give the director one tip o’ the cap:  at least Ms. Donelly’s guitar seems to be actually plugged into something.  Since they were faking the whole thing, it would’ve been simpler just to have her hold the goddam thing and strum.  Kudos.  Now, onward…

My efforts to bring your attention to the guitar cable have undermined my efforts to bring your attention to the guitar cable.  Damn it.

My efforts to bring your attention to the guitar cable have undermined my efforts to bring your attention to the guitar cable. Damn it.

Up to the 1:00 mark we go.  Wherein a bald maintenance guy (or Chef from South Park) passes out after nailing some cups to a sidewise table, the cameraman forgets how to frame a shot, and surfer-boy has trouble with his vice or something.  OH, AND HERE’S YOUR FUCKING CIGARS, PAL!!!

Quickly now.  To the 1:34 point in our journey.  FIX THAT GODDAM GUITAR ALREADY!!

To 1:45.  What, exactly, is so fucking funny, Tanya?  You think this video is some sort of fucking joke?!  AND HEY: PAINT MIXERS ARE NOT FOR GUITARS, YOU FUCKING IMBECILE!!  WE’RE WORKING ON A BUDGET, PAL!!

2:00. And now, Consuela has another lovely item for us.  It’s a pewter replica of a 2nd-century BC terracotta warrior statue.  We’ll start the bidding at $400…

2:00-2:30. Croutons, pewter chicken, burial.  Dear God…

2:30-3:00. Almost there.  Surfer-boy has sewn you a nice drum.  Consuela thinks this is “art.”  Chef/Iron Sheik/Maintenance Guy does shots.  Buttons, etc.  Please, let this be over…

3:00-4:00. Suddenly:  carnival rides.  Also, is that your cat’s corpse?  Consuela can’t stack cans for shit.  Chains.  Chef is ashamed.  Why, Lord?  Why?

WHY, GOD? WHY? WHY DID I LEAVE MY WATCH ON WHILE SUNBATHING?!?!

WHY, GOD? WHY? WHY DID I LEAVE MY WATCH ON WHILE SUNBATHING?!?!

Okay. A couple of things in review.  Jesus H Christ, that Tanya Donelly is a stone fox.  Actually, the whole band looks better than the cast of Dawson’s Creek.  They should’ve done an entire video of all of them standing around in linen shifts, backlit.  Or perhaps just closeups of Tanya’s sensual, willing, hungry mouth…

Yes, that very one.

Yes, that very one.

For comparison (and to bring this cumbersome ship back around to the original point) I went back and watched the video for “Feed the Tree.”  Know what one of the first shots in the video is?  A goddam tree.  And before we’re :27 in, we see a shot of an old man.  Right when, you know, the lyrics mention an “old man.”  How weird is THAT?!?!  The video almost perfectly mirrored the meaning of the song lyrics!  One can’t help but wonder if perhaps that’s the main reason why “Feed the Tree” is the only Belly song most people remember.  Also, one can’t help but wonder what Tanya Donelly would look like rolling around in a waterbed with myself and some Crisco in the summer of 1993.  Now THAT would be a great video, folks.

 
 
 
 

Discotron and On, Mon!

I’m in a silly mood.  And when I’m in a silly mood, you get a silly blog.

Recently my kids have been on a TRON kick.  Specifically, they’ve been on a TRON: Legacy kick, watching it every day.  EVERY. DAY.  They’ve made Identity Discs out of paper plates and Frisbees, every toy motorcycle is now a Light Cycle, the Android tablets are full of Light Cycle games and TRON videos on YouTube, and TRON: Evolution has taken up permanent residence in the Xbox 360 tray.  It’s a phase, and I’m aware that recently they were in Iron Man mode, and Batman mode before that, and of course hockey is always a go-to obsession, so it’s all good.  But I took it upon myself to further their education by downloading the demo versions of the original TRON coin-op game and even found an Xbox Arcade demo for the classic “Discs of TRON.”  (It turns out that this game is not nearly as fun as I remember, but maybe that’s because I’m not playing it inside one of those enclosed sit-down cabinets that the original game employed.)

I seriously doubt my big ass would even fit in there.

I seriously doubt my big ass would even fit in there.

Anyway, word association and rhyming are two ways my addled mind uses to distract me from doing real work, so here’s the way my runaway brain train took off on me…

Instead of “Discs of TRON” I started thinking “Discotron.”  Now, Discotron can be a lot of different things.  A tune by Alex Metric which sounds an awful lot like some of the Daft Punk soundtrack to TRON: Legacy, ironically…

A disco-techno-house hybrid band…

A record player…

I'm guessing it looks like this.  Just spitballing here, but with a name like "Discotron" it has to be pretty close.

I’m guessing it looks like this. Just spitballing here, but with a name like “Discotron” it has to be pretty close.

A “Heat Digital Transfer Machine”…

transfer

Or this weird German party truck.

Das auto!

Das auto!

And actually about 4,000 other things.  In fact, if you add alternate spellings like “DiskoTron” or “Disco-Tron” the results from Google explode exponentially.  And goddammit, we don’t NEED more explosions!  My lord, didn’t you SEE that footage of the meteor in Russia?  THINK, PEOPLE!!  This world would be so much better if people would just learn to be responsible with their Google searches.  And don’t even get me STARTED on that Bing crap.
Anyway.
“Discotron” led me to think of Robotron 2084, another bad-ass arcade classic that was sooooo much better than “Berzerk.”
One of the few home-console versions that looked pretty much like the coin-op.  It's all we had, people.

Berzerk: one of the few home-console versions that looked pretty much like the coin-op. It’s all we had, people.

And “Berzerk” was infinitely better than “BirdZerk” the cut-rate San Diego Chicken rip-off that infiltrates minor-league ballparks around the United States every summer.
KILL IT!  KILL IT WITH FIRE!!

KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!

And “BirdZerk” is head-and-shoulders above that Myron Noodleman buffoon.  Seriously, dude:  looking and acting like Jerry Lewis has never been funny, even for Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis cosplay is the absolute worst.  Stop it.
KILL IT!  KILL IT WITH...ah, never mind.

KILL IT! KILL IT WITH…ah, never mind.

But Discotron also reminds me of Gravitron.  The Gravitron is the single-greatest carnival ride in history, equal parts fun and vomit.  It’s amazing.  Sometimes you sprawl all over the place like a confused Stephen Hawking, and sometimes you hope that the centrifugal force keeps that dude next to you’s puke right on top of him where it belongs.
Or you sack up and make gravity your bitch.

Or you sack up and make gravity your bitch.

In closing, here are some other things that Discotron reminds me of.  Thanks, kids.  Thanks, TRON.  Thanks, Google.  And thank you for making it this far.

ron-jon-41heymondon-juan-demarcowrath of khan 46

Beatin’ Them Wintertime Blues.

Look, I don’t just like wintertime:  I LOVE it.  I really do.  The brisk air, the clothes that cover my fat, the snow…it’s all really awesome.  It is.  But here’s the thing:  for the last nine years I’ve lived in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and our winters can be trying.  I know, I know, there are worse places.  A friend of mine hails from Fort McMurray, Alberta.  It starts snowing there in goddam SEPTEMBER.  In my defense I’ll point out that for the three years before living in Da Fort (as it is sometimes called) I lived in New Bern, North Carolina.  Carolina ain’t Florida or Hawaii, but one story sticks with me about my time in NC.  My lovely wife Heidi and I were at the gym, using side-by-side treadmills or something, watching the television.  The local news was reporting that there was a two-hour school delay the following morning…for snow.  The thing is, and this is what caused Heidi and myself to look at each other and giggle at these poor Carolinians in raw, Midwestern condescension was that NOT A SINGLE FLAKE HAD FALLEN.  They were delaying school over a forecast…FORECAST…two inches of snow.  Possibly.  We guffawed until a friend native to the area remarked that they literally had no salt trucks in the county and probably no more than a handful of snowplows in the entire state. It made sense.  Indiana does not post hurricane evacuation routes, and I’ll bet most people in New Mexico don’t carry flood insurance, so…yeah.

My Sweet Baby.  On a boat.  In the Caribbean. I feel better now.

My Sweet Baby. On a boat. In the Caribbean. I feel better now.

The point of this whole intro is to underscore how different the snowy tundra of Northern Indiana is to the mild barely-frost-covered winters of North Carolina.  And while I was very grateful for the prospect of a White Christmas again, I’m afraid that this winter has been harder than most to bear, probably because it’s been so damn mild.  “Wait…WHAT?” you ask, all perplexed by my contradictory statement.  It’s true.  A few weeks ago it was 60 degrees in Ft. Wayne.  I’ve used my snowblower maybe twice this season.  There wasn’t any hockey for the first half.  It just hasn’t felt like winter, and the motto I like shouting at my friends and family is “shit or get off the pot,” usually yelled as I sit reading on the toilet, not actually defecating.  (Makes your legs fall asleep, so it does.)  So I’m ready for this “season” to be over.  No snow?  Fine, then.  Turn up the sunshine, baby.  Break out the shorts.  And if that ain’t happening just yet (fuck you, Punxsutawney Phil!  YOU LIED TO ME!!) then allow me to offer these tips for getting through the mid-winter hump.  They work.  Trust me.

Video Therapy

This encompasses all manner of stimuli.  The go-to, easy method is to browse Netflix for shows and movies that are set in a warmer, preferably tropical, location.  This winter the wife and I have begun watching Burn Notice, and love it.  Not just because the characters and story are fun and smart (and Bruce Campbell.  ‘Nuff said, baby) but because all the transitions/cutscenes are footage of Miami.  People on Wave Runners, beach umbrellas to the horizon, and tons of eye-candy.  I mean, they oughtta call it “Butt Notice,” amirite? And for the ladies, well…Michael Westen is often shirtless.  But I’d also recommend “Point Break” or “The Endless Summer” along with episodes of BAywatch or even that one show where Hulk Hogan had a powerboat.  But don’t stop with the TV and movies.  I have played the holy hell out of “Far Cry 3” not only because it’s fun and immersive, but let’s face it…you’re on a tropical island that could be anywhere between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea.  Gorgeous, and you can imagine you’re actually swimming in warm azure waters (while trying not to get shot.)

Hi, ladies!  Want some yogurt?

Hi, ladies! Want some yogurt?

Audio Therapy

This is easy.  Got some Bob Marley on your iPod or Pandora channel?  Crank that shit up, mon.  Now, personally, I try to avoid this when it is the absolute dead of winter with the sun going down at 4:30 in the afternoon and a foot of snow on the ground.  When I do chance it,  I hear a voice made of cold, frozen tears tell me “Your magic will not work here.”  There definitely has to be a proper setting.  Daytime, perhaps.  Or when the first snowmelt begins.  Then, the music is a catalyst.  It’s a power-up of epic proportions.  And if there’s an unusually mild and sunny day, one where you briefly consider cracking the window on your ride, and you just happen to throw on anything by Sublime or Jimmy Buffett, then no power in the ‘Verse can stop you.  Feels good, man.  Let it flow.

Of course, listening to Marley or Sublime sometimes makes me want to, uh...what were we talking about?

Of course, listening to Marley or Sublime sometimes makes me want to, uh…what were we talking about?

Aroma Therapy

Perhaps the most powerful of these methods is the one most closely connected to memory.  Scent.  Smells. Aroma.  A long time ago, I even blogged about how powerful your olfactory senses are and how a whiff of perfume can send you right back to the night you lost your virginity, or how sniffing a roll of cloth tape can transport you to the hockey locker room.  For me, the smell of a bar of surf wax is magical.  It is EVERYTHING that I love about the beach.  Likewise, when I go by the Yankee Candle display and smell their line of summer/tropical candles..holy shit. Makes me wanna cry.  Coconut?  Coconut/Lime?  Beach Walk?  Seaside Resort? Surf’s Up?  Coral Sand?  Tropical Mango?  Coconut and Lime?  GAAAAAAAHHHH!!! Even the old-school, simply named “Ocean Water” makes me swoon. And in fairness, there’s not much better during the month of December than all the spice/mint/pine/cookie/pumpkin/hearth fire scents.  But after, oh, let’s say January tenth, THAT SHIT HAS GOT TO GO!!!  SO LONG, CRANBERRY CHUTNEY!!  HELLO, BEACH PARTY!!  There’s one more bit of therapy I have for you, and it’s not really a good idea, but I’m throwing it out there anyway.  We’re all adults here, right?  So let’s just get this elephant out of the room already…
Like actual summertime, many Yankee Candles apparently smell like booze.  Awesome!

Like actual summertime, many Yankee Candles apparently smell like booze. Awesome!

Tanning Therapy

I might as well call this “cancer therapy.”  You know this, right?  You know that there’s a decent chance that not only is your skin going to dry up like a stale pork rind, but you stand a better-than-average chance of melanomas and other potentially hazardous/deadly health concerns, right?  We’re clear on this?  Okay.  Okay, I thought so.  Just wanted to make sure.  But here’s the dirty little secret: sometimes that ultraviolet light is good for you.  Or at least “not so goddam terrible for you.”  Quick story: I worked the overnight shift at 103GBF, a radio station in Evansville, Indiana for about a year or so.  It was dark when I got home around 6:30 every morning.  I wouldn’t leave the house until at least three in the afternoon, meaning that in the winter months I had maybe…maybe…two hours of sunlight.  I fought depression.  I felt like a vampire.  And then someone mentioned the “Light Therapy” that doctors have recommended for people in places like Alaska or Siberia that are affected by the appropriately-named SADs.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It’s a real thing, and part of the treatment is basically putting your head under an ultraviolet light, tricking your brain into believing that it’s being bathed in lovely sunshine and kicking in some seratonin or whatever and making the “blahs” go away.  Another friend in the conversation mentioned “sounds like a tanning bed for your head!” And BINGO!!  GREAT IDEA TIME!!  I booked myself a couple of sessions in the ol’ cancer closet at a local gym and…now, bear with me here…I felt 100% better after one session.  It was sort of a revelation.  I’m also willing to consider that maybe the “treatment” was all placebo:  I thought I would feel better, so I did!  Whatever.  It’s like people with colitis learning that nicotine can help keep their symptoms at bay and then have to wrestle with the idea of either smoking cigarettes or spending a fortune on (and becoming addicted to) nicotine gum.  Not an easy choice.  Another motto I love to scream out at passers-by is “Everything in moderation.”  A glass of wine a day is beneficial.  A box of Franzia is not.  I’ve read articles about how kids today are vitamin-D deficient because over-protective parents slather 100-SPF sunblock all over their kids.  As a result, NONE of the sun’s rays penetrate, resulting in deficiency.  Like Ramirez sang to Connor MacLeod, B-A-L-A-N-C-E.
But aren't seals already sort of, um...brown?

But aren’t seals already sort of, um…brown?

That being said, I think we’ve had enough of you, Winter.  Thanks for coming by.  Four months is plenty.  Buh-bye.  Good seeing you, old friend.  Don’t forget your hat. (Of course, everyone is invited back to check out my forthcoming blog entitled “Jesus, Summer…Why You SO HOT?!?” to be published sometime in July.  Balance.)

Everything’s Cool.

I was going to call this post “Everything’s Cool, and That Ain’t Cool” or steal from Pearl Jam and say “Everything Has Changed; Absolutely Nothing’s Changed.”  But there’s really not a whole lot of negative to my thoughts on this subject, so I figured I’d leave it with the simple, hopeful, calming “Everything’s Cool.”  Because it is.  Literally.

There was an article earlier this year in Vanity Fair that basically said that stylistically we’re exactly the same as we were in 1992…twenty years ago.  The article points out that the styles of 1952 were vastly different from those of 1962, and those were different from 1972, and all of ’em were nothing like the fashions of 1982, and so on.  Basically, every ten years there’s a new way of doing things, and from car designs to clothing to music. There’s a big change with each passing decade.

Except, you know, Steve Jobs.

Not anymore.  According to the article, we’re stuck in a stylistic wormhole, reliving the same things for twenty years.  My initial reaction to this reality is:  Um…so?

In this very blog I’ve mentioned how cool it is that I can, in this 21st century, elect to wear a wide-brimmed Fedora and listen to Operation Ivy on my way home from seeing “The Avengers” in IMAX to play Black Ops II on my HD television before switching over to TCM and watching “Invasion of the Saucer Men” or settling in for a night of Star Trek (the original series) on Netflix or reading The Dark Tower.  I mean, I can literally do whatever I want from whichever time I choose.  Music, books, movies, television, fashion…all mediums and all genres and all styles and so on have been archived so well over the ages that we now have the sum of EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED at our fingertips.  That’s very powerful.  I can pick up a Nook or an iPad or whatever and read Chaucer or George R.R. Martin.  I can look at sketches and read translations from Copernicus or “A Brief History of Time” by Hawking.  That is so incredible.

Or hell, combine the two! Save time!

As for fashion, I’ve kind of developed the following philosophy regarding trends in fashion:  FUCK FASHION.  Have I been caught up in one trend or another over the years?  Sure.  And anyone who says otherwise is lying.  I rocked a blazer with a t-shirt during the early-2000’s.  But you know what I realized?  I also rocked that look in the early-90’s.  I was too young to really rock a blazer in the 80’s, when that seemed like the thing to do (thanks, Miami Vice!) but I’m sure I would’ve.  Also, that style combo wasn’t born in the 80’s anyway.  You know who started the shirt-sans-tie/blazer combo?  Jed fucking CLAMPETT, that’s who.

Well, I reckon it ain’t lupus! Can’t rightly figure what in tarnation it is, though.

I love this outlook in current trendy fashion.  Quick:  what’s the popular male hairstyle called these days?  Is it the high-top fade? The buzz-cut? The side part? The pomp? The shag? I’ve seen every one of those at the mall in the last few months.  What the hell is that mullet-shaven-skater cut that Skrillex is rocking?  Who knows?  More importantly, WHO CARES?!? Hell, I’ll make the question easier:  what’s the trendy female hair style?  Or hair color?  The bob?  The pixie?  The Rachel? (remember that?  Everyone wanted hair like the characters on Friends!)  In a world where Miley Cyrus goes with a near-buzz cut and one out of every four chicks sports either that bright fuchsia color (sometimes just highlights) or wears shiny blue extensions, I suppose anything goes here, too.  Katy Perry wears blue or pink wigs. Rockabilly chicks sport sleeve tattoos and Bettie Page ‘dos. The Katniss braid shows up here and there.  Short, sexy, sassy haircuts mingle with luxurious manes of auburn curls.  It’s literally all good, and it seems that for once (I am an outsider here, so forgive my naiveté) women are genuinely excited to see/meet someone with a strikingly different hair style than their own.  “Oh my GOD!!  I love you hair!!  Who does it?!?”  seems to have replaced “Uh, the 80’s called and they want their bangs back.” That’s so nice.

Just…so much…HAIR…

Sometimes I wear a suit.  Like, a real suit and a tie.  Sometimes I wear shorts and a hockey jersey (sidebar:  nobody cares about you anymore, NHL.  Not many people did before, but now?  Forget it.  You’ve effectively fucked yourself after an amazing playoffs including a first-ever Stanley Cup awarded to a team in the SECOND-LARGEST TELEVISION MARKET IN THE UNITED STATES!  Good job, assholes.  You all suck.  Owners, players, etc.)  Sometimes I wear a “Portal” t-shirt and some jeans.  Now and then, a baby-blue guayabera shirt and some linen pants.  And any time I wear one of these wardrobes in public, it’s like I don’t even get a second glance.  I love second glances, because I crave attention. It’s becoming harder and harder for me to glean that oh-so-wonderful attention simply based on my clothing alone.  Now I must stand in the middle of the Glenbrook Mall food court wearing nothing but an old Chick-Fil-A napkin that I’ve poked a hole in with my pecker (see, the napkin is impaled on my business) and a beaver-skin hat that I’ve set on fire before anyone even nods knowingly at me, like they’re in on some sort of joke.  I must essentially be a one-man flash mob these days.  It’s too much work.  And the reason for that is that anything goes.  Really.  Literally. Anything. Wife-beater-wearing women, utilikilt sporting fellas, old-school Mod Cloth dresses and slinky tube skirts.  Flat-brimmed caps with the sticker on ’em and tweed newsboy caps.  High-top Chuck Taylors, black Doc Martens, leather flip-flops, two-tone wingtips, alligator skin stiletto heels. Faded blue denim jackets, Hurley hoodies, Dickies work jackets, stoner-riffic bajas. Flannel shirts, athletic-fit moisture-wicking polos, pearl-snap western shirts.  All of it.  It’s all good.  Some of it has changed very little in the last twenty years.  Some of it hasn’t changed at all in fifty years.  Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Sigh. It’s not a chihuahua skirt, goddammit!!

Except, of course, for one tiny little issue.  The idea that maybe, just maybe…the reason that anything goes right now is that, well…there just aren’t any more ideas.  Nothing new.  We’ve reached the end, and so now we just recycle everything that’s already come to pass.
This theory is supported, of course, by looking at our popular entertainment choices.  Hollywood is staggeringly bad, simply re-hashing or re-booting old films instead of offering original, entertaining fare.  Another option, of course, is taking old television shows and making them into movies.  Then again, looking at the television itself and seeing recycled shows like “Hawaii 5-0” and “Dallas” and you realize that we are indeed pretty much done giving a shit.  Musically, things are as bad as they were in the woeful 1985-1991 time period, when the likes of Foreigner and Boston walked the Earth side-by-side with atrocious crap like Every Hair Metal Band.  At least then we felt like something was coming.  Something new and slightly dangerous was bubbling up and threatening to upset the entire music industry.  I just wish I believed that something like the Grunge Revolution was going to happen again.  ‘Cause I’ll tell y’all right now, the answer ain’t dubstep.

This image speaks for itself.

In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just have to make do. I’ll avoid the Red Dawn remake like the plague, but revel in the fact that my black leather Brando-style motorcycle jacket will always be cool.  Unlike Crocs and Affliction shirts.  Seriously, that crap is stupid.  Stop it.