Monday, March 31, 2008

What a Bunch of Bull-Shull

At some point during my senior year of high school a bundle of newspapers started showing up on the front steps of school every morning. Students were encouraged to grab a copy of the Indianapolis Star, and the offer turned out to be a popular one because some mornings tardiness mixed with the early-birdiness of peers left only an empty plastic bag in the school lobby, blowing about American Beauty style, with all copies spoken for. Awww. (What the hell just happened?)

Needless to say, I poured over my daily copy during my first period class, Advanced Senior English Level IV-G or some conglomeration of letters and Roman numerals that made it seem like I was smart and this class was dripping with erudition. Bullshit. We did next to nothing in there, and if we weren't reading the City-State section of the paper we were making fun of our teacher. Seated with my back to the windows and flanked by friends, we developed a fondness for the puny column tucked into the Extra section by Mr. R. K. Shull. (1927 - 2007)

"Shull's Mailbag" was an absolute mindtrip in the days before the widespread onslaught of the internet and IMDB. R.K. would field one or two questions from inquisitive readers that went something like this:

I'm trying to come up with the name of a TV special I saw Christmas 1954, maybe '55, that featured a crosseyed watchmaker from a Swiss ski town who comes home to find Santa Claus in his chalet. I think William Shatner was involved. - Rube from Muncie
R.K. would respond:
Hey, Rube. The episode you're looking for is "Yodel If You Love Me" from 1960. The watchmaker with the peg leg was actually played by a young Paul Newman. Shatner wasn't anywhere near this holiday trainwreck. It's available on VHS.

Our boy R. K. was sharp-tongued and evidently privy to a vast library of television and film information that left his loyal readers in awe and continually submitting similar half-recollections. As noted in his obit, "Shull's Mailbag" was featured in 260 newspapers. All of that ended of course, when R.K. ended last spring. So some wag from the Louisville Courier-Journal, David Inman, has stepped into R. K.'s shadow. Inman is featured in a mere 35 papers (probably all owned by Gannett) and I think he's a damn sham and feeding himself false inquiries. Take today's article:

Hi: I remember a short-lived series in the late 1980s or early '90s that was a serious crime show where the characters would burst into song. Could you tell me more about it, including who starred? -- K.B., Louisville

Are you kidding me? Cop Rock! I can honestly say that I've never seen one episode of Cop Rock but I can tell you practically everything you need to know about this ridiculous show, including the ties to Stephen Bochco (was he involved with Hooperman? I wish R. K. were here), and I didn't need David Inman to help in the slightest. What amount of googling doesn't turn up Cop Rock? Is there anyone alive today that was actually sentient during the early 90's that could let Cop Rock just slip their mind? I think K. B. in Louisville is Kinda Bullshit and David Inman is padding his Inbox in a desperate attempt to keep himself employeed although irrelevant.

I heard Garrison Keillor say recently that wikipedia has been a godsend for writers and researchers. That of course assumes that readers will be judicious and not fall prey to the whims and fancy of Stephen Colbert or any other nefarious fact-monger, but the truth is what it is. (Is it?) We have far more information - stupid at that - at our fingertips than when R. K. Shull was riding bareback through the vast information wilderness of the early to mid 1990's.

We definitely don't need some joker like David Inman inventing "questions" to keep folks renewing their newspaper subscriptions. It's not that hard to find the latest entry to your Netflix queue. Live a little. Use the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.

Friday, March 28, 2008

No One Touch the March. The March Has Gone Mad!

The following blog entry will reflect my love of:

a) college basketball
b) college basketball montages
c) Full House
d) the internet's curbing of my own boredom

Now, last March, I wrote about not just my love of tournament time, but more specifically, my adoration for the traditional montage of tourney clips set to the sweet sounds of "One Shining Moment" (if the montage doesn't already cause you to tear up, get this: rumor has it that this song was the last recorded by Luther Vandross pre-stroke. Yeah, grab a tissue).

Well, this year, they've upped the ante. You can design your very own montage!

Here's what I came up with. The following clip will reflect my:

a) idolization of AJ Graves and Pete Campbell
b) short attention span (they have hundreds of clips I wasn't willling to click through)
c) overt inspiration from this art project

Did you follow all those non sequiturs?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Y'all gon' make me act a fool up in here, up in here

We're months away from figuring out who will claim top spot in the fiasco that will be the Democratic Presidential nomination, and the stakes are getting higher. Voters are researching each candidate's positions, analyzing speeches, pastors, and more speeches, and of course, listening to what celebrities tell them to do. Perhaps you've found yourself in a moment of quiet reflection, wondering "Who would DMX vote for?" Wonder no more. The answer is clear. DMX is an idiot.

Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.

You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!

Barack Obama, yeah.


What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
Barack Obama?

What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.

You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.

I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
Wow, Barack! The nigga’s name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack.

So you’re not following the race. You can’t vote right?

What the fuck is a Barack, indeed. I also enjoy the first part of the interview where DMX reveals that he has no idea how he ended up on his current record label.

One man who clearly knows Obama's name is Late Night With Conan O'Brien writer Jon Glaser, who has thrown his hat into the "political song" ring, with this offering that puts Will.I.Am to shame.

Finally, in the interest of equal time, John McCain's daughter has been publishing her playlists from the campaign trail, giving some play to The Pieces, and revealing that The Dead Milkmen changed her life. People, will you please join me in a moratorium on announcing that band X has changed your life? Every band that I enjoy has changed my life, but for the love of Zach Braff, it should go without saying. Oh how I wish it went without saying...

This DMX interview, however, has totally changed my life.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Seriously...Who is this Guy?

Blake Hoffarber.

Freshman guard for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and the man behind the greatest end to a basketball game I've ever seen in person. Hoffarber took a full-court pass with 1.5 seconds left and sank Indiana's Big Ten Tournament hopes straight up Laettner style.

You have to blame IU coach Dan Dakich for this one, or whoever it is on the Hoosier staff in charge of watching film. A simple Google search for this kid might have turned up this charming little play from Hoffarber's high school days.

Damn, how do you let that happen...again? This kid seems to be good with full-court, baseball passes in tournament games with improbable, ludicrous, buzzer-beater style. Who knew?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Put This In Your Pipes

This is Shaun Clancy. He is an American hero. He manages Foley's, an Irish pub in midtown Manhattan, and he has banned the playing or singing of "Danny Boy" in his establishment for the entire month of March. Clancy has pointed out that what should be a somber and touching anthem (still played at many police and firefighter funerals) has become a mockery.

"Everybody thinks -- whatever race, creed or color -- that after three pints of Guinness, you're entitled to get up there and butcher the song."

"The Irish are not known for being a depressed group of people,'' Clancy said. "For the song associated with them to be 'Danny Boy' -- that's kind of akin to the Yankees winning the World Series and the fans breaking out into 'Ave Maria.'''

I for one would love to see Yankees fans blasting Ave Maria after a World Series, but I understand his point. "Danny Boy" is a song of mourning, and somehow it's become a celebratory anthem to be slaughtered with incorrect lyrics by drunken louts. How is this acceptable? Nobody crashes Memorial Day parties, gets blitzed on Coors Light and whips out a kazoo for an impromptu party edition of "Taps," do they?

But not everyone is on Clancy's side. Some are lashing out against the ban. Naturally, this constituency includes a city that always has it's priorities in order.

Even a Detroit radio station hitched its wagon to news of the ban and began promoting a "Danny Boy" marathon, a contest in which patrons will sing 1,000 back-to-back renditions of the song in the hopes of breaking a world record. Or so they say.

I'm with Clancy, and I'm calling on everyone to find a St. Pat's alternative to "Danny Boy." If you're going the traditional route, I suggest the much more celebratory "Whiskey in the Jar" (celebratory despite the fact that it centers on a thieving highwayman betrayed by a woman.) But my top choice would clearly be "Body of an American" by The Pogues, which became an Irish wake anthem on The Wire (and unlike the chump who wrote Danny Boy, The Pogues are actually Irish! Just ask Shane MacGowan's teeth!) Alternate suggestions are always welcome, but I encourage everyone to take a stand.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fitter Happier

So by luck of timing, I managed to get a pair of cheap Lollapalooza tickets last week, before the acts were announced. I was hoping that Radiohead would be headlining, and while it's not officially confirmed, all signs indicate at least two of the three headliners will in fact be bands without a record label. Both acts have sold/are selling their new album through their respective websites. The jury is out on whether the "pay what you want" method will work on a broader scale within the industry, but with Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails headlining, one thing is certainly clear: Lollapalooza will feature no shortage of attendees spouting brilliantly satirical one-liners at concession stands along the lines of "How about I name my own price for a bottle of f'ing water?"

Two acts who more than likely will not be appearing at Lollapalooza are Justin Timberlake or The Killers, but they did team up (in a matter of speaking) in Southland Tales, which I watched this weekend. It's a complete mess of a film, and I'm still not sure if I mean that in a good way or bad way. I loved Donnie Darko, but Richard Kelly really takes the "What-the-hell-is-happening-right-now? factor" to the next level on Southland Tales. As bizarre as the whole film is, Timberlake lip-syncing "All These Things That I Have Done" is oddly compelling. I especially enjoy the fact that there are still people playing video games in the background of the arcade while he pounds beer after beer.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The End Has No End

Well, my friends, Bravo sure knows how to frame an engaging season finale, even though it is abundantly clear what the outcome will be.

My conservative estimate is that 90% of the faithful Runway watchers went into the season finale with the assumption that Christian was the foregone winner. And then, within the first 5 minutes, they brought Christian's arrogance waaaaay down with his whining and worrying.

And then two events make it abundantly clear that a) Jillian would be the first to go and b) Rami would give Christian a run for his money.

Event #1: Jillian goes against Tim's advice in reference to the Raggady Anned-shouldered sweater. Old girl doesn't seem to understand that to defy Tim is to defy fashion doctrine.

Event #2: Rami shows Tim that weird woven lace from the 1930's. Lace from the 1930's?! Who does that?!

During the model casting, I was bored out of my mind, until Christian declared he wanted dark-skinned models. What a racist! Then we had extra long make-up planning techno montages!!

side note: I'm currently multi-tasking, writing this during the commercial breaks of LOST...damn that's a good show.

Alright. Enough dilly-dally. Let's get to the final collections:

Jillian - First of all, don't curtsy. All my friends may think you're cute as a button, but I don't. Your collection was an odd collection of green armor and jockey outfits, business suits and yarn balls, goddess dresses and reverse elbow cut-outs. Posh Spice is not feeling any of that!

Rami - Your color selection is weird. It looks like you chose your color scheme from this kid's Trapper Keeper. But you got back on track with the M.C. Escher-inspired cocktail dress. That was cool. Then, you went all Christmas Eve dress on us for a while, before ending with the two best dresses of the night.

Christian - Hats. Black. Hats. Black. And then you break out the Santa Claus! And marshmallow fluff dresses! It's like we're back to the Hershey's challenge! And then, then, you bring out the cowardly lion dress. We saw the pants last week, and now it's an entire dress.

Now, truth be told, I made terrible predictions from the start of this season (unlike one friend who guessed two of the final three and the eventual winner after the 1st episode). But, after the final four was called, I was confident that Chris March would not make it to Bryant Park, and Jillian would lose to Rami who would lose to Christian. So I'm gonna pat myself on the back for that. Pat. Pat. Pat.

But you know, I've come to realize that if I could accurately predict the outcomes of these shows, it would sort of defeat the purpose of this blog. And I can't disappoint my reader(s).

So the search begins for a new show that covers a topic I know nothing about. I am open to suggestions. Scott Baio is 46 and Pregnant? Redneck Wedding? Drake and Josh? I'm up for anything!

Because my friends, this may be the end of Project Runway Season 4, but the end has no end: