Friday, June 15, 2007

A Serious Discussion: Kylie or Madonna?

This is something of a Sophie's Choice question being asked here since both artists have dedicated fan bases, elaborate stage shows, slick pop production, and are very good looking given that Madonna's almost 50 and Kylie's pushing 40. Regardless of their ages, both artists are something of national treasures.

Madonna was born and bred on American soil. She's tried to disregard those roots by affecting a low-budget British accent, but she is still our girl. Her every move is pursued and followed, so she clearly is still a woman of America. Kylie retains her status as the pop queen of England and Australia.

Kylie is, essentially, the Queen of Australia due to her consistent dance-pop and her sheer cuteness and likability. Both women also suffer from their own critics as people don't see them as real artists due to their somewhat manufactured images. I can't argue here. But, clearly, these artists did not get to this status by just being promoted the right way; they had to have some chops as well, something to make them stand out from the rest of the audience of pop singers. I mean, Debbie Gibson could have been America's hero instead or Kylie could have been washed over by her sister Dannii or Sophie Ellis-Bextor in cultural importance. So, with all of this lead-in, I post two videos before I explain why Kylie is a better artist than Madonna.

To even the playing field, I am posting a song from each artist's most recent album. For Madonna, I am posting Hung Up from her 2005 album Confessions on a Dance Floor.

For Kylie, I am posting the video for Slow from her 2004 album Body Language.

While, for the record, I do think that Kylie is more attractive, I will argue my point solely on musical and historical grounds.

Kylie Minogue is a better artist for the following reason: she has gained relevance over her career. Think about it. When were Madonna's glory years? Back in the mid to late 1980's when she was still a fresh-faced girl coming out of Michigan. The songs were simple, uncut 80's pop. They were perfect for the radio and were genuinely good songs. Madonna was a fantastic songwriter. Notice the past tense. As her career advanced out of the 80s, through the 90s, and into the 2000s, the quality of Madonna's albums fell to the point where they were, in large part, unlistenable. Hear me out because I don't want that last comment to sully some of the work that she did do in the post-80s part of her career.

Ray of Light
is an amazing album. Bedtime Stories is inventive and very listenable, full of catchy ballads and dancefloor tracks. But, the point at which Madonna starts to lose relevance is with her not bad, but could have been better album Music. Don't Tell Me was a fantastically creative video with a good song to go along with it. It was a bit too adult contemporary for my taste, but the video made up for that fact more than enough. But, by this point in time, the swaggering Madonna, the Madonna that had a sleepover to introduce the release of her Bedtime Stories album, the Madonna that provoked so much of America was gone. She was replaced with some strange responsible woman that, frankly wasn't very much fun. But, when Madonna hit this point in her own life and started the down slide, Kylie was only getting hotter.

While Madonna was ruling the world, Kylie was stuck in a production relationship with Stock, Aiken, and Waterman. While she did have top hits such as a remake of The Locomotion, her songs were getting too predictable, too stale for her own liking. She broke out of the production house to go to Deconstruction where the start switched. Kylie's music was always simple, uncomplicated dance-pop. This was never going to change. It is also the beauty of her music. Anyway, with the switch to Deconstruction, Kylie began to sound more grown up. She became queen of the dance hall. She released one of the best pop songs of the 1990s with Some Kind of Bliss, and this was only signs of what was to come.

Kylie moved again to Parlophone/Capitol where Kylie hit her full stride. She released Light Years, which featured techno-influenced dance-pop with style, soul, and flare. On this album, she had a duet with Robbie Williams, another huge pop star in the rest of the world. But, more importantly than that, she came into her own as an artist. The new Kylie was in full display on the album that made her a household name in America: Fever. Come into My World is a dance tour-de-force. Catchy, simple, addictive, Kylie had come. She was already here, but she planted the flag in the surface of the pop world that said it was hers. This dominance was only shown when she released Body Language in 2004. Another slick dance-pop production, Kylie proved that Fever wasn't a fluke; Kylie showed with her material that she was for real. But, the chronology of this is why Kylie is the better artist.

As noted before, Madonna has passed her prime of relevance. Kylie is has recently entered hers and is owning it. Both of them wrote solid dance-pop. I'd say that Madonna's was better in the beginning, but, as both of them have matured, Madonna has started flailing like a fish on land, constantly revising her image and sound in an attempt to stay relevant with mixed results.

While Kylie has shape shifted as well, those shifts have made her more relevant and more important as a pop artist. Both women are completely important, but, if I was forced to go to an island with a copy of Madonna's The Immaculate Collection or Ultimate Kylie, I would choose Ultimate Kylie every time.

Call Him Sir Salman

Salman Rushdie today was knighted by the Queen of England for his services to literature. I tip my hat to him. He is married to possibly one of the smartest, most attractive women on the planet in Padma Lakshmi, i.e. the one on the left in the photo. And he is one of the best writers of the 20th Century along with being an incisive social commentator.

Unlike many literary choices for awards (Gunther Grass, you're on notice), The Satanic Verses is an actually amazing read. I read it back in high school. It was really trippy and only as I finished did I realize I wasn't ready for what I had just experienced. Just thinking about it makes me want to go on a hunt through my house to dig it back out again.

But, again, congrats to Sir Rushdie. He is very deserving of the award of knighthood, especially considering that Islam still has a fatwa on his head for it.

Classic Rap

Ice Cube - Today Was A Good Day

This is one of the best gangsta rap tracks of all time. Ice Cube's flow is immaculate. The beat is classic. The video's real simple and lets the song stand out.

She Just Cut A Bitch

Usually, well-intentioned feminists are pigeonholed as non-shaving, man hating lesbians. While this is not true in many situations (feminists are fantastic people), it is in this one. According to MSNBC, four lesbians attacked a straight man on the street in front of the IFC in NYC (That's so hip. All in acronyms!).

Now, before I saddle the lesbians with all the blame, I will let MSNBC's reporting give you the background on this story:

The four sentenced Thursday were convicted April 18 after assaulting Buckle, who had made advances at one of the seven as they walked past him outside the Independent Film Center in Greenwich Village on Aug. 18, 2006.

Johnson testified at trial that her group told Buckle they were not interested and he became loud and rude, called them names and threw a cigarette at them while saying that having sex with him would make them straight. She said the fight started after Buckle pushed and shoved them.

Now, these women live in New York City. While I'm not saying that what Buckle, the man, in this situation is acceptable, I am saying that these women are probably yelled at a lot and receive a lot of rude comments. But, that doesn't justify getting shanked, which this guy did.

Before I get a lot of hate from feminists, I am not defending anything this man did. I am saying that the women should have never let the situation get this far, especially when they are seven strong against his one. Additionally, he was bootlegging on the street. Most cops would have been happy to rough him up a bit for the ladies because if cops hate nothing more than black people, they hate bootleggers.

Why Mike Gravel Should Win

If you didn't watch The Daily Show last night or read Wonkette on a daily basis, you are missing possibly the greatest political ads of all time. And, I say that with all sincerity. Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel is running a completely amazing underground campaign right now for the Democratic bid in 2008. He does all of the things that people actually want done, but the mainstream media won't let you hear about because they hate underdogs. They only want people who are ready for the camera and willing to do pointless photo ops in small town diners with Asian and Black kids.

While I have expressed support for Edwards, I kind of want this guy to win, although I know that will never happen. Anyway, he has decided to turn the political advertisement on its head with a couple of very innovative, creative spots for his own campaign. Unlike the generic political ad of a politician walking around somewhere or surrounded by a multi-ethnic cast and spewing off a lot of doublespeak, Gravel actually doesn't talk at all in these ads; he just does. Let me show you what I mean....

Mike Gravel stares uncomfortably at a camera then throws a rock into a pond. This is brilliant advertising. He is not about talking. He is there. He will stand his ground. And he is here to make waves, unlike the other candidates. The poignancy. The simplicity. The absolute genius. I want to elect him RIGHT NOW!

As if this weren't enough, Mike Gravel comes with it again in another ad where he gathers wood, starts a fire, and lets it burn. Brilliant.

I can't express how refreshing it is to see this type of political advertising. I now really want this guy to win the bid and become the new president. GRAVEL 2008!

Time For Baseball, Mix Tapes, and Romanticism

With the NBA Finals over, it is now officially summer. Congrats to the Spurs, but, to be real, I knew you were going to win it from day one. So, that congrats is hollow. Anyway, with them having won, the summer is now in full swing. The air is now filled with the crack of bats and buzz of cicadas and lightning bugs flying through the hazy summer air, interrupted by the click-clack of spinning freewheels and the knock on the screen door.

People become more friendly as they trade the oppressive surrounding of their interiors for the eternal magic that exists on their porches and stoops. Friends who were too busy now have time to settle in and take a drink or two. Everyone swaps their jeans for shorts and skirts. A summer shower is only a brief interruption from cruising the streets, lounging out in the park, and listening to mixtapes made especially for the summer.

The summer is now the time to chase that one who has clouded your mind. You'll be typing at your computer and you'll see their face pop up in your mind. They're there when you close your eyes at night, surrounding your thoughts and whispering in your ear. You see them looking radiant on a bright, starry night with their face glowing in the moonlight. This is the point in time when you realize that your fascination with the person is something more; it's really love, a realization that you cannot exist without that person. But, this is the summer, and like the summer, everything must fade away. Love doesn't fade, especially when it's true.

This song is for all of the true romantics. From their new album, this is To The East by Electrelane.

Bodies can be apart, but spirits will always be together. Nothing will be right until your love comes back to your arms. Who knows when this will happen or if it will happen. All you know is that you want it to happen because it is the way it must be.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Stop, You're Embarrassing Us

Today, the trial began for a lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. This shouldn't be surprising as there are law suits being filed all of the time. But, this one is special for a couple of reasons. The case revolves around one Roy Pearson, a judge in Washington. He took five suits to his local dry cleaners to be altered. Four came back perfectly. One was missing its pants. They probably had been misplaced. This is something that does happen from time to time and usually doesn't upset most people, especially if the rest of their work came back correctly which it did.

Unfortunately, Pearson is not some people. So, he took offense the only way he thought reasonable: by filing a 65 MILLION dollar lawsuit against the dry cleaner, claiming damages on behalf of ALL 550K+ CITIZENS OF WASHINGTON DC. The place only has three stores, and his outlet was in NE. I won't state the obvious here.

He sued because the store said Satisfaction Guaranteed. I'll jump in here, and say that normally when places say Satisfaction Guaranteed, they will give you the item for free or give you a credit if something is done to your displeasure. There is normally not a need to sue the store in any way. And the story continues...

As he took the stand in his own defense, Pearson began to CRY about the fact that he had been given the wrong pair of pants by the dry cleaner. To bolster his case, he brings out a 89-year-old woman who claimed that Custom Cleaners, the store being sued, is like the Nazis. She spoke of being chased out of the store. She said:

At 89, I'm not ready to be chased. But I was in World War II as a WAC, so I think I can take care of myself. Having lived in Germany and knowing the people who were victims of the Nazis, I thought he was going to beat me up. I thought of what Hitler had done to thousands of Jews."
I only really have one comment about this: is getting chased out of a dry cleaning facility really like fearing for your life because you aren't the right race and/or religion? I'm not one to say that getting chased out of a store with a trick hip is fun, but I think that it's better than not knowing whether or not you will live through the night.

Pearson paraded other witnesses before the court as well. Their commentary is summarized by Metro columnist for The Washington Post Marc Fisher:
Pearson presented a series of witnesses who told of unhappy experiences at Custom. Their satisfaction, they said, was hardly guaranteed. But every one of Pearson's witnesses told the defense that in fact, they would have been entirely satisfied if they had been given credit for free cleaning or compensation in the amount of the value of their damaged or lost garment. Most of the witnesses said they'd generally had good experiences at Custom, and not one of Pearson's witnesses said anything about deserving millions of dollars.

So, after all of these witnesses, Pearson cried on the stand while talking about the dialogue between himself and Soo Chung, the female proprietor.

Honestly, I don't need to tell you why this is ridiculous. The reason that it is embarrassing for me is because this guy is Black. Black people and Asians have tense relationships in the hood. If you've never read Black Power, I implore you to read it to further understand why this relationship is so tense. But, this is just me dropping radical politics. The only reason this is embarrassing me is because he's Black. If he was White, I'd be embarrassed as a born-and-bred Washingtonian because he's making us look bad. But, because he's Black, he's not only shaming the city, he's shaming Black people, making us look petty and money-grubbing. We already have rap doing that. I don't need a judge who got a bad alteration and probably could afford to replace the pants after a couple of weeks to add on.

Making Hamburgers Out of Sacred Cows

The Guardian has published an article detailing albums that are overrated to other musicians of note. The musicians include Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, Billy Childish of Thee Milkshakes fame, and Craig Finn of the Hold Steady.

If the artists don't interest you, you should read for the quotes alone. They include such gems as:

- They're totally overrated. Plus they covered Scarborough Fair. I don't understand why people still play their music in nightclubs - it makes me really angry.

- The Beatles were the victims of their success. This is middle-of-the-road rock music for plumbers. Or people who drive round in Citroens - the sort of corporate hippies who ruined rock music.

- Lyrically, it's banal and doesn't say anything beyond "greed is bad". Radiohead are the 21st-century Floyd, which says it all really.

- In America when you're growing up, you're subjected to the Doors as soon as you start going to parties and smoking weed.

- Trout Mask wasn't a work of untutored genius, it was untutored crap

You have to read the article to get full context. I will say that the guy from Battles is just being a hater because the Strokes are successful even though Battles is better.

The Effectiveness of Liberalism

As I noted before, Adbusters has published an article from frequent Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibbi about his aversion to using the term "liberal" to define himself. He explains that he sees the constant failures of liberals as being connected with the actual working class and its lack of a backbone as important reasons not to be aligned with the name.

Considering the pullout of Democratic leadership from a bill that would allow military women to get emergency contraception from their formulary, the following quote from Taibbi becomes more salient:

At a time when someone should be organizing forcefully against the war in Iraq and engaging middle America on the alarming issue of big-business occupation of the Washington power process, the American left has turned into a skittish, hysterical old lady, one who defiantly insists on living in the past, is easily mesmerized by half-baked pseudo-intellectual nonsense, and quick to run from anything like real conflict or responsibility.

And, this is true of the current political structure. The military women being denied the right to Plan B is only another in a series of ongoing unwillingness to actually take a stand and fight against anything. The current political season is another good example of that. The only candidates whose positions are any modicum of clear are those of Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel, but they have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the bid. The bid will go to Edwards, Clinton, or Obama: a double-talking, generic, all sizzle no fizzle liberal*.

Taibbi goes on to slam the economic make-up of the liberal movement, as one that is pretty much well-off, hyper-educated, and interested in things outside of bread-and-butter issues such as getting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head, the concerns of most working class people. Such issues include environmentalism and women's rights. While no one argues against the necessity of these things, they are not pressing to most of the people that are being represented by the left, as noted above.

Along with the disconnect, Taibbi argues that liberal college students, the source of so much anger in the 1960s, have nothing really to complain about anymore. They are, usually, from good backgrounds, have a lot of money behind them, and are unwilling to use their advantages to actually solve the problem. Instead, these students protest and march around, making no difference at all.

Because of a confluence of all of these issues, Taibbi no longer sees himself as a liberal, but as a progressive. Taibbi feels that the term progressive is more neutral, avoidant of the class and aesthetic connotations that come along with being a liberal.

In considering this article, I have to agree with most of what Taibbi said. A lot of the commenters on the website were not so compliant with his article, but Taibbi spoke to a lot of the problems that I've had as someone on the left with the operation of the liberals in Washington and in other locales across America. The whole movement has become overridden with monetary interests, interests that are in the disinterest of the target audience: the middle of America.

Also, there is a large tendency of liberals to slam the Midwest. I never understood this. They are the core of American society, what makes this country run. They might not be sophisticated like high-minded East Coasters (of which I am one, and I would never call myself high-minded. I'd probably ask them where the racetrack was, so we could go drink some high life and talk about cars), but they are way more important to this country than the ones who frou-frou them. Additionally, I like the Midwest because it isn't caught up in all of the liberal backpatting. I actually really, really like the Midwest; it's quite a lot of fun when they aren't trying to kill me for being Black.

Taibbi also opines about the liberal tradition of slamming Bush at every opportunity. On this point:
Then there’s the tone problem. A hell of a lot of what the left does these days is tediously lecture middle America about how wrong it is, loudly snorting at a stubbornly unchanging litany of Republican villains. There’s a weirdly indulgent tone to all of this Bush-bashing that goes on in lefty media, a tone that’s not only annoyingly predictable in its pervasiveness, but a turnoff to people who might have tuned in to that channel in search of something else.

As this very blog stated a while ago, primarily when I changed format, we all know Bush is a moron. I don't need to remind you, the reader, of that all the time. I also don't need elected officials to remind me of this all the time either. It is completely unnecessary and comes across as it usually does: like a lot of noise. When someone makes a lot of noise, that usually means that they don't stand for anything or have something substantive to say. I agree with them on Bush, and I'm saying this. That should be a statement within itself.

In sum, I think that Taibbi's article serves as a wake-up call to the sleeping Liberal giant. Although it was published in the anti-corporate, Marxist Adbusters, it is a reminder for the progressive/anarchist/culture jamming movement of what it is fighting against. The left's fight is not against the conservatives anymore; the left's fight is now against the left. We have a lot of resources available to us, as we don't have a real issue to fight for anymore+. The progressive movement needs to use its resources to organize and fight once again.

*I've endorsed Edwards on this blog before. I have to say that I don't particularly like the mainstream of liberal politics, but I know that a Green/Socialist candidate will not be elected this time around. I have to hedge my bets and go with the lesser of all possible evils.

+I still have issues to fight for like not getting followed in stores by security or harassed by cops or unfairly discriminated against by cops and government or getting a fair shake in loans. There are many things that I have to work on as a Black man. Also, unlike in the 1960s, whitey, you can't help. And, seriously, please don't try to say you're down. Black people really don't appreciate that.

Hello World? Are you there? It's me.

While there is the decline of the Palestinian state and the regular Iraqi violence going on right now, there doesn't seem to be much else happening. As I said this, I looked through my reader and I found an article from Adbusters about the failure of the left. It's pretty intriguing, especially as someone who is a textbook liberal but would never align with the left. Primarily because the left is full of pantywaists who complain a lot. I'm very much of the belief that if you have a problem with something, write a letter to your congressman, write a letter to the newspaper, organize a rally, do something other than the regular leftist response: bitch.

I'm going to react to it, hence my not linking to it now.

A Public Service Announcement

• About 6,700 mountain bicycles with Lefty Speed SL and Lefty Speed DLR forks, manufactured by Cannondale Bicycle Corporation, because the forks can break during use, causing the rider to lose control of the bicycle, fall and suffer injuries. The company has received 15 reports of the bicycle forks breaking, including five reports of injuries including a broken collarbone, a concussion, broken ribs and bruises. Details: by phone at 800-245-3872; by Web at or

I always thought those things were sketchy.

Source: Yahoo!

Jamming Pluto

So, apparently jacking Pluto of its status as a dwarf planet wasn't enough. Now, according to the BBC, scientists are no longer sure if Pluto is the biggest dwarf planet. According to the article, scientists have now found a larger dwarf called Eris. Located in the Kuiper Belt and about 14 Million km away from Earth, Eris is 27% more massive than Pluto.

Now, I've been jammed before. I don't remember when, but I'm sure it's happened. I'd have to say that Pluto's been jammed here.

For Post 300

I was going to post about basketball, but then I got inspired from reading another post. A guest blogger at Feministe was questioning his own stance on pornography after reading a story coming from CNN about a new anti-porn bill passed in Iran. The bill stems from the controversy caused by a sex tape involving a popular Iranian celebrity engaging in intercourse with a man. The celebrity says that it was not her, but the damage had already been done.

The bill will, essentially, outlaw all forms of pornography and all people who are involved in pornography. From CNN:

With a 148-5 vote in favor and four abstentions, lawmakers present at the Wednesday session of the 290-seat parliament approved that "producers of pornographic works and main elements in their production are considered corrupter of the world and could be sentenced to punishment as corrupter of the world."

The term, "corrupter of the world" is taken from the Quran, the Muslims' holy book, and ranks among the highest on the scale of an individual's criminal offenses. Under Iran's Islamic Penal Code, it carries a death penalty.

The "main elements" referred to in the draft include producers, directors, cameramen and actors involved in making a pornographic video.

The bill also envisages convictions ranging from one year imprisonment to a death sentence for the main distributors of the movies and also producers of Web sites in which the pornographic works appear.

Besides videos, the bill covers all electronic visual material, such as DVDs and CDs. Other material, such as porn magazines and books, are already banned under Iranian law.

In liberal America, this wouldn't stand. Pornography has been defended successfully on First Amendment grounds in the Supreme Court. Regardless of that, this law is completely unreasonable. But, for me to explain this, I have to explain my own relationship with pornography.

I do not think that there is a delineation between erotica and pornography. Both involve sex and the human form. The question becomes how is this presented to the viewer. Erotica tends to be of higher quality with better camera work and very possibly a plot. A lot of pornography is done very quickly (like a day) with a handheld camera which is either shaky or overly involved in the scene, fracturing the gentle nature and eliminating the innate intimacy of human sexuality.

Even with this distinction, I think that both forms are beneficial to men and women. I think that a lot of the arguments about the objectification of women in porn are specious. I won't suggest that it doesn't exist because it does. A lot of pornography does have women who are in situations where they are only there to serve the male interest, but, as I think most people believe, I find this sort of pornography to be very unappealing. It is more appealing to have both the women and men aroused and fully invested in the sex, and this is not an idea that is left to the high-brow erotica makers; low-brow pornographers can focus on the passion of the woman as well.

With all of this said, pornography is a useful tool to explore our own sexuality and to explore our relationships with others. I believe that it serves as an important role in the relationships between consenting adults as well as a sexual release for single persons. I think that such explorations serve a very great purpose in society. Additionally, erotica/porn is meant to express a sexual fantasy with regards to the relationships between humans and their sexuality. People who decide to explore the nature of human sexuality as a profession should not be punished for making such a decision, as they would in Iran. There will always be men who feel that is their right to degrade women, and those men should be rightfully decried and shunned. But, to write off an entire genre of work positive to the understanding of one's self for the representation given by a few misogynists is ridiculous. There is a violence to sexuality, but that violence should not be one that puts either the man or the woman in a situation that makes them uncomfortable or submissive to the needs of other.*

*submissiveness is, for some people, a turn on. I am fully behind that. But, there is a modicum of consent that is involved in passing into a S&M situation, which is completely acceptable. The problem arises when male actors force women into situations that they do not enjoy or agree with. A substantial amount of porn does this. I do not support this ideal. I'm aware that this will draw a lot of fire, but that's ok. I'll back it up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lazy Wednesday?

Nothing really of note to me has happened today, so I haven't been posting as much as I normally would. So, with all of that spare time, I decided to unleash my inner gourmand. I have to say that the best cooking idea ever is beer can chicken. I think that any recipe which REQUIRES you to pound a beer before cooking is a great one. And that is what's required of you in making beer can chicken. I put it with some spoon bread and a zucchini-red onion salad since zucchini is in season now. The meal was quite good and got approval from the rest of the house, so I'm satisfied.

I'm currently in the process of marinating some skirt steak in balsamic vinegar for grilling tomorrow. These are the days I love: cooking really interesting and flavorful meals. Anyway, I wanted to post a video for White Sweater by Romeo Void, but I couldn't find it. This is not really a problem since every song they do is magical. So, instead, I am posting a video for Say No, which is also totally awesome.

Also, I'm posting the video for Simon Says by Pharoahe Monch. Hype anthem for the ages. Also, it is representative of my current blogging style because I'm laying on the ground. You'll understand if you watch the video @ 2.05.

Getting Our War On

For a long while, well after they actually invaded Iraq, I've been of the belief that the axis of evil that Bush announced in one of his initial State of the Union addresses was far more than a rhetorical strategy to show the need for America to restrict the rights of citizens. It was, in fact, a road map to the Bush World Liberation Tour.

CNN, when not covering Paris Hilton, has only helped to bolster this idea by publishing a report that says the US now has "irrefutable proof" that Iran has been shipping weapons to the resurgent Taliban movement in Afghanistan. If you read the article and know anything about the Taliban, this doesn't make sense. The Taliban is a Sunni group, putting them at direct opposition to the Shi'ite-led Iran.

With yet another specious argument, the Bush administration has proven that it has no scruples and is scraping the bottom of the barrel to justify an attack on Iran. But, you know what's better about all of this, I'm sure that I will read and hear about this all day as the claims are questioned by well-intentioned journalists such as Wolf Blitzer. For that dude to have such a cool name, Wolf Blitzer's kind of a douche and should display more skepticism.

People Should Stop Being Dumb

As I turned back to MSNBC, they are talking to a mom who lost her admittedly, yet irrelevant to this story, attractive 17-year-old daughter in a crash because the other person was texting on their cell phone. All I have to say is: is it really that important? Is it so important to send that text message that you can't wait until you have stopped somewhere to send it? That you have to send it while driving? It's a fucking text message. You aren't saving the world by telling someone you're going to be back in 20 minutes or to meet them at the coffee shop or other locale. This girl shouldn't have lost her life in such a callous, reckless way.

If you want to talk on your cell phone, fine. But, texting: don't do it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yep, Yep, Yep

We've been getting pelted with rain out here. Driving on the highway was incredibly dangerous today. The rain just came down in sheets. I couldn't see a foot in front of my car in points. It was completely crazy. We also did poorly in trivia. We knew the answer but we didn't bet any money, so our arch rivals The Thundercats won. It was bad times. But, driving home with far less rain but a foggy window was fun. I blasted Josef K the whole way home. So, to end today's posting, I'm posting a video of sorry for laughing by the aforementioned band.

Enjoy this video. Also, three away from three hundred posts. There won't be some strange celebration of it, but it will be labeled post three hundred. The novelty of reaching each hundred will eventually wear off, but it hasn't yet. So, with that comment, I bid adieu. We'll pick this up again tomorrow.

Slowly Approaching 300

I'm nearing post 300. As of this post, I'm only 5 away. I might be able to do them tonight, but I'm going to take lunch and clean myself. Yes, the glamorous life of blogging. In the meantime, while you are doing something more substantial with your time, I'll leave you with this video of the Brian Jonestown Massacre live. If you don't know the Massacre, google their name and go their website. You can download all of their albums for free. I'm still trying to figure out how to make ogg vorbis into a format that my iPod can read, but once I do, it's so on. Anyway, I'm leaving you with a very a propos song for my day at least: a summery ballad called Anenome off Their Satanic Majesties Second Request. Also, if you want to know about the band, you should watch DiG! the documentary about them and their "rivalry" with the Dandy Warhols.

This is Kind of Gangster

Also only Owen Wilson could pull this off. He's just weird enough to do something like this. I would never expect this out of Luke. From Page Six:

Owen Wilson might be the first-ever customer who pedaled up to Scores West Side on a mountain bike. Wilson parked his two-wheeler at the mammary mecca's check room and then sat down to enjoy the topless talent. "After a few hours, he said he was meeting friends at another club to bring back to Scores and could he leave the bike. They said, 'No problem,' " our spy reports. "It was a fun night for him - Scores, regular clubs, then Scores again....
While I don't have to note the classiness of Wilson here, there's something hilarious and fittingly gangster about him rolling up to the strip club on a bike. It's like showing up to your date's house with a bike: possible but not advisable. I guess he also slides because he's worth tons of money, too.

Wouldn't It Be Easier Not To Glamorize It?

Clifford "T.I." Harris visited a school in West Philadelphia and told the kids to stay in school. Additionally, he told them not to emulate what they saw in rap videos. This frankly confuses me. So, T.I. goes to a school and, essentially, tells them that he's not a role model because he is a rapper who glamorizes his time on the streets and engages in socially detrimental conduct, exactly what he is telling the kids not to do.

I applaud T.I. for attempting to be a positive role model for kids. I know a lot of other rappers wouldn't have done what he did. But, with that said, shouldn't he just stop trying to claim street cred and become an actual positive role model with his music? He can keep all of his subject material, but he can drop a verse like GZA's "Cold War," which was a street narrative instead of an attempt to place oneself back in the trap, as he likes to call it. He can't visit every school in America, so doesn't this seem like the more reasonable alternative. We all know what happens on the streets now. Why not make it actually sound bad instead of like a good thing? But, who am I to comment on this? I'm just some dude who saw all this shit go down.

I Am Alone

A while ago, I commented on the new 2012 Olympics logo and about how it's kind of hideous, but I love it anyway. I'm definitely alone in this sentiment. British kids, the ones this logo was aimed at, resoundingly hate it. 70% of them think its bad. 70%! And, upon further reflection, they are right. It is a bad logo. I only actually like it because it was seizure-inducing and neon-colored. There isn't enough neon colored stuff around anymore.

A Gay Mayor in Texas? Shenanigans.

There are no shenanigans here. Continuing in the posting about homosexuality, a local businessman in Dallas, TX is up for election. If he wins, he would be the first openly gay mayor of a large city in America. Since Dallas is a liberal city but in the Bible Belt of America, there is a strong dichotomy between the pro-gay and anti-gay groups in the city. Many people are considering whether or not they will vote for the person because they are gay. Dallas has a history of openly gay persons serving the city.

A representative for the gay-berhood of Oak Lawn was the first one elected in 1993. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a lesbian, was elected in 2005. So, if he were to win, it would not be unprecedented.

While I cannot speak for Dallas voters, I can say that, as long as his policies are good and would be doing good for the city, I would vote for a gay candidate without hesitation. Sexual orientation should not matter in politics. Policy is policy and that has to be acknowledged and respected. What you do in your own time is your own business as long as it does not affect the city adversely.

Does This Mean Neil Tennant Becomes the Poet Laureate?

According to KPIX out of San Francisco, the Pentagon thought about developing a gay bomb. This has been confirmed by the Pentagon. This isn't San Francisco liberals trying to subvert mainstream America by forcing its gay agenda and hot pants on the rest of the country. While the plan was rejected, it had a pretty clever, if not dumb, idea behind it. From the report:

The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soliders to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another
The navy's been pretty gay for a while, but that never led to any major breakdowns. Hell, they got Tom Cruise to represent them not once not twice but thrice on film (Top Gun and Born on the Fourth of July and A Few Good Men), but he might be gay as well. I don't know. Anyway, I don't think that an hour or two orgy will really be all that detrimental to fighting a war. In fact, it would probably be good because they would be less focused on getting laid and actually be able to take out the enemy. I'm glad that the military decided not to go through with this one because I doubt it would have worked out very well for them.

A Public Service Announcement

I am not against drugs per se. If you would like to experiment with drugs, by all means, you should. But, even with such an ethos, there is a line that has to be maintained and respected. That line should be drawn at things that you have seen people get completely fucked up on. PCP is a bit flexible, but should be used with caution and probably with a downer to make sure that you don't get too hyped and end up with a herniated disk because you thought that you could lift up a car with your bare hands or dead because you thought you could fly (true story; happened in D.C. during the PCP outbreak of the early 2000's). PCP aside, drugs that you can get completely fucked up on include: heroin, crack, and meth. All of these drugs completely ruin your life and make you a basehead who gets into knife fights and surfs through people's trash to steal credit card numbers. This is on top of making you look ridiculously hideous with legions all over your face.

If you live in Dallas or other points in the world, please do not start doing cheese or telling your friends to do it. Cheese is a blend of nighttime sleeping drugs like Tylenol PM and low-end heroin. It can kill you with one hit because of the combination of two fairly strong downers. Heroin slows your heart down. Tylenol PM puts you to sleep, meaning that your heart is going to slow down as well as it enters into its nocturnal form. If you couldn't tell, this isn't a good idea like getting drunk and taking Vicodin or robotripping.

While what you do with your own body is your decision, work with the rest of us here. I live in an area with a Fox-owned Fox subsidiary. That station is already trying to scare the crap out of me with its threatening lead-ins to stories about how cell phones can explode in my face or something pointless that will never happen in a million years during the ten o'clock news. I don't need CNN adding to this paranoia like they did with an episode of Paula Zahn Now dedicated to the issue of these knuckleheads doing cheese. Save me from these public interest stories and save yourself from the inherent addiction and/or death. Don't do cheese.

A public service announcement from a blog named after a quote from Airplane.

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Laptop is Hot

So, I got bored and started reading through my old gchat transcripts. I've been involved in some hilarious conversations with people. Anyway, if you don't know me from school, I was a sound tech for my collegiate career (and probably should still be doing it because I was pretty good at it). When I wasn't watching money-grubbing speeches, I was watching bands hammer away in various basements across the town of Oberlin and engineering for some of them. I saw a ton of super good shows. I saw just as many bad shows that weren't campus shows, which weren't uniformly awful as you might believe. Kids did have really good bands. For a long time, there was always a show; it was just a question of where it was. Anyway, this sendoff is dedicated to two of the better openers I saw during my time in Oberlin.

There was this dude YACHT who came to campus twice. If you have never seen YACHT, I highly recommend that you do. I've gone to hundreds of shows. His shows are two that completely stand out to me. The first time I saw him was in an apartment. Place was packed and everyone was completely into it but still trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Like, he straight up put the place on blast. He danced around and threw himself into the audience over these fractured art-dance beats. Like, I'm at a loss of words for it. It really can only be experienced. I can't find a good version of his live show, so you will have to be left in the dark about how awesome his show is until you experience it for yourself. I also saw Barrington Levy, which was just mindblowing. But, I'm getting nostalgic instead of leaving...

The two videos that I'm going to post I have experience with because I mixed both of them.
The first video is from a band named 54-71. The jury's out on this band. I'm into them though. This is a four-piece coming straight out of the land of the rising sun. They are like a groove band with a terrible emcee, but the low quality of the emcee only adds to the charm of the band and, surprisingly enough, the groove. When I saw them, they were opening for Deerhoof and the drummer's snare was only 10 inches instead of 12, so it had an extra pop. As Patrick Richardson said, every time you hit a 10-inch snare, it's like someone flicking your nipple. And he should know because he's a drummer. But, this show is infamous in my mind because the lead singer had a stream of snot coming from his nose and put his hand over the microphone to avoid getting his nose juice on it. As well, the whole band aside from the lead singer wore full body spandex suits. When they stopped, everyone was confused about whether that was the worst thing they'd ever seen or the best. I clearly thought it was the best. This is the video for 69 My Pheremone Up.

This second band opened for Sleepytime Gorilla Museum although they probably could have held their own show and gotten it well attended. The band is Old Time Relijun. I tend to rant and rave about them a lot, but that's primarily because they remind me of my favorite form of post-punk: no wave. OTR is a three-piece band. The drummer rotates (It was a nice woman named Jamie when I saw them), the bassist plays a stand-up bass, and the lead singer is a renowned throat singer. They were easy to work with, and they were the type of band that I like. They put it all out on the stage and were super professional. Sleepytime had a huge setup. Even though they were late, they took out a corner of the stage, set up in like 15 minutes, didn't sound check, and killed it. I love bands that operate like that. It made my life as a tech super easy. This video is from their most recent album "2012". The song is Wolves and Wolverines.

Have a good night everyone. Internet, I love you, but you would be better if you were a skyscraper.

Afternoon in Bed

There isn't a lot going on today, and I have to cook. I will leave you with this for now. It is North by North from the seminal New Zealand band The Bats. They are really awesome. The title of this post is an allusion to them as well. It's a great song, but there is no video for it. Anyway, dig it.

I will post if something massive comes up, but I have a distinct feeling that it won't. But, I might also blog if I can find something to actually blog about.

Wow, That Sucks!

From CBS News:

A dozen riders on an Arkansas roller coaster spent half an hour hanging upside down — 150 feet above the ground — after a power outage shut down the attraction.

It took about 30 minutes for the city Fire Department to rescue the riders using a ladder truck Saturday evening, said Aundrea Crary, spokeswoman for the Springs & Crystal Falls amusement park.

Spectators cheered when the riders were brought to the ground from the highest point of a loop on the X-Coaster, but one passenger threw up after reaching safety.
I already don't ride roller coasters. This just adds more reason to that.

I Will Prove That My Mind Is A Visual Wasteland With The Following Post

To prove this, I will have to state the following: I grew up watching TONS of MTV. To begin, when I was growing up, I used to watch this show on MTV called Sandblast which was hosted by surfer named Peter and a young Kari Wuhrer. Anyway, the show was a beach-based competition. It was actually pretty interesting, but it was only on for three years. Anyway, it was like American Gladiators in the sense that there was a final challenge that they had to pass. The only thing that I can remember of it is that they had to step on these hydraulic pads to get launched across a pool. Whenever they got to this part of the show, they would play this one song. I learned over time that it was a Luscious Jackson song, but I could never find the song. That is, until now. I present to you Luscious Jackson - Daughter of the Kaos, a song I've had stuck in my head for about a decade now.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

If You Would Like To Learn How To Play Basketball

I know how to play basketball. I went to Stu Vetter's Basketball Camp when I was in elementary school. But, my dreams of being an athlete were stopped dead in their tracks when I attempted to try out for middle school basketball and realized that I lacked all semblances of athletic talent. I didn't think when I was 12 that I was going to blog, but I digress. Because of that time at Stu's camp, I do know and appreciate high quality basketball.

If you know nothing about basketball, its strategies and intricacies, I highly suggest you start watching right now. The NBA Finals are going on right now. It is the upstart Cleveland Cavaliers with the heir apparent to Michael Jordan's throne LeBron James. I personally have problems with this classification, but, if you want to talk about that, send me an email. The Cavaliers are playing the San Antonio Spurs. Some of you might not have known that there is a team in San Antonio. Well, there is and it is the team that all other teams and fans should watch to understand how to play basketball. The Spurs are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the league.

For these MTV-addled kids, The Spurs are what you would call a "boring team." They aren't high flying like the Phoenix Suns or the Golden State (CA) Warriors. None of their players are particularly charismatic like Stephon Marbury or Vince Carter. This last aspect highlighted by the fact that their star player Tim Duncan, who will go down in history as the best power forward ever to set foot on a professional basketball court, has the nickname of the "Big Fundamental" (Are you serious?). The only reason they even get attention from people outside of the basketball world is because their point guard Tony Parker (Balance-toi!) is marrying Eva Longoria. If you don't know what show she's from, click on her name and find out yourself. Also, smite yourself for being out of touch with popular culture. Eva aside, the Spurs play the basketball that all teams should aspire to play. It's team-oriented, without ego, modular with sound fundamentals. Just from watching, you will learn how to play, watch, and critique basketball.

Ladies, are you having problems pulling men? Men, are you having problems connecting with other men because you know nothing about sports while it seems like everyone else you know does? This series is for you. Now, stop reading this and go watch.

p.s. I see basketball as a sort of performance art due to the nature and presentation of the sport. If I remember, I will go into this at another time, maybe between Game 3 and 4, i.e. Tuesday and Thursday. And, I'm serious about basketball as art. This isn't some bullshit theorizing about the nature of sport and its relationship to the cultural sphere.

Disco's For Black People

If you read about Nuwaubianism on wikipedia, it will talk about Disco as a way to imprison Black people. This isn't true. The public image of Disco was presented as White, stripping it of its Black image and sanitizing it for mass consumption. Disco, at its core, is an extension of funk and soul music, primarily Black musical movements of the 1960's and 70's. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they are stupid and you should drop science and/or slap them for their ignorance. I implore you to try the former instead of the latter; concealed guns could be dangerous for your health.

Anyway, this is Sunday and Sunday is the random song day. The video is a disco video from Valerie Dore for her song called The Night. This song is really rad. And, Jessa, this may or may not be on your tape. And I do mean may or may not. I don't actually know what's on the tape. I'm in the culling stage right now.


Brittle Stars - No Longer Waiting
Gary Wilson - You Think You Really Know Me
The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Here It Comes
Dr. Dre - Lyrical Gangbang
The United States of America - Hard Coming Love
Wolf Eyes - Reapers Gong
Mission of Burma - Laugh the World Away
Old Time Relijun - Maenads in the Android Brothel
Nas - One Love
Stereolab - Check and Double Check
Beck - New Round
Communicators & Black Experiences Band - The Road
Beat Happening - Look Around
Arling & Cameron - Fun Shopping
Chris Isaak - Forever Blue

I Am a Bad Person After I Admit The Following

Today, I did two things that displays the characteristics of my life: dreaming and procrastination. While I was driving down the road to get some ice cream (I have to drive to do everything), I was listening to an Italo Disco compilation on high volume. While doing this, I found a good track to put on my friend Jessa's mixtape. Every year, I've sent her a tape dependent upon her situation that summer. Last year, she was in small-town Ohio. Year before, she was hanging out at Panther Pond. If she's reading this, the tape this year will be better than both of those combined!

Anyway, that doesn't make me a bad person. This is what makes me a bad person. About three months ago, my friend Elana sent me a care package with a CD, a pack of flowers (I couldn't use these. The front lawn got landscaped, not by my choosing), a pound cake that was delicious, and a copy of Radar. Until today, I hadn't had a chance to read the magazine. Wow, am I a dumbass. It was amazing and I learned way more about Wesley Snipes than I wanted to.

According to the magazine, Snipes is a member of the Nuwaubian movement based in Putnam County, GA. It started in New York, but it has Malachi York as its leader. The movement reminds of Scientology for the following reason. From Radar:

The groups was started int he late 1960s in Brooklyn, where York---a prophet, spritiualist, and according to the group's website, "author of over 350 books" on subjects ranging from Egyptian architecture to alien abductions---lectured to a small band of followers, preaching, among other things, that the world would soon end; that the devil cast a spell thousands of years ago to keep black people spiritually ignorant; that York is an extraterrestrial from the planet Risq; and that malevolent aliens walk among us, poisoning our minds via pop culture. Despite York's more outlandish claims, however, some of his teachings appear to have struck a chord with black nationalists---including rap pioneer Afrika Bambataa and hip-hop aritsts such as Mobb Deep's Prodigy and MF Doom---eager to assert links to the ancient Egyptians.

Now, I'm already familiar with strange Black religious movements such as the Nation of Islam and the presence of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. This is definitely stranger. I should also note that, like the UNIA, the leader of the Nuwaubian movement was arrested. But, unlike Marcus Garvey, York was sentenced to 135 years for sexually molesting boys and girls in the movement. But, imprisonment aside, can you see how this movement is like Scientology. You feel me? Also, if you are of this religion and decide to stop reading my blog, I can't say that I don't blame you because I probably remind you of SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!!!!!