Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seriously. Pop Culture References.....Ur Doing It Rong

So John McCain's campaign first thought THIS would be a good idea to really reach out to the youngsters. Yep, have his daughter go to lunch with Heidi from the MTV show The Hills. Clearly, no keystrokes need to be devoted to why this was not a very wise move. And why this was a pretty good display of how far off the pulse of young people the McCain campaign is.

Ok, McCain is Down With the Kids, Take Two:

How about this?

Surely there's someone at McCain HQ with a "bad idea" button that they can hit when these kind of ads come down the propaganda pipeline, right? I get where they were trying to go with this. Obama is a media darling and so McCain wants to expose him as being an empty shell of a candidate who is as capable of running a country as Britney Spears is of singing without ProTools or Paris Hilton is of doing anything other than remembering to take her Valtrex. A couple of big problems with positing the theory that Obama is akin to Paris/Britney et al.

1. Obviously, it's an exaggerated comparison meant ideally to raise the hackles of people like me who are exhausted by the constant coverage that vapid and untalented celebrities receive these days. One problem. That's assuming that people like me are also stupid enough not to be able to differentiate between a junior senator from Illinois who graduated from Columbia University then went on to Harvard Law School and graduated at the top of his class and currently is one of the few US senators to have a 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood and a socialite whose career highlights include a night-vision sex tape titled One Night in Paris and Repo! The Genetic Opera. I can keep the two straight. I know the difference between someone whose name I know because they have done something worthwhile (Thomas Edison, Pasteur, Nelson Mandela, James May) and people whose names I know because they have won prize money from a reality show for eating dead animal's private parts or made out with Bret Michaels. It's a bit offensive to young people that you would think you can paint "celebrities" with such a broad brush and we will all just agree that yes, famous people are bad. If that was the case, you'd be Ron Paul's running mate.

2. Let's take the really pessimistic view of this. Let's assume that lots of Americans that will see this are dumb. Like boot-in-their-ass, they-knocked-down-them-towers dumb. So assuming that, your ad is presumably supposed to prey on their hatred of these hoighty toighty Hollywood types with their glitzy cars and fancy houses with them electric gates and cement ponds, right? Ignoring the fact that Britney Spears hails from Kentwood, Louisiana and is known for driving with an infant on her lap with an open bag of Cheetos in her free hand and justified these actions with a simple "I'm country, y'all", I suppose. The good news for you is that anyone who still thinks that Britney Spears or Paris Hilton or any of their ilk are role models are almost certainly not concerned with checking their voter registration status. I highly doubt that the outrage you are trying to stir amongst those blue collar folk over Obama's celebrity is going to make much of an impact on them when they are probably a little more worried about the free falling economy. Back when they could still fill up the two tanks on their trucks, I could see them getting really hacked off about some useless pop princess showing her baby maker to the world and losing her kids and somehow stretching that concept of celebrity to tarnish your opponent when they seem to be popular with the kids. But right now, I can't see this being a really topical issue.

3. Then of course there's the issue of how current your targets actually are. A simple google search of the phrase "top celebrity searches" does, in fact, yield Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan as the top three celebrities. Of 2007. So if this ad were running last year, you would be correct to assume that this ad would be on point and timely. But unfortunately, you look like you got some of your interns to dig up some old People magazines from the doctor's office.

The bottom line is that all of this looks desperate on the part of your campaign. It's like a newly divorced 60 year old man showing up at a nightclub in a leased Italian sports car wearing a crooked toupee, streaky self-tanner, an Ed Hardy satin jacket and asking "What it do?" to anyone unfortunate enough to cross through his line of sight. I'd offer you tips on how to try to appeal to young people less heavy-handedly but I'm afraid you'd just call me a "cunt" in front of a bunch of people like you did that one time to your wife. Actually, one of the things us young people love is when old people swear at totally inappropriate times.

There, the first one's free.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Friday Approximation of JK Livin'

(Matteo also says "MAD PROPS!" to whomever's wireless connection my laptop is stealing out here by the pool and therefore allowing me to post this. Moshanda Maliki)

I woke up this morning puking. It was not because I decided to check out the newly renovated Dubliner last night. And yes, I did have an Irish Car Bomb. It was probably more to do with the fact that I love a good deal and therefore most of my meat purchases are of the mark-down variety. So I woke up on time for work. But on time and sick as a dog. My boss is out of town and I called him explaining my pukey situation. I told him I could work from home and asked him if he was cool with it. Luckily, he was.

So I got some work done. Then I decided to clean my embarrassingly untidy apartment. Bags of trash that I figured would eventually cry "uncle" and walk themselves to the dumpster got taken out. Dishes that were soaking for the better part of July were finally washed and dried. Then I went to the grocery store and bought meat that wasn't on the precipice of its' untimely demise. Then I watched a Jeopardy that wasn't Tivo'd. Then I did some more work. IM my poor friend Aaron to tell him of my plans for the day which basically entail: pool, floating in the pool, cool drinks, working from home, maybe napping later. He probably hates me. He should.

And then I decided to take my laptop out to the pool where I write to you now. While I was at the grocery store, I invested a wise $5 in an orange pool floaty with a built-in cup holder. So I made myself a nice refreshing summertime beverage, put on my swimsuit (I got a two piece with sailboats on it at Target on clearance that looks like something a six year old would wear because my taste in swimsuits has not evolved since 1987) and floated in the pool for an hour slathered in Hawaiian Tropic while sipping on my icy drink. Basically, if you would have told me when I was 6 years old back in Georgia that one day I would get paid to do exactly what I was doing 11 summers ago I probably would have said "ohhhh mahhhhh gawwwwwwwwddddddd" because I had a really thick Southern drawl back then.

I realized my legs were getting a little pink so I got out of the water for a little while and sat at the table with the big umbrella and typed out the start of a new column that I just got offered.

Got back on my floaty chariot and realized that, other than the fact that I inexplicably have the song "Holy Diver" stuck in my head on an unstoppable loop, today has been remarkably awesome. Remembered that my mom gave me free passes to the DMA and tonight is the Late Night series. Wonder if Ronnie James Dio would go with me if he were in town. Wonder what "you can see his stripes but you know he's clean" means.

Back is starting to get pink now so I get back under umbrella to check email, read Jezebel, burn some DVDs for friends and pet stray cats who live around the pool. One I call Acid Test and the other one is a regular around the pool I named Crack Fox when I first moved in. In case you are wondering where he got his name...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dear Owner or Driver of a 2003 Black Nissan Pickup Truck,

(Read some about it on Frontburner)

Apparently you were running from the cops sometime after the bars closed this morning. Now that's not a very smart thing to do. That's obvious. I don't really care about your motivation or anything. Here's what I care about. It looks like the forward momentum of your truck was halted by the world-famous stopping power of the Dubliner's front walls and windows. And in this perfect storm of truck plus building, you managed to come to a complete stop roughly in the precise location of the table at which I have celebrated many birthdays and also watch most Cowboys games each Sunday. Therefore, pardon my language, you are a dick.

That was the table that we watched every Cowboys game from last season. It's the table we clung to and screamed as we watched the TWO 50+ yard field goals in the Bills game last season. It's the table we were sitting at when we watched the Mavs/Spurs 2006 playoff games. It's the table where we have sat when my friend Sean has put many a shot of Jameson on our tabs without our permission. I spent my most recent birthday at that table this past year when I showed up dressed as post-conservertorship Britney Spears. But within the warm embrace of that table, I felt alright about the fact that I was wearing a dress that by definition was really just a shirt. I loved that table. So to see it reduced to kindling makes me very sad and makes me feel, once again, pantsless.

To the lovely owners of the Dubliner who have been so kind to me over the years: please bring back the table. I love that table. I would birth babies on that table if I knew anything about birthing babies.

To my Cowboys watching friends: we shall overcome. Even if we have to (as Philip suggested) watch it from on top of the wrecked remains of the Nissan that caused the chaos. It could be kind of like tailgating.

To anyone thinking of evading arrest: please aim for Plusssssh or Lyte or Blyng or husch or whatever Urban Mojito Experience Lounge you can somehow line up in your sights between your iPhone and your SatNav. You messed up my table and for that, I blame every Cowboys fumble on you for the entire regular season. I hope you can live with yourself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Way to Work Off that Unfortunate Public Urination Citation

(i really probably should come up with a classier, more respectful working title for this blog entry...)

To offset the slightly heavy and topical nature of what I am about to blog about, I will throw some fluff your way first:

1. OMG, did you hear about Tony Romo playing in that one golf tournament? And Jessica like totally showed up and they totally went to see Heart in concert while they were in town? Heart? Yeah. Heart. I bet Tony Romo was all “These chicks are like Zepplin. Where’s the Bud Light mister tent? This koozie ain’t gonna refill itself.”

2. I found a shop in North Park that sells a line of dresses supposedly designed by Selma Hayek for girls whose up-top meat doesn’t fit in Forever XXI’s meth-tastic A-cup restrictions. So if you’re a 34DD and you are tired of wearing baggy grandma sweater dresses in the summer, I’ve got you covered. Well, that is Salma Hayek has us covered. No more wandering the techno-pumping fashion whore-outlets of the mall trying to figure out which corner of the food court will offer the best implement with which you will be able to administer your own improvised mastectomy in order to find a pretty dress.

Alright, that out of the way I actually kind of want to blog about something that’s been pinging off they grey matter of my mind for some time. As some of you may know, I hail from a small and rural area of southwest Georgia. Both sides of my family all come from small towns within 100 miles of each other none of which you will have ever heard of unless you are Ray Charles (in which case you really have pulled a fast one on all of us) or Jimmy Carter. Towns like Plains (Carter’s hometown), Americus, Valdosta, Warwick (my hometown), Leesburg, Albany (Ray Charles’ hometown), Cordele (Watermelon Capital of the World!), Tifton, Andersonville (famous Civil War site and cemetery where my grandfather is buried), Waycross (Gram Parson’s hometown) are all barely dots on a state road map. But one of the most fascinating pieces of US history to be centered in southwest Georgia is something that, sadly, hardly anyone I meet seems to know much about. When I say “hardly anyone” I can actually be more specific. Dave Little. So far, in the years that it has come up in conversation, Dave Little (standup comedian of dubious distinction, whatever that may mean) was the only person who knew exactly what I was talking about.

What I am talking about is Clarence Jordan and Koinonia and the Cotton Patch Gospel series which was all based out of a farm just outside of Americus. Sorry for linking Wikipedia and its’ user-generated content but it’s just the way us lazy, no-good kids are these days. If you’re even lazier and no-gooder than me and don’t feel like clicking on that link and reading, here’s the super butchered slacker/blogger version:

Clarence Jordan was born into a quite wealthy family in Southern Georgia. But instead of becoming a rich asshole (TM me 2008), he got a degree in agriculture from University of Georgia to help poor sharecroppers and then later a doctorate in theology (Greek New Testament) all with the intentions of using his education to help the poor. So in 1942, he and his wife and another couple buy a farm outside of Americus and building upon a theory called Koinonia (as Patton Oswalt would say here, “Calm down hippies, I’m gonna take you through Mordor but lead you right back to the Shire”) which was based upon the idea of interracial communal farming. Pretty simple, right? Oh right, this is where I remind you it’s rural Georgia in the 1940’s. The farm was a success with property being communally owned and well-run and the number of families moving there to participate in the farming steadily growing each year. This, of course, made good Christian white people really angry and made them do things like hang nooses in trees on the farm and burn down the buildings on the farms’ property. Kind of like a really extreme housewarming party. Clarence Jordan asked President Eisenhower for federal protection but Eisenhower looked at his watch and went “ooooooh man, bro I would totally help you but I like totally have this thing that I’m supposed to be at and….” instead handed the job off to the State of Georgia. Who protected Koinania by investigating the farm as being a Communist training camp. Neat! During this time, instead of participating in the civil war marches and demonstrations of the day, Jordan wrote a series of translations of the New Testament aimed at essentially poor, illiterate sharecroppers called The Cotton Patch Gospels. Far off locations were traded for towns in Georgia and cumbersome Bible words that still to this day are weird and annoying to me were switched out for colloquialisms. And bear in mind, I am typing all of this as someone who tends to be incredibly leery of exuberant bursts of unsolicited religion.

A couple that moved to Koinania in the 1960s because it seemed like a fuzzy, do-gooder kind of place decided that they could take the concept a little further and utilize some of the downtime and spare sets of hands around the farm to do some good by going out into the community to volunteer to build homes for other poor families outside the confines of the farm. This was assuming that people outside the farm would stop trying to shoot at them or screaming “Commie pinkos, go home!” long enough for them to nail up some trim or what have you. The idea caught on and it became Habitat for Humanity which is still based out of Americus today.

The reason why I’ve whipped you with all of this is that I’ve started to realize that spending, gasp, a whole entire day helping build a house would not be too much to ask. Now I’ve documented on at least one occasion how inept I can be when it comes to anything more complicated than caulking guns. Clearly, I’m gonna need some help here. To sign up a team, you actually have to do so months in advance so I am starting to put together an All-Star lineup. Just think of the community service hours you will get shaved off your probation! Think about how deep those girls are going to think you are when you brag at the bar later that night about how moved you were when you realized you made a difference in a family’s life. Think about how funny it will be to see that guy with that really expensive haircut in a dumb looking hard hat.

So anyways, I have rambled on (see, we’re back at the Shire my little web-footed ones) but I am trying to get a coordinated idea of when this will happen and who can commit. If you are interested in reading more about Clarence Jordan, The Cotton Patch Gospels, Koinania, Habitat for Humanity or whatever just click on some of these links.

I love you, buttholes.

A PBS documentary about all of this

An interesting Habitat for Humanity article

Clarence Jordan: Essential Writings

Southern Poverty Law Center

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

24 Hour Carnie People

I work in an interesting little intersection of Dallas. I work where the West End meets Victory Park. Where one made-up upscale family entertainment district of today meets the abandoned made-up upscale family entertainment district of yesteryear. West End today is kind of like that part in Back to the Future II where Marty buys that sports scores book in the future but Doc makes him throw it away. But Future Old Biff finds it and somehow Future Old Biff (FOB) figures out how to work a DeLorean time machine and borrow it for long enough to go back to 1955 to give the book to a 1955 version of himself previously referenced as being rather block-headed then explain how this would lead to riches down the line, get back in the time machine and come back to the future (we've got a franchise, boys). That of course messed up the Space Time continuum and leads to Marty being dropped back off in a shitty, pockmarked, dilapidated and graffitti-covered Hill Valley 1985. Only the West End has a Chipotle.

The low water mark for what was at one point in time the place where families could take the womb-spawn for a Planet Hollywood souvenir and salt water taffy buying spree is usually Taste of Dallas. It was probably pretty exciting at some point. I have my own personal "exciting" story about Taste of Dallas. When I was 19, I really liked Gene Loves Jezebel. One problem. I was 19 in the Year of our Lord 2000. The bad news for Gene Loves Jezebel was that in 2000, they were well past their heyday and needed any gig they could get. The good news for me was that in 2000, Gene Loves Jezebel were well past their prime and needed any gig they could get. Enter Taste of Dallas 2000. Lucky for me, Gene Loves Jezebel would be appearing on the main stage on opening night at a very special 6pm slot. I was lucky enough to get a spot near the stage though I must admit that the 11 or so middle-aged goths in PVC pants in the July sun didn't seem to mind acquiescing to me much. I should mention now that Gene Loves Jezebel was comprised of Welsh twin brothers Jay and Michael Aston who since their heyday have had a nasty falling out and now tour separately each under the Gene Loves Jezebel name. I got the Michael Aston (second tier) version at Taste of Dallas. I should have probably suspected that when he came out in leather pants whose zipper was being held up with a safety pin which did not strike me as a fashion statement. The nadir of the evening? As he builds into the chorus of "Gorgeous", he hands the microphone to me to sing. I don't do karaoke. I don't come to shows to do other people's jobs. I don't come to shows to work the light board or sell merch or sweep up after everyone leaves. So I don't sing into the mic if you put it in front of my face. I was later told by Mr. Aston that "was the first time in 20 years that I have given the mic to a girl to sing 'Gorgeous.'" So better luck in the next twenty, sir.

Which brings me to the current issue that plagues my little work 'burg. Someone decided that West End needed another sort of event to class the place up in the same vein as Taste of Dallas. So on July 3, the carnies flooded in like the blood flows to a newly revealed cold sore. It's a July 4th carnival, y'all! Thankfully, I was not around to witness if this carnival was much of a success or not.

But come Monday morning, there the carnival was. Still. I mean it was still there but also I mean it was inanimate. Like some sort of sit-in carnival protest. Then sometime after lunch we all see some police cars and some commotion downstairs. As I'm leaving work on Monday afternoon, I am greeted by a large sign on the main door downstairs warning us that there was an altercation between carnival workers and in the scuffle, some of the fryers and other miscellaneous lubricants (nope, Cheerios aren't staying down this morning) from the trucks have spilled all over our parking lot and the adjacent parking lots. One car in our parking lot has already slid into another parked car. As we walk out, we are greeted by the smell of the corpse of the State Fair floating on the Ganges. The Tilt-a-Whirl is like half packed up and the coupon booths are on a trailer and all the rides are still there but there is chaos everywhere. Rumors start floating around the office that as many as 20 carnies were involved in what can only be described as a "cageless carnie cage match" in the parking lot. Speculation is rampant as to what could have instigated the melee. I gently slip and slide my way over a decades worth of corn dog grease and towards home.

Day 2

Everything's still there. The carnies that didn't get taken in by the po-po have been sitting calmly on lawn chairs under the bridge apparently having the time of their lives. It's 100 degrees outside and they are sitting at what I would conservatively estimate to be the epicenter of the dried mustard smell that has taken over a three block radius. Maybe there is something to this whole carnie life. I have decided I would start to document this whole thing with my cell phone.

No word as yet on a Carnie Defense Fund or Free the Carnie Twenty Concert.


No Funnel Cakes, No Justice

Seriously guys, this is getting creepy. I don't like driving through an abandoned amusement park on my way into the office every day. Just like I wouldn't enjoy eating lunch with my friends at a collapsed coal mine-themed restaurant. The well-behaved carnies are still sitting in lawn chairs under the bridge. And if it is at all possible, MORE trucks of carnival accoutrement have showed up like a bizarre sideshow of solidarity. I feel like there's about to be some sort of Tilt-a-Whirl Attica.

And so it continues with no end in sight. Will keep you posted...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Urban Outfitters v. Fingerhut

I wish there were a hipster equivalent of Jeff Foxworthy. Because if there was, his first joke would probably go something like "If you've got a picture on your Myspace page taken by Cobrasnake, you're probably a hipster...."

I don't get kids. I'm 27 and I don't get what anyone under 25 is wearing. Two years should not lead me to be this far removed from people who are technically still in my generation. Now, I can understand that some people will argue the merits of Crocs or Uggs based upon comfort. Comfort still does not negate the fact that one of those brands managed to sell you their shoes regardless of the fact that their name included a mention of their "Ugg"liness right there on the shoe. But Crocs and Uggs are the least of my concerns. It's what these hipster girls are wearing. The hipster boys have a whole 'nother boatload of jock itch issues to deal with with their skinny legged girls jeans and Vans that make their feet look like long boards. But let's get back to the girls. Girls, you do realize you are dressing like what the ladies at my grandmother's nursing home wore on the days that they knew no one was coming to visit them, right? Hiking some hideous elastic waisted shorts up high . Strapping on some orthopedic gladiator sandals. A visor? Really?

You hipsters should really start looking into Fingerhut catalogs. Just the name alone is kitschy and ironic and cool. You guys love that. And you can make payments on stuff. So while you are saving up to go see M.I.A's last show EVER at whatever summer festival, you'll be glad to know that a fake gold medallion custom made to spell out "Spank It, Punky" or whatever wacky phrase you choose is just a money order or 8 away.

But now, you've infiltrated even simple aspects of my life such as online shopping. I want to find some pretty dresses. Since I cannot launder anything from Forever XXI (I'm a sucker for Roman numerals) without being left with a half dozen mementos of the garment that I used to own before I foolishly tried to wash it, I am now left to troll the internet for dresses. Which leads me to places like H&M and Topshop. But now I come face to face with things like this:

A turquoise silk onesie/zip-up jumper

What am I supposed to do with that? I know one answer. Wet my pants before I figure out how to get out of it. Which is neat. So I spend upwards of $100, thanks to shipping and the weak dollar, on a fashion statement only to wee myself and then have to sit there in my urine-soaked silk pantsuit telling jokes in a feeble attempt to divert attention from the fact that I now appear to be a 5'8 kindergarten student who waited too long to raise her hand to ask for permission to go.

But wait, it gets better. Female hipster fashion gets sooooooo much more classy.

Let's do this one in an lolcats fashion...

"o hai! my momz didn't raize me right. i don't know dis iz not a dress and i don't have self respect. wanna seez my stuff?"

Now I have many theories about how this next outfit "came" together:

1. You know when you're a kid and you're like "Mommy, can I dress you up to go out?" and she goes "sure" and you put on each individual piece of clothing of hers that you like on her all at once and you later kind of figure out that she changed right before she left? Guess what? This model didn't.

2. She's buying those boots on layaway

3. Those shorts were so expensive that they have to last her for the next 25 years so she bought them long enough and potentially expandable enough to do so.

4. The vest is in case it gets cold. You know, once she finishes paying off the boots she's gonna start putting some away for some sleeves too.

5. The stylist off camera: "No, they're are going to take your picture wearing it. That's what I was TRYING to tell you!"

So you can have it all. Your suspenders and your ironically ugly glasses frames and your flats that make all your calves look like redwoods and your novelty t-shirts that I can see your A cup bras through. You can keep all of them and pay a bunch of money for them and I am going to dress like some unholy trinity of these three women and just hope that I end up floating happy side up in a bathtub full of gin. Bon voyage!