Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Walking Wooderson

Now's as good a time as any to mention the new movie Failure to Launch, starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Men didn't always hate "Sexiest Man Alive" McConaughey; rather, we embraced his arrival to Hollywood - Dazed and Confused. But now? Well, let's see...

He hasn't made a good, respectable movie since U-571.

He seems to enjoy his status as a sex symbol a little too much.

He's become the self-anointed mascot of University of Texas (the Longhorns' very own Ben Affleck).

His production company, JKL Productions, gets its name from his Dazed character's motto, "Just keep livin'".

He recently told Oprah that "Just keep livin'" is his life motto.

That bears repeating - McConaughey's personal mantra is based on a David Wooderson line - the words of a character whose primary goals were to bang high school chicks, to get high, and to buy Aerosmith concert tickets.

And if all that wasn't enough, he's now starring in a chick flick that doesn't even have the decency to give the red-blooded male something pretty to look at. (I am referring, of course, to the lead actress, Sarah Jessica Parker, not the supporting actress, Zooey Deschanel, who is more adorable than a yellow-ribbon adorned wicker basket holding a baby kitten holding a teddy bear holding a picture of Zooey Deschanel.)

Pull your head out of your ass, McConaughey. It'd be a lot cooler if you did.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Happy National Pancake Day!

[NOTE: Tuesday is National Pancake Day, and that has something to do with it being Mardi Gras. To celebrate, I was going to interview Corinne, who really, really loves pancakes, but it didn't work out. Maybe another time.]

I spoke with Shawn this evening - he took me to task for failing to post on two consecutive days. The horror! Truth be told, my blog time was stolen this weekend from a free Yahoo! game called Bookworm. Bookworm is a a lot like Boggle - the major differences are (1.) after using tiles, they disappear, and new replacement tiles fall from the top of the screen (2.) there is no little, plastic, sand-containing timer that tells you when the game is over.

Bookworm has no time limit; you have as long as you wish to make the next word. The game's latter characteristic, when combined with the game's relatively low difficulty level, is pretty fucking brutal. It can cause a guy like me to suspend all meaningful activities in the quest for a meaningless high score. Then you get what we got here yesterday, when I formed words during Total Recall and Armageddon until my eyes hurt too much to continue. And you know that game your mind continues to play, even after you've quit? (Every Tetris player experienced the Tetris Mind Game at least once.) Well, I didn't stop soon enough to prevent it. Simply put, I haven't spent this much mental energy since Chris and I sat next to each other during Organic Chemistry, staring at the big periodic table on the Willard Hall auditorium wall, forming words and sentences from atomic symbols.

Wait. That's incorrect. I spent a similar amount of mental energy back when Steph bought me a copy of Word Freak, and I read so much about amazing Scrabble moves that I was inspired to go out and buy my own gameboard. And play. Against myself.

In any case, I'm done with Bookworm forever. Fuck that shit. I'm going to pretend I have better things to do with my time.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Would Listen To Them...

Writing about the new Jenny Lewis album yesterday, I considered including the phrase, "I like her voice so much, I would listen to her read the phone book." I didn't want to use the "read the phone book" part, but couldn't think of a better punchline before my laptop battery went dead.

Do your worst.

Friday Reading

There's a lot of great interviews and features at Ricky Gervais' (from BBC's The Office) website. And news - the Simpsons episode he wrote will air in spring, and he'll also be writing an episode for NBC's version of The Office. But back to the interviews - the one he did with Coldplay's Chris Martin had some high points:
INTERVIEWER: Ricky, you were asked to be the butler in a remake of Magnum, PI. Do you both get offered inappropriate stuff?

Ricky Gervais: [To Martin] You get offered things like being in Extras.

Chris Martin: We get some weird shit, too. I mean, a threesome's always a nice offer.

RG: There's three of us.

CM: I met a guy once who said he had had a threesome. But he said it was two blokes and a girl. But to me, that would be a halfsome.

RG: A halfsome!

CM: I just wanted to say that. Can people write in and say if they agree with that? Because he's not even slightly gay. I don't see how it's a threesome.
* * *
INTERVIEWER: How will Coldplay develop? You've mentioned you'd like to work with Timbaland.

RG: What, the boots people?

CM: Yeah, the people who make boots.

RG: Bruce Foxton's got a brand new pair of Timbalands.

CM: Yeah, I thought what we need to do next is a CD that comes in a pair of durable walking boots, so you can listen to it when you're hiking.

RG: You're going for the working-class vote now, aren't you? [Thinks] Who are your fans?

CM: Ah, man, it's tricky. I don't think we'd be anywhere if Radiohead didn't exist. I think we're like why Diet Coke was big. Because some people couldn't handle Coke. That's how I see Coldplay.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Free Rabbit Fur Coat

The highlights of my last few days have been in my car, listening to the new Jenny Lewis album.

I paid around $14 for the privilege, but you can get it all (save for the Traveling Wilburys cover) on the Team Love website.

Grab "Big Guns" and go from there. It's the best alt-country/gospel album recorded by a Jew this year!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cross About Snowboard Cross

Bobby is pissed at that showboating lady snowboarder. Read his post and my comment.

Monday, February 20, 2006

What Hath God Wrought?

You know how Terminator taught us that the military will design artificial intelligence that will eventually become self-aware and kill us all?

Well, it seems they're starting with the vibrators. They're now programmable and iPod compatible.

Hide your daughters. Before Skynet finds them.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hearing And Listening

A girl I was not allowed to have a second date with once asked me about the qualities of a good song.

"What's more important - the lyrics or the music?"

"The music is what makes me like a song. The lyrics differentiate good songs from great songs."

At that point in our relationship (pre-failure), I was too embarrassed to expound on my lyrical indifference. I'm free of that shame now, and can proudly say that Elliott Smith's Either / Or was my favorite album years before I learned the meaning of each song. That CD blessed me twice, but the second generation of happiness came with a price - now, I can't help but be disappointed when a song's meaning doesn't match its composition. It's almost like that chick's wanting-to-date-me-ness not matching her attractiveness.

For example, Parachutes (Funeral Song) was the prettiest Mates of State song I had ever heard; for obvious reasons, I considered playing that song my own funeral. That is, until its meaning was deciphered:
"It's always kind of hard for me to say specifically what certain songs are about," Hammel says. "When I try to explain them they sound really mundane. It usually ends up ruining it for the people who are like, 'Oh, it's that?' I'd rather we keep our meaning and you keep yours."

One song on the album that begs explanation, however, is "Parachutes (Funeral Song)," a delicate piano-driven tune about two lovers on a star-crossed skydive. The song is written from the perspective of the bride, waving goodbye to her husband as her parachute fails to open:

"What I had between the things I never tried was you reaching out in hopes that you could grab / I'd say that's better 'cause at least I know you tried."
The words had betrayed me, and I could no longer unconditionally love the song. It was no longer about anything or everything, abstract and beautiful - it was about skydiving. It was just about skydiving.

And there's no point to these paragraphs - I'm not going to wrap it up nicely, but that's okay, because it's the same way with most of the music I enjoy. Maybe Paranoid Android is about the fall of the Roman empire, and maybe it hasn't got a point. The important thing is that I enjoyed listening to it, and hopefully you enjoyed the minute it took you to read this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Live To Surf, Surf To Live

[NOTE: I haven't had time to proof this, so bear with me. Standard memoir rules apply - quotes are mostly approximate.]

Friday night, we dined at Thai Bistro II - a restaurant I can only assume Pacific Grove locals call "The Deuce". Julie had panang curry with vegetables, Nathan had laab gai, and I enjoyed fresh red curry with pineapple. After enjoying our dishes and regaling Julie with stories from high school, the check arrived. I was able to grab it before Nathan could.

"Nathan, I believe I owe you for lunch, and for saving my life."

* * * * *

The first stop after lunch (a big, "super" burrito with rice, beef, and cabbage) was On The Beach surf shop. A young gentlemen assisted us in renting a surfboard and wetsuit.

"What size board, bro?"

"It's his first time surfing, so--"

"Yeah, let's go with a nine. It's the same board I learned on, bro! Do you want to rent them for the afternoon or for 24 hours?"

"Do you want to go surfing tomorrow morning, too?"

"Uh, I don't know. I guess it depends on how today goes."

"Oh, you'll love it, bro! I couldn't get enough my first time out! We'll mark you down for 24 hours, and if you decide to bring it back early, I'll refund the difference."

"Can you throw in some wax?"

"Here you go, bro. It's on the house."

Nathan was handed a disc of wax, labelled for use in frigid water.

I said "gnarly" about 10 times on the ride back to his place.

* * * * *

I got to know Frog, the dog, while Nathan applied wax to the rented board and to his own fiberglass model. He indicated how to lie on the board, where to place your hands, how to stand up, where to place your feet, and so on. We donned our wetsuits.

"Anything else I should know?"

"I think that’s it."


"Oh - there's the riptide and the undertow. I forget which is which - but to get out of it, you have to swim parallel to the shore. Otherwise, you'll struggle against the current and wear yourself out. You'll get carried out to sea."

"So there's a chance this will be the last time I'll see you."


* * * * *

We walked into the water at Asilomar.

"How do you know when you've got frostbite?" I asked.

"I don't know."

Nathan spent 30 minutes or so showing me more basic surfing tips before leaving to grab his own board. A new group of surfers - presumably just dismissed from high school - had just come into the water. I decided to stay out of their way, rest my paddling arms, and see what the kids could teach me.

Ingested seawater was less disgusting than I remembered.

* * * * *

"Did you see that?"

"See what?"

"There's a seal over there."

I turned away from the surfers and looked in the opposite direction, toward the rocks, where Nathan was pointing. Sure enough, a seal popped his head above the water.

"Come back this way."


We paddled toward the surfing area. When my arms were tired, I stopped. I had to rest again.

* * * * *

"This is kind of serious," I thought, lying on my board, drifting further away from the shore and from my fellow surfers. My latest attempt to swim parallel to the shore was unsuccessful, owing to my childlike strength and stamina. I recalled a Reader's Digest "Drama in Real Life" story about two individuals lost at sea, and their struggle to swim to land. (They used the breaststroke, a stroke I was not familiar with. Perhaps had I spent more time in the pool and less time reading old Reader's Digests at my grandma's house, I wouldn't have been in such a predicament.)

"Help me, Mr. Seal," I actually said out loud.

Nathan was now on the distant shore, a tiny man staring out to sea, planning. I sat on the surfboard, faced him, put both arms in the air and shrugged. He motioned toward the rocks. I decided to use the only muscles I'd exercised in the past year; on my back, I kicked with my legs, held the floating board under my left arm, and pushed water with my right.

* * * * *

I had lost track of my friend during the backstroke - I was somewhat startled to see him swimming toward me. I was still fifty yards from the rocky edge of the cove.

"I'm going to push you toward the rocks. If you get a chance to ride a wave in to the shore, do that."

After many pushes, we were on rocky ground.

* * * * *

Bare feet and sharp, slippery rocks are not a happy combination; however, if you have been in frigid Pacific water for an hour and a half, you've lost most of the feeling in your feet. Sharp doesn't bother you. Slippery, on the other hand, is a problem - your legs are weak, and without an even, dry surface, you stumble around like a newborn deer, even after your friend has relieved you of your surfboard-carrying duty. Using each other for balance, we made our way toward the sand, his surfboard, the sandals we'd left above the tide, and the truck.

* * * * *

You haven't been fully emasculated until you fall, exhausted, off-balance, into the warm bath your friend drew for you, while you spend five minutes struggling to peel the wetsuit from your right foot - its last hold on your otherwise naked body. At least, not until you exit the bathroom and are handed the hot, black, spiced tea he prepared.

* * * * *

"How'd it go, bro?"

"It went great!"

"Let me refund the difference..."

* * * * *

"I thought about calling the coast guard," Nathan informed Julie and I at dinner.

"How would you have done that?"

"There were two people walking on the beach - I was going to ask if they had a cell phone."

"Then dialed 911?"

"I guess. But after watching you for a while, it looked like you weren't getting any farther away from shore, so I decided to try to get you myself, and started walking up the rocks. You looked kind of blue when I got to you. I didn't tell you, though, because I didn't want you to freak out."

We laughed, our bellies full of jasmine rice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

California, There I Went

Thanks to Nathan and Julie for hosting my most relaxing vacation ever. 70% of the excitement was captured electronically - you can view the photos and read my captions on my Flickr account.

For those of you wondering who this Nathan fellow is, he's an old chum of mine. We were schooled in the same district, then went to high school together. After that, he learned how to fly, fix small aircraft and scooters, snowboard, surf, speak Russian, live in foreign lands, woo and marry Southerners, and solve advanced calculus problems. In contrast, I learned what a Student's T-test was, then forgot when to use it.

Tomorrow I hope to post a story about my first time surfing. Enjoy the photos until then.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Son Of A Bluth

I'm out of town until Tuesday. Before I go, a big FUCK YOU to the Fox network - not only for cancelling Arrested Development, but for burying the SERIES FINALE this FRIDAY NIGHT (Tomorrow, 8 pm EST).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sick Day

I'm watching an episode of "Boy Meets World" right now. Fred Savage guest stars as a college professor that hits on Topanga. It's unbelievable on both levels.

Question: was the "Boy Meets World" theme song the worst theme song of the 1990s? Or does "SBTB: The New Class" (I'm standing at the edge of tomorrow!) take the prize?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Paul Week Part 3 - What You Like

A while back, when Dick and Barry and I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like, Barry proposed the idea of a questionnaire for prospective partners, a two- or three-page multiple-choice document that covered all the music/film/TV/book bases. It was intended a) to dispense with awkward conversation, and b) to prevent a chap from leaping into bed with someone who might, at a later date, turn out to have every Julio Iglesias record ever made. It amused us at the time, although Barry, being Barry, went one stage further: he compiled the questionnaire and presented it to some poor woman he was interested in, and she hit him with it. But there was an important and essential truth contained in this idea, and the truth was that these things matter, and it's no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently, or if your favorite films wouldn't even speak to each other if they met at a party.

--Nick Hornby, High Fidelity
Paul wrote on 02/02/2006 10:43:15 AM:
i liked the list of possible phil songs on your website. this is a resource that will probably never be fully utilized, and that's a sad situation. instead, we will have to keep putting up with nickelback, scott stapp, and whatever other talentless hacks are out there. has current music gotten this bad or i am just starting to show my age? the only current bands that i even listen to regularly are queens of the stone age (which have strangely begun to dominate my music listening) and HIM.

on a sidenote, i've been dating this girl for like 2 months, and i get the impression that her music capabilities are somewhat limited. she listens to your usual pop-like music and country (God help me!). i have a feeling that her knowledge of classic rock up through [the music of] the mid-90s (when music left me behind) is lacking.

so, i was thinking of giving her a crash course in music. i would give her 2-3 cd's "vital" cd's every week to listen to. then, on the weekend, i would randomly select songs from these cd's, and she would have to correctly identify the artist/album and maybe the song title. in your opinion, do you see a girl going for this idea or does this have disaster written all over it? and i still have no idea why it's so important to me that a girlfriend or whoever have an appreciation for lou reed and the clash...

...here is what I've come up with as far as deciding which music gets introduced at what point. I thought about starting with my favorites, but then I realized not everyone has the exact same music tastes (obviously). So, chronological order is about the best way I could come up with to "build this house of rock". Below is a tentative syllabus:

Weeks 1-3 = "The Foundation": composed of the Rolling Stones, the Who, Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Doors, Hendrix, Cream, the Yardbirds, etc. It was difficult to decide what era to cut this off at, but I figured the mid to late 1960s seemed about right.

Weeks 4 = the 70s (Classic Rock): Here I would want to build upon all the legendary acts covered in weeks 1-3. Maybe introduce bands that aren't in the Parthenon of rock. I was thinking along the lines of Bad Company, Thin Lizzy, Bob Seger, etc.

Week 5 = Singer/Songwriters: This week we strip down to acoustic guitars for the sounds of Cat Stevens, James Taylor, etc. After 4 straight weeks of rock, there's going to need to be a break.

Week 6 = Punk: We went soft for a week, now it's time to crank it back up with Iggy Pop, the Clash, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols.

Week 7 = The Transition: This week would really only cover four bands that I feel form a bridge between the 70s and 80s metal scenes, Aerosmith, Van Halen, AC/DC, and KISS. In my opinion, most if not all bands from the 80s emulated some or all of these in some fashion.

Week 8 = 80s Metal: I think you know what you're getting here: GNR, the Crue, Def Leppard, Ratt, etc. It would be a week of living on the Sunset Strip.

Week 9 = The Synthesizer: You would have to devote a list to the instrument that dominated pop music for nearly a decade. Besides, if I'm doing this course, you better believe Gary Numan and Co. will have their week.

Week 10 = Grunge: I don't even like that term, but I couldn't come up with a better one. Here, you get the essentials: Nirvana, AIC, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, etc. No better way to end than this.

That's it, finally. A 10 week crash course of rock. I know I left out bands and scenes, some of which I really like, including a real metal section. But, this course is intended for a girl you're dating, not Lemmy.

Paul poses two questions. First, is it a good idea to put a significant other through a music relearning program? Second, what is the ideal music relearning program?

To answer question #1, Paul, it's a terrible idea. Really, really bad. "No condom in Haiti" bad. I have dated those who shared my taste in music as well as those who did not. While those women didn't have similar musical preferences, they all agreed on one thing - I shouldn't make them feel inferior because they didn't know the significance of "Freebird" or they couldn't tell Aimee Mann from Charles Mann.

You know how guys are supposed to love girls that are into sports? Like, if you put two identical twins next to each other, and one of them was a die-hard NFL fan and the other one only watches ice skating, the average male is supposed to like the football fan more? I always thought that was bullshit. I don't want some broad sitting next to me on the couch during the Super Bowl, complaining about a play call, second-guessing the coach. I don't want her to wear the football pants in our relationship. I want her to know what football is, the general rules of play, a couple of the star players, and how to make killer nacho dip to eat during the game. This way, I get to be the smarter, manlier, more well-fed person in the relationship.

Doesn't the same concept hold with music? Do you really want to date someone that has more knowledge of music than you? For God's sake, Paul, you're the only guy I've ever met that had a (framed?) poster of Motley Crue's "Girls Girls Girls" in your living room.

And if we're agreed that you don't want to be with some musical know-it-all, we should also agree that it's OK to be with the musically uninformed.

Certainly, there must be a tipping point somewhere. Where do we draw the line between "tragically uninformed", "inexcusably ignorant", and just plain "terrible taste in music"? It's a subjective decision that you must make, my friend. Personally, I would prefer a girlfriend with the same taste - that's obvious. But even more important than their car's programmed radio stations is how they react to my passion for music. If I make her a mix CD, is she going to listen to it? Is she open to sampling new bands? Going to concerts? A great attitude can counterbalance any horrible album collection. (At least, that's what I tell myself.)

As for question #2, I'll leave that to Tornado Slide's faithful readers and rockers. I think your school of rock teaching plan is solid, but it might have to be pared down. Asking her to rock with The Rolling Stones for a few days is reasonable, but the follow-up punch of Thin Lizzy seems like overkill. And if it seems like overkill to me, you can bet your ass that your lady will feel overwhelmed, and possibly wish you harm.

Rock hard, and tread lightly.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Re: Lisa Loeb's Ass

Hey - all you fuckers that are Googling "lisa loeb thong" and ending up at my site - listen up. I don't have the pictures or the video you're looking for. (And FYI, if you want pictures you should be doing a Google image search, and if you want video you should be checking out YouTube.)

Stereogum has a comprehensive post, with video. But remember this, jerks - Lisa Loeb is not an object.