Saturday, July 30, 2005

Things I've Learned from the New Jessica Simpson Video


America's bimbette of the moment has a new single and video out. Well, we can't really call it new because it's a cover of "These Boots are Made for Walking", recorded for the remake of The Dukes of Hazzard...neither of which anyone on this Earth asked for. I've heard all the controversy surrounding the new video, so I had to check it out. And I've learned some things, people. Important things.

1. Willie Nelson is even higher than I thought he was.

2. Having a singing voice that can only be compared to a 6-year old girl eating peanut butter while being strangled is actually sexy.

3. I've been washing my car all wrong. Forget the elbow grease. I really need to put my ass into it.

4. I miss Nancy Sinatra.

5. Hell, I miss Britney Spears.

6. Madonna's cover of "American Pie" is no longer the worst butchering of a classic song in music history.

7. The phrase "can I get a sooey?" will undoubtedly catch on and annoy me even more than "my bad" or "whazzzzzzzuuup".

8. If you're practically begging for a guy to touch your ass, and he does touch your ass, you're still entitled to punch him in the face for doing so. Which brings me to #9....

9. Sluts are people too.

10. Um, I can't really come up with 10. Truth be told, the video wasn't really all that enlightening.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Totupidity (aka Total Stupidity)

One of the most annoying fads in recent years is the name-splicing of Hollywood couples, as if that were cute. Note to the media: it's not. I actually think this all started with soap operas, namely Days of our Lives. I used to watch Days faithfully until about a year ago, when it just became too asinine for words. At any rate, there was a very popular love triangle going on a few years back involving the characters Chloe, Philip and Brady. All of a sudden rival gangs of crazed fans sprouted up, known as "Phloe" and "Broe". My sister used to get Soap Opera Weekly magazine to keep up to date on the show in case she ever missed something, so I would read it too. (There was always at least one picture of some shirtless soap hunk, so it was worth perusing for that alone.) I started noticing as time went by that all the soaps started coming up with name fusions for their popular couples, but since I didn't watch anything but Days (and Another World was canceled long before this phenomenon appeared) I really can't recall any of them. But soon, Belle and Shawn were known as "Shelle", Rex and Mimi became "Rimi", and then I crumbled under the weight of the cutesy ridiculousness of the whole thing.

Not only is this irritating from a linguistic standpoint, but it just strengthens my belief that society sees couples not as a couple of individuals who just happen to be together, but as some sort of two-headed being that can't survive without the other head. This is especially funny in Hollywood, where celebrity couples often don't last past the initial "I like you" stage. So why even bother? Eventually all the good names will be taken though, and then this stupid game will have to end. So, that's a plus. For instance, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were dubbed "Bennifer", so now that he's with Jennifer Garner, they can't have a nickname! It's already been done. And what about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston? Why didn't they get a nickname? Would "Brennifer" have been too close to "Bennifer"? Was "Jad" just not snappy enough? They were actually married, you'd think they'd be more deserving of a nickname. Certainly more deserving than the new monster known as "Brangelina". And then of course, there's Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who have been awarded the moniker "TomKat". How clever. Oh, I bet the journalist who coined that one spent a good week recovering from that pulled muscle caused by patting him or herself on the back. I'm actually starting to wonder if Tom didn't break up with Penelope Cruz just because he was afraid they would end up labeled "Tomelope". (Sounds like a distant cousin of the jackelope.) It was bad enough that their last names were homonyms. Really, there was only so much he could take.

If the media insists on continuing this silly trend, I plan on doing everything in my power (which means nothing) to get celebrities together whose collective name would at least be amusing. Like, if Portia DeRossi wasn't a lesbian and Johnny Knoxville wasn't married, they could be "PortiaJohn". Cue the toilet sound effects! Together, Drew Carey and Poppy Montgomery would become "Drewpy". Cue the Droopy theme song. And I think we all know what fun Faye Dunaway and Puck from The Real World would have with their nickname. Cue the sensors.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Eye Boogers

Like the goop that's always accumulating in the corners of our eyes, the following news items are curiously fascinating:

Hilary Duff is getting set to release a Greatest Hits compilation. - How long have I been asleep? What year is this? Good Lord. I've also heard that Jesse McCartney will be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2006 Grammys.

PETA crowns Carrie Underwood and Coldplay's Chris Martin "World's Sexiest Vegetarians". - At the exact time this was announced, a monkey in a French pharmaceutical lab was having lit cigarettes shoved up its ass while being doused with hairspray.

New Jersey woman pretends to be Jessica Simpson's assistant to snag free merchandise. - This woman, Courtney Handel, was actually arrested for fooling several companies into sending her freebies just by claiming she was Simpson's personal assistant. It's times like these that I wish I were a defense lawyer. The real crime is that celebrities, who are swimming in cash, are given free stuff all the time! To me, this is just poetic justice. The girl didn't physically steal anything and didn't use force or extortion, so what is the crime? These companies were stupid enough to believe that she was who she said she was, and even more moronic to just blindly ship off their goods in the hopes that the poor man's Daisy Duke might give them a shout-out one day. Courtney should get to keep everything and get her own show on MTV.

O.J. Simpson gets caught stealing cable. - Jeez, you let a guy get away with murder and he thinks he can get away with everything. Apparently, during a search of Simpson's home related to a different investigation, the Feds found some bootloaders, used to descramble the DirecTV signal. A suit was filed and a judge has already found in DirecTV's favor. Simpson's lawyer plans to appeal while Juice heads out to the golf course to hunt for the real bootleggers.

McDonalds signs an exclusive deal to promote DreamWorks films. - Big corporations get richer and we all get fatter. Not big news. I'm just waiting for summer blockbusters like Grimace and Shrek's Bogus Journey.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Crying Game

Ask anyone who knows me personally and they'll tell you...I'm an emotional void. I do have my moments of exuberance and I like to laugh a lot, but generally I'm pretty even-tempered. I don't often go to emotional extremes. Most people have told me that when I get angry it just comes off as really funny, which makes me even angrier, which in turn makes me even more humorous, I guess. Whatever. The point is that my demeanor doesn't fluctuate wildly, so sometimes people assume that I have no feelings. This is especially true when it comes to sadness. I am not a cryer. That doesn't mean I have never cried, it just means I don't like to cry and it usually takes a lot to make me do so. Situations that would make 90% of the female population start weeping just don't have much effect on me. However, I believe that my lack of lachrymal fluid production in my normal every day life has created an imbalance in my brain that causes me to sob uncontrollably when confronted with "sad" movies, songs or things I see on TV. Seems that I can only cry over things which don't directly affect my life.

In honor of the things that make me go boo-hoo, I would like to present some awards for Outstanding Achievement in Humanizing Me to the following:

1. The Shawshank Redemption - I cried more during this two hours than I probably did in the entire 20 years prior to my first viewing of it. Now that it's on TNT and/or TBS every other day, I kind of have my feelings under control, but the first several times I saw this movie I completely broke down. (If you decide to read on and have somehow managed to live this long never having seen this movie, go back to the cave because there are spoilers ahead.) I actually read the Stephen King novella that this movie was very faithfully based on. I liked it, but remember thinking how slow-paced it was, apparently to get across that feeling of being in prison. I didn't think it would translate well to the big screen. Boy, was I wrong! It is my 2nd favorite film of all time and is just an absolute masterpiece. At any rate, there was a fairly long period between the time I read the story and when I finally saw the movie. Silly me, I had forgotten all about Brooks Hatlen. Now, I love James Whitmore, who played Brooks in the film. I have a real love of cute old men, probably because I never knew either of my grandfathers, so I'm always on the lookout for a surrogate. Burgess Meredith was always my first pick, but James would be a close second. He was so adorable as Brooks. As I was watching it, it came to the scene where he is released from prison and is narrating a letter he wrote for his inmate buddies. As that sequence started to unfold, I suddenly remembered what became of Brooks in the book, and knew instantly that this was not going to be pretty. Right around the time Brooks was sitting in the park feeding the birds, bemoaning the fact that his old bird Jake never came around, I went from slightly welled up to full-out, gut-wrenching, body-wracking sobs. I must have cried through the rest of the movie and probably for about an hour afterward. No movie or single performance has ever affected me that profoundly, before or since. I actually had to watch it again, because so much of the dialogue was muffled by my blubbering. Sometimes when I watch it now, I actually have to skip that part of the movie, if I'm not up to the emotional roller coaster. Hats off to James Whitmore, my adoptive grandpa. He shook out feelings in me I didn't even know I had.

2. Les Miserables - Although this is one of my favorite books, it's actually the musical play that drives me to tears. It's a sad story to begin with. But acted out and enhanced with romantic and mournful songs performed by some of the most staggeringly beautiful voices one could ever hope to lay ears on, it's positively heartbreaking. I'm not alone in sympathizing most with Eponine, whose character is much more developed in the play. She's the perfect tragic heroine - the ragged girl who ultimately gives her life for the rich boy whom she loves. And she gets two of the best songs, "On My Own" and "A Little Fall of Rain". If neither of those gets you at least misty-eyed, you are one heartless freak. (And don't even get me started on Jean Valjean's "Bring Him Home".)

3. Hallmark Commercial: Old Lady at Mailbox - Those bastards at Hallmark. They really know how to manipulate people, don't they? I start to get choked up just thinking about this commercial, but I shall try to press on and describe it for you all. Basically, there is an old lady who lives across the street from a younger woman and her son. The woman sees the lady out at her mailbox and as the mailman comes by with the younger woman's mail, he tells her that the old lady checks her mail every day, but never gets anything. Ok, sad enough already, right? No, those evil greeting card geniuses aren't done with us yet. Young woman goes and buys a nice little "hello" card and puts it in the lady's mailbox, then watches with delight as the little old lady comes out to find a letter waiting for her! The next day, the woman's son brings over something (I believe it was a jar of jam or preserves) and tells his mom it's from the lady next door and that, "I think she was crying". Then the clincher - we see the two women walking over to each other and they meet and embrace. You can't see it, and you may not believe it, but I really am tearing up over this! God, that commercial gets me every time. Thank goodness it's never on any more. I'd love to meet the ad genius who came up with that one. I'd give him or her a big hug and then kick him/her in the shins for toying with my emotions.

4. Extreme Home Makeover - No brainer here, right? I started watching this show in the hopes of seeing Ty Pennington hammering shirtless, and I wasn't disappointed. However, I had no idea what a poignant program this was. The families always have such a terrible story and everyone cries for the entire hour. Last week they re-ran one of the most incredible episodes (a 10 on the Sniffle Scale) revolving around a family with two deaf parents, an autistic/blind son and another son who took care of everyone with no complaints. Occasionally this show can get melodramatic, but this particular family was really very special and inspiring.

5. Last Game of the Season (A Blind Man in the Bleachers) - As Billy Ocean once said, "there'll be sad songs to make you cry". There have been a few songs that have put me in quite a melancholy state, but I don't think I ever had a full-fledged crying session over one. This song is probably the closest I ever came. I had never heard of this song before, and my introduction to it was at my old roommate's house for a New Year's Eve party. I believe this was around 1997 or '98. This girl was a big fan of disco, so she had that whole "Have a Nice Day" CD collection. She was playing them all and eventually this song came on. I was sitting there at her kitchen table listening to it and all of a sudden I felt my cheeks getting wet. Total buzz kill. I was sitting there, literally crying in my beer and I finally yelled, "What the hell is this?? It's New Year's Eve, we're supposed to be having fun!! I thought we were listening to disco? Disco music is supposed to be FUN!!" For those of you unfamiliar with this song, and I'm going to guess that that's most of you because no one I've ever asked about it seems to recall it, here are the lyrics. A bit maudlin perhaps, but they get the job done:

He's just the blind man in the bleachers
To the local home town fans
And he sits beneath the speakers
Way back in the stands
And he listens to the play by play
He's just waiting for one name
He wants to hear his son get in the game

But the boy's not just a hero
He's strictly second team
Tho he runs each night for touchdowns
In his father's sweetest dreams
He's gonna be a star some day
Tho you might never tell
But the blind man in the bleachers knows he will

And the last game of the season is a Friday night at home
And no one knows the reason but the blind man didn't come
And his boy looks kinda nervous
Sometimes turns around and stares
Just as tho' he sees the old man sittin' there

The local boys are tryin' but they slowly lose their will
Another player's down and now
He's carried from the field
At halftime in the locker room
The kid goes off alone
And no one sees him talkin' on the phone

The game's already started
When he gets back to the team
And half the crowd can hear his coach yell
"Where the hell you been?"
"Just gettin' ready for the second half,"
Is all he'll say
"Cause now you're gonna let me in to play."

Without another word, he turns and runs into the game
And through the silence on the field
Loudspeakers call his name
It'll make the local papers
How the team came from behind
When they saw him playin' his heart to win

And when the game was over
The coach asked him to tell
What was it he was thinkin' of
That made him play so well
"You knew my dad was blind," he said
"Tonight he passed away"
"It's the first time that my father's seen me play


Okay, that's it for me. Let's talk about yourfeelings. I'll be in the kitchen, cutting onions.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I'm Crazy BeckEye, Now Gimme Some Candy!

My niece just came back from a birthday party with this bag of candy which has definitely caught my eye. I can see Tootsie Rolls and their even more delicious cousins, Tootsie Pops, peeking out from the party-size cellophane sack. For some reason, my niece is not really all that into candy. She's more of a cake/cookie girl. I, on the other hand, loves me some candy. I crave salty snacks too. Anything that's bad for me really, but being a nutritional know-nothing is not really the point of this post. I'm writing to ask you folks out there where the hell has all the good candy gone?

After confiscating the treats, I soon found out that the Tootsie Family of goodies were acting as a decoy to lure me in. Rifling through the bag, I discovered a bunch of crap. Crap like...amazing Dubble Bubble gum. I call it amazing because after being in your mouth for only 3 seconds, it miraculously turns into plaster. And then there is the generic strawberry licorice. Generally, if they're not Twizzlers (or certain licorice products I will discuss later), they're most likely just pieces of garden hose twisted up and painted pink. Now, I'll probably still eat these confectionary flops because Dr. Phil says I'm trying to fill the hole in my soul with food. Still, I only do so begrudgingly. I mean, if I'm gonna sit around and eat junk and end up having to do 200 crunches a day to avoid turning into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, er Woman, it better damn well be worth it.

This particular baggie aside, I've noticed a steady decline in the quality of candy since I was a kid. (Laffy Taffy excluded.) I can't believe that I'm actually old enough to remember penny candy, but I do, so I guess I am. Well, the drugstore that I used to bike to for my candy fix actually had slightly higher prices. I think the average item was around 5 cents instead of 1. But they were premium goods, so I didn't mind.

I liked to mix up my sweets so I didn't get bored, but there were just certain ones I had to have every trip. My paper-bag was never without the following:

Delfa RollsOH GOD. I love the Delfa Roll. I never see these sold anywhere these days, except for one place. There is a little snack kiosk outside the movie theater in a mall that no one ever goes to, other than to see a movie or to shop at Dick's and/or Old Navy. I never go out of my way to go there, but every time I do, I make sure to stop and get a few packs of my darling Delfa. The fun part as a kid was unfurling them and whipping myself in the face with them. That could partially help explain why I am the way I am today.

Shoestring LicoriceGenerally, I wouldn't get Delfa Rolls AND shoestrings at the same time, but occasionally I had a hankering for some serious licorice overload. Shoestrings were great, because you could look cool by draping them around your neck like a feather boa while sort of nonchalantly chewing on the ends. Or you could take a bunch and make a big braid out of them. Or better yet, take some strands, roll them up into a huge ball and shove the whole thing in your mouth. The latter method was never performed solo; you always had to have a friend spotting you, should a Heimlich situation ever arise.

Buttons/DotsI really don't know the technical name for this candy. Basically, it was a long strip of paper about the size of register tape, and it had sets of colored dots all over it. You had to suck and chew the dots off of the paper, which wasn't as easy as it sounds. It could be a struggle. It could get messy. Knowing what I know now, we should've just rolled up the piece of paper and put the whole wad in our mouths. You ended up eating 90% of the paper anyway.

SixletsThese are still sold today and seem to be pretty popular. They're just chocolate with a little candy shell, but why are they so much better than M&M's?? There must be a hundred variations of candy-coated chocolate out there, but Sixlets practically make me weak at the knees. And although you can buy larger boxes of them, it's so much more fun to get the single packs. Then you just open one end and smooth out the wrapper to pop them in your mouth. There was usually always one, on a really hot day, that would get stuck on the other end of the wrapper and the more you tried to move it, the more cracked and mushed up it would get. Of course, instead of just opening the other end to get it out, you had to deep-throat the wrapper and gnaw it out of there, like a bear trying to get out of a trap. Fun.

SpaceshipsI don't know if there's a technical name for these either, but man I loved these things. They were little flying saucers made out of some type of edible paper. Then they had all these little candy beads inside. I always ate these the same way. The technique never varied. I would tear a little square hole out of the side of the saucer, so it looked like a door. Then I would say something stupid like "We come in peace," pretending it was the "aliens" inside. But I was just a ravenously hungry Earth beast, so I dumped all the little candy beings into my mouth and ate them. Then I ate the spaceship to get rid of the evidence. Ha ha, suckas! "To Serve Man" was a cookbook! (Twilight Zone geeks will appreciate that joke.)

Swedish FishAnother staple of my childhood that, fortunately, is still just as popular today. Every once in a while I'll be at Wal-Mart or something and see the giant box of fishies sitting on the shelf, calling my name. I never seek them out. It's usually always an impulse buy. Then I go home and eat them until I'm on the brink of vomiting. Every time. That's the thing about Swedish Fish, you never can tell when you've had too many until it's almost too late. But they're so damn good, I'll usually try to sneak a few more in before my stomach gives me that stern, final warning.

Now, not all the candy we had when I was growing up was as good as those mentioned above. I was into some really strange stuff. Like those giant candy "diamond" rings. How disgusting were they? You sucked on that thing all day and it never seemed to get any smaller, but you ended up with this nasty sticky goo all over your hand and matted down arm hair. Yum. And what about those tubes of wax with the juice in them? What were they all about? You drank the juice out and then actually ate the wax! Then there were the ever-popular wax lips. With those, not only did you get your recommended daily allowance of wax, but you got to look like Mick Jagger for a day.

If I had really been a smart kid, I wouldn't have bothered with the Kool-Aid stand. I would've just collected all the wax I could from candles around the house and sold balls of it for a dime each. Hmm, now that everything retro is back with a bang, that might still be a good idea. I could be the next Willy Wonka.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Let The Male Bashing Begin

Actually, this post isn't really meant to be an exercise in male-bashing, I just thought it was a catchy title that would bring in some readers. Yeah yeah, I'm so shameless. Although I've known my share of jagoffs in my day, I'm not ready to lump all men into the same category. However, it seems that there is an overabundance of male celebrities who give men all over the world a bad name. So, we'll call this celebrity male-bashing. And I'm not even going after Tom Cruise this time!

Just recently, Jude Law announced to the world that he cheated on his fiancee, Sienna Miller, with his nanny. I don't know which is less surprising - the fact that such a rich, spoiled, gorgeous man would have an affair or that he did it with the nanny. Isn't sleeping with the babysitter the ultimate cliche? Just once I would like to hear about a movie star having a tryst with his 50 year old Guatemalan laundry lady. At any rate, this recent tabloid story begs the question: Why are some men never happy?

Most women feel societal pressure to be as sexy and attractive as they can be. The idea is never put forth in an effort to build up their self-esteem. The messages that we as women get from the media and the general public do not focus on telling us that if we look good, we feel good, hence looking our best is the easiest route to boosting our confidence. Everything revolves around telling women to look good simply because we're expected to look good, especially by the opposite sex. The basic idea is, if you don't look hot no one will want you. But how does this work in the glam world of celebrities? Just look at Sienna Miller. She's gorgeous. Most women would kill to look like her. Most men would kill a small animal to be with her. And here comes Jude Law (who was already rumored to have cheated more than once on his ex-wife), possibly even prettier than Sienna is, who nabs her but still feels compelled to look elsewhere. This makes being an "average" woman seem a little hopeless, doesn't it?

The most obvious example of the never-satisfied man is that tattooed walking penis, Tommy Lee. He was married to Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson and cheated on both of them! Now, these two women alone have probably fueled more masturbatory fantasies than the entire rest of the Maxim Hot 100 list combined. And this is a guy who, if he hadn't made it big as a musician, would probably be a drug-addled, toothless carny today. Yet, he manages to effortlessly lure in women on the strength of his rock star status. (Oh yeah, and apparently he's hung like a horse.) But he somehow snags the two women who most men in America consider "the ultimate" in hotness, but they're just not hot enough to keep him interested. It's mind-boggling.

Why then do women have to feel such pressure to look their best when even someone like Heather Locklear can't keep a man? If all it takes is to have a beautiful face and a hot bod, certainly these gorgeous models and actresses would never have a problem in the fidelity department. Obviously, looks aren't everything. But they're certainly something. So what the hell do men want? I've heard several tales of men who "traded up" after they became famous, by ditching their wives and girlfriends for hot celeb chicks. Yet the guys who already have hot chicks still can't keep it in their pants. Sure, a pretty smile and rock hard abs aren't enough to keep a man interested forever. There has to be some substance. But, men usually don't go for a roll in the hay with someone to find substance. I guarantee you Jude Law wasn't lying in bed with the nanny talking about the war in Iraq. So what are they looking for? I'm inclined to believe that in the case of famous men, they just feel as if they're entitled to everything, including all the sex they can handle. They cheat because they don't like being told what not to do and, more to the point, because they can. These are men who always get what they want because being a celebrity means never having to be accountable for one's actions. And in the end, it's not so much about the women as it is about themselves. It's all about that hungry beast known as the ego. They want to see what they can get, who they can get it from and how much they can get away with.

I know that there are plenty of females out there guilty of the same type of behavior. However, when this kind of thing hits the tabloids, it's generally presented with a "well, boys will be boys" sort of attitude when it's a man cheating on his significant other. When it's a woman doing the dirty deed, she's labeled a bed-hopping skank. Now, this is a double standard that permeates our entire culture, so I won't really get into that or I could be here for days. The point is that affairs have become so commonplace these days that a lot of people act like they should be awarded medals for simply not cheating. And when these stories of celebrity hijinx are splattered all over gossip rags and TV shows, just the juciest details are given out. We never get to see the actual fallout from these illicit liaisons, so it's almost fueling the idea for us average schlubs that being faithful isn't really that big a deal. Especially when a lot of these guys end up back with the girlfriend/wife that they cheated on or they find a hotter, even more famous chick to comfort them. It makes it all look so glamorous, no?

Now, some smart ass will probably ask me if I were married or in a serious relationship and inexplicably presented with the opportunity to sleep with John Travolta or Eddie Vedder, would I do it? Well, let me just answer that right now with a resounding....pleading of the 5th.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Ironic City

Let me start off by saying that I'm only 32. I'm a woman in my prime. It's not too loud and I'm not too old. But what I'm about to say sounds like something that would come from the crotchety old man across the street. I just don't get these kids today.

I was part of "Generation X", and although I never really liked that title, (mainly because older people thought we were all like those idiots in Reality Bites) I still understood what our generation was supposed to be about. We were rebelling against the Baby Boom generation, who became the "Me Generation" in the '80s, after switching from wanting to buy the world a Coke to buying themselves status symbols. Most sources define Generation X-ers as those born between 1965-1975, and those whose adolescence was shaped by the '80s. We were all about big hair, leg warmers, rollerskating, jelly shoes and finding out where the damn beef was. It was a weird time, with weird (but great) music, and it was all ours.

After us, kids born between 1976-1983 or so were dubbed "Generation Y". Why? Who knows. No one could think of a more clever name, I suppose. Gen Y kids are usually too young to remember the really best parts of the '80s, before its excesses nearly swallowed us whole. They might remember Poison, but not Gary Numan. They know Bill and Ted, but not Farmer Ted. However, these kids were right there when hair bands were destroyed by grunge. They were there for the return of real rock 'n roll. They were there for the best technological advancements - CD players, cell phones and PCs to name a few. But even though they had a lot going on, their parents started to reminisce about the old days, and '60s and '70s culture started to be reintroduced into society. The Gen Y kids started to bridge the gap between the future and the past. They wore bellbottoms with Nirvana T-shirts. College kids had CD collections full of Dylan, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin mixed with Dave Matthews Band and Sheryl Crow. They had their own style, but borrowed some elements from previous generations. It was a nice mix.

I don't know what to call those who were born from 1984-1990, but I'm sure I can come up with something better than Generation Z. Possibly the Lost Generation or the Ironic Age. These kids have nothing worthwhile of their own, so they are compelled to latch on to whatever was "cool" back in the day. And what's worse is that they really think what we liked in the '70s and the '80s was lame, but suddenly it's become cool to like whatever is uncool. As I said, it's the age of irony. Geeks are now chic. Bands at frat parties cover Neil Diamond songs. Sitcoms that our generation finally got rid of, like "Diff'rent Strokes", "Full House" and "The Nanny", are suddenly all the rage.

I'm tired of these little morons stealing my memories and trying to make them part of their generation. If they really like '80s music, movies and fashion, that's great. I have no problem with that. But I don't appreciate when they mock our generation in order to make themselves look cooler. And I am a huge fan of sarcasm. But when someone feels the need to ridicule absolutely everything, even that which they ostensibly enjoy, in an effort to achieve that tragically hip status...they really come off as being just plain tragic. But I guess that's the ultimate irony, now isn't it?

(Disclaimer - the above was a generalization. I know that not everyone in the 15-21 age bracket will fit this description. I know several younger folks who aren't like this, but admit that this kind of attitude permeates their generation.)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

One-Hit Blunder

One-hit wonders. We all know 'em. We may not all love 'em, but there are plenty of 'em out there. The one-hitters are a great example of how, occasionally, the music-listening public gets it right.

Maybe it's just because I don't listen to mainstream radio now as much as I used to, but it seems that there aren't as many one-hit wonders today as there were in the '70s, '80s and '90s. Nowadays, it seems like any crappy quasi-punk band or bootylicious girl can get a record deal and have single after single embraced by an audience who seemingly enjoy being spoon-fed the same old same old. The great thing about one-hit wonders was that they gave us the only really good song that they were capable of churning out, and then got the hell out of the way. Sure, they would try to hang on as long as they could, and to keep living the glamorous life, who wouldn't? But eventually they knew when the party was over and they took their ball of money and went home. There comes a point when they stop boo-hooing over being has beens and become thankful for their time in the sun and bask in the glow of the 3-minute lottery ticket they wrote for themselves.

Now, not all flashes in the pan fit the above description. In fact, there are 3 categories that all OHWs fit into. They are as follows:

1. Don't Worry, Be Happy - The folks in this group are the ones I was just talking about. They probably know that their hit was a fluke, but enjoyed making music and living the high life while it lasted. They genuinely like their song and are happy that the public embraced it. When their time in the music biz was up, they accepted it and moved on. Instead of becoming raging alcoholics or begging to play high school assemblies and dog shows, they used their money to finance business ventures or they just *gasp* saved it, started a family, moved on to another career and lived the rest of their lives out of the spotlight. Occasionally members of this group try a 2nd shot at fame with a new band, look or sound, but that will generally flop and they decide not to be a glutton for punishment. Some of them will end up working in the music business in some capacity and that helps them stay in the industry without embarassing themselves. The most successful example of this type of OHW that I can think of is Danny Elfman, former lead vocalist of Oingo Boingo. Now, I know all of the closet Oingo Boingo fans will suddenly appear, claiming that they weren't a one-hit wonder. Honestly, I think I'm being generous because I don't believe they ever really had a bona-fide "hit". Most people remember them for Weird Science. The great Oingo Boingo debate aside, Elfman has become a well-respected composer and the go-to guy for weird movie scores. Another member of this group is Toni Basil, who went back to being a choreographer after giving us Mickey, aka The Beast That Won't Die.

2. The Neverending Story - Ok, these are the ones I feel sorry for. These are the people who just won't go away no matter how much we all want them to. The groups consisting of one original member and a bunch of guys who just don't give a damn. The bands who announce reunion tours when there wasn't a shred of demand for them to get back together. The guys who show up at every rib festival and car cruise they can, playing for little or no money just for that chance to be onstage again. The girls who take it off for Playboy in lame attempts to jumpstart their careers. These are the Tiffanys, the Flocks of Seagulls, the Tommy Tutones and a good majority of hair bands. Members of this group will take any commercial endorsements that come their way and they would sell their souls to the devil for just one more hit. They are fully prepared to spend the rest of their lives squeezing every last drop of fame out of their one-hit wonder status.

3. We're Not Gonna Take It - This group is in complete contrast with group #2. It consists of "serious" singer/songwriters who managed to write a song that achieved mainstream success...much to their horror. Because, hey, it's about the music, man. Apparently it's better to toil in relative obscurity than have a hit on the Billboard charts. Or so these guys tell themselves, so they don't have to admit that maybe they're not quite the bards that they think they are. I don't think Dylan or Springsteen ever balked at having a radio hit. Then again, those guys never had a problem writing consistently good songs.

My example for group #3 will be a fellow by the name of Charlie Sexton. Now, if you've been paying attention, you'll remember I mentioned having a story about him in an earlier entry. This is it...and I'll try to give you all the P.S. version. If you don't know who Charlie is, I'll summarize. He had a top 20 hit back in '85 with Beat's So Lonely when he was just 19 years old. If pressed to name my favorite song from the '80s, that would most likely be it. He was considered a guitar prodigy back then and someone that everyone was expecting great things from. Well, those great things never really materialized. He resurfaced again around '92 with The Arc Angels and then in '95 or '96, fronting the Charlie Sexton Sextet. My best friend and I decided to go see him when he came to Pittsburgh on tour. We both loved Beat's So Lonely and were really hoping to hear it, even though we realized it was 10 years later and he was supporting an album of new material. Still, we thought that was the song that put him on the map and what a lot of people remembered him for. We were right up front and before the show started, we were talking about the song when, behind us, this drunk redheaded chick and her friend overheard and started yelling that they loved that song too, along with some other minor hits from his first record. So, once the show started, they were egging us on to scream for BSL after every song. Being giddy at the time, we went along with them and started yelling for it at every break. Finally after about the 4th or 5th song, Charlie looks down directly at us and says into the microphone, "It's not gonna happen". We were all flabbergasted. Not only because we weren't going to hear our song, but because he had kind of a shitty attitude about it. So, my friend and I were a little peeved, but his new stuff was good, so we decided to just get over it and enjoy the show. Red wasn't having it though. She started screaming and wouldn't let up. It was a barrage of obscenities sprinkled with lines like "we're your fans, you bastard, you'd be nowhere without us" and my personal favorite of the evening, "give me the microphone, I'll sing it myself". She was absolutely flipping out, and although it started out funny, it became pretty irritating because I couldn't pay attention to the music. Then out of nowhere, during a song break Charlie "shush-ed" her. He was visibly annoyed and giving her the stink-eye during the whole show, but I guess he just had enough and gave her a very stern, almost parental "shushing". (The first and only time I've ever experienced such an occurence at a concert.) As you can imagine, drunk redhead didn't cotton to that. I really thought that we were going to be escorted out of there because he must have assumed that we were with her. I caught Chuck throwing a few dirty looks my way as well.

Now that I think back on it, I understand why he wouldn't want to perform that song. I totally get that he had moved on and wanted to focus on the present rather than the past. And it's quite possible that his band didn't even know how to play that song. So, not playing it wasn't really the big deal. The real issue is that I think he handled it a bit like a punk. He never seemed to appreciate the fact that, as Red said, we were his fans, and he wouldn't have been anywhere without us. He didn't have to do the song, but he could've been a little more diplomatic about it. The easy to please 22-year old that I was then let it slide. The grumpy 32-year old that I am now would've told Charlie to take his song and shove it. I still love that song, but he doesn't have to know that.

You know....I'm starting to wonder now if I was a bit too hard on group #2. Truth be told, I'd much rather sit through a Trixter set at the Regatta than hear one more Nickleback song.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Everything Except Country, Ad Nauseam*

*I originally posted this on my MySpace blog, but since I'm still suffering from that infernal writer's block, I thought I would just bring it over here until I get some new material. And you're a whole new audience!

It's amazing how many profiles I have seen on MySpace where the phrase "I like everything except country" pops up in the musical interests section. I'm having a hard time understanding how this can be, yet country music remains extremely popular, judging by album sales and the growing number of country radio stations. What is it about country music that annoys people so much? I know that when I was younger, I hated it simply because it had a stigma attached to it. I thought only toothless men and trailer park chicks liked C&W. I'm sure this idea was planted in my head by the media and "the cool kids". As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate country music, as well as other forms of music I previously wouldn't have given a fair shake. I don't let the media or random hipsters tell me what I should and shouldn't listen to.

First of all, I realized that without country music, rock 'n roll as we know it would be drastically different. Could there have been an Elvis? He borrowed from country, blues and gospel to develop his sound. And beyond Elvis, the whole genre of rockabilly wouldn't exist. And what about country's influence on songwriting? Country music has always, in it's purest forms, been about telling stories through song. I can't imagine great songwriters like Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen being able to hone their craft without inspiration from country and folk music.

So why are so many people willing to write off a whole genre of music? While I'm sure there are many who have listened to their share of country and truly don't like it, I'm sure that there are quite a few who hate it because they think it's cool to hate it. Country still has that stigma attached to it for the most part. People still think you might be a redneck if you like it, and they don't want to be rednecks. It's usually pretty easy to tell who's being honest though. If you talk to someone about country music and they sound like they're regurgitating something that the tattooed guy at the record store said, or something that would've come straight out of the garbage dump known as Rolling Stone, you can pretty much bet that they've never listened to country and are just saying what they think they have to to be cool. It's generally something like, "country music has no heart...the only good country artists are Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard". Cash is always the first one mentioned. Because everyone knows if you don't like Johnny Cash, you're an idiot. Artist #2 isn't always necessarily Merle Haggard. It varies between him, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr. and Waylon Jennings. Or, if just Johnny Cash is mentioned, they'll also throw in that "the new Loretta Lynn CD is brilliant". Now, here's a fun game. Ask them if they actually own Van Lear Rose. Watch them squirm. Ask them to name a Johnny Cash song besides "Ring of Fire" or "Folsom Prison Blues". (Oops, the NIN cover doesn't count either.) Watch them panic.

So, what's my point? So often when I start yammering away, I forget. I guess I have two points.

#1 - Don't let the media/friends/music snobs tell you what is good and what isn't. Music is here for us to enjoy. Why throw away possible enjoyment to retain some self-imagined hip status? I'll let you all in on a little secret. I love Def Leppard. Always have, always will. I don't care who knows it and I don't care who doesn't like it. Here's a few more nuggets: I own Air Supply's Greatest Hits, I freaking love Hanson's "Mmmbop" and Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" and I watch American Idol AND Nashville Star. I do have my music snob moments, like if you get me talking about Britney, Christina and the like, but if people enjoy their "music", that's their business. And let's face it, it is specifically manufactured to be catchy so why fight it? Songs like "Toxic" and "Dirrty" can get stuck in my head for days and they always make me wanna dance. I might feel a little dirrty because of it, but screw it. As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Like what you like, and make no apologies for it.

Again, I"ve gotten off track. Ah yes...

#2 - Don't dismiss country music or any musical genre as a whole. Until you've listened to absolutely everything that genre has to offer, you have no idea what you could be missing. This is something I know quite a bit about and I'm absolutely qualified to give this advice. Just over a year ago, if you would've mentioned the words "electronica" or "Industrial music" to me I would've rolled my eyes and said something like "I hate that shit". I came upon the band Vic Thrill who were labeled as "electro-clash" and used electronic noise and computers in their music. I immediately assumed I wouldn't like it. But, I gave it a shot only because the lead singer used to be in an alternative/rock band that I loved. I was sure he had gone crazy and this new stuff would be garbage, yet I loved it instantly. Today, they are one of my favorite bands. I learned a lesson from that, realizing that I was being a bit narrow in my musical tastes. Ever since then I have branched out more and more and as a result, have found bands I never knew existed and gained appreciation for music that I had been pigeonholing for too long.

Genres are certainly useful for labeling purposes, but they can also build walls that keep people out. The music industry will never do away with genres (in fact, more and more new ones keep being created, much to my annoyance) so we all have to learn to use them as loose guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Sometimes artists are put into categories that aren't necessarily what they're all about and sometimes those categories evolve to the point where they really don't fit the original genre definition. Therefore, it's hard to say that you hate everything in any particular genre, because there will always be at least one or two gems in there worth picking out. As far as country music goes, there are so many different styles of country now that it's impossible to define it so narrowly. There's bluegrass, rockabilly, folk-country, alt-country and country-rock just to name a few. Then of course, there is the hugely popular pop-country, started with the success of Garth Brooks and then taken to the pop extreme by Shania Twain. The storytelling focus has been traded in for good looks, catchy hooks and pop simplicity. This sub-genre seems to either turn folks completely off of country or bring new fans in with its radio-friendly sound. Either way, it's only one form of a diverse musical style. A few artists aren't a good representation of everything a genre has to offer. If you really love music, you'll enjoy exploring different styles and surprising yourself with what you find.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What's In BeckEye's Ear

Heavens to Betsy...I'm having a serious bout of writer's block, so I'm taking the easy way out and sharing with you the songs that have taken over my brain this week. I'm sure Tom Cruise would say there's no such thing as writer's block, but all he need do is think back to the screenplay for Cocktail to know that there is.

1. Unplayed Piano - Damien Rice & Lisa Hannigan - This song is breathtakingly beautiful. I have no idea what the lyrics are and I don't care. Everyone needs to listen to this immediately. GO!

2. Master of Disaster - John Hiatt - From the new album of the same name...which, inexplicably, I don't own yet. I flipping love Hiatt. What is wrong with me? Am I mental? Paging Tom Cruise...answers, please? (Heh heh, got him twice this entry! Woo!!)

3. Leaving New York - REM - I really kind of gave up on REM after Automatic For the People. There's only so much of Michael Stipe's weirdness and whining that I'm equipped to handle. Whatever he did to come up with this very good, non-annoying song, he needs to keep doing it. I tend to like songs about New York anyway (I dream of moving there like every other wannabe writer-schlub) so the title had me at hello. The melody kept me. (You know what kids, honestly, that was an unintentional Cruise reference.)

4. It's My Life - Paul Anka - So, Mr. Anka has a new record out called Rock Swings, where he covers several well-known rock/pop songs such as "Eye of the Tiger", "Wonderwall", "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Eyes Without A Face". I have not had the pleasure of hearing any of those, just this Bon Jovi number. My God, it really sounds good! When I first heard it I thought it might be a joke, like something by Lounge Against the Machine. But then I got sucked into it and thought it sounded much too serious and professional to be a joke. Scoff if you will, but I'm dying to hear the rest of his album! This cat swings! I don't know if this means I'm getting older or what. Am I one step away from the complete Jerry Vale catalog?

5. Burned - Better Than Ezra - I could listen to Kevin Griffin's voice all day. I love BTE. I will admit that I'm a little disappointed in the latest record, Before The Robots, from which this came. Probably not their best effort, but by no means bad. This is my favorite song from it so far. It's the first track and as any good first track should be, it's ultra-peppy and makes you wanna hear more.

6. E-Pro - Beck - This came out a few months ago. I guess it's the first single from Guero. That's the thing about listening to public radio...sometimes they play whatever the hell they want so you never really know what songs are actually singles. But that's actually a good thing. Until I say "this is a single" and it ends up not and then I look like a dummy. Whatever, the song kicks ass. And all Becks are cool.

7. Miracle Mile - Shannon McNally - Shannon has a great voice. I think she used to sing backup for Hiatt as a matter of fact. Anyway, her new record, Geronimo is produced by Charlie Sexton. I have a story about him. I haven't told it to everyone in the world yet. Hmm, my writer's block may be cured.

8. Late Night Pilgrim - Tift Merritt - Another bluesy kind of chick with a great voice. She's a little more country leaning than Shannon though. Tambourine is another CD I should probably own but don't. Here's the other problem with listening to public radio. I'm constantly finding stuff that I never knew existed and I don't make nearly enough money to buy all the records that I keep wanting. And I would never download songs illegally. Nooooo....that would be wrong. Tom Cruise wouldn't do it. And neither should you.

9. Beauty - David Mead - I love those guys who can hit the high notes. This song really is quite a beauty.

10. Until I Get It Right - Bill Deasy - Local boy alert! Yeah, for those of you who don't know, Bill is/was a local performer, then almost hit it big with his band The Gathering Field until Atlantic dropped them, and since then he's been writing stuff here and there. He actually wrote a theme song for Good Morning America or one of those shows. I don't know if they still use it. I'm not up that early. Anyway, he's a great songwriter with a lovely voice and if you have the opportunity, you should check him out.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Perplexed in Pittsburgh

If there is one thing I will never understand, besides Hilary Duff's success, it's the popularity of advice columns. It's fairly evident from reading the letters that make it to print that people who write in to the Dear Abbys of the world are well past needing any kind of help that doesn't require prescription drugs or a heavily padded room. What kind of person looks for serious advice from a stranger? Especially a stranger who is going to print the sorry affairs of your life for all the world to see and ridicule? The worst are the morons that don't even go to the most-respected advice columnists like Dear Abby and her sister, whats-her-name. They're perfectly content with asking Billy Bob from the Podunk Daily Tumbleweed which one of their boyfriends they should marry or whether they should spend their savings on a pool or that heart surgery. These are people who deserve bad advice. I'm almost rooting for them to do the wrong thing.

My biggest problem with these people is this - there is obviously a lapse in time between when they send their letter in to the paper or magazine and when it's actually answered...if it's even answered. I'm sure some questions aren't even worth the price of mailing them. Even if the advice guru gets the letter in a fairly short amount of time, depending on how often their column is printed there could be a wait of a month or more until it's finally sent to press. If you had a really urgent issue that needed to be resolved, would you rely on someone to help you who wasn't going to get back to you right away, if ever? If you answered "no," congratulations. You're a normal, functional member of society.

Let's take a look at some questions from some real imbeciles, shall we? And, to be nice, I will attempt to give them some advice myself.

Letter #1 (From the Dear Abby website)- DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are very worried about the safety of our two toddlers -- a 3-year-old boy and a 15-month-old girl. Their twin 7-year-old cousins have no manners, discipline or consequences in their lives. They have recently begun seeing a psychiatrist because they have been found with knives, or making stabbing motions toward themselves screaming, "Kill me now!" Every member of the family agrees they are out of control, but nobody does anything to correct their behavior. When we told my mother-in-law we didn't want our children around the twins without direct supervision, her response was she "couldn't watch them every minute." We said fine, we would bring the kids over and one of us would directly supervise them. This led to an uncomfortable silence that lasted a few days, until today when my wife took the kids to her parents' for a birthday party. The afternoon went by with the twins' usual defiance, rudeness and belittling of any adult in sight. After she returned from my in-laws', my wife proceeded to tell me their bay window had a hole in it because one of the twins had shot a loaded gun through it. I am stunned that while we have been discussing the safety of our children, her parents have been leaving a loaded gun lying around. My wife said her father yelled at the twins, although he had left his loaded gun in plain sight. How can I make it clear to my in-laws that they must step up their level of supervision, and that my sister-in-law's kids are headed for serious trouble? -- WORRIED DAD IN VERMONT

Here's a perfect example where time is of the essence. Are you seriously sitting around twiddling your thumbs, eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream, hoping for the best until Abby tells you what to do? Here's the best advice I can give you, "Dad". Go to your mother-in-law, who is obviously as irresponsible as you are dim-witted, and tell her that you will no longer allow your children to spend time in a household where guns are readily available and the twins from The Shining are allowed to run amok. She can give you the evil eye and the cold shoulder all she wants, but at least your kids will remain unscathed, you jackass.

Letter #2 (From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) - Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 31 fantastic years. Six years ago, "Shelley" was promoted, and her new job required her to do a lot of out-of-state business travel. Shelley is very efficient and keeps annual logbooks with the details of her business travel. While I was cleaning up the basement storage area a few weeks ago, I came across her old logbooks, dating back to 1998. Out of curiosity, I opened one, and it had details of a business meeting with a male client - their dinner and conversation, as well as the details of her activities with him in her hotel room. I was totally shocked to read the things they had done. Should I tell her that I know about her secret life or pretend I am still unaware of it? We are happily married, or so I thought. - Clueless in New York

"Clueless" may be a bit generous. Wow. This is actually the letter that prompted me to write this blog entry. Thank you, Clueless, for inspiring me with your idiocy. Actually, I don't know who is the bigger moron. Is it you, who can't seem to figure out for yourself if your wife's affair should have any effect on your "happy" marriage and is seriously considering not even calling her on it? (And hey, you only read one logbook, so really she could've been getting her freak on all over the country for years...it's not out of the realm of possibility.) Or is it your wife, who is foolish enough to include a detailed account of her extramarital romp in her business logs? You know, you're probably better off staying quiet because you two are clearly made for each other. It's like Dumb and Dumber. Where else are you going to find that kind of blissful ignorance?

I hope all of you out there enjoyed this short trip through Crazy Town. And readers, if you have a burning question that you need answered, feel free to email me. If you have a burning sensation when you pee, see a doctor. If you are burning up because you're actually on fire, stop, drop and roll.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I'm sure that about 85% of actors out there hate reality TV. Why? Because it's taking jobs away from them and making stars out of regular people. Well, we can't have that! More and more celebrities are finally starting to realize that if they can't beat reality shows, they might as well join them.

Shows like The Surreal Life and Celebrity Fit Club prove that B-listers and below will do just about anything to keep their names on the collective lips of the public. These shows have a real train-wreck appeal, but I doubt that viewer interest lasts for any reasonable length of time past the season finales. Why should anyone care what happened to Christopher Knight or Da Brat from The Surreal Life 3 when Omarosa Falling Drywall-Stallworth and Jose Canseco are ready to move in and pick up where they left off? Laughing at the trials and tribulations of has-beens or never-weres is only funny for so long.

This is why it was refreshing to see a show like Dancing With the Stars come along. I resisted watching at first, but was lured in because I was bored one night and my sister wouldn't hand over the remote. Once I started watching it though, I found it really entertaining. The calibre of celebrity was slightly higher, although still not in A-list range. Everyone knows Rachel Hunter and Evander Holyfield. Joey McIntyre may have peaked with NKOTB (wickahd awesahm) but he still has his share of fans. John O'Hurley is a TV legend of Seinfeldian proportions and Kelly Monaco stars on General Hospital, one of daytime's most popular soaps. The only real dud in the bunch was that simpleton, Trista Sutter. Luckily for everyone, Ms. Sappy got voted off first. Of course, I wasn't completely happy with the show because John O'Hurley and his partner, Charlotte were totally robbed! Being the smart cookie I am though, I was expecting it. I was sure that Kelly, her hot bod and her partner, Alec, would triumph at the end because the public loves its little Cinderella stories. To have her go from the worst contestant to the winner would allow everyone at home to have a Tony Robbins moment with themselves, truly believing that anyone can achieve their goals if they just set their minds to it. However, the real lesson is that good looks or a sappy story will get you a lot further in life than actual talent. Not to say that Kelly and Alec didn't dance well, but anyone could see that they weren't quite as graceful as John and Charlotte. But whatever, they all have more money than me and they all got free dance lessons, so what the hell do I care?

Now I've heard that since the popularity of Dancing With the Stars, FOX (never to be outdone) is developing their own show called Skating With Celebrities, where various celebs team up with professional figure skaters. All the insurance salesman in Tinseltown are salivating over this one, no doubt. Now, I know it's FOX but this is just plain stupid. I know that professional ballroom dancers have heavy training schedules, but it's nothing compared to what skaters go through. Most ice skaters started out at a very early age and spent countless hours practicing to get as good as they are. And they keep practicing to stay good. And when they fall....hello, it's ice!! It hurts like a bitch. Not that I would know what falling on my ass out of a triple lutz feels like, because when I go ice skating, there is never a time I'm not clutching the railing and moaning that my ankles feel like they're going to snap in half. Still, I can imagine. Are the producers of this show seriously expecting celebrities with no professional training to learn how to do jumps and lifts? Unless they plan on recruiting B and C listers who actually can ice skate well, and then really what's the point? Everyone is going to be watching the show to see who will be the first jackass to have their teeth knocked out. No one wants to see celebrities who already have an edge. It's the promise of seeing someone like Kathy Griffin doing a belly flop on the ice that keeps asses in the seats.

I wonder if this inane trend of Celebreality (copyright: VH1?) TV will continue? If so, I have a few ideas for shows. You listening, Mark Burnett?

CSI: Hollywood - Celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith, Carrot Top and Frank Stallone are paired up with a real life crime scene investigator and let loose in a real crime scene. Whoever solves the case first wins. Of course, there's only one DNA expert available to all the teams, so alliances will have to be made in order to get a leg up on the stiff competition. (Har har har.)

Law & Order: Former Child Stars Unit - Kid stars from the past like Butch Patrick, Todd Bridges and The Coreys team up with brash detectives to find out where the hell their careers and money went.

Survivor:Pauly Shore Island - Ten has-beens (Judd Nelson, Jim McMahon, Soleil Moon-Frye, Alannah Myles, etc.) are stranded on an island with Pauly Shore to see who can last the longest without killing themself or Pauly.

Who Wants To Be President? - Five famous folks run for prez. Let's say, Howard Stern, Michael Jordan, Tom Cruise, Bruce Springsteen and the token woman, Susan Sarandon, all make a bid for the White House. (Is this really worse than a normal election?) I can't wait for the big "Cruise Likes Dudes" smear campaign.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I'm not gonna stay here with you in this Sin Wagon!

I have a few strange dreams. I'm not talking about the recurring ones I have of all my teeth falling out or being back in college during finals week and realizing I've never gone to one class all year. I'm talking about actual "what I want to do with my life" dreams. One of these is to own a little drive-in, with a '50s-style diner next door. Why do I dream this? I don't know. Maybe I've seen Grease one too many times. Maybe I have more of an entrepreneurial spirit than I think I do. Or maybe I just want to go back to a simpler time, and take a few carloads of folks with me.

Of course the biggest stumbling block to this dream (we're not counting the fact that I have no money) is the popular decline of drive-in theaters. I still haven't quite figured out what happened with that whole thing. I mean, sure, I know all about the socio-cultural hoo-hah that contributed to the fall of the drive-in. I know all about the rise of multiplex cinemas and the advent of video rentals. Still, there's never been a time when I've mentioned going to the drive-in to someone, or they've mentioned it to me, that everyone's eyes didn't light up and a collective "oooooooh...good idea!" was spoken. It seems that everyone loves the drive-in. It's like pizza or apple pie, automatically conjuring up good feelings and rarely something people aren't in the mood for.

The great thing about going to the drive-in is that it's so much more than just going to a movie. It's a social experience. Whether you go with family, a date or a pickup full of friends, it's about spending time with people out under a blanket of stars, smelling that bizarrely delightful mixture of popcorn, perfume and exhaust fumes. Where else can you have that kind of simple fun? If the movie sucks, you can just sit and talk and load up on junk from the concession stand. (Or if you're with a date, it's make-out city baby! C'mon, nobody's watching!) Then you can laugh about how bad it was on the way home. You never hear people filing out of the drive-in mumbling about how they just wasted two hours of their lives, as so often happens at the cinema. In a theater, you have nothing to focus on but what's on the screen. You have to just sit there, silent, staring straight ahead, fighting the urge to strangle the loud whisperers and chair-kickers surrounding you, and waiting for your ass to fall asleep. Granted, you go to a movie to actually see the movie, but you can still take in a movie at a drive-in. You can just be a lot more relaxed doing it.

With the big love of everything retro these days, drive-ins seem to be making a comeback, albeit a minor one. There is only one drive-in within a 20-mile radius of Pittsburgh, which is The Dependable. Oddly enough, back when there were a ton of drive-ins around here, The Dependable showed strictly porn movies. Alas, I was too young at that time to join the rows of bouncing cars...but I imagine it was a good time. The place must be doing fairly good business now because it looks like they're back to charging per person. They used to have "$5 Carload" specials, which was awesome because you didn't have to pull the old hide-in-the-trunk bit. (Someone tried to get me to do that one time and I nearly had a claustrophobic panic attack.) So, hopefully the demand for drive-in movies will stay on the upswing and maybe a new one or two will pop up around here. Then I will have all the motivation I need to focus on my dream. Well, I have to achieve dream #1 first, which is to either hit the lottery or marry a rich man who will do whatever I ask. Then I can move on to dream #2: running my very own little slice of '50s Heaven.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy "We Kicked Your British Arses" Day!

There will be no entries from me until after Tuesday, as I'll be in Harrisburg for Independence Day. I figured since it's such a patriotic day, I needed to be in the state capital. (Actually, I'm just going to visit my best pal. But the first reason made me sound like a kick-ass, if not obsessive, patriot.) Anyway, here are 4 things you can do on the 4th:

Watch fireworks. Duh. And if you're lucky enough to live anywhere but Pennsylvania, you can set off your own. I don't know if fireworks are illegal in any other states and I'm too lazy to look that info up. But PA sucks, man. We can't get beer at the gas station and we don't have immediate access to roman candles. So much for the American Dream. They finally made sparklers legal here. Hooray! Now I can stand out on my porch like a moron, waving a burning stick around.

Go swimming. I don't know about the rest of the country, but it's ridiculously hot here. Of course, I wouldn't set foot in a public pool. I'm not a germophobe or anything, I just really don't like swimming in strange people's urine. My own is fine.

Watch the Twilight Zone marathon. Best...show...ever. The 4th marathon isn't quite as extensive as the New Year's Eve one, but it's good enough. If you're just a casual viewer, let this TZ aficianado (ok, call me geek if you must) point you towards what I think are the "can't-miss" episodes:

7/3/05
11:30 PM - Mirror Image
7/4/05
12:00 AM - The Hunt
12:30 AM - The Purple Testament
1:00 AM - What You Need
12:00 PM - Time Enough At Last
1:00 PM - Five Characters In Search Of An Exit
2:00 PM - To Serve Man
3:00 PM - The Midnight Sun
5:00 PM - It's A Good Life
8:00 PM - The Last Flight
7/5/05
12:30 AM - Night Call
3:30 AM - A Passage For Trumpet

Have a cookout at your house.
Cons:
You have to do all the cooking
The stench of spilled beer lasts for days
Mosquitos suck, literally


Pros:
Don't have to worry about getting shitfaced and driving home
You have complete control over the guest list
Neighbors will think you're cooler than you really are
As host, you get to wear the Uncle Sam hat

Seems the pros outweigh the cons there. Don't forget, if your party is lame, no one will ever want to come to your house again. I'm not sure whether that's a pro or a con. I guess it depends on who your friends are.

Live 8 is Great, But Can We Eat It?

I know I'm not the only one who thinks this whole Live 8 business is a complete waste of time. Who isn't aware that there are people starving in Africa? Raise your hand. No one? Didn't think so. The whole concept of this is ridiculous. Let's raise more awareness, but no actual money to feed and clothe these people. Do all these musicians really think that a concert is going to carry any weight with 8 rich bastard politicians? Please. If they wanted to put pressure on them and make them "aware", they would all get together and storm the G8 Summit. They could lock all the doors and have Rob Thomas perform until some type of worthwhile financial aid package was agreed upon. Then it might actually happen.

Better yet, these musical activists could all decide to live in modest homes, own just one car, not buy all of their clothes from Versace, forgo the private jet and stop wiping their asses with $50 bills. That way they could afford to give even more money to the charities they perpetually speak and sing about. I think even Saint Bono's opinion of that idea would be that it's "pure shite".

I had no plans on watching any of the concert footage, yet I made the mistake of flipping on MTV and stopped when I saw Stevie Wonder. Hey, it's Stevie Wonder. He's a legend, right? Apparently so much of a legend, that these 2 random twentysomething commentators felt the need to stand there and talk over half of his performance about just how much of a legend he is. It's like they're saying, "Hey audience, your parents really dug this guy so he deserves some respect...but not too much because, phhfft, like, he's old." Then a little later I flipped it back on and Sir Paul was performing. He's usually always worth hearing. Although for some reason, they threw George Michael out onstage with him. I'm pretty sure they cut to Rachel Perry at some point during his performance, at which point I promptly flicked back to some other worthless program. The third and final time I turned it on, that ass-face Jon Norris was gushing about Madonna...big surprise. I decided I had seen enough. Live 8 had done its part to raise my awareness. Now I'm more aware than ever that, on the whole, VJs are a bunch of jackasses.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Wishlist

If you believe what you see on The Tonight Show's "Jaywalking" skit, 9 out of 10 people couldn't name Sacajewa, Susan B. Anthony or even Laura Bush. However, there is one lady that everybody knows, thanks in large part to the US Postal Service. That lady is Ms. Harriet Carter.

I don't know anyone who hasn't gotten Harriet's catalog, chock-full of fabulous products designed to make the average consumer's life a little easier or just more wacky fun. In case you are living under a rock (and under the impression that Susan B. Anthony is married to the bassist dude from Van Halen) and haven't been acquainted with Ms. Carter, allow me to share with you some of my favorite items from her catalog. Those of you who are up to speed, feel free to gloat about the products you already have and kick yourself over the ones you're missing.

Hair Cutting Umbrella
Great for the home stylist! Avoid having to sweep up hair clippings when you're done. Also great for the guy who wants to look good after the haircut, but like a total jackass during.

Tree Face
For those who can't wait until Christmas to make their yards look like gaudy Vegas flea markets.

Whizzing Beagle
I hope no one would put the whizzing beagle next to the happy tree. Because what if you're driving by that guy's house one day and your 8 year old asks you why the tree is so happy that a dog is peeing on it? Yep, then you have to explain golden showers to an 8 year old...and who needs that? Damn ornamental lawn statues. Why do you want our kids to grow up so fast?

Big Mouth Billy Bass
Yes! My time machine works!!!

The Fart Game
Beans and raisins sold separately.

Toilet Train Your Cat Book
For that crazy cat lady who has everything. She could always use a little more crazy.

Urine Gone
Urine Gone stain/odor remover...comes with "stain detector" black light so you can find old stains invisible to the naked eye. This is proof that CSI has become too popular. This is also proof that a lot of people out there are too lazy and disgusting to clean up their dog's piss right away.

Garden Cherub
News at 11: Albino boy with wings mutilated; remains found in local woman's front yard. (Ick. This thing is supposed to be cute?)

Toilet Golf
Does anyone like golf or crapping this much??

Surprise Box
If you don't want to deal with the hassle of filling out order forms to get your surprise gift, take $10 and flush it down the toilet. There! You didn't have to wait 8-10 business days and you know exactly where your money went.

The Apocalypse Approaches...

America, I-iii-I wanna be inside your heads. Look at what you've done:

Billboard Singles Chart
#1 - Inside Your Heaven, Bo Bice
#2 - Inside Your Heaven, Carrie Underwood

I wasn't able to look up the rest of the Top 5 (is the Billboard website suddenly unavailable or is it just me?) but I'll hazard a guess:

#3 - Inside My Hell, Justin Guarini
#4 - Inside My Closet - Clay Aiken
#5 - Inside My Belly - Ruben Studdard

 

Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

My photo
I am a winsome muse who was sent to Earth to inspire an artist to turn a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. We fell in love along the way, and I foolishly gave up my immortality. When the disco craze ended and all the roller rinks were shut down, that lazy bum wouldn't get a job. We broke up and I was stuck on Earth with nothing to do and no one to inspire. So, now I write a blog.

What Do Others Think of BeckEye?

"You're like an idiot savant of terrible garbage entertainment." - Falwless

"You're my hero." - Candy

"Get yourself a life. Better yet.....eff off." - Ann Onymous

"There's no one like you." - Klaus Meine