Sunday, February 26, 2006

A moment of sheer, blinding rage

FUCK all of you women-hating fuckers. You are contemptible scum. Someone needs to beat you senseless with a coathanger.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Snoopy for President: a feasibility analysis

NOTE: I never finished writing this, obviously, but I wrote a fair bit, so I'm publishing it anyway. What the hell.

...because this blog is devoted to the issues that really matter to you, the reader.

As you are undoubtedly aware, "Snoopy for President" is one of a string of novelty singles released in 1967-68, detailing the travails of Snoopy and the Red Baron. In brief, the plot of this one is that Snoopy is running for President of the You-Ess-Eh. He's so close to winning, but fuck! He's short ONE VOTE! But wait! What's this? It's his old nemesis the Red Baron, here to provide the decisive vote and put him over the top! Wow! Whodeverathunk? As with all the songs in this cycle, it's a catchy if lightweight little ditty. This one has actually aged more noticably than the others--and not just because of the hippyish "love will shine right through," but also due to its general attitude towards politics. The sort of lighthearted "ooh, those politicians and their promises! Who can tell them apart?" attitude is obsolete, as is the underlying idea that, in spite of whatever differences we might have, we're all in this together, and we'll all get by. I'm fascinated by the note on the linked page that tells us that there was originally an introduction to the song that had to be edited out due to Bobby Kennedy's assassination--a grim refutation of the whole starry-eyed idea right there.

Well, but never mind that. This song raises some real questions. Somehow not killed after all, Manfred von Richthofen, at the age of eighty-six, has at some point become a US citizen. So, if they fought in World War I, shouldn't Snoopy, a dog, be long-dead by now? Well okay, if we want to get anywhere here, we will first have to accept the elasticity of time in this narrative. But beyond that, how plausible is it that Richthofen would be able to obtain US citizenship? As near as I can tell, USCIS doesn't specifically state that having fought against the United States renders you ineligible for citizenship, but come on--it's gotta be a pretty serious blow against you, especially when you've wreaked such bloody havoc: eighty men, it is said, died tryin' to end that spree of the bloody Red Baron of Ger-man-ee. It's true that in the nearly fifty years since the end of the war, he would have had plenty of time to repent of his trespasses, but I am still HIGHLY dubious about this whole thing. I think the best we can do is assume that he deceived Immigration Services as to his true identity when he was going through the process.

But next is the real issue with this scenario: how is it that Richthofen just happened to register to vote in the one state that was just on the verge of tipping Snoopy's way? Because, as you well know, popular vote on a national level is irrelevant--when the song says that "he needed one," it must be referring to one specific state whose electoral votes Snoopy needed. You can't just change your registration on the day of the election.

As an aside, the race would presumably have been a three-way tie (three-way since the lyrics indicate that Snoopy is running either as an independent or with a third party) if the Baron hadn't arrived--I don't know this for a fact, but I would imagine that in such an event, it would fall to the governor to decide--and since Snoopy is not part of an established political party, he would presumably be out of luck. So that kind of makes sense, even if it seems illogical at first.

But back to the issue at hand. Admittedly,nothing in the song proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was only one particular state in which Snoopy needed one vote--there could have been multiple such states, increasing the Baron's odds of being registered in the correct one. But come on--that's just being intellectually dishonest. You know the song means to say no such thing, and thus it's pointless to speculate along those lines.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Idle American Idyll

One of my best friends from elementary school was at one point really into Paula Abdul. He was--is--Middle Eastern, and he once noted, by way of rationale, that she was a Muslim (notwithstanding the fact that he himself was never particularly religious). I do not know if this is true, or if he was just basing this on her name (if it IS true, she certainly doesn't telegraph it), but even if it is, I have to say, I'd need a WAY better excuse than that to subject myself to that awfulness. I don't have necessarily have anything against prefabricated pop music per se, even prefabricated pop music aimed at thirteen-year-old girls, but come on: for my taste, it has to be at least minimally catchy. That's where I draw the line. Dammit. All I'm trying to say is: all other things being equal, shouldn't the fact that, in spite of NEVER having released anything with any artistic merit whatsoever, she is a "judge" on American Idol--shouldn't this fact alone cause potential contestants to run screaming? Just asking.

Yes, I am watching American Idol. Not religiously. I wouldn't pass up a social engagement to watch it, nor do I make any conscious effort to avoid scheduling things that would conflict. Most of the time I'm reading or playing my DS during, so I'm not even paying very close attention. And I don't VOTE or anything. God forbid. Still. I'm well aware that these feeble rationalizations are nowhere near enough to exculpate me. At least once the audition part is over, it becomes less overtly cruel. I tuned most of that part out, because jeez, why do you have to be such assholes?

I HATE the way they're trying extra hard to be "clever" this year, with cheesy little gimmicks like when they did that parody movie preview modeled on Brokeback Mountain. Here's a little rule of thumb that may help you out, guys: if you have an idea that you think is clever--it's not. Forget about it.

"This is a singing contest!" we are frequently informed. Uh huh. When they were choosing the final contestants, they had this part where they juxtaposed the results for two young women: a skinny blonde and a kind of zaftig redhead. And if I have you ONE MILLION guesses, I will bet you would STILL be unable to guess which of them got axed.

But seriously, man, I could forgive the pervasive awfulness of Fox if I felt like the music itself had any artistic merit. Some girl the other day performed "Because the Night," which I think we can all agree is just a great pop song. We would not have come to that conclusion based on her performance, however. Not that it was technically bad: just that the whole damn show seems designed to reduce songs to pale, undifferentiated mush. Why am I watching this? Somebody please explain.

Anyway, I'm rooting for the gray-haired guy. I can't imagine him winning, but at least he's sort of different.

UPDATE: Huh. They got rid of "Because the Night" girl. I've gotta say, it's pretty sadistic to force them to sing again after they've been eliminated. Not unlike the Roman practice of forcing slaves to reenact Greek myths as they're being tortured to death. Also: Jesus CHRIST, they're only getting rid of TWO people? I thought it was four. This is going to take fucking FOREVER.

FURTHER UPDATE: No, I'm wrong. They're just doing it kind of weirdly. Carry on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Random blah

01. Leonard Cohen, “I’m Your Man”
But a man never got a woman back, not by begging on his knees. Or I’d crawl to you baby and I’d fall and your feet and I’d howl at your beauty like a dog in heat and I’d claw and your heart and I’d tear at your sheet I’d say please please…I’m your man. Yup, that’s the stuff. 10/10

02. Calexico, “Alone Again Or”
I don’t particularly care for Love, the band…but I do care for Calexico, and, yeah, it’s a decent song and they do a decent version of it. So. Yeah. 7/10

03. Ian Dury, “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick”
Highly entertaining. You could try to not like this song, but it probably wouldn’t work very well. 9/10

04. Snoopdroop, “Jelly Monster Attacks the Town”
Selective appeal, but I like it. The fruit-themed title gives it (as all the tracks on the album in question) an enjoyably goofy Saturday morning cartoon feel. 7/10

05. Steeleye Span, “Tonight’s the Night”
An extremely bland drinking song. In the best of all possible words, that would be an oxymoron. But, sadly, in this one, it apparently isn’t. 3/10

06. Gordon Bok, “The Death Ship” Not his best, but still quite good, and it always puts me in mind of the “Black Freighter” segments in Watchmen. 7/10

07. Johnny Dowd, “The Similarity of Opposites”
Discordant music as Dowd moans vaguely in the background. Hey, it was a small self-released album. It wasn’t designed for people to like it. But still. 3/10

08. Pulp, “She’s a Lady”
Over-the-top lyrical bathos, music blatantly ripped off from “I Will Survive”—what’s not to like? 7/10

09. The Teardrop Explodes, “Sleeping Gas”
But you can watch Rafferty turn into a serial...what does it mean? We may never know. But we love it anyway. Great, hypnotic neo-psychedelia. 9/10

10. Tom Waits, “Swordfishtrombone”
Confounding shaggy-dog lyrics. But isn't that why we love him? Right. 8/10


Friday, February 17, 2006

What a drag it is getting old

Kindly direct your attention to this review of Grandia III. Grandia indeed. I feel a perverse desire to play this game, in spite of the fact that it's fucking GRANDIA, which means that it's pretty much a given that--regardless of what anyone says--the story will be so much pale gray mush, and that--see previous hyphenated clause--the battle system will be the usual boring thing. Don't worry. I'm not going to. I figure if I'm having trouble bringing myself to play Dragon Quest VIII--clearly a *good* game--I'm not gonna have much luck playing a mediocre one just for perverse nostalgia reasons.

But that is not the main point of this post. That is this paragraph:

Boss fights, for the most part, are extremely drawn out, which can be annoying if you die near the end and have to reload and start over. I often wish RPGs would solve this problem somehow -- perhaps insert some sort of checkpoint in the middle. The days of being able to spend hours and hours in front of the console without interruption are over. Our lives are more complicated, more interruptible now, and there should be a way to pause a fight and save it for later without having to leave the console on and risk having a sibling, parent, or roommate turn it off. It feels sometimes that the wave of innovation and progress has hit every genre but the Japanese RPG, which sometimes shows its age.

Let us leave aside the odd contradiction inherent in the fact that, out of the three people who might turn off our system due to us being so much older and more mature than we used to be, two are "sibling" and "parent." Let us instead ask: who's "we," paleface? We're all narcissists, of course--witness my Abe Simpson-esque ranting about how games ain't SHIT compared to how they were in the GOOD old days--but does this reviewer truly believe that cheesy Japanese RPGs are aimed at "us"? Are you, Ms. Reviewer, a socially awkward fourteen-year-old boy? No? Then guess what: it doesn't matter what YOU want. No one invited YOU to the party. I know it's a little embarrassing to have to admit that your favorite entertainments are designed for children, but there you have it. It would be nice to imagine that the videogame industry is tailored to the specific wants and needs of each and every one of us, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that that is not the case. And for that reason, getting wounded when this fact becomes more readily apparent than usual has very little currency. Sure I'd like it if there were a moratorium on all post-GBA game systems! I'd also like a pony! Not really. But the point, whatever it might be, remains valid.

In any case, if you have time to sit down to play a game like Grandia III in the first place, your life can't be THAT much of an neverending rollercoaster ride. So there.

P.S. If, for whatever reason, Mother 3 is not released in the West, THERE WILL BE DEATH. Just so we're clear on that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

All your favorite music sucks.

I don't subscribe to Q anymore. I just stopped liking it. I do think it objectively got worse (why did they stop giving photos amusing captions?), but my changing sensibilities no doubt also had something to do with it. But I glanced through the latest issue in Barnes and Noble. They had another "hundred best albums EVAH--as voted by YOU" issue. I guess there's nothing wrong with such things, but it seems kind of silly for them to act as if this is somehow definitive--or, indeed, that it's good for much of anything other than drunken arguments. Turns out I own thirty-seven of the hundred best albums EVAH, although a lot of those are thing I rarely if ever listen to. So what's the best album EVAH? Well, you know it's going to be one of the following:

1. Sgt. Pepper (possibly Revolver, if we want to sound vaguely, yet non-threateningly, idiosyncratic)
2. The Stone Roses
3. London Calling
4. OK Computer's 4. Man. I'd kinda hoped we were past this phase. Boy do you limey bastards have boring musical taste. Not that I'm trying to imply that we're any better.

On a wholly unrelated note, just HOW fucking stupid is that diet pepsi commercial with Jackie Chan?

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Blah random blahdy fucking blah

I don't hate any of the songs on today's list, which makes it kind of boring. But do I let that stop me? I do not.

01. Blur, “Pressure on Julian”
I sure do dig the magical transit children. Stylishly angular pop-punk, and guess how much I care that that description is a big fat heap of clichés? 8/10

02. Dead Can Dance, “Towards the Within”
Pretty, ethereal, etc. Everything you’d expect from a DCD song. Not that I’m trying to devalue that. I enjoy them very much. Had my schedule been slightly different, I would have been able to see them on their reunion tour. Ah well. 7/10

03. The Decemberists, “On the Bus Mall”
Gritty bittersweet nostalgia. Occasionally a little precious, maybe, but Decemberist lyrics are generally pretty great. 8/10

04. Nick Cave, “The Weeping Song”
One of his best songs, with Blixa Bargeld effectively singing the “father” bits. 9/10

05. The Doors, “Alabama Song”
Bop bom bopbop, bop bom bopbop…there’s no point in pretending to like The Doors at all if you can’t find some pleasure in this. 8/10

06. Elvis Presley, “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
This was used to good effect in Mystery Train, which is one of my favorite movies ever. So…yeah. 7/10

07. Kula Shaker, “Raggy One (waiting for tomorrow)”
Have I ever mentioned how much I fucking LOVE Kula Shaker? ‘Cause I do. And that includes this song. 9/10

08. Joy Division, “Day of the Lords”
Where will it end? That one answered itself pretty quickly. 7/10

09. Elvis Costello, “Less than Zero”
I feel like maybe if I were smarter, I’d have some idea what he’s going on about here. But I like it anyway. 7/10

10. David Bowie, “Teenage Wildlife”
He queens it up amusingly enough, but really, Scary Monsters ain’t no Ziggy Stardust. 6/10


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of Disarray

Yes, of COURSE I tuned in to the Sotu address last night! Wouldn't miss it for the world! Ha ha. God I hate that man. Speech was the usual platitudinous drivel; not much to say. Apparently, we will never surrender to evil. Way to stick it to the powerful surrendering-to-evil lobby. To me, the most entertaining thing was whenever the cameras would pan out and you could see Cheney and Dennis Hastert sitting behind him. You could see Cheney moving a little, but Hastert, except when responding to an applause line, was absolutely motionless. It was kind of unnerving: had he died up there? I suppose for a republican, dying during an address by Dear Leader would be like dying during sexual climax for a normal person.

As for Tim Kaine's rebuttal: I don't doubt that Kaine's a nice guy, but man. Talk about uninspiring. It sounded like he was lecturing small children. I tried to call cspan's comment line to make this point, but could not get through.

Ideal sotu response: "Fuck me? Fuck YOU!" That, we would remember, even if fifty percent of it was bleeped out.