Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Planet Claire

Planet Claire has pink air. All the trees are red. No one ever dies there. No one has a head. And I should have put this up a while ago.
You Can't Say That On Music Television

Shots are being fired in the outskirts of Baghdad. American, British and Iraqi soldiers are falling dead in the desert-meets-metropolitan landscape of the city. Civilians die. Buildings collapse. Surely, no one could argue that war is hell.

But MTV is trying to fix all that. As if its rejection of all actual music in favor of fresh-faced, Generation Y-aimed reality programming weren't proof enough that the execs at MTV sniff glue, MTV has decided to lighten the international gloom of waging war by excising all images of war from its European broadcasts.

Let's think about that.

MTV, a network known for espousing progressive viewpoints and encouraging its young audience to engage in political issues, doesn't want European kids to think about the war. Instead, they should listen to the latest releases by Europop noisemakers like t.a.T.u. without worrying about the bloody battles being waged on a continent not too far from Europe itself.

This means, had you grown up hearing the slogan "I want my grainy, three-years-out-of-date MTV!" you would no longer be able to see such tangentially war-related music videos as the ones for Radiohead's "Lucky" or Outkast's "Bombs over Baghdad" — or even Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," as it contains footage from the film "Armageddon," which references a yet-to-occur biblical war in its title. Forget politically active artists like Rage Against the Machine and Sheryl Crow. And one can only imagine if the '70s funk ensemble War had made music videos, they would also now be verboten.

The worst of MTV's choices for blacklisted musicians is new-wavers and '80s icons the B-52s. They're out because the B-52 bomber is apparently such a traumatic icon of war that it has rendered indecipherably weird songs like "Rock Lobster" unfit for young ears. Fred Schneider, the B-52s' frontman, responded to the utter stupidity of his banning in an April 3 New York Times article.

"I guess MTV doesn't have a research department, because from day one, we've said in interviews that our name is a slang term for the bouffant hairdo [band-mates Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson used to wear] — nothing to do with bombers," Schneider said.

Banning the benign B-52s for such a ridiculous reason is like banning Kid Rock because his name kind of sounds like "Iraq." Besides, even though American tunes sometimes take time before achieving popularity with overseas audiences, the period in which the B-52s would have been played on MTV Europe passed sometime in the mid-'80s, thus necessitating both an overly delicate sensibility and a time machine to be offended by the airing of the video for "My Own Private Idaho."

It's especially painful that a network that often promotes social engagement would shun the war. Although the homelands of the teenagers watching MTV Europe may have declined to join the Coalition of the Willing in its invasion effort, the war is geographically closer to them than to teens in America, on whom no such restrictions have been placed. Whenever the original American MTV chooses to actually show music videos, it's not even shying away from material blatantly related to the nation's Middle Eastern involvement. The video for System of a Down's appropriately titled "Boom!" features footage of peace marches and was directed by Michael Moore, one of the most politically opinionated men in Hollywood.

The decision is peculiar, illogical and totally unfair to both politically eager European music lovers and the B-52s. War is the very definition of a breakdown in human relations, but such measures aren't going to help. In the meantime, fight censorship by listening to the B-52s.

Drew is the Daily Nexus county editor. He roams if he wants to, without wings, without wheels.

Sexy Blue Scales

I'm usually not the type to get starstruck, to gush forth with Us Weekly-type praise in the presence of the glitterati. Yet somehow, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos would have rendered me an idiot.

She was at the premiere of "X-Men 2" and so was I, if only through Patrick's grace and fortune. She's taller than I thought she'd be. Even at the distance I stood from her, I could tell that she was a tall woman, an amazon even standing next to the likes of Kelly Hu and Famke Janssen. Of all the women I have ever seen, the word "statuesque" fits her best. I probably exaggerate how far above everybody else she towered, and I think she was wearing those shoes that make tall women taller, but what a physical presence she had.

She wore a white dress that would have looked ridiculous on anybody else. When she graciously left the cameras to sign the autographs of sebaceous, permanently pubescent men, I noticed her large head. It's quite a casaba melon sitting on top of her shoulders. Still, she's beautiful — not despite her large head, but because of it. If she had normally proportional features, she'd only be average-beautiful. Things like freak-height and melon-headedness make her beauty all the more striking. I don't even question that she's the most beautiful woman in the movie. Without the slightest exaggeration, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

And the movie was pretty good too.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Dangly Parts

"I could finally build that lakehouse... And then run around naked all day! Ha ha! Dangly parts."

When David Met Tiffany

A story narrated to me by Tiffany:
"so i went to see david sedaris tonight and he held a book signing afterwards. i paid $16 for a copy of me talk pretty one day so i could get it signed by him and this is what he wrote:

To Tiffany
Ha Ha You have a slutty name.
David Sedaris


can you believe that?"
Ha Ha. A slutty name indeed.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Coleslaw on Helen's Head

Hillary O is a funny girl who kissed me at Hillary K's birthday. I guess Hillary O's roommate, whose job seems to be keeping Hillary O from doing things like this, must have gotten distracted for a moment.

Also, I'm convinced alcohol either makes me hallucinate or just bumps my sense of imagination up to eleven. Walking home by myself, I became unrealistically paranoid that I would see the killer from "I Know What You Did Last Summer," a movie I haven't seen in years and didn't like all that much to begin with. But nevertheless, the alley cut-through I took to get from Trigo to Pasado freaked me out, and I fully expected to see the fisherman in all his Gorton's Fishsticks glory.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Fruity Loops, Fruit Loopies

And now, Maya Angelou... for Froot Loops:
Toucan Sam, you leap on the back of the wind, load stone to assorted fruit flavors
Phoenix of the dawns, one smile.

We gave you, Toucan Sam, life.

You, Toucan Sam, give us loops of fruit.

Fruity loops, fruit loopies swimming in the churning, frothy mother sea of milk

Kellogg's appreciates consumer comments, P. O. Box 221, Battle Creek, Michigan,

a prism of fruity color, a cornucopia of over forty fruity tastes.

The orange, the apple, the grape, the pomegranate, the quince, the kumquat, the kiwi, the plantain, the guava, the papaya...

This has been Maya Angelou... for Froot Loops.

Rocks

Better times. Lizard's Mouth exists! It hides at the end of twisting trails of pot smoke. Not Spectacle Rock or Gaia's Navel, but the existence of Secret of Mana was recalled nonetheless.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Hamologist

Even though a man might have more hairs on his head than stars in the sky, that doesn't mean he can plan a party movie stars will attend and enjoy responsibly.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The Confessions of a Conceptual Art Class

Easter wasn't break enough it turns out.

The confession thing hasn't stopped yet in Art 4D. I swear, we all sound like chapters from some sickening self-help book.
"I'm still a virgin."

"I lied to the police once."

"I'm indecisive."

"I hate my job and do coke."

"I'm transgendered."

"I have an eating disorder."

"I can't eat starch."

"I have an STD."

"I'm addicted to my computer."

"I punched a guy and made him deaf."
It's a lot to deal with, actually. It's hard walking around campus and seeing these people and going, "Hey, there's Eating Disorder. And over there! It's Doesn't Feel Like She Needs Friends."

People should keep their damage internal, I guess.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Diary One-Point-Oh

I got a new bed.

While cleaning the mighty assemblage of garbage under there I found a green, spiral-bound notebook from eighth grade. It was a project I did for Mrs. Groh's English class. In conjunction with reading The Diary of Anne Frank, she had us keep our own diaries — or as men call them, "journals." Wow. It's a two month record of everything I did before I had a real personality — before high school, before college, before biology, chemistry, and David Lynch. I guess it's as genuinely weird as reading this will be seven years from now.

Some excerpts:
The best part was a shot of Elaine and another woman in the toilet stalls, and Elaine has no toilet paper. But the other woman said she "couldn’t spare a square." And that was funny enough, but then the woman turned out to be Jerry’s girlfriend.

Today came and went without any excitement. I wonder if it’s part of living in San Benito County. When I'm old enough, I’m moving somewhere else. Anywhere else. Anything to get out of this little town.

Drew, count the pages in this notebook. The cover says seventy, but I think I was screwed.

And no one notices a llama wearing a suit, reading a newspaper, and sitting on a subway?
And the last page:
Today’s date is February 29, 1996. I won’t see this day again until I’m a senior in high school. Leap Day. How strange. For some astronomical reason, we are given an extra day, maybe to try to fulfill some desire before the year ends. Today would have been a good day to take a leap, but not physically, of course. I think things like this are not. It looks like I'm coming to the end of my journal... Maybe I'll begin volume two. Imagine... I've documented about two and a half months of my life and everything important in it. People, places, events all written down. What if someone ever wrote a play about my stupid life. The Diary of Drew? Maybe not.
So clearly, I was a total douche bag when I was in eighth grade. I wish I could time travel back to then and kick 1996 Drew's ass.

Friday, April 18, 2003

When Ariel Just Don’t Cut it No Mo’

When Ariel Just Don’t Cut it No Mo’
Academy Award winner “Spirited Away” doesn’t require an anime club card

Nerds with hyperactive sebaceous glands and “Dragon Ball Z” T-shirts who secretly fantasize about sexual encounters between Lara Croft and Princess Zelda.

Permanently prepubescent manga-addled she-geeks with Sailor Moon lunchboxes.

These are the two most widely dispersed stereotypes of the American fan of Japanese animation. But enjoying “Spirited Away,” which recently won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, does not require membership in Japanomaniacs Anonymous. Quite the contrary, “Spirited Away” entertains, mystifies and - at least for the duration of the film - allows the viewer to recall how the world looked through a child’s eyes.

Hayao Miyazaki, whose Studio Ghibli-produced films like “Princess Mononoke” and “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” glow with a near-perfection Disney could only dream of, offers the viewer Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl separated from her parents and lost in a world of spirits. It’s a stranger-in-a-strange land motif in the tradition of Alice, Dorothy and Little Nemo, only here with a socially relevant twist: because the laws of this fantastic realm force residents to either work or vanish, Chihiro gets a job working at a bathhouse that pampers the spirits that roam invisibly in her home world. Aside from struggling with the pains of child labor, Chihiro clashes with Yubaba, the witchy mistress of the bathhouse, befriends various quirky denizens and at one point runs from a giant puke monster.

Odd, yes, but still masterfully beautiful filmmaking.

Giant radish spirits and non-homosexual bathhouses may not enter the realm of American cinema often, but these elements of Japanese culture actually enhance the effect of wonder permeating “Spirited Away.” Culturally savvy viewers will dig the cultural significance, but most Americans will simply feel further dazzled by the world Miyazaki has created. Just as a child views the human world, Chihiro approaches her new home with caution, amazement, curiosity and fright.

Admittedly, the storyline is somewhat confusing. Whether this is a result of the intentionally surreal dreaminess or just a muddled translation is ultimately irrelevant. The protagonist often seems just as lost, only she relishes it. So should you.

Besides, the film’s other technical aspects also merit most of the praise. The animation - aided only occasionally by computers - flows marvelously. Those responsible for the translation from Japanese to English took great pains to preserve this achievement by selecting dialogue that would match the character’s mouth movements, thus eliminating the “I’m saying this even though my mouth could never produce this sound in this position” tendency that often plagues such Americanizations.

The translation’s other virtue is the suck-free English cast. Chihiro’s American incarnation is voiced by Daveigh Chase, the coolest 13-year-old in movies today. Chase previously terrified as bad seed Samara in this year’s other successful Japan-to-America translation, “The Ring.” In “Spirited Away,” her voice nicely intones Chihiro’s innocence without ever sounding saccharinely whiny. Suzanne Pleshette, Lauren Holly (“Dumb and Dumber”) and John Ratzenberger (“Cheers”) memorably voice their characters as well.

“Spirited Away” is good. It’s also been granted a limited theater re-release. Too lazy to go out? It’s on DVD — or hey, it's even on VHS, too, if you're feeling especially nostagolic for your younger years. Indulge your inner child or go watch a puke monster. Whatever gets you to watch.

Life Is Hard But So Am I

So last night I'm burning CDs for the trip home and I see that there's these ants all over. Rude ants, no less. I cleaned the little monsters up and that seemed to solve the problem. But then I got up this morning and cleaned up the room before I left for home. As I was emptying my change dish out, I see two Advil I forgot to take. Since Advil is the candy-coated pain medication, the ants went after them. What's funny is that they had completely eaten through the candy, all the way down to the medication beneath. And they were all stuck there, dead, because they overdosed on painkillers.

Death by overdose via sweet tooth.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

So Different and So New

In my chair.

At my desk.

On my side, as opposed to Cory's side.

In the big bedroom.

In suite B.

Of 6768 Pasado Road.

Isla Vista, in an unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County.

Third district.

California.

United States.

North America.

The great American landmass.

Northwestern quadrant of the planet.

That planet being Earth.

Milky Way Galaxy.

The universe.

Existence.

Monday, April 14, 2003

No Pants Island

Allow me to apologize outright for the headline. Other than that, please enjoy.
Reality Television Is Anything But Real

I remember this episode of “The Simpsons” in which Homer gets sent to the electric chair. Just before the executioner throws the switch on the electric chair, however, an announcer pops out and tells Homer and his family that the whole thing - the murder, the trial, the conviction - was all a setup for a new FOX reality show from the creators of “No Pants Island” and “Fart Date,” two other shows that thankfully only exist in the Simpsons’ surreally yellow universe.

It’s a pretty good joke. Reality shows clogging up airwaves nowadays seem based on anything but what’s real. Then I watched the commercials for the new series “Mr. Personality” - a shameful excuse for entertainment aired on the very network that parodied reality shows about one year ago with the airing of that particular “Simpsons” episode.

For those unable to absorb the cultural latrine that is FOX’s weekday lineup, “Mr. Personality” follows an attractive single woman as she dates 20 bachelors in hopes of finding a match. The gimmick here is the brightly colored foam masks that hide the bachelors’ faces. Thus, the woman must chose a mate from this lineup of Teletubby-like visages solely on his sense of humor, his thoughtfulness, and his honesty. You know, those things women would otherwise ignore if men weren’t so disguised.

At the surface, “Mr. Personality” seems like a nifty way to erase the external prejudices that overemphasize appearances in dating. But peel away the neon orange mask and realize “Mr. Personality” is a tasteless, gawking glance into real people’s personal lives. The buildup of the show rests on whether the stunning bachelorette will freak out when the man of her dreams turns out to be a Michael Moore instead of a Roger Moore. The woman, likely no more superficial than any other 20-something woman, could easily come off as shallow if she’s even slightly disappointed with her choice. The masked suitors, meanwhile, would be mere victims of a looks-based society and the nitpicking woman whose affections they are trying to win.

This distinctly misogynistic programming concept permeated FOX’s last reality show triumph as well. “Joe Millionaire” also portrayed its male element innocently. Cro-magnon Evan Marriott seemed like a nice guy forced by the show to lie to his potential wives. America deemed him dumb but harmless, but the women competing to become Mrs. Millionaire got labeled as vicious gold-diggers. Whether they deserved that title is debatable, but their association with the show clearly created a negative public image for themselves.

Furthermore, FOX’s choice for the host of “Mr. Personality” only compounds the network’s apparent desire to depict actual women in the most negative light possible. Monica Lewinsky, the Oval Office seductress whose last name became synonymous with oral sex, is the talking head whose narrates the exciting twists of the show. Did Suzanne Somers have some prior engagement? One must certainly ask why a woman with no qualifications as a spokesperson other than the most scandalously sexual should host a show primarily watched by women.

“Mr. Personality” debuts Monday, April 21 at 9 p.m. on FOX. Watch if you don’t care how derogatory a message about women FOX beams into your brain. Personally, I would rather watch “Fart Date.”

Is It Rayon or Is It Dust?

Now Drew reviews CDs, too.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks | Pig Lib | Matador

One might guess the Jicks that Stephen Malkmus hangs with on his new album Pig Lib are his new crew, but they’re actually the same keyboardist and bassist from Malkmus’ bull’s-eye, of a self-titled 2001 album. But too bad the backup has to stand in the shadow of an indie legend like former Pavement frontman Malkmus, whose wowie-zowie spirit flits throughout Pig Lib with an unfortunately unchecked languidness. Think mellow — mellow like a sea sponge on Sunday.

Pavement fans will fondly miss the zippy playfulness of Malkmus’ earlier work. Too often, Pig Lib’s tracks sputter into dully dreamy ditties like “Water and a Seat” and “Ramp of Death.” The titles alone don’t inspire finger snapping or whistling, and the melodies drone into dead ends that leave the listener skipping ahead to the next track.

There are exceptions, of course. “Animal Midnight,” in which Malkmus jokingly intones, “I wonder sometimes what you’re made of / Is it rayon or is it dust?” resonates pleasantly despite its mellowness. The same track, a thoughtful rumination on relationships disguised beneath Malkmus’ characteristically cryptic lyrics, features as rocking an organ solo as a pop song can have. “Witch Mountain Bridge” simultaneously confuses and delights, and the nearly 10-minute-long “1 Percent of One” squeaks perfectly with Malkmus’ well-honed falsetto.

For the most part, however, Pig Lib begs the listener to ask if maybe Malkmus just got carried away with his own sense of weirdness and forgot to be good.

Don’t doubt Malkmus. He’s far too well-versed in indie to falter again. But with certain exceptions, Pig Lib is too smooth a road to compare with Malkmus’ happily bumpy career with Pavement.

[Drew is fluent in indie and currently attending screamo classes.]

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

The Circle Jerks

So everybody is an idiot.

My project for Art 4D was to literalize an idiom. I chose to interpret this as doing a little performance piece: I drew a big circle on a piece of paper and put it on the floor, then stood in the middle. I then proceeded to mock my fellow classmates, pick fights with people, and defame the class in an asshole-like manner.

The idiom: circle jerk. Like, I'm acting like a jerk and standing in a circle. Circle jerk. Not that I expected everybody to get it right away, but people should totally laugh once I explained it. But no. Because people are dumb losers and have never heard this expression.

For all the losers out there whose education in slang was not as extensive as mine, a circle jerk in a sexual act in which a group of people — usually men, although not necessarily limited to men alone — sit in a circle. Everyone places one hand to the left — or right, depending on what kind of crowd you hang with — and jerks that person off. Like, masturbates them. Jerks their meat. It's a group sex thing, and it's funny.

By extension, the term "circle jerk" has also come to mean any act which a group self-congratulates itself. Like, family Christmas cards telling how great the past year was is basically a big circle jerk for the McStevensons. Or if this blog were done by and for a group of people, you could say it was a circle jerk.

So now you know. Could you get in a time machine and go back to watch my performance, you'd laugh your ass off.

Goosey

sparklejetstream: i have baby chicks!
kidicarus222: so i hear
kidicarus222: i think i gathered that much from your away message
sparklejetstream: one is in my lap
sparklejetstream: we are in love
kidicarus222: don't try to fuck it
kidicarus222: they aren't made for that
kidicarus222: believe me
sparklejetstream: i already tried
sparklejetstream: it worked well
kidicarus222: did it make funny noises?
sparklejetstream: a few
sparklejetstream: but mostly sexy ones
kidicarus222: eww
kidicarus222: sick chick
kidicarus222: you, not the actual chick
kidicarus222: although it's probably sick now
kidicarus222: sicko
sparklejetstream: please do not degrade my chicks
kidicarus222: you degrade them when you allow them into your cooter
sparklejetstream: i know
sparklejetstream: but i'm sure they like it
kidicarus222: what if you get pregnant and lay an egg?
kidicarus222: and it hatched?
kidicarus222: and you loved it?
sparklejetstream: i would be thrilled
kidicarus222: bit then what if it died because it was a sin against nature?
sparklejetstream: sin = god
sparklejetstream: chicks do not = god
sparklejetstream: or in computer lingo != god
kidicarus222: how perfectly clear!
sparklejetstream: sanks

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Tumtaks

So it turns out Elise is in my discussion for Anglo-Irish Lit. I see her yesterday and I ask her what she's doing for housing next year, and she says her and Jenn and Jess are all gonna live together with a new roommate. Apparently, Darcy's got somewhere better to be. So I ask who the new girl is, and Elise says it's her twin sister. I say, "Wow. I had no idea you were a twin." And later I think it's odd that such an unexpected revelation would come on April Fool's Day. She's probably fooling me, right? Nope. I verified it with Darcy. I had to — you can't trust people on a day like yesterday.