Friday, August 29, 2008

People were cooler in the early 90s

Today I caught "Video Yearbook" on FUSE, which is a tv showcase of videos from a particular year. It's extremely refreshing to still be able to see music videos on tv, and even moreso to see the kinds of videos kids from my generation remember staying up late to see in the wee hours of the morning on the original MTV, way back before the reality show invasion sapped every ounce of credibility from their once legendary lineup. The year featured on this episode was 1994, though viewers should know that not one video I saw was actually from 1994! Instead was a smattering of vintage greats from 1991-1993ish (in the twenty minutes or so I watched), and those videos taught me a lot about music filmography, including the recipe for the perfect encapsulization of what I'd like to think the parts of the early 90s I don't really remember were all about:
  • Neon
  • Funky dance moves
  • Big pants
  • Floppy hats
  • Giant sunglasses
  • Squiggly shapes
  • Cheap green-screen text
Example 1: TLC - "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg"

In the second video, we take the scene to the beach! Not everything mentioned above is in there, but plenty of neon, bikinis, funky dance moves, wacky haircuts and general zaniness abound.

Example 2: Wreckx-N-Effect - "Rumpshaker"

The other videos I saw were all of the grunge/post-grunge movement (Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, etc) so they don't merit discussion and barely even the mention I gave them. Hip hop is where it's at, and if current indie rock/hipster styling weren't such a diluted pastiche of what's in those videos, I'd want it to come back full force. For now I guess I'll just have to except the ironic embodiment that Williamsburg's finest are delivering, and use it to remember the golden years of identity confusion.

Anti-Bears: 4.8. 4.7 of those A-Bs are expressly allocated to the sunglasses in the TLC video.

Bears: 2.9. Those fucking hi-tops and cheap neon sunglasses that I saw all over Pitchfork Festival need to fucking go. Also it was kind of a bear when Left-eye died a few years back.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

M.I.A. - Paper Planes

Damn, this song is everywhere. And why not? It rules. It's so groovy and catchy then you get to the chorus and it's all "all I wanna do is *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* and *CH-CHING* and I take your money...". I mean those sound effects are fucking awesome. Gunshots and a cash register opening? Brilliant! It almost makes you want to go rob someone just so you have a reason to shoot a gun and open a cash register while you're singing along in your head. If you don't have a gun, and you do have a hand, you should form your hand into a gun and make shooting motions whenever that part comes up. If you don't have a gun and you don't have hands, I'm sorry because that really sucks. There's got to be something you can use, right? As for that cash register, you have to envision one of those older ones with the pull arm that opens it. Modern electronic registers are far from acceptable, even if they do make some sort of ch-ching noise. Just know that you're an idiot if this is what you think of.

Anyway, I'm getting to a point, I promise. Today I took a bus down to UT campus so that I could get an ACL pass for a friend from some dude from craigslist. While I was walking down Guadalupe I heard "Paper Planes" playing from a jeep at the stopped red light and I looked over to see what I can only assume is the biggest douchebag in the universe singing along to his cd with a stupid affected british accent and a terrible singing voice (and a slightly embarrassed girlfriend rode shotgun). It wouldn't have been so bad if the guy didn't have spiked blonde hair and if he wasn't wearing a tank top.

Now, my music taste almost automatically categorizes me as a snob, or at the least, an elitist. I try to not be judgemental when it comes to music tastes, but when people are talking about music and it's my turn and I mention a bunch of bands that the people I'm talking to haven't heard of, I can feel myself being silently labeled as "one of those people", the kind of individual who is liable to hate everyone who doesn't measure up taste-wise to their impossible standards. What's ironic about having the kind of mentality where you thinking everyone's an idiot for listening to the radio is that the feeling tends to go away as you listen to more and more music, but that's a topic for a different discussion.

What I'm ultimately getting at is this: that fuckwad in the jeep is the reason for such elitism and snobbery. I saw that idiot in the car and I immediately felt a small pang of defensiveness for M.I.A., and a little bit of selfishness in that I didn't want that idiot to have the capacity to listen to the same music as me. It kind of left this repugnant image in my mind that I'll probably think of every time I hear that song from now on. Thank you, asshole, you might have ruined a great song for me.

Bears: 4.5. It kind of sucks when a song you like is totally ruined. It's possible that it might not be completely ruined though, so there's that.

Anti-bears: 1.5. It's at least a little funny, right?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Trip Back to the '90's, via eBay

A fond memory of my grade school days (starting around 4th grade) was coming home from school to watch television. We had a gargantuan snack drawer in the house that was overflowing with Oreos, Twinkies, and other Little Debbie goodies and I would raid it, head upstairs, and plop down on the couch for the weekday TBS excitement- one hour of Saved By the Bell, one hour of Full House (I think WGN even played their own hour of Saved by the Bell, so you could sit there forever if you wanted). Things change- there is no more afternoon tv with that sort of heavy-hitting lineup, and the snack drawer doesn't seem as big to me anymore. At any rate, for some reason I was on hold with the insurance company today and I found some true gems of memorabilia on eBay that commemorated these special memories in my heart.

What Would Danny Tanner Do?
You couldn't fault anyone wearing this shirt. If I saw someone walking around in it you would have to think that they were logical, smart-decision making people, and that never hurt anyone. I would like someone to get on the ball and make up some "What Would Charz Do" t-shirts. It could be like a Taco Bell marketing campaign.
3.5 anti-bears: quite the conversation piece
4.0 bears: takes a lot of guts to wear, which Danny Tanner never had
Slater Tee
In the t-shirt spirit still, I actually like this one. It is pink though, and suggests that the thought of AC Slater alone is enough to make one dizzy with infatuation, so the only people who could wear this one would be 14 year old girls (or Charz).
4.0 anti-bears: good for a legitimate laugh (maybe)
4.5 bears: as a guy, I am excluded from being able to bid on this
Trading Cards
Are you kidding me? Who buys these? "I'll trade you my Johnny Dakota and Mr. Tuttle for your Belding." "Nah, man, that's a rip-off, throw in Mr. Dewey and we'll call it a deal." "Is it autographed?"
o.o anti-bears: no use whatsoever
2.5 bears: looks like they may have been only 25 cents. i'd have probably suckered myself into buying a pack
AC Slater Doll
This may come off as just another shot at Charz, but it's not. He truly has one of these.
3.7 anti-bears: comes with a "stamper" of Mario's authentic autograph that you can use on your yearbooks
3.3 bears: doesn't look like the plastic mullet blows in the wind
Uncle Jesse Doll
If I had any courage at all, I would put this on my desk at work. I mean, think of all the comments it would produce! Jesse, of "Jesse and the Rippers"! It's an indie rock artifact.
4.2 anti-bears: if you look closely, you can see that "Jesse's guitar holds family photos."
o.o bears: this is totally redeemed because Jesse's guitar holds family photos.
Mr. Belding Autograph.
5.0 bears: Obviously the seller of this notecard with Dennis Haskins' autograph just pulled out an index card from the drawer and signed it. Couldn't he have at least found Mr. Belding's baseball card in one of the packs above? I bet Belding can't even walk to the store without 1,000 people digging out index cards for him to sign, poor guy.
I left out the Saved by the Bell sheet music that was up for auction.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympians in Pinstripes

So as I was forced to watch the Olympic games due to baseball rain delays, I happened to notice Michael Phelps win his 31st Olympic gold medal. Hats off to Phelps and all, but what I thought was most interesting were the rumors buzzing around that the Yankees are trying to sign him up for that extra little boost to get into the playoffs. We all know that the Yanks always recruit and snatch up the best players, slap a Bombers hat on their head, and ship them into the Bronx. You didn't think that Yankee GM Brian Cashman limited himself to looking only for ballplayers, did you? So after a bit of research, I found the top Yankee prospects, assuming they perform well enough this week in Beijing for New York fans to accept them into the family.

#1: Michael Phelps, Swimmer, United States

As already stated, Phelps is a baller in the pool. No reason the Yanks couldn't use him as another outfielder. He could probably swim to first base faster than Pudge could run there. Rumors also say that Phelps can provide a variety of speedos in the locker room that Jason Giambi can wear when he wants to bust out of a slump.

#2: Jiang Yuyuan, Gymnast, China

So the trendy thing seems to be to import an Asian guy to the Major Leagues. At Wrigley, all the lame Cubs fans seem to go bonkers over Kosuke Fukudome. They sell karate headbands in and around the stadium that say "FUKUDOME" on them in Chinese lettering, the kind of headbands that Danny Larusso wore in The Karate Kid. I saw grown men wearing them as much as children. Fukudome is the most overrated player ever, but they love the guy to death because he's Asian. So since Hideki Matsui has seen a lot of the DL lately, the Yankees front office seems to think that putting Yuyuan in left field will boost ticket sales, if not their chances of making the World Series. By the time you finish reading this article, the country of China will have cast enough votes to get Yuyuan into the 2009 All Star Game. It's just all about keeping up with the multicultural times, really.

#3: Sean Breathnach, Shot Putter, Ireland

I don't even know if this guy is in the Olympics. I just needed a shot putter and I thought he should be Irish, so this is what the technology spit out at me. Basically the deal is this: Joba Chamberlain sucks and couldn't live up to the hype. Yanks want to bolster their pitching staff, so why not Sean Breathnach? Remember the "Joba Rules"? Where Joba couldn't pitch more than ten pitches or something in an inning, and then had to sit out like three games in-between to rest his arm? Sean Breathnach doesn't need any of that babying. You're pretty much guaranteed a complete game every time he takes the mound. His ERA might end up a little high, but you can always count on not having to go to your bullpen until at least the ninth.

#4: Shawn Johnson, Gymnast, United States

Shawn Johnson is a gymnast, and though small the Yanks think her durability could land her a few starts as a backup catcher, giving Pudge the day off every now and then. In fact, the scouts believe that she may be the only one who is able to catch on the days when Sean Breathnach makes his starts in the rotation. As additional appeal, she could be a new flame for Jeter, who has already dated through the ranks of Mariah Carey, Gabrielle Union, et al etc et al.

#5: (A-Rod's request to the Yankee front office- anyone from the women's Olympic weightlifting team)

No comment.

#6: Mary Lou Retton, Gymnast, United States
Surely you recall those shenanigans Clemens and the Yankees pulled, where Clemens waits until he sees which team he wants to play for, sits until mid-season, and then signs for billions of dollars, and then announces his coming-out-of-retirement during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee stadium? Signing an old star past their prime and acting like they're going to be the season's saving grace is straight up the way New York does business. This year, they've got their sights on Mary Lou Retton, Olympic great. Leave it to the Yanks, they have no shame. At least Retton will come through in the clutch better than A-Rod- she's a threat to take the "Miss October" title away from him.

So that's the hot news that I found from the scouting reports. If the Bombers can even add half of these prospects to their team, I guarantee you they will be able to make it to another choke in the playoffs.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wreview from Wrigley

So the Cardinals took only 1 out of 3 games against the Cubs this weekend, but I was fortunate enough to be present at Saturday's game, which was the one where they were victorious. A driving voyage to St. Louis for a Thursday afternoon game, and then on to Chi-town for Sox vs. Sox on Friday and then Cubs/Cards on Saturday ended on a good note with a 12-3 Cardinals win. Listening to them drop the rubber game on the radio while driving back Sunday was a bit of a bear. Does a "bit of a bear" equal "cub"?

Without letting this become a rant about my dislike for the Cubs, I'll say I do enjoy going to Wrigley. This was only my second trip there, the first being with Garz last summer when Zambrano pitched- coincidentally, I saw him pitch again on Saturday. It has a good cozy feel too it, and the setting makes a regular season game feel like the playoffs. We had tickets that were in the very last row in the upper deck on the third baseline, but the stadium is so small we still had a good view of the whole game (not really obstructed by the steel beams). We were shaded and our backs were to a chain link fence, giving a good cool breeze. I'd say there were 25-30% Cardinal fans there, and I wore my Ankiel jersey and cheered enthusiastically for St. Louis, but was careful to not be obnoxious- I was not there agitate Cubs fans.

That said, I do not understand the fixation with the Cubs. If you took away Wrigley, what would be left? And is Wrigley even that great? Baseball is only good when the Cardinals win (feel free to change that to whichever team you like). I didn't travel all the way up to Chicago to see Wrigley, I wanted to see the Cards beat the Cubs at home, and that may as well be in a sandlot or a cornfield in Joliet. So while I'll buy that Wrigley is cool, I don't see how it warrants the attitude or confidence that the fans seem to have about their "cubbies." And why does it seem like such a trendy pick to be a Cubs fan? Why do I picture the classic Cubs fan as a frat guy with shades and a beer in his hand? Has someone pulled the ivy over my eyes?

Overall though, this was your classic 5 anti-bears/0 bears type of trip. Again, I didn't mean this as a rip on the Cubs or their supporters, and I didn't encounter any fans who were bears themselves. It just seems that if someone moved to Chicago tomorrow and you asked them which team they would root for, they'd pick the Cubs. Just sayin'.

One big bonus for Wrigley- none of the gimmicky games/music/attention-getting junk that goes on at most other stadiums. You can truly go there for the baseball (and Cubs fans can go for the beer). I mean if I ever have a six year old kid and take him to the baseball game, he won't be playing in the sandbox during the game or over at the Build-A-Bear workshop. He'd better at least be trying to convince me, through the use of statistics like isolated power upon my request, why the Cardinals picking up Felipe Lopez was a good idea.