Monday, June 30, 2008

Lars And The Real Good Joke, Guys

Two versions of the "Lars and the Real Girl" DVD are available. One version contains the 2007 Best Original Screenplay nominee. The second -- the one I got via Netflix -- is a gag DVD, featuring an achingly bad film that could never be considered worthy of an Oscar. The gag movie is about a borderline retarded man who acts like a plastic doll is his girlfriend. And just to make the gag movie even gaggier, the small town that the borderline retarded man lives in is full of benevolent citizens who play along with his delusion instead of calling him "Retard Faggot" and beating him to death.
Great gag, guys! You got me good. You ignored the pleas to conserve quirk, and drove this Hummer of a movie cross-country at 144 quirks per gallon. Tell the Academy that I totally get their funny gag, and that I got a little vacuuming done while the last 10 minutes of the gag played out.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

No Sur

I'm keeping an eye on the Big Sur wildfire. It would be a pity if such a beautiful area was scorched. Just ask Nathan. He finds Big Sur incredibly erotic.

click to enlarge the sexy

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Let It Read

I'm soliciting suggestions for my summer reading list.

Please leave a comment including the title of a favorite book and a short (or long) note explaining why I would also love it.

Bonus points if it's readily available free (via loan or library) or used.

It's this or borrow Kim's Jane Austen collection. Help.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Were You Aware?

  • You can subtitle foreign language clips at Jaman?

  • HyVee does not offer an imitation box of Kix-like cereal, allowing the price for a box of Kix to stay at $3+ per box? Not a marshmallow in the whole box, and they want an arm and a leg for it? Is it so hard to make a knockoff Kix sphere? All I want is a taste of my youth. I kid tested and approved that shit back in the day, and I deserve it.
  • My coworker called her husband Thursday afternoon and left a message on his voicemail. "If it starts to storm in Lawrence you need to get off the roof." Either she's overbearing or he's an idiot. Probably both.
  • You can view Tornado-Slide-approved links by clicking here, or by clicking in the right sidebar, under the heading titled "Browsing". Think of it as my work-hours blog.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Prom Theme Bloopers

Carrie Brownstein posted a list of Portland-area prom themes gleaned from The Oregonian. I'm listing some of them below, with a few of my own thoughts:

Astoria High, Astoria: "Come Away With Me" (Norah Jones song)
Southridge High, Beaverton: "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (Aerosmith song)
Century High, Hillsboro: "Once Upon a Dream" (song from "Sleeping Beauty")
Columbia River High, Vancouver: "Time After Time" (Cyndi Lauper and Quietdrive song)

As Brownstein points out, why aren't these kids choosing more timely song titles to use for their themes? Those songs were made famous in 2002, 1997, 1959, and 1984, respectively (Although Quietdrive remade "Time After Time" in 2007).

Lake Oswego High, Lake Oswego: "Starry, Starry Night"

This could either refer to a Van Gogh painting or a Don McLean song. Either way, what the hell??

Burns High, Burns: "A Night in Vegas"

Nothing says Vegas like fake gambling after the dance.

Lakeview Senior High, Lakeview: "Mardi Gras"

Nothing says Mardi Gras like alcohol- and nudity-free, school-sponsored activities.

Catlin Gabel, Portland: "A Trip to the Stars"

I hope their gym decorations were inspired by the set design of Britney Spears' classic music video for "Oops I Did it Again", or at the very least an episode of "Astronaut Jones".

South Medford High, Medford: "A Night to Shine"


Jesuit High School, Portland: "Jurassic Prom -- 65 Million Years in the Making"

Brownstein says, "It makes it sound like the members of the Jesuit High School prom committee were some of the first humans to walk the earth. After all, they had ostensibly been planning this special night for many millennia."

Gresham High, Gresham: "Rumble in the Jungle" (They held it at the zoo)

Even if you do have prom at the zoo, are you really having a "rumble"? Fucking high school committees piss me off. Once Jack Serpentine and I were in a meeting to discuss homecoming themes, and some kid brainstormed "Clash of the Titans" because we were playing the South High Titans. Some other retarded kid decided it would be best to shorten that to "Clash the Titans". Jack and I became livid after our attempts at reason went unheard, arguing that you can't use the verb like that -- that you were essentially saying "Collide the Titans". Mob mentality won the day, and we had a stupid homecoming theme that fall instead of our favorite option, "Bye Bye South High".

My own Junior prom theme was decided after a long search. The committee had received almost no suggestions, prompting me and my high-school girlfriend to dump a pile of phrases into the suggestion box at the deadline. The only one of mine I can recall is "The Fall of Saigon". The gym would have been decorated with jungle flora, and at the end of the night, all of the attendees would have been loaded onto helicopters and flown to the after-prom activity.

My girlfriend was more helpful, utilizing a thesaurus to generate the winner, "Twilight Enchantment". Which was perfect, because we could decorate with ANYTHING for such a vague concept. Also, I broke out in hives while putting up some of the Asian-themed embellishments. Good times. The end.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Papa Don't Preach, You Put Me To Sleep

In or approaching South America, I told Matt why I'd never read any Hemingway works. The primary reason was that I was never assigned one of his works in school. The secondary explanation was more tenous. As a professed superfan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway's friend-turned-rival, I chose to support my alcoholic author by ignoring the other one.

The literary scholar was unimpressed. "You should probably, you know, read one of his books before you dismiss them," Matt said.

Two months and a borrowed copy later, I sent a text message to Matt.

"I'm halfway through 'A Farewell to Arms'. Does it get any better?"

The response came quickly: "Not really."

I strongly considered abandoning the novel, but decide to push through to the bitter end. My planned future amount of hatred toward Papa Hemingway necessitated finishing my reading assignment. I accomplished the feat this week, and would like to share a few points with you.

As someone with a great interest in World War I, I was struck by how dull this story of a WWI ambulance driver actually was. My paperback's cover says AFTA "glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature", which is the last statement I would attribute to Hemingway's snoozefest. AFTA has precisely three mildly intense chapters (XXVIII through XXXI), wherein the protagonist's Italian army unit retreats from the Germans. The remainder of the book is the opposite of intense. The following excerpt is, unfortunately, illustrative of the book as a whole -- Lieutenant Henry has a drink and a boring conversation with a friend (in this case, the nurse he fell in love with / impregnated):
"I wish I could ski," Catherine said. "It's rotten not to be able to ski."

"We'll get a bobsled and come down the road. That's no worse for you than riding in a car."

"Won't it be rough?"

"We can see."

"I hope it won't be too rough."

"After a while we'll take a walk in the snow."

"Before lunch, Catherine said, "so we'll have a good appetite."

"I'm always hungry."

"So am I."

We went out in the snow but it was drifted so that we could not walk far. I went ahead and made a trail down to the station but when we reached there we had gone far enough. The snow was blowing so we could hardly see and we went into the little inn by the station and swept each other off with a broom and sat on a bench and had vermouths.

"It is a big storm," the barmaid said.


"The snow is very late this year."


"Could I eat a chocolate bar?" Catherine asked. "Or is it too close to lunch? I'm always hungry."

"Go on and eat one," I said.

"I'll take one with filberts," Catherine said.

"They are very good," the girl said, "I like them the best."

"I'll have another vermouth," I said.
Would you consider that intense? Did that put you on the edge of your seat? Is your heart racing? I didn't think so. If you would like to read an intense, glowing recount of WWI, avoid Hemingway and choose "All Quiet on the Western Front."

The above excerpt was not the only filler tossed into the manuscript. AFTA is chock full of scenes that go nowhere. I assume that Hemingway used the novel to record actual events and conversations that he experienced during the war. This would be fine if said events contributed to the fiction he created, or if they were symbolic, or if they were interesting; unfortunately, they are not. It's too bad blogs didn't exist in 1929. He could have stuck his snacking recollections at, concentrated on text that furthered the plot, and cut out 150 pages in the process.

Lord, I wish he would have.

(I'd have read that blog, too.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Moratorium - International Cuisine Edition

It's time to impose another moratorium, this time regarding restaurant names.

Listen up, Chang! I'm placing a moratorium on Chinese restaurant names that reference dragons, the Great Wall of China, woks, pandas, lotus, or gardens.

The bad news is that these words are off limits until further notice.

The good news is that you may cherry-pick from six millennia of culture for a suitable replacement.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blue Lagoons And Blue Gym Shorts

Thursday night, after an intimidating but ultimately harmless line of storms had passed, Floyd and I gathered a few friends to celebrate our birthdays. The Jayhawker offered cheap martinis with names like "Blue Lagoon", "Snowdrift", and "Breakfast at Tiffany's". The table was on its third round when Floyd's friend Sam addressed me with a strange look in his eye.

"Do you ever see something and it takes you a minute to figure out if you're hallucinating or not? I just saw that guy at the bar whip his cock out."

The man middle-aged, wearing a white t-shirt and blue gym shorts. No one else seemed to witness the event, including the young woman that stood nearest him, who presumably (indirectly) instigated the cock-whipping.

"He's really close to getting kicked out," our waitress said. "This happens all the time on Thursday nights."

"People whip their cocks out every Thursday?"

"No, people just get crazy."


Monday, June 02, 2008

Judging A Beat By Its Cover

Prologue: scroll past the italics if you're not interested in my life.

Pre High School

I listen to the radio all the time, especially the nightly top-ten, most-requested countdown. When I hear something I like, I try to buy the cassette, or ask for it for Christmas. I dub cassettes from my brother and classmates.

["Dub" was a verb we used to describe the process of tape "dubbing", which, for reasons unknown, was the technical term used for "copying". This process would take as long as the tape's running time, unless you had a boombox (a noun we used in those days) that featured "high speed dubbing". Then the process was nearly 27% faster.]

High School

I listen to the radio when I work or drive, and occassionally when I do homework. When I hear something I like, I buy the CD. When I want to have a friend's music, I record their CD to a blank cassette. (A leap backward, this process took longer than high speed dubbing.) When Phil wants to have a new U2 single, we have to bribe the local rock station with Burger King to let us in the studio, then steal it when the DJ isn't looking.

Early College

The same as high school, except now I'm listening to college radio and reading "Spin" magazine. And yes, I subscribed through one of those intrusive door-to-door magazine subscription salesmen. I fell for that pitch. I was that guy. And yes, a few years later, I did the same thing for "U.S. News and World Report". A thousand times yes.

Late College

Still listening to (and broadcasting from) the college radio station. CD burning software and Napster appear. I move into an apartment with a DSL line. I search Napster for things like "acoustic" and "live" and "one hit wonder from 4 years ago that I wouldn't mind having on a CD".

Graduate School

I own a computer, but can't afford broadband. I keep track of songs that I want to download and email the list to Lance, who then searches Kazaa or Limewire and burns me a CD. Most of these songs were first heard on mainstream radio (because my grad school institution's college station blows).

The Professional Years

I download files from music websites to my desktop, and copy them to my thumb drive. I take the thumb drive to work, where I listen to music on headphones. If I like a downloaded song, I move it from my laptop's desktop to my external drive's mp3 library. If I don't like it, I delete it.

CURRENTLY, it goes like this:

I use Google Reader to monitor RSS feeds from six major music blogs: Stereogum, Fluxblog, I Guess I'm Floating, My Old Kentucky Blog, Said the Gramophone, and You Ain't No Picasso. Each site regularly posts mp3s.


I need to decide whether or not to download the files. I need to decide if a song will be good WITHOUT HEARING THE SONG.

As a result of mainstream radio's Nickelbackization (Daughtryism? Disco Panicking? Linkin Parking?), the music I want to hear is mainly distributed on the internet, and the normal discovery process -- 1.> Hear a song, 2.> Learn a band's name, 3.> Seek out more information on that band -- has been inverted. One is now presented with the band's name and information, then asked to listen to their music.

Sadly, most blog write-ups are much more likely to cause a snap judgment against the band than for it. Like browsing in a bookstore, judging a book by its title and/or cover rather than its content, I'm left to judge a band by its name, the title of the song, and the backstory and press photo(s) posted by the blogger.

Here's a sampling of band photos posted at among the mp3 blogs mentioned above, and my gut reaction to each:

Hmm. This guy calls himself SJ Esau, and appears to be a tortured soul that likes cats... IRONICALLY. No thanks. No download.

This guy's band is "Spiritualized". So maybe his hands are clasped in prayer to symbolize his spirituality? Weird. He's an attractive fellow -- that's a nice shirt, and his hair is messed just so. Really, though -- this is a photo for his press kit. Why does it look like he was taken off guard? "Oh, sorry! I didn't hear you come in. I was breathlessly playing my acoustic guitar over this theremin and that electric harp." Bleh. No download.

These are The Old Believers. The only thing worse than his shirt is her "I've become resigned to this incest" look. No sale.

I just found out a friend of mine likes The Avett Brothers. I'm guessing she didn't form that opinion based on their publicity photo. Thanks for dressing up, guys. IRONICALLY. No download yet.

Bowerbirds took their snapshot in front of a stainless stell trailer, wearing their best baptizin' outfits. Again, I have some concerns for the well-being of the female member of the band. Is that a tattoo on her right wrist, or a brand that defines her as Beardo's property? No download.

Jesus Christ.


The danger in making such snap judgments is obvious, but allow me to demonstrate. Here's a snippet that a music blog could post to introduce a new band:
[Redacted]'s history began when undergraduates [Redacted] and [Redacted] (born Charles Thompson IV)* shared a room at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.*...The pair formed a band in January [Redacted]. Bassist [Redacted] joined... two weeks later after responding to a classified advertisement... seeking a female* bassist who liked both folk music icons Peter, Paul and Mary and the hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü. [Redacted] was the only person to respond, but arrived at the audition without a bass guitar as she had never played the instrument before.* She claimed her twin sister... had a bass back in Dayton and that she had no money to get it. [Thompson] lent her $50 for the airfare and [she] returned with the bass guitar...
I inserted asterisks for each snap judgment gleaned from the paragraph. Strike one was Charles Thompson IV's stage name, strike two was for my perception of a group of liberal arts weirdos, strike three was for deliberately recruiting a FEMALE bassist (it should be about the MUSIC, man!), and strike four, the most obvious point against, was for a bassist that's never played a bass guitar.

It's a terrible backstory. It rivals Vampire Weekend for worst backstory. Are you ready for the Paul Harvey moment? The name of that little band from UMass was: the Pixies, who are generally credited with starting the alternative rock movement.

The same perils exist when we judge artists based on their press kit photos. Check out art-school-black-and-white, below.

Nice accessories, dude! I've always said that a scarf, hat, and sunglasses weren't enough. You need a killer vest to pull it all together. Oh wait, that's Beck, and he's approximately 1000 times more awesome than that stupid picture would indicate.


My point is that names and accompanying pictures are more important now than ever, and musicians would be well-served to cut the artistic bullshit and appeal to a wider audience.