Saturday, July 31, 2010

Give Geese Soy Sauce

The best of July 2010, according to Back of the Cereal Box:
And the clickable visual index:


Serenade to a Lonesome Railroad Station

My July, as represented by certain 140-character-or-less snippets.
A bug slightly smaller than my hand is walking across the deck, making tapping and clicking noises with each step. (Unpleasantness.)

Okay Syfy Channel, I'll start my Fourth of July with a Greatest American Hero marathon. If you insist.

That ad where Jamie Lee Curtis asks women to "film themselves taking the Activia challenge" makes me worried something awful is going to happen.

Sorry mom, but you said your favorite show was McHale's Navy, not McLeod's Daughters. If you don't like your DVD gift, that's your problem.

Question for online female friends: Why do some pantyhose come in egg-shaped containers? Is this symbolism? Or is there a pantyhose bird?

Few things are more disconcerting than driving past a restaurant you've recently eaten at and seeing it covered in a bug extermination tent.

Scientists make female mice go lesbian by deleting one gene... whose name happens to be "FucM." Awesome. http://tinyurl.com/2whthwr

I think George Orwell would be flattered that we took the name of 1984's dystopic government villain and made it a skanky reality show.

Wait.
Doesn't The Hills' "it wuz all fakerz!!!" ending totally screw over The City and every other spin-off that may want to seem real?

Dear world, please stop wearing flesh-colored shorts. They look like naked with weird bumps and folds. Thx.

Clarification: The Ps concluing the texts I sent are not smileys. The P button is next to the iPhone's send button. Accidental emoticons.

Was tricked into attending a classic car show. Realized I feel about cars the way most people do about adding machines and dishwashers.

Saw a flyer promoting a cafe crawl --- "like a pub crawl, but with coffee!" Yes, and also a horrifically embarassing aftermath.
@Briphelia I like that I Gmailed you to comment on my blog and you tweeted me back. Later, can I Facebook your Tumblr to my iPod?
Did he just say he's making a testicle marshmallow? Because let me say "DON'T STEAL MY RECIPE!" #topchef

Someone just found my blog by Googling "why does padma always call gail lovely?" http://tinyurl.com/2brgmu6 A good question...? #topchef

How did I not know that #JJAbrams plays a supporting role in the movie version of Six Degrees of Separation? http://tinyurl.com/29csxjc

I like my crisp autumn mornings as much as the next guy, just not in July. WTF, California?

Is there a way to turn off iPhone's tendency to autocorrect all uses of "its" to "it's" without turning off all autocorrects?

Little known fact: In 2003, H.R. Pufnstuf officially changed his name to "Human Resources Pufnstuf."

Surprising? The word "pagoda" comes from Portuguese, not from any East Asian languages. http://tinyurl.com/2fhbwkh #etymology

I once dropped a college drawing class because the teacher pronounced it "charko" instead of "charcoal." I stand by this decision today.

Things I realize while heating dinner: I can program the microwave to run for 99 seconds but must hit 1:40 if I want 100 seconds.

Watching #topchef. I kinda miss the lady who seemed like she was doing an impression of Rosie O'Donnell from A League of Their Own. 

WTF, #topchef? I need closure on that pea purée foofaraw. Don't you record everything? Can't you tell us if pea goo was thefted?

Amused: China Chow's name can be literally interpreted as "Chinese food" and that her dad founded the Mr. Chow restaurant chain. #workofart

Spoiler for every #Law&Order ever: The killer is the comedian guesting in a dramatic role. All comedians are potential murderers, FYI. 

Feel like you would have liked to read these earlier? In a different setting? You could have. If only you were following
me on Twitter.

Surviving a Midday Moth Attack

Temporarily back at my L.B. Jeffries window, I get to once again observe the animal kingdom through protective glass. Today: a fearsome moth roughly the size of a quarter (the deadliest size that moths can come in, BTW).

moth

Because this moth was flying around during daylight hours, I assume that it was mad with rabies — but thank god not rageful enough to break through the window.

Are You a Norma or a Nadine?

It’s not redundant. It’s Lynchian — an extension of the Twin Peaks motif of doubling.


Because if it’s not that then I’m just confused by the assertion that “People who are A are also A.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Strange Case of Lunchlady Doris

Anyone who has watched The Simpsons with any interest has likely noticed that Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz no longer appear, not as speaking characters or even silent background extras. The show’s higher-ups retired both characters after their voice actor, Phil Hartman, was murdered by his wife in 1998. McClure and Hutz aren’t the only Simpsons characters to have their associated actor pass away, however. In 1995, longtime script supervisor and occasional voice actress Doris Grau died of respiratory failure, effectively ending the run of two cartoon characters to which she lent her trademark emphysemic voice, Doris the Hairdresser on The Critic and Lunchlady Doris on The Simpsons. Granted, it’s not as tragic an ending for Grau, whose death came as a result of the cigarettes that gave her the voice that made her famous, but it is nonetheless strange to me that The Simpsons initially retired and then ultimately brought back Lunchlady Doris despite the death of the person most strongly associated with the character.


Grau’s voice is heard for the last time in the 1997 Simpsons episode “Lisa’s Sax.” Then her on-screen counterpart appears as an unvoiced background character until 2006, when Lunchlady Doris speaks again in the episode “The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer” but voiced by Tress MacNeille, the cartoon superstar who also voices Agnes Skinner, Cookie Kwan, Lindsay Naegle, Brandine Spuckler, the Crazy Cat Lady, Mom on Futurama, Gadget from Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Dot Warner on Animaniacs, Babs on Tiny Toons and ten-thousand other lady cartoon roles from your childhood. Amazing though MacNeille may be, it seems strange and comparatively insulting to Grau’s memory to have revived Lunchlady Doris — a character who is arguably more closely associated with the original voice actor’s real-life persona than McClure or Hutz are with Phil Hartman — and allow her to be voiced by someone else. But The Simpsons did it nonetheless. And when I watch the reruns, every appearance by Lunchlady Doris (whose full name appears to be Doris Freedman) or a Lunchlady Doris-sounding character only reminds me that the real, original Doris died long ago. Which is awkward. And not so funny.

So maybe retire the Lunchlady Doris character, Simpsons showrunners? Or at least stop making Tress MacNeille voice Lunchlady Doris and Lunchlady Doris-like characters?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

No Drowning

Or, possibly, a designated drowning zone.


(Via tumblrlrbrlrlbsbdelrbjejlesdsf, via Keewee Fett)

Great Balls of Something Impolite to Mention

Via PopSucker, a Noxema commercial featuring Farrah Fawcett. It’s hawking men’s shaving cream — “in Wild Forest, Lime, Medicated Menthol and Regular!” — but that is not what you should find notable from the commercial.


It’s the jingle. Specifically the first line. Specifically the first four syllables. Please listen. It will take less than thirty seconds of your time to understand what I’m talking about.

Seriously, though: Never heard of it measured in balls before.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Inception Misconception

Today I finally saw Inception. Loved it. Perhaps the fresh-from-the-theater buzz has clouded my judgment, but I walked home feeling like I’d enjoyed one of the better cinematic experiences of my life — and easily one of the best movies I’ve watched in years. But I must say that a certain chain of events affected today’s viewing — whether for better or for worse remains uncertain, but I should probably see it again regardless.


Here’s the deal. Every potential movie buddy I knew of had already watched Inception and I had a free afternoon, so I decided to suck it up and go solo. (A ME-DATE with MYSELF, because I’M WORTH IT!) So I left the house with only the company of a jacket, because this particular theater has a tendency toward the uncomfortably cold. I sat down and placed the jacket on the seat next to me. Not going to lie — part of me wanted the other movie-goers to think I was expecting someone else. In any case, I was totally caught up in the film when, despite every effort to void my soybean-sized bladder beforehand, I found myself fighting a strong urge to use the bathroom. So during a slow part I dashed out, did the necessary and then raced back, hoping all the while that I hadn’t missed any important exposition in what had already proved to be a thinker of a film.

When I got back, the movie seemed to be replaying a scene from earlier. I didn’t think twice about it. Most people who had recommended Inception to me said that I’d like it because I enjoyed mind-benders like Mulholland Drive, Donnie Darko and Memento, so the fact that Inception too was apparently folding back on itself and making a loop seemed appropriate — even foreshadowed by the shout-out to the Penrose stairs optical illusion.

Now, if you’ve already seen Inception, you know that its dreamworlds follow two rules: First, inside the dreams live “extras,” so to speak — anonymous subconscious projections that populate the background and don’t do much of importance until they realize that people such as DiCaprio’s character have burgled into the dreamer’s mind. Once these extras get wise to interlopers, they stare intently. Being manifestations of the dreamer’s mind, they want to protect the dreamer and will eventually move beyond staring attack, “killing” the interloper in the dream and thrusting them into reality by causing them to awaken. Second, a good way to rile these extras is to futz with the fabric of the dream world, as Page’s character does. Screw around too much with the logic of the dream and Marion Cotillard will pop up stab you. (A rule to live by.)

So I suddenly realized that the screen seemed much closer than it was previously. I doublechecked that I’d taken the right seat. I had — four from the back, one over from the aisle. But two seats further over: Was there a little kid sitting there before? Also: Are people staring at me?! And isn’t the movie spending a little too much time replaying the same scenes without any variation? THE HELL?!

Wrong theater.

In my haste to get back to my seat, I accidentally had entered the other, later screening of Inception, hence the plot déjà vu. People were staring at me, but not because they were hostile dream extras — they were wondering why some crazy person ran into the theater midway through the movie, plopped down and then started fidgeting nervously like a junkie in withdrawals. “This is why I shouldn’t go to movies by myself,” I say to myself. But then I figured I might as well just relax and enjoy the film, perhaps even catching bits that may have slipped by me when I first viewed these scenes.

Then I remembered: My jacket — its pockets stuffed with my keys, wallet and phone — is in the first theater.

And so I get up again and return to the first theater, ultimately having lost only a few minutes of movie but still feeling like I should see the whole thing through once again, this time perhaps not alone and not after I drink two cups of coffee. But, yes, for a moment I worried I was being incepted. (Inceived?)

Some random notes:
  • Overall a subtle infusion of video game elements into a dream story, no?
  • Weird to see Leonardo DiCaprio being haunted by a malicious dead wife after previously seeing it in Shutter Island, and interesting as well to see Marion Cotillard in a film than centrally features Edith Piaf after La Vie en Rose.
  • And little Ellen Page! How you’ve grown up! But her character being named Ariadne was just a little too on-the-nose for me. The name of Cotillard’s character, however, works: It’s not Moll but Mal — as in “bad.”
  • Has anyone else been able to make anything of DiCaprio’s character’s name, Dom Cobb? It sounds like an anagram. And it had better be, otherwise it’s a boring name.
  • Did anyone else feeling like Christopher Nolan stocking the cast with Leo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Lukas Haas was just talent scouting for the next Batman movie?
  • Did anyone else know that Ken Watanabe was in Tampopo?

Dreaming of the Diana Ross, Apparently

More music: One of my favorite songs of the early 2000s — “Dreaming of You,” by the underappreciated British band The Coral — sounds a hell of a lot like The Supremes’ 1965 hit “My World Is Empty Without You.”


Do you hear it? How can you not? I’d actually heard “My World Is Empty Without You” before and never noticed how similar “Dreaming of You” sounds until it was pointed out to me by a reader. Thanks to Scotty for the tip.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Verbal Adjectives (Not in the Traditional Sense)

Hey, world people: a question for you. Is there a term for words in English that function as both verbs and adjectives? I’m not talking about participial adjectives — “the pleasing puppy,” “the bloodied graduation cap” — but words like suspect, manifest and express, which all look like straightforward verbs but which can also function as adjectives without the addition of -ing or -ed. I’m fairly certain these adjectival forms aren’t participles since actual participial forms like suspected or manifesting already exist, but I’m curious how they ever would have come into use in English.

There are other examples, I’m sure, and please tell me if you think of any. Searching for those previous three hasn’t turned up anything but a longer list might.

Mega Man in Glam Rock Land

Warning: This post examines Night Work, the new Scissor Sisters album. Related YouTube clips feature the album artwork, so there will be Robert Mapplethorpe butts throughout. Enjoy!

In the month since Scissor Sister’s newest album dropped, I’ve been listening and enjoying it, certainly more so than the sophomore effort, Ta-Dah, and almost as much as their debut. And that says a lot, since the first album got a lot of play in my car, on my iPod and anywhere I felt could benefit from a beat. But something about the whole Night Work album reminds me of video games — old-school Mega Man in particular — and I can’t determine what.

Maybe it’s the thumping synth beats. They give a specific energy to the songs that’s not unlike what would propel players through early-generation video games. The soundtracks to the Mega Man games themselves often mimicked rock and pop music of the day — the Elec Man stage music sounds suspiciously like Journey’s “Faithfully,” for example — so I suppose it could follow that Scissor Sisters would produce a similar sound as they fuse together genres like glam rock, disco and new wave and then zap the result with digital magic. The notion of Night Work having an overall Mega Man-like sound, however, doesn’t satisfy me. As I listen to its tracks, specific parts of certain songs trigger memories of Mega Man hopping and shooting through levels. I just can’t remember which levels in particular. And in posting this I’m hoping others who have noted the similarities can help me out.

So far, I have pinpointed one similarity: “Sex & Violence” and the music from the Splash Woman stage in Mega Man 9. Listen for the synth melody that begins at the seven-second mark in the Scissor Sisters song and compare it to the whistle-like melody that starts in the Mega Man song at the thirteen-second mark.


Not a perfect match, but if the melodies were played by the same digital instruments, I think the similarity would be striking.

I also hear something in the especially tinny-sounding digital effect that starts around 1:42 in “Any Which Way,” but I can’t place it.



Anyone? Anyone?

Two more connections, neither of them video game-related: the blatantly sexual “Harder You Get” plays very similarly to a strange and very raunchy disco track, “Walk the Night” by — ahem — the Skatt Brothers. (Funny story: I either downloaded “Walk the Night” on accident or while drunk, because I had no memory of it until it started on the iPod one day and filled my unsuspecting ears with some explicit and violent sex talk — the aural equivalent of an ambush biker gangbang.) Check the sung part in the Scissor Sisters song at 2:16 and the almost identical part in the Skatt Brothers song at 3:35, but maybe don’t do so at work unless your office permits the discussion of rough sex.


The track “Invisible Light” also caught my attention. It’s good, and most reviews of Night Work have noted the novelty of its “Thriller”-style spoken word segment, courtesy of Ian McKellan. (It starts around the four-minute mark.) Just prior to buying Night Work, I bought some tracks by La Roux, including “Tiger Lily,” which was announced as a single only a few days before Night Work was released. “Tiger Lily” also features a spoken word section. (It starts at about 2:20.)



Two tributes to Michael Jackson’s greatest song, maybe? The timing would work out to about right.

Finally, I must confess that the only track from Night Work I despise, “Fight Fire With Fire,” happens to be the first single. I yanked it from my playlist after about two listens, and I’m baffled by the decision to lead with this. If you’ve only heard this one, give the rest of the album a spin as well — it’s infinitely better. I mean, hell — I enjoyed Night Work enough to spend this much time thinking and writing about what could have inspired it, right?

If only the Scissor Sisters had some emblematic tie-in with the Mega Man universe to bring all this together… Oh, wait.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

The Good Word Is a Mixed Message

Look past the chain link fence in the below photo and gaze in wonder at a curious landmark that I walk by once or twice a week: what I’ve come to call the Jesus Dumpster.


One day, I’ll stop and ask the owner of the Jesus Dumpster what his or her intention was in plastering the waste receptacle with pro-Christianity bumper stickers (“Got Joy?” “Got Life?” “Got Hope?” ... but not the obvious question, “Got Garbage?”). Is it public art critiquing the Christian message? Or the result of a Bible-beater who didn’t fully consider the implications of linking Easter propaganda with things unwanted, spoiled, broken or otherwise unfit to keep around the house? Or was the Jesus Dumpster born simply because its owner felt that the garbage man could benefit from a little more color during his weekly rounds?

For the record, I think similar things when I see American flag designs on ratty T-shirts, baby diapers or bathing suits stretched across flabby torsos.

Religion, previously:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Did a Mister Come Between These Sisters?

My hometown once had a sister city: Takino, a town in Japan’s Hyōgo prefecture. However, I don’t think my town can make that claim any longer because Takino no longer exists. It’s not that Takino was swept into the ocean by a giant wave or stomped by radiation monsters or simply sucked into a void. It’s just that in 2006 it was merged with surrounding towns into a new city. But still: the one city my hometown could claim as its twin is no longer.

So exciting news, Hollister, California! Despite all appearances, you are apparently unique!

The Second-Most Important Cat

I promise I’ll not make it a habit of blogging about Garfield. If I do begin devoting undue space on this blog to Garfield or ancillary characters in the Garfield universe, please come to my house and beat my hands with my laptop until both my hands and the laptop are reduced to useless splinters. That being said, this post is superficially about a certain overweight cartoon cat. It’s also the word of the week.

In poking around online to write Wednesday’s post about why Bill Murray voiced Garfield in the live-action movie, I found that he’d also done so in a sequel, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. I don’t actually remember this movie hitting theaters, but it apparently did — and consequently gave everyone involved something to answer for in the afterlife. (Pam from the British Office, did you lose a bet?) The cast list includes short descriptions of what character each actor played, and the one for the one Tim Curry voiced used a word I’d never seen before.
deuteragonist (doo-tə-RAH-gə-nist) — noun: 1. the character second in importance to the protagonist in classical Greek drama. 2. a person who serves as a foil to another.
Yup. Some Wikipedia editor saw fit to link Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties with Greek drama.

Now, in college I took all but one course needed to get a classics minor — a feat that I consider all the more impressive because I did it accidentally. By the time I realized, the admins had already told me that I needed to graduate and move the hell on. I’d like to think that if I had taken that one last course, I’d have learned what deuteragonist means from a source other than Garfield. Oh well. I had at least taken enough to know what the word meant without having to look it up. The Greek deuter means “second,” while agonistes means “actor” or “combatant.”

(That first part would be easy to remember if Deuteronomy were the second book of the Bible, but it’s not. Wikipedia explains that the name Deuteronomy, “second law,” comes from a bad translation of the Hebrew phrase mishneh ha-torah ha-zot, “a copy of this law,” which appears in Deuteronomy 17:18. Misnomer or not, Deuteronomy still seems like a better title than the Hebrew name, Devarim, which just translates to “words,” which is the worst and vaguest title for a book ever.)

The Wikipedia page for deuteragonist mixes high and low culture in a way that rivals me learning about deuteragonists from Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. (The film itself is a bastardization of The Prince and the Pauper. Ghost of Mark Twain, you have some haunting to do.) After explaining the importance of deuteragonists in Greek drama, the article goes on to cite various famous characters who have played this role. In order: Jocasta in Oedipus Rex, Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Dib in Invader Zim, Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, some dick I’ve never heard of in an anime that plays on Adult Swim at like 4 a.m., Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars and finally Aldous Snow in Get Him to the Greek.

Once more, and certainly not for the final time: Way to go, internet.

Previous strange and wonderful words:
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Bat Who Learned to Hate Humans

I know we shouldn’t project emotions onto animals. However, the temptation overwhelms me when I see animals in situations that seem to demand a specific response.


Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what this bat is thinking, but I’d still bet that its mood when this photo was taken could be expressed with something beginning with the words “You son of a bitch.”

(Image of stripe-faced fruit bat via Smithsonian Magazine’s article “Meet the new species.”)

Emoting animals, previously:

What’s With All the Masks in Super Mario Bros. 2?

Not too long ago, someone found my blog while Googling to find out about the weird preponderance of masks in Super Mario Bros. 2. My blog, I guess, has become a stopping point for most people looking for random bits of Mario 2 info, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Anyway, I didn’t know why so many masks appear in the game, but they do. Check out these masked nogoodniks, for example.


Add to them the end-of-the-stage hawk’s mouth you have to jump through to proceed to the next stage. It looks enough like a mask as it is, but in the original Japanese version of the game, Doki Doki Panic, exiting a stage involved stepping through a more humanoid mask:

(images via spritealteration.org)

And the blocks that are shaped like mushrooms in Mario 2 are also cosmetic changes. They replaced yet more masks.

(images via spritealteration.org)

Mask-tastic — appropriately so in that Doki Doki Panic itself was given a figurative mask in the form of a graphical makeover to dress it up like a Mario game. But I never saw how the masks connected with Doki Doki Panic’s Arabian-themed setting. The original game starred a happy little Arabian family that was replaced my Mario and company when the game was translated for American audiences, yet elements of the original theme remain. The American incarnation still features magic carpets and snakes hiding in vases and distinctively Middle Eastern-sounding music in the underground scenes.

But I recently found a video that might explain the masks. Doki Doki Panic — full title: Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, “Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic” — was designed by Nintendo to promote Fuji Television’s 1987 “Dream Factory” showcase, with the cartoon Arabian family being both the stars of the game and the mascots for the event. They show up in the video below — which is advertising the convention, not the game — but so do a whole lot of freaky masks.


I can only guess that the masks were also part of the convention’s overall motif. And since the game was developed specifically for the convention, those design elements were incorporated. And it also makes sense that the setting of Mario 2 and Doki Doki Panic is some kind of dream world, given that the name of the convention was Dream Factory. (Weirdly, only Mario 2 has the main character waking up at the end and realizing that the game’s events were just a dream and didn’t really happen.) But it seems like a weird aesthetic combo for a technology convention — Arabian stuff, masks and dreams — and I wonder if it refers to a specific story or other cultural element that I just don’t know about.

And even an explanation for that wouldn’t fully account for one of the strangest bits: The turtle shells you can throw at enemies in Mario 2 were bizarre blackface heads in Doki Doki Panic. I know Japanese culture doesn’t approach issues of race the way we do in the U.S., but, as this gamer-artist points out, what you see below looks a lot like either a depiction of blackface or the head of a pickaninny

(images via spritealteration.org)

It’s all very strange, but that’s why I like it — and continue to think about these things years after I stopped playing this game.

Super Mario Bros. 2, previously:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Is This a Racial Thing?

Guess which of the two pages recommended to me by Facebook that I thought was a little weird?

facebook_lil_wayne

Hint: Is it not the one involving gloomy British rock bands.

Debbie Does Rap

Despite a widely circulated notion that Blondie’s 1981 hit “Rapture” is the first single to feature rapping, it’s actually just one the first of note. Better than that, however, is that it does in fact feature Debbie Harry rapping, which seems strange and, to me, funny because she doesn’t rap all that well.



When I listen to my Blondie tracks, I usually don’t listen to this one. But it came on the radio a few days ago and I was reminded that it was historic. By today’s standards, it comes off as hokey and lame, but Debbie nonetheless beat a lot of people to it. So go Debbie, I guess.

Oh… “Rap”-ture. I get it now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lionel Frankenstein

How people have been finding my blog recently:
(Paul. Her middle name is Paul.)
(I caught you, General Mills junior marketing agent.)
(Because Padma Lakshmi was told not to call Gail Simmons luscious anymore.)
(In spite of or perhaps because of the misspelling, this one actually gets pretty close to something I actually wrote.)
(Dick and prick. And that is all. Now go write your limericks.)
(Number one hit!)
(By which do you mean prayers that say nice things about the Our Father?)

“Pretty Mess” Is a Filthy Song for Prostitutes

Someone once told me that the video for terrible, terrible pop song “Pretty Mess” is symbolically raunchy, but I’d never seen the video all the way through until today. It is, as promised, filthy — surprisingly so for something released back in 1984.


The video features no less that four visual metaphors for gushing semen, with varying levels of effectiveness: a shower of white feathers, an exploding bottle of champagne, an oversized wine glass that spills what looks like styrofoam packing peanuts beads and finally white, round pillows (think globules). And before you say that my mind is just in the gutter, please note that the song is called “Pretty Mess” and the lyrics leave no room for any other interpretation. Since Vanity — a former Prince protégé whose singing voice sounds like Kathy Griffin imitating Miss Piggy — doesn’t enunciate the lyrics, I’ll point out that the chorus has Vanity repeatedly referencing people making “such a pretty mess on my dress.” That really can’t mean anything else, given how sexual (though not sexy) the lead-up to the chorus is. It’s not a fever that has her “boiling like a kettle” and “boil[ing] to the maximum.” The worst part comes in the second verse, however, when Vanity seems to be singing about snailtrailing across the room (an act that I think is mirrored by the video’s dripping honey scene):
I’m dripping like a hot tea
I’m aware if you drip it too hot
It just might spill all over this lovely
Like, JESUS, WOMAN. Show some restraint. Though, I guess her name is Vanity and not Modesty. And no, the song doesn’t appear to supply a noun to the end of the third line, though the video has her gesturing to her tailbone when this line is sung.

I just feel like there’s a lot packed into “Pretty Mess” despite the considerable handicap of it sucking so hard — and I haven’t even begun with the weird dual setting (a scene from Lost in Space vs. a skanky pool hall whose bathroom surely has not just one glory hole but actually nothing but glory holes, so go wash your hands and pee next door) and the fact that Vanity is shown romancing a blonde guy who, yes, would have technically been considered mainstream hot from about ten minutes on September 23, 1983, before becoming instantly and hopelessly dated.

To correct Vanity, the overall experience of it all is not a “pretty mess” but in fact a “spectacular mess.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rodent of Mystery

While I was home, my dog briefly made friends with one of the largest wild rodents I’ve ever seen on our property. We guessed that it was some kind of kangaroo rat, but I didn’t think those lived in Hollister. Kangaroo rat or not, this thing was huge. Chief is a medium-sized dog, and the thing was more than half the size of his head.

chief and the mystery rodent

The story ends there, because I’m choosing to end it there.

The Bill Murray-Lorenzo Music Cycle

Bill Murray has explained to GQ why the hell he lent his voice to the live-action Garfield movie. A quote from the interview, via Pajiba:
GQ: Well, how about Garfield? Can you explain that to me? Did you just do it for the dough?

Murray: No! I didn’t make that for the dough! Well, not completely. I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I’d never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, “So-and-so and Joel Coen.” And I thought: Christ, well, I love those Coens! They’re funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I’d like to do that.
The joke being that Garfield: The Movie wasn’t written by Joel Coen but instead Joel Cohen, whose list of credits includes not The Big Lebowski and Burn After Reading but instead the Cheaper by the Dozen remake and the upcoming film adaptation of Walter the Farting Dog. (And also an outlier in the form of this little movie called Toy Story.) I truly think Murray is joking when he says he confused one Joel for another, since he seemingly would have realized the mistake either when he read the Garfield script and realized it sucked or before he signed on to the sequel. But at least we have been given some explanation for why Murray allowed himself to be associated with something that was only slightly more necessary than a live-action Healthcliff movie.

So that’s all funny, but Bill Murray’s involvement with Garfield: The Movie is notable for one other reason. An actor known previously for voicing the doorman on Rhoda, Lorenzo Music, was cast to voice Garfield in the first animated special. Music kept the role until his death in 2001. The guy’s voice is unmistakable. Even as a kid, I can remember hearing Music’s voice — and therefore Garfield’s voice — in Gummi Bears or in those 80s-era public safety commercials that starred talking crash test dummies.



As I think it was first pointed out to me over at Ironic Sans, Music also voiced Peter Venkman in The Real Ghostbusters, which, counterintuitively, is the animated and therefore faker version of the movie Ghostbusters, in which Murray played Venkman. So you have two instances in which a character’s live-action, big screen version was played by Murray and the animated, TV version was played by Music. And though it wasn’t intentional — neither as a tribute to Music nor because Murray and Music necessarily sound all that similar — it’s still a neat little coincidence.

Had Saturday morning cartoons been made of Lost in Translation or Broken Flowers, surely it would have been Lorenzo Music who voiced the main characters.

A final note: In looking for a video of Lorenzo Music’s voiceover work, I found a “tribute” to him posted after he died that inadvertently pisses on his legacy. It’s just clips from the Ghostbusters cartoon but with the audio track replaced by an Evanescence song, thereby eliminating the one thing he contributed to show. Also, it’s a fucking Evanescence song.



Really, it’s like posting a Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire tribute video consisting of a static shot of a rotting cow carcass set to the soundtrack of the couple’s feet squeaking on the floor as they dance. And that would be equally funny. Way to go, internet!


And, of course, way to go Bill Murray. As always.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

That Song About the Telephone Number

“What’s that song about about the number on the wall?”

Ask most people and unless they’ve living under a rock (an especially large rock at that) they’ll remember Tommy Tutone’s 1982 hit “867-5309/Jenny,” if not from the days when it was new and exciting then from 80s nights and covers versions and ads for Time Life Music “Awesome 80s” compilations. Even if people didn’t know the exact title, they would at least know the phone number itself, since it’s the catchiest part of the song. But although “867-5309” was Tommy Tutone’s only hit and only real lasting cultural impression, the band didn’t invent the idea to write a song about a phone number.

Two earlier examples from different genres are the Glen Miller Orchestra’s 1940 song “PEnnsylvania 6-5000” — about the phone number for the Hotel Pennsylvania, 736-5000, alleged to be the oldest working number in New York City — and Wilson Pickett’s 1966 song “634-5789 (Soulsville, USA).”



But I recently discovered another phone number that’s way closer in genre and theme and time of release to “867-5309.” In fact, it predates it by only three years. It’s The B-52s’ “6060-842,” from their debut album, which also features “Planet Claire” and “Rock Lobster.” (I periodically feel the urge to seek out new B-52s music, and I ended up downloading and about a dozen others it just before a drive. Nothing helps stave off motorist monotony like a good rock block of B-52s. Just try and fall asleep behind the wheel with that playing.) I was surprised at how similar this song was to the Tommy Tutone song. It’s not that they sound all that much alike, but they’re both songs about phone numbers — specifically ones about people seeing a number written on a wall, calling it, and not connecting with the Mr. or Mrs. Sexy Goodtimes they think should be picking up. Check out the opening lyrics to “6060-842”:
Tina went to the ladies’ room
Saw it written on the wall
“If you’d like a very nice time
Just give this number a call”

It was 6060-842!
606 — and I’m waitin’ for you
6060-842!
606 — and I’m waitin’ for you

Tina reached in her pocketbook
Pulled out a thin dime
Dropped it in the phone slot
Prayin’ she'd get the line
Sound familiar? I think it should, aside from the switch from first-person narration about a dude in “867-5309” to third-person narration about some chick named Tina in “6060-842.” (And while we’re at it, what’s with stating the number in the B-52s song with four digits before the hyphen? Does anyone in the U.S. ever give their number that way?) I’m not saying that Tommy Tutone’s song was a rip of the B-52 song, but these are pretty similar and specific events that the songs are narrating. And though the bands offer very different takes on 80s pop music, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that whoever wrote “867-5309” would have known about The B-52s and that they’d already done a song about a phone number. So yeah, to me it diminishes the importance of Tommy Tutone, which already must struggle with the shame of being remembered as a one-hit wonder.

Personally, I prefer the B-52s’ take on calling bathroom graffiti phone numbers and then not getting laid. But then again I’m partial to The B-52s. There is a video of The B-5s performing “6060-842” — and back in 1979, no less:



The audio is less than great, but the song can be purchased or otherwise obtained online for those that would like to hear it in all its glory.

May The B-52s one day be remembered for something more than just “Love Shack,” and may all your docks have lobsters beneath them.

Music, previously:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Half-Man, Half-Spam, and Horny as Hell

So something odd has happened. Just last Thursday I wrote about the Viagra-shilling commenter who instead of just posting nonsense verbage on this blog actually wrote a coherent and fairly flattering statement. The spambot apparently got smarter — or proved himself to be more man than machine. (Though perhaps not as much man as he’d like to be.) This person posted comments on two separate but related posts with the user name linking to an online pharmacy but the actual text relating to what I’d wrote.

One of the comments was on my post about how a newish Street Fighter IV character sort of got his start in a 1992 April Fool’s prank:


And the other comment was on a post about a character from a Street Fighter sister series who is arguably the most famous transsexual in video games:


Does this happen on other blogs? I’ve been blogging since 2003 and have gotten more than my share of spam comments, but I think these would be the first instances that seem to be both “real” and spam at the same time. And no, it’s not just some clever reader who’s logging in as the joke name viagra online, because the handle links to a website where one might actually buy boner pills (or, you know, get one’s credit card numbers stolen). I suppose I should be grateful that my writing has drawn the attention of that special sort who both loves video game trivia and medically-aided erections.

Three concluding questions: Am I only worsening the problem by blogging about it? Could it actually be that the spam programs have become so intelligent that they are now reading and understanding blogs? And, perhaps more importantly, do you also enjoy video games and medically-aided erections? Bonus fourth question: Should we start a club?!?!