Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And The Oscar Rant Goes To...

This year's Oscar broadcast included many annoyances. To my surprise, the shadowpuppet tumblers were not chief among them. That honor goes to the female voiceover that filled time between the announcement of each award and the acceptance speech, which provided one bit of trivia about each winner. When Martin Scorsese won his Oscar for Best Director, the voice cheered, "Martin Scorsese has described The Departed as the only film that he has directed that had an actual plot!" And as Michael Arndt stepped onstage to accept the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, the voice said, "In order to find time to complete the screenplay of Little Miss Sunshine, Michael had to quit his job as Matthew Broderick's personal assistant!"

I don't need or want a disembodied voice telling me useless facts about Hollywood's elite directors. What's more, this poor screenwriter doesn't need the whole goddamn world to hear about how he used to lower himself to serve Inspector Gadget's every beck and whim. "Yes, Mr. Broderick." "Right away, Mr. Broderick." "No, Mr. Broderick, I agree -- The Stepford Wives was totally underrated." "Can I get you more Perrier, Mr. Broderick?" "I don't think you wife looks equestrian at all, Mr. Broderick." It's the highlight of this guy's career, and he shouldn't be subjected to this kind of embarrassment.

I haven't read much commentary about the Oscars, but I did come across this tidbit on Monday, when I was reading about the upcoming NFL draft at Sports Illustrated's website. It's one Peter King's "non-football thoughts of the week":
How sad at the Oscars. The Departed kicked tail. I say that's bad because ... well, have you seen it? Did the gore bother you? The over-the-top, pandering, blood-gurgling murderous spree was too much for me. We must be inured to it by now, because the Academy voted Oscars not only for the movie but also for Martin Scorsese for making the flick. What's next, I wonder. A beheading in Times Square? Gouging someone's eyes out? So sad we seem to be in search of the next great gruesome thing in movies.
I was surprised by Mr. King's statements, but more surprised by the fact that he is a little fucking girl.

"Pandering"? To whom did the film pander to? People who love awesome shit? "Blood-gurgling"? One character gurgles a bit of blood, but that's because the dude was shot in the gut. That's the shit that goes down when you get shot in the gut, Mr. King. That's life, man. "Murderous spree"? How many people are killed in this movie? Ten? Twelve? Does that sound excessive to anyone, considering the movie is about THE FUCKING MOB??? Does anyone think that a make-believe portrayal of a dozen murders is equivalent to executing someone in Times Square? Oh, and memo to Petey King: we already have several movies in which characters have their eyes gouged out -- check out Kill Bill 2 sometime. That is, when you're free NOT COVERING OUR NATION'S MOST POPULAR VIOLENT SPORT.

Slam a cock!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Big Slam

I'm back from vacation, but I don't have a lot to say. I guess I'll continue the promotion I began late Saturday night / early Sunday morning, as we sat at Barbara's round table and finished our conversation about good, non-food smells. It's like this: I wish to champion the phrase, "Slam a cock!"

I first learned of the phrase when Rob Corrdry was interviewed by The Onion about his iPod:
Pavement, "Stereo"
Oh wow, I'm awesome. Brighten The Corners—I would argue, the best Pavement record. The Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain people can slam a cock, because this is the best. I miss Pavement. I went and saw Stephen Malkmus live a couple years ago. Terrible. He's a jam band now. There was this guy in the front row who wouldn't stop asking Malkmus, "What's up with the Jicks?" He kept saying, "Steve, what's up with the Jicks?" And my friend Jason started yelling, "Esteban, que pasa los Jicks?" Needless to say, he did not answer us. Not a good show, though I got very drunk.
I think "Slam a cock!" has a lot of potential.

"Go slam a cock!"

"Why don't you slam a cock?"

"Hey! Buddy! Slam a cock!"

We're all looking for a new vulgar expression; I'd appreciate it if everyone gave this one the old college try.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Apocalypse And Signs Thereof

Saturday night, when my comrades at the bar broached the breaking news regarding Britney Spears' scalp, I began to lament the information age. For every Battle of New Orleans mishap, there seemed to be many positives to a simpler time -- the primary advantage being an additional week or month without being flooded with the phrase "Britney Shears".

By Sunday, Gavin made the advantages of these modern times clear: asteroid detection.

He writes:
Who'd have thought that Armageddon could be the worst piece of cinematography ever, yet its sequel would be the Greatest Event in History.

Setting: Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

President - "That asteroid is headed straight for earth."
NASA Official - "Fuck, call that oil driller!
Administrative Assistant - "Who?"
NASA Official - "You know... Harry!"
Scientist - "Sir, that was in a movie. And Bruce Willis died at the end."
Administrative Assistant - "Is there another driller you would like me to call."
NASA Official - "Shut up!! Somebody get those asteroid rovers with the drill and gatlin guns fired up!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Underwater (You and Me)

Dear Adrienne,

I keep a notepad and pen on my nightstand. The items are there in case I want to record something I think of while I'm in bed, or something I dream overnight.

Usually, should I dream something that warrants documenting, I'm too lazy to do so -- either I don't want to open my eyes, or I don't want to turn on the light. At best, I might grab the pen and attempt to scrawl a note in the dark. At worst, I think, "I'm sure I can remember that in a few hours, and I'll jot it down then, after I'm awake.

Well, this morning, I was lazy, and I chose not to write down my dream immediately after experiencing it. To my shock, I actually DID remember it several hours later, when I was lucid. And you were in it! Here's what happened:

Everyone in town, and presumably the world, was excited to watch this movie. For an optimum viewing experience, this particular film had to be viewed while underwater.1 So, a theater/tank structure was filled with water, and everyone took some pills that allowed them to breathe underwater2, including myself. When I realized that you couldn't laugh while you swimming, I abandoned the movie and exited the tank.

Later, after the movie, people began to suffer from a rather dramatic side-effect of the pills -- they began to explode. They didn't explode like a bomb went off; they just kind of turned inside-out and popped3.

Many people expired in this fashion. I saw some people punching holes in the walls of a house whose owner had blown up.4 I guess they were releasing their frustration by destroying the house.

Anyway, at this stage, people were beginning to wander around, trying to find others that were still alive, banding together. That's when I found you. You and I met at the intersection of 135th and 37th, near Wichita5. (135th wasn't paved, though, like it is in the present-day Earth. Also, in the present-day Earth, people are not exploding due to defective medications.) Two others were in your group: a very obese woman from Missouri, and a young child of unknown ethnicity. Our groups merged, and we walked west on 37th to continue our search. As we walked down the hill, I carried you on my shoulders -- not piggyback-ride-style, and not with you saddled over one of my shoulders, but with your body cradled around my head, with one of my arms around your back, and the other arm around your legs. This was when we started singing, "Lost Girls"6

I eventually put you down, and we somehow found our way to the moon, which was where the refugees were being settled. Upon entering the moon facility, we passed a sign-up sheet, where fellow outcasts could enroll for a job planting moon wildflowers.7 Everyone congregated in a large gymnasium, where two movies were being projected onto two large, adjacent screens. The screen on the right was showing "An Inconvenient Truth"; I saw it and thought that it was an odd choice. "A film about global warming? On a planet we just abandoned?" I turned my attention to the other screen, which showed two older, Jewish gentlemen being interviewed. One of them was saying, "I am an orthodonist. My father was an orthodonist. I don't know how to plant wildflowers." He was pretty concerned about how he was going to make a living on the moon, and it was kind of touching, and I question the director's choice to cut immediately to a man demonstrating how he made coffee cakes.

That's when my dream ended, so I'm sorry I can't say whether or not we etched out a living on the moon, or if that fat chick from Missouri adopted you and the ethnic child, or if that movie that had to be viewed underwater was lauded by what was left of The Academy.

Until next time,


1. "The Shape of Things" was on before I went out Saturday night, so I re-watched it. In that movie, Phillip and Jenny plan to get married underwater.

2. I'm reading "Sirens of Titan" right now. On Mars, everyone has to take pills called goofballs, which let them breathe in the oxygen-depleted environment.

3. Saturday night at Henry's Upstairs, Molly brought up some "Inside Out Guy", who I had never seen or heard of, but it made me think of the PopMart tour, when Bono wore an anatomically correct "muscle" shirt. It also made me think of a Simpsons Halloween episode where there was poison gas that made everyone turn inside-out.

4. I recently repaired such a hole in my own wall.

5. I grew up near here.

6. Friday's workday shuffle: Tilly and the Wall, The Shins, The Fiery Furnaces, Neko Case.

7. I recently picked up a packet of Kansas wildflowers, which I plan to plant in my backyard, next to the fence that separates the interstate ditch from my lawn.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Shins, Liberty Hall, February 12

The Shins concert was solid. I will expand on that thought tomorrow or the next day (get ready for blurry pictures!!!!), but for now, it's late, and I just want to mention the setlist.

There may be others out there who, like me, have been searching to find what The Shins have been playing on their new tour, and have been largely unsuccessful in finding such information. Like me, you've like to give the collective concert-going blogging community a big "Up yours". Seriously, you music nerds need to step up your shit. And Shins fans -- where is there an active messageboard? Can somebody set up a goddamn messageboard already? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

We heard a lot of what was played in Minneapolis, with "Know Your Onion" and an extended "One By One All Day" thrown in the mix. It went approximately like the following -- I didn't keep a perfect list, because I didn't want to look like some dick who was going to post it on the internet. I would welcome any corrections in the comments:

Sleeping Lessons (extended version; 3rd verse same as the first second)
Pam Berry->Phantom Limb
Kissing the Lipless
Mine's Not a High Horse
Girl Inform Me
Girl on the Wing (alternate arrangement)
New Slang (alternate arrangement)
Saint Simon (alternate arrangement)
Girl Sailor
A Comet Appears
Turn on Me (James: "This is a song about being pissed off!")

[here is where my memory is foggy]
Gone for Good
Know Your Onion
Turn a Square
One By One All Day (extended outro)
[end fogginess]

Caring Is Creepy

Pressed in a Book
So Says I

Sleep now. More later.


First, our group made it inside Liberty Hall and took a spot just in front of the soundboard.

Viva Voce took the stage at 8 p.m., and played an enjoyable set bookended with "We Do Not Fuck Around"s. During a break between songs, we were regaled with a tale from their last stay in Lawrence, when they stayed at a local establishment known as The Jayhawk Hotel. Upon entering their room, they found three items lying on their bed, "like a mint on a pillow": one used condom, one thigh-high stocking, and one lone Cheeto.

Banter was kept to a minimum until the very end of the evening, when James shared what little he could recall about living in Manhattan, Kansas from age 4 to age 7. He claimed his older siblings would go out to the Tuttle Creek Reservior to "smoke pot and listen to Foghat". To my dismay, they did not play "I Just Wanna Make Love to You" in tribute.

If I could have changed one thing about the show, it would be the setlist. This is a very minor quibble, but I felt the upbeat songs were superior to the slower ones. Further, The Shins decided to play most of the slow songs consecutively -- I would prefer spacing them out, playing them only when the crowd needed to catch its breath. Here's a photo I took during "New Slang", to reinforce the fact that I was growing tired of sad tunes, and passing the time until the rock returned.

I was relieved when James announced, "Enough of this sad shit!" and launched into "Turn on Me". And you may not think that "Turn on Me" is a rocker, but you'd be wrong. And you may buy into the popular theory that The Shins are a poor live show, but you'd be wrong again. Sure, James' voice cracks a few time a night, and yes, there can be problems with the levels at certain points -- but show me another band that makes high school kids and disillusioned young professionals bounce with joy and shout backup lyrics with the such unabashed enthusiasm.

If they're coming near your town, for God's sake, get a ticket and enjoy the show. And when you get back home, please get to blogging and share the setlist. Hop to it, music nerds.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Model Idiot?

Floyd writes...
Hey Dan, remember Katie from the KU Calendar? The one you asked about hookworm worries? Well, she's still alive and kicking...
[Don't click that last link if you're at work.]

[Also, the links to the old Women of KU calendar models have expired. If you'd like to see the most recent calendars, have at it.]

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowls Past

XX Jan. 26, 1986 Chicago 46, New England 10

This is the first Super Bowl that is recorded in my memory. The only thing I can picture is sitting on my dad's back, as he lies on his stomach on our living room floor. I seem to remember cheering for Chicago.

XXI Jan. 25, 1987 N.Y. Giants 39, Denver 20

There was a Super Bowl between the Giants and the Broncos? Huh.

XXII Jan. 31, 1988 Washington 42, Denver 10

If memory serves (and the box score seems to agree), the opening touchdown drive by Denver was the quickest TD in Super Bowl history. I can remember the announcers mentioning that fact, but not where I was, or how disorienting it was to watch a black quarterback win the Super Bowl MVP.

XXIII Jan. 22, 1989 San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16

I do remember watching this in my living room, sitting on our couch. My mom might have been making a quilt or stitching something during the game. One of these teams scored late in the game, and I was unhappy about it. ...Looking at the box score, it was a Montana-to-Taylor TD. I guess that means I was for the Bengals? Why? Ickey Woods? These kind of memories shake my foundation.

XXIV Jan. 28, 1990 San Francisco 55, Denver 10

Again, I have no recollection. Thank God.

XXV Jan. 27, 1991 N.Y. Giants 20, Buffalo 19

I bet my friend from school, Justin, $5 that Buffalo would win. I was a big Buffalo fan. (I bought a poster of Thurman Thomas at some point in this era. Thurman was uniformed, running, ball in hand, and there was an explosion behind him, and there were block letters up top: THURMINATOR. Did he have one red LED where one of his eyes should have been? I don't believe so. But he should have.) When Norwood missed the field goal and Buffalo lost, I went to my room and counted out $5 worth of pennies. I gave the pennies to Justin the next day. At the time, I didn't know that paying a bet in pennies was a dick move.

XXVI Jan. 26, 1992 Washington 37, Buffalo 24

My great aunt used to work in DC, so she is a big Redskins fan. She hosted a small Super Bowl party at her Wichita townhouse. She enjoyed the game a lot more than I did. She said something about having lived in the same house that John Riggins lived once. Cousins that I rarely saw were watching with us. It was a weird day.

XXVIII Jan. 30, 1994 Dallas 30, Buffalo 13
XXVII Jan. 31, 1993 Dallas 52, Buffalo 17

These Buffalo losses blend together. Keep in mind, I was a big Buffalo fan through this era, and each of these Super Bowl losses were not cool. One of these years, we watched the game at my dad's house (this was in the midst of my parents' separation), and ate some pizza. There was some beer in the fridge, and Dad said I could have one, but I forgot all about it. The next day on the bus, I expressed dismay at not drinking that beer, so that Matt would think I was cool.

XXIX Jan. 29, 1995 San Francisco 49, San Diego 26

I'm pretty sure this was the Super Bowl we watched at Serpentine's grandma's house, and the game was followed by an episode of "Friends".

XXX Jan. 28, 1996 Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17

Are you serious? This game happened? I'm trying to think of the Steelers quarterback -- I'm sure he sucked something awful. OK, I just looked it up. Drumroll... Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Neil O'Donnell! I can't believe he couldn't lead them to victory. And the MVP was Dallas cornerback Larry Brown. Wow. Hard to believe I would have no memory of such an excellent Bowl.

XXXI Jan. 26, 1997 Green Bay 35, New England 21

This was the Desmond Howard game. We watched this at Brian's house, upstairs -- we didn't watch a lot of TV up there, but I can remember seeing this game and some of the Bulls / Sonics NBA Finals up there, plus a ton of Simpsons episodes from Nathan's library. There was some unpleasantness; Brian's sister's friends were watching over there, too, and I think we fought over who could eat what food, or who could watch what TV. High school was not awesome.

XXXII Jan. 25, 1998 Denver 31, Green Bay 24

Hmm. I was in college by then, so let's hope I was doing something cool, even if I probably was not.

XXXIII Jan. 31, 1999 Denver 34, Atlanta 19

Hey! Speaking of cool, I had dated THREE girls by this point in college. I can remember seeing a bit of this game at Jenny's apartment. I can also remember the whole "Dirty Bird" thing was popular among African-American students at college -- I think one of the good intramural basketball teams went by the "popular" moniker.

XXXIV Jan. 30, 2000 St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16

If memory serves, I watched the beginning at my apartment, went to Food-4-Less toward the middle of the game, and watched the final play from my couch.

XXXV Jan. 28, 2001 Baltimore 34, N.Y. Giants 7

There was lots of punting in this game, which is probably why I didn't bother to watch it.

XXXVI Feb. 3, 2002 New England 20, St. Louis 17

I am in an apartment in Rosedale, Minnesota. The sentence, "I'm going to leave at the end of the third quarter," starts a fight with my girlfriend, and prevents my viewing of the fourth quarter.

XXXVII Jan. 26, 2003 Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21

Jeff hosted a party at his basement-level apartment in St. Paul. I half-heartedly cheered for the Raiders. The shitty, shitty Raiders.

XXXVIII Feb. 1, 2004 New England 32, Carolina 29

Back in Kansas. Alone at my house. Bored by halftime. Decided to go outside and build a snowman for the first time since forever. Used a broken coat hanger for arms. Put a hat on him. And sunglasses.

XXXIX Feb. 6, 2005 New England 24, Philadelphia 21

Party at my house. Brian calls us from Vegas to let us know that he put money on the game, and loses his bet on a late Philly score. Kind of boring, underscored by the first ever airing of an "American Dad" episode.

XL Feb. 5, 2006 Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10

Bobby's apartment. He receives a round of accolades for his decision to purchase and bake a Hawaiian-style pizza from Papa Murphy's.

XLI Feb. 4, 2007 Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17

I woke up at 9:00, and wondered what I was going to do all day. By 9:30, I was out of bed, eating a grapefruit. I went to HyVee, which was packed with the churchgoers and Super Bowl party planners. I retreated home, and prepared the ribs for the slow cooker as I listened to "Car Talk". I watched a David Cross DVD that Netflix sent, and played a game of football on the PS2. I was sick of the game before it started, and spent the evening eating the aforementioned ribs (pretty good for my first attempt) and flipping through channels. My primary viewing was split among the Super Bowl, the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, and "My Boys" marathon. In brief detail,

The Super Bowl

The Puppy Bowl
This year was even better than last year, thanks to the ingenious inclusion of the "Kitty Halftime Show". The more I watched the Puppy Bowl, the more I wondered what I would pay for the DVD, and how often I would watch it if it aired more than once a year. My conclusions: I would pay $9.99 for the DVD, and if Animal Planet chose to shoot a new episode every month (and throw in some new wrinkles each time), I would watch faithfully, and even host viewing parties.

My Boys
This is a vaguely likable TBS sitcom best described as "Sex and the City" for girls who thought Carrie et al were whores. There are some reasons to watch some episodes of this newish show (the most popular being the "There's nothing else on" corrollary), and even more reasons to hate yourself for it. For example, it features Jim Gaffigan, but he's relegated to the fifth wheel. Unfortunately, his Sierra Mist ads are twice as funny as any line he's been given on this show. If you read that last sentence again, I think you'll know why I'll avoid "My Boys" in the future. Unless, you know, nothing else is on.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

On Winter

1. Shoveling snow is at least twice as enjoyable as mowing grass.

2. When August makes me sweat, I'm uncomfortable, but I can embrace it, because the sweat makes me feel human. When I sweat, I feel like I'm doing something. In the winter, bundled up but still freezing, all I feel is helpless.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Read What I Read

What is the What is the story of one of the Lost Boys, one of the refugee children borne of Sudan's second civil war. Going into a novel like this, you expect things to be grim, and you are correct. Things are bad in Sudan, bad in the refugee camps, and not a lot better after resettlement in America. After a particularly terrible happening, the narrator describes the state of his faith:
...Though whispered doubts have ringed my head and though I have had certain godless hours, my faith has not been altered, because I have never felt God's direct intervention in any affairs at all. Perhaps I did not receive that sort of training from my teachers, that he is guiding the winds that knock us down or carry us. And yet, with this news, as we drove, I found myself distancing myself from God. I have had friends who I decided were not good friends, were people who brought more trouble than happiness, and thus I have found ways to create more distance between us. Now I have the same thoughts about God, my faith, that I had for these friends. God is in my life but I do not depend on him. My God is not a reliable God.
The good news is that the narrator survives, and the proceeds from this novel are going his foundation.

The bad news is that the narrator's troubles do not end with the book's final page. The book's distributor has declared bankruptcy, and the foundation may see only a fraction of its would-be funds.

It would seem that his God is, at least, consistent.