Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Strap on Those Skates

Because we're all going ice skating in hell!

Sign of the Impending Apocalypse #1:

This photograph was taken last night. August 19th at 11:01pm. You might notice that round knob on the right is turned in a rather odd position. It's turned towards the red color. Even though my car is a Honda and therefore made in Japan, where people sleep in pods and buy used panties in vending machines, red still means hot and blue means cold. So that means that last night, while driving to Walgreen's at 11:01pm to buy contact lens solution, I had to turn the knob that tells the magic man that lives in the air vents what temperature to make the air coming out to make mine a toasty one. In August. In Texas. As a side note, I like that all the engineering and progress in the world has not stopped the hazard button on a car from still looking like the "someone call Oingo Boingo and let's really get this party started" button. Shouldn't it be like a lighting bolt or an exclamation point or a thumb or something. I could really get behind the thumb button.

Sign of the Impending Apocalypse #2:

I really can't even try to write better headlines than this so let me just go ahead and steal and link:

Lynching Advocate Toby Keith: Obama Acts White To Win

followed by....

Toby Keith: Obama's 'Best Democratic Candidate We've Had Since Bill Clinton'

First off, does one order business cards with "lynching advocate" as your listed profession? Second, nope. Sorry, Tobester. You don't get a re-do. You don't get to Tardis it back and put a boot in the ass of all those xenophobic pro-Bush redneck comments you made. I'm sure Obama totally appreciates not only your support of his political party but also his campaign and his ability to "talk white" et al.

Maybe you and John Rich should go into an unwanted and bungled political endorsements side business....

Sign of the Impending Apocalypse #3:

Oh. Em. Gee. Times are getting rough. I guess that Britpop renaissance of the early Aughts didn't really pan out like some thought it would. But really, there's no reason that it should lead to this.


Wow. Johnny Borrell. Singer of mediocre songs. Former boyfriend of Kirsten Dunst and that girl from Harry Potter. Friend of Mighty Boosh. Fashion Victim. And now potential kidnapper and pedophile. What a shame. And here I was thinking he was just a loudmouthed brat.

The good news is that the sketch artist seems to have caught him in mid-chuckle. Who doesn't love a good laugh? With the economy like it is now, even child abductors need to have a giggle every now and again. I have to say that minus the whole "stealing kids" part, I prefer Johnny Borrell Mach 2.0 (pictured left in sketch) who seems much more lighthearted. You know, as opposed to the Johnny Borrell of old (pictured right giving us Blue Steel). Thoughts?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Are You Ready for Some Fauxball?

This is not going to be about Saturday night's Cowboy's pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers. There's a few reasons for that. The first reason being that it is a pre-season game and even I am not hardcore enough to care to blog about that. The second reason is that I didn't actually get to see all of the game and only got to steal glimpses of the game as I saw Tiger Moth play on Saturday night. And finally, the Cowboys lost and looked bad doing it so what's there to say other than "Nice hustle, fatties?"

So I will instead address my general happiness about the start of fauxball which will gently usher in actual football. Saturday night's pre-fauxball game show had the first installment of a three part series on the 1971 Cowboys team. The first part got into the bitchy Team Aniston/Team Jolie aspect of Tom Landry's choice between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton. Ohhhhh, the drama. Jerry Jones talked about his Papa John's pizza commercials and how many times they had to film the part where the kids kicked him in the junk (lots) and how much fun it is to be able to show a softer side of himself by making pizza commercials (lots) and how much it costs to buy a seat at the new stadium (LOTS). In between all of this were one billion reminders that you can buy or sponsor anything nailed or not nailed down at the new Cowboys stadium. I would like to sponsor a few more kids kicking Jerry Jones in the junk for my amusement (alliteration is the new black). That was not one of the advertised options.

I can't get too jazzed about fauxball. But I can make a list of things that fauxball beats any day of the week:

1. Rangers baseball - Ok, I don't like baseball. So you probably don't care about my opinion here anyways. Other than the interesting Josh Hamilton story, Rangers baseball is the epitome of summer in Texas. It goes on way too long. Every once in a while there is a respite, a cool moment, a nice breeze. But generally speaking, it's just month after month of being beaten down and looking at the forecast and wondering when it will all be over. I feel bad for my friends who are Rangers fans and at the start of each season say things like "This might be our year" really earnestly. Maybe in a show of solidarity, next summer when baseball season starts I will convince myself that this will be the summer in Texas that the high will never climb above 75. Every night there will be a cool, relaxing breeze and I will wear sweatshirts everywhere to convey my faith in this meteorological miracle. That way, the Rangers and I can both stink at the same time.

2. Mavericks Surrenderball - Don't get me wrong. I love my sad little Mavericks. Even if there is this and this and, oh yeah, this. Actually, I cannot express to you how badass I think Dirk's haircut is. Like 8-layer burrito awesome. Seriously. I have long been a fan of the comedy cut. But last season's humiliation hasn't gone away as easily as I was hoping it would. Was it the non-draft? Who knows? All I'm saying is that if given a choice between Andre Gurode and Josh "2 Fast And/Or Furious" Howard, I'm picking Mr. Over-the-Head-Snaps every time.

3. Hockey - Can't get into it. Sean Avery is not going to help the cause. I know that's hard to believe because if you have heard him talk, you of course know that he gives Lincoln a run in the "Great Orators of All Time" race. That's sarcasm. Note to Sean Avery: I'm glad you like fancy clothes. They distract from the fact that when you speak, it's like the aural equivalent of watching baby oatmeal slide down a taupe wall. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when you and Anna Wintour grunted out monosyllabic commentary from the front row of fashion week. Welcome to town. You're going to love it here. For once in the existence of this blog, that was not sarcasm.

Go fauxball.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

God I Hope This Magic Radio Wizard's Got Some More Elf Comin' My Way

I saw Pineapple Express last night. I hate movies, generally speaking. I don't like feeling trapped in a theater with poorly mannered people for two hours. I don't like feeling like I have to ride out the storm of a movie that I don't like in the dark for two hours. I think most movies made after 1986 have too much CGI, bad writing, explosions, weak plots and bad soundtracks. Which is why I was shocked to find myself using my own t-shirt to wipe away the hot tears of unbridled laughter for almost two solid hours last night. I am not really qualified to do a movie review but to say that for someone who finds 90% of today's movies to be tedious, I left the Pineapple Express plotting when I could see it again. That speaks volumes.

Also speaking volumes to me now is the leap I made, thanks to Chrissy's recommendation, to I peaced out on Launch. I know that's very 1999 "I'm totally un-subbing from this mailing list" of me. But my world has changed. I'm like a crippled kid with new legs. Though there may be an ocean between us, there is a connecting us and our love of Foreigner:

From: Amanda
To: Christina
Subject: i'm naming my firstborn

omg. asia's "heat of the moment"!!!! it's just throwing me gem after gem. don't ever stop, thank you for this gift, chrissy!

On Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 10:09 AM, Christina wrote:

Ain't no thang. upon your last remark in the last email, i too typed in 'foreigner'. guess what the second song that came up was (after 'cold as ice')? None other than Asia's 'Voice of America' followed by 'Africa' by Toto.

And i'll be damned if this isn't my fave lyric:
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure whats deep inside, frightened of this thing that Ive become

(Guilty as charged! That's sooooo me!) is my closest friend throughout my work day. What is your user ID? I can make you my friend and we can bust each other for listening to shitty music. Which is actually a game nobody will play with me as often as I'd like.

From: Amanda
To: Christina
Subject: Re: i'm naming my firstborn

I keep typing in just the name of any random band I can think of which is either a) a prog band that I remember that I like one song (UFO) or some bad synth band that I liked one song when we got a promo at DMG in like '02 (Fischerspooner).

Please, join me won't you? My username is amandavoncobra. Let's touch our radios in musical shame.

By the way, my new fave line from any song is from Loverboy's "Hot Girls in Love"

"She likes her tapes on 10
And it's the same as her anatomy
She's on a rainbow cruise
All the way to my room"

Seriously? God, way to be subtle Loverboy. Subtle as ripaway pants.

Damn. Today doesn't suck.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You Either Shut Up or Get Cut Up

Every day that I am at work, I play a game. It's called "what should I listen to while I work?" and usually it's a dead heat between NPR, WRR and letting iTunes inevitably pick my least favorite songs from my music library repeatedly. Actually, there's problems with all of these options. NPR gets way too uppity for me sometimes. I'm not looking for Larry the Cable Guy but sometimes I just want someone on NPR to make a decent off-color joke. And I don't mean an off-color joke that somehow winds back around to America's dependence on foreign oil. I like WRR because I have a healthy love of baroque chamber music. What I don't have a healthy love of: John Philip Sousa marches, the fact that every other WRR selection seems to be a scratched CD and most importantly, the owner of Avery Air Conditioning's insistence on doing his own spots. Seriously, some things are best left to professionals.

So I occasionally get desperate enough to forage around the dark recesses of internet radio. The kind where you tell it the name of a handful of artists that you like and it thinks it can clairvoyantly make a playlist that will rock you gently 'til the clock strikes 5. Of course, it's horribly wrong. The one that provides me the most amusement is Yahoo's Launch player. Mostly because between sponsored ads and label-funded content shoehorned in between my selected Foreigner songs, some of the things it genuinely thinks are songs I am going to like are amazing. Amazingly wrong. And the label-paid-for Today's Hits is always nice. It's the only way I can keep my finger on the pulse. And man, the pulse is weird.

So I decided to give Launch an hour of my day today to see what it had in store for me. No skips. Hit me with your rhythm stick, so to speak:

(Now looking at my station profile, my favorite artists according to my ranking system are: Primal Scream, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, The Smiths, Dwight Yoakam, Eddie Money, Loverboy, John Foxx, New Order. I don't know if that's true but let's say that it is)

Scarlett Johanssen - "Falling Down"

Jesus. Not starting off well, Launchy. I am one of the 11 people in the world willing to admit I don't get the appeal of Tom Waits. Therefore, I certainly don't get the appeal of a mediocre actress covering Tom Waits. This was a bad idea. This is not good.

The Wombats - "Let's Dance to Joy Division"

I'm wondering if it played this because it knows I like Joy Division and New Order or because these guys are obviously the new "It" Brit band who probably all look like they need B12 vitamin shots? I would have probably adored this song when I was 14 and begging my mom to take me to Bills to buy import singles. It's cute enough. I guess. Meh.

Squeeze - "Cool For Cats"

Fuck. Yeah. I'm always ok with this song.

Plies - "Bust It Baby, Part 2"

First off, I thought at first that this guy's name was PILES. Which was juvenile and funny to me. But then it got FAR more juvenile and disturbing. This is one of those label-sponsored Current Hits. Now, this is "Bust It Baby, Part 2" so I can only imagine what Part 1 entailed. But as I sit here listening to this, I wonder how much further my jaw can drop. Instead of going into further details, I will just link the lyrics to this song here. Wow.

Stevie Wonder - "Part Time Lover"

I get a lot of shit from everyone I know because I don't like Stevie Wonder. Not as a person. He wears caftans a lot and that's cool with me. I like caftans too. I just don't dig his music. And you wouldn't believe the cries of injustice that go up when you say that. But guess what? I like this song. There? Happy? I'm sure it's blasphemy and this is considered his "Let Me Up (I've Had Enough)" but, well, suck it.

REO Speedwagon - "Find Your Own Way Home"

From their 2008 release of the same name. Oh dear. Oh good lord this is bad. As in "I hope there's some more Scar Jo coming up" bad.

Siouxie and the Banshees - "Cities in Dust"

(review unavailable due to the fact that Amanda spent the song's entire 3:14 duration shadow-dancing and twirling around her office with this song cranked at full volume with her door closed)

Santana - "You Just Don't Care"

You're right. I don't. Skip. Sorry.

Joe Walsh - "All Night Long"

I love Joe Walsh. You know how John McCain said he would follow bin Laden to the gates of hell? Well I would do the same to Joe Walsh only in a really positive and appreciative way. And when we got there, I would buy him taquitos for writing "Life's Been Good."

Super Furry Animals - "Herman Loves Pauline"

Obviously, this was a great choice. Pat on the back, Launchy! "Marie Curie was Polish born but French bred. HA! French bred!" Gets me every time.

The Ting Tings - "Great DJ"

If there is one thing you are not, Launch player, it is a Great DJ. This is a Current Hit. I can tell because I don't know who these people are other than maybe seeing Perez Hilton drawing cocaine trails on their faces. That and firmly believing this song will be used in an attempt to sell me a Nissan in less than a year. Yawn.

Jim Jones - "Love Me No More"

First off, does this guy not know about the Jim Jones before him? Wow. I guess if you're trying to be an edgy urban artist, it can't hurt to be associated with the guy who talked thousands of people into drinking poisoned Kool Aid.

Oh. My. God. These lyrics are insane. Seriously. "Respect my mind or respect my grind" is pretty much what I've been trying to say this whole time with this blog.

Evans Blue - "Over"

This is what the kids call "modern rock" and it's fucking atrocious. Seriously, this is the worst thing I have heard in easily a few years. I would rather listen to "Bust It Baby, Part 49" than this pile of waste. Over indeed. Game over.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Two Very Important Lessons I Have Learned in My Travels

1. Never trust the locals in regards to open container laws:

This lesson was learned in London back in 2004. I have been to the UK plenty. I am definitely familiar with the sight of drinking Strongbow or Carling out of cans on the Tube or on the street on a good night out. During one of those brisk nights, in what was probably a slurry and spirited conversation, I asked my friend Michael the Manc if there were open container laws in London or if this was just one Big Easy. I don’t remember if I phrased it that way. I hope I didn’t because knowing me I probably did some bad Cajun jazz funeral Zatarain’s Jambalaya rice mix jazz hands sort of dance to go along with it. But Michael, being as fond of the hops and barley as I can be, assured me that “Naoowwwwww, it’s fine.” Which I processed as Michael being thoroughly familiar with the laws of Britain and knowing for a fact that having an open container of alcohol on the streets of London was completely legal. Cut to a few days later. It’s a weekday and all my friends are working. I do what I normally do when I’m in London on weekday when I have no one to drag around the streets with me. I just sort of wander around trying to find weird things in the city I haven’t seen yet. A big part of this experience is eating as many weird sandwiches from Marks and Spencers. While there, I hear the howl of gin and tonic in cans and tiny champagne bottles swelling up from the beverage aisle. Oh my god. I can drink you in the streets. Like a hobo. Like a classy, sightseeing hobo! Get in the cart. You’re coming with me.

I eat some sandwich with sweet corn in it (really?) wash it down with a gin and tonic straight out of the can. While sitting next to the river surrounded by a group of very poorly behaved French teenagers most of whom really love Slipknot and Staind. I will later run into the same group of surly metal loving French teenagers at the V&A where one particularly pouty one responds to all of her friend’s inquiries about the “coolness” of the darker paintings with the most insolent and apathetic “Non” I have ever heard. Thanks three years of French in public school! So back to my journey towards vagrancy.

I saved my mini bottle of champagne for the arduous journey across Tower Bridge because no matter how many times I go there and no matter how many times I cross it and no matter how many times bad flights and expensive drinks and sinking dollars and ruined heels and bad minicabs rides sour my view of London I always love the ten minutes I spend walking across Tower Bridge. It’s just about one of my favorite things to do and if you’re one of the unlucky people who has to walk across it every day to get to work you’ll forgive me for being the smiling asshole that’s probably annoying you for existing. So I’m walking across Tower Bridge on an uncharacteristically sunny and breezy London day drinking my champagne. I think about all my friends back in Dallas who are probably doing much less interesting things than this right now. I think about calling them to remind them of how much less interesting what they are doing right now is compared to what I am doing. Decide against it. Then notice I am getting stared at by people. Actually see a mother pull her small child away from me. This is London, the city where I have seen grown men in business suits puke into shopping bags on the Tube. I’m just a silly little girl from the South drinking my cheap champagne at 1:30 in the afternoon on a bridge. What’s the harm in that? End up on the other side where I am now kind of being looked at like the Replacements were when they were the musical guests on SNL. Find a trash can near the Tower of London to throw away my empties. Started off on one side of the Thames feeling like I was in my own personal version of the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show but end up on the other side throwing away a tiny champagne bottle as if I was Judy Garland’s understudy. All in the shadow of a fortress once used for tortures and beheadings. My first foray into public drunkenness didn’t go so well. Oh yeah and I wasn’t drunk at all. Later at the pub, after relaying this story Michael informs me that there are open container laws. The cops just tend not to care when it’s late at night. I think his quote was something along the lines of “because they assume no one’s going to be drinking gin and tonic out of a can walking across Tower Bridge at noon on a Tuesday.” Ouch. Michael: 1 Me: nil.

2. When you are 18 and lost in Downtown LA, always let the guy from the halfway house be your chaperone:

I took a Greyhound to LA when I was 18 to see a band I really liked. Of course, now I realize there are a few things that were wrong with this plan. First off, the band were not very good. Two, it’s a 36 hour bus ride each way. Third, I was 18 and had little to no money which meant that I didn’t really have any sort of financial cushion to fall back on if I found myself in a pickle. Actually, I could probably go on and on listing reasons why this was an ill-advised trip and if you are really interested in reading what I had to say about it then (along with reading what I "blogged" about ten years ago), feel free to read here and here. Yes, I liked really bright colors back in 1998. Shut up.

So I'm in LA. I have a very scary hotel room and I have a bag and I have a handwritten list of shady nightclubs at which this band I love is playing shows all around the Greater Los Angeles area. I can ride buses! This will be great! I get out to the first show in Long Beach relatively unmurdered and I'm feeling pretty good about my mad urban coping skillz. I am told by the band that the next night's show is at a club called Al's which is in Downtown Los Angeles, just outside the area known as the Diamond District. I consult the only map book I brought with me when I get back to my hotel. That book being a book of all the sites famous murders, scandals and infamous Hollywood shenanigans. Turns out the Diamond District at 6th and Hill is also the site of the old Pantages Theater. Neat!

The day of the Al's Bar show, I decide that I will head down to this Diamond District on the city bus a little early to find out what kind of food one can buy for less than $4. Then I will find out what kind of horrible acts of depravity occurred at each intersection as I make my way to this bar that I have already been told is (and I'm thinking I am remembering this verbatim) "a total toilet" to see "the ABSOLUTE best trash rock band of the Vancouver scene right now."

The corner of 6th and Hill is not so much a district as much as it is office buildings with a different version of Sam Moon on the ground floor of each. Oh yeah and no one wants to tell me where the Pantages Theater is because apparently this is the same block where the courthouse where the OJ Simpson trial happened. I just decide to start looking for the nightclub and give up on finding anything interesting in LA. Operation Find Nightclub not going well. Sun starting to go down. Absolutely not seeing anything that looks like any of the street names I have written on my hand. Definitely should not have worn this outfit either. Not practical. Really wish that hand-held cellphones were cheap and commonplace enough for them to be readily available in 1998 right about now.

I finally decided to take refuge in a Pizza Hut once I lost all sunlight and desperately needed to eat. After a few minutes, I was approached by a handsome man in his late 40s. This isn't going all porn-y, I promise. You can take your choice of what it was about my demeanor that told him that maybe I was vulnerable. Was it that I paid for my slice of pizza with dimes? My book of Hollywood scandal and murder sites? Maybe it was the t-shirt I was wearing with the following scrawled across the front in Sharpie. Because apparently I had no idea what the phrase "laying it on too thick" meant back then:

"Then came human beings, they wanted to cling but there was nothing to cling to" - Camus

Regardless, the nice older man who looked more than a little like John Doe from X asked me if I was lost. Not like in a metaphysical sense. Or if he did mean that, I didn't get it despite what my Camus-quoting shirt may have suggested. I confessed that I was and that I was trying to see what some people were calling "the best trash rock band in the entire Vancouver scene" at a place called Al's Bar but having no luck finding it. He told me he knew where it was and could show me how to get there. Clearly, at this point in the story you are waving your arms in the air and yelling "STRANGER DANGER" and the thought of it now is absurd to me. But 18 year old Amanda was a different kind of person. The kind of person that took the stranger up on the offer.

On the way out of the Pizza Hut, Stranger Man mentions that Al's is conveniently located a few blocks from his halfway house at which he must be checked in by 11pm so this will all work out perfectly. Again, Camus-shirt Amanda thinks this is all just too neat. What luck! Stranger Man tells me stories of being an actor and musician then getting into directing for horrible television shows. Of making lots of money. Then of spending all of that money on heroin which he is currently only still able to tear himself away from for a few days at a time. All of this time, we are walking through barely lit back streets which provide ideal locations for body hiding. But Stranger Man instead wants to just warn me to not do heroin and debate me on why Mick Taylor was a waste of space in terms of Rolling Stones members.

We get to his halfway house where he runs upstairs to his room to draw me a detailed map of how to get the rest of the way to Al's. Gives me yet another heartfelt speech about the dangers of heroin, about how the world is full of people out to hurt sweet girls and how rock and roll is a losing game. I am pretty sure he's liberally quoting from a TV show he may have worked on once. I thank him and head to see what some very optimistic writers in the Pacific Northwest were calling "quite possibly the best band to come out of the Vancouver's burgeoning trash rock scene of the late 90's." High praise indeed.

Only when I get to Al's, it's strictly 21 and up. So the owner kindly allows me to listen to the band's set from the comfort of a room above the bar which is painted red, has no furniture, a light bulb hanging from the ceiling which shorts out halfway through the set and walls covered in pictures of various S&M techniques. But she didn't make me pay cover, which was awfully nice of her.

So the moral of the story is: always let the junkie be your tour guide.