Bend It Like Assclown

Friday, August 29, 2008

Viva los Bio-Dome!

Good morning, geniuses! Before we unveil our Season Four Soundtrack, anyone in the mood for a really lame joke that I forgot to post Monday? So among my cable listings is apparently some sort of documentary entitled "The Greening of Southie." One can only imagine what this entails:

- Hey Sully! Some fahkin' kwee-ah put ah saw-lah paaaah-nal ahn mah caaah-paaahrt.
- That's fahkin' retaaaaahded.
- Yaaaah! I ahlreddy cahsehhhhrvv ehnahgee. My caaaah runs ahn Dustin Pedroiaaaah's piss.
- He's a wicked pissah.

Yes, how do we like them apples? Anyway, here is our Bend It Season Four Soundtrack. If you're here in Chicago and would like a copy, just ask. If you're not in Chicago and would like a copy, enjoy the comparatively low gas prices and lack of made-up city taxes, and just ask. If you'd still like a copy of the Season 3, Season 2, or Season 1 Soundtracks, they're all still available and awesome. We may not have the best blog in the world, but we do have the best music.

Bend It Like Assclown Season Four Soundtrack


1) "Let's Talk" -- Hot Karl & MC Serch
2) "A Shogun Named Marcus" -- Clutch

3) "7/4 (Shoreline)" -- Broken Social Scene
4) "Gremmie Out of Control" -- Pearl Jam
5) "TV Party" -- Black Flag
6) "Paper Planes" -- M.I.A.
7) "Bad Reputation" -- Joan Jett
8) "Keep Your Girlfriend Away From Me" -- Local H
9) "Mario Twins" -- Group X
10) "Miami" -- Against Me!
11) "Soldierfied" -- Lifesavas
12) "Suckerpunch" -- The Wildhearts
13) "She Wants to Move (Remix)" -- N.E.R.D. ft. Common, Mos Def, Q-Tip, & De La Soul
14) "Bang the Drum" -- Railroad Jerk
15) "Hockey Monkey" -- The Zambonis
16) "8 Ball" -- N.W.A.
17) "Sugar" -- System of a Down
18) "Now They'll Sleep" -- Belly
19) "I Luv You" -- Dizzee Rascal
20) "Chelsea Dagger" -- The Fratellis
21) "Sellout" -- Emmet Swimming
22) "I'll Believe in Anything" -- Wolf Parade
23) "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah" -- Tracy Morgan

Some notes on this year's Soundtrack. The Bend It Veterans Committee took its first action this year and elected "Mario Twins," a Season 1 song that IWasTheWalrus has spent the last three years lobbying for. Trust me, you won't forget it. Good on ya, old dudes! The song that most got screwed? Well, I was going over my CD lineup yesterday while swimming laps and realized I had mysteriously forgotten The New Pornographers' "Mass Romantic," which was actually one of the first songs I wrote down for the playlist. My reaction upon realizing this was, "Bloooo bluuuup, blooooooooooop! BLOOOOP!" which, when not underwater, generally means, "Filth flarn! Motherfucker! Dick, pussy, snot, and shit!" (TM Eddie Murphy). Unfortunately, I really didn't feel like rearranging the CD, so if you're playing along at home, you can find a copy of that song pretty easily. The last song that made it on was "Sugar," so you can substitute it or put it in there directly after it. The other song that got screwed, but on purpose, was Saul Williams' "Reparations (List of Demands)." Those Nike commercials certainly got enough run here on Bend It to warrant its inclusion, not to mention the song inspired IWasTheWalrus' student teaching unit on slam poetry. Unfortunately, the back half of that song, which largely consists of, "Waaaah, waaaah, waaaah, wup!" is fantastically annoying to the point that I don't want it on my CD. If you'd be down with 60 seconds of crying baby on your CD, you're a stronger man or woman than I. You were also spared some Panic At the Disco by the fact that the last 30 seconds of Track 7, the song I wanted to use, are the first 30 seconds of the song that is Track 8, and I don't know how to fix that without more advanced audio technology. One final note that would have tied the room together, I was also all set to link Beavis and Butthead's official take on Clutch's "A Shogun Named Marcus," but unfortunately Viacom got to it before I could. Assholes.

If you (and by "you" I mean "I") feel compelled to take a stroll through this rhapsody in pink, I'm leaving up both sets of archives -- both our present address as well as our previous home.

As I said a month ago, I'd like to give a huge thank you to anyone that has read Bend It for four years, three years, two years, one year, a month, a week, or even a day. I appreciate it more than I can express. I will continue to be huge fans of all of you as human beings and support you at every turn. If and when we rise again, you'll be the first to know.


I'M FINISHED!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Houndabunga!

So I'm almost finished with the Season 4 Soundtrack. I think. Unfortunately, unlike my old PC CD burning program, iTunes doesn't go into minutes and seconds with its playlists. That I know of. If it's a toss-up, bet on my being wrong.

Anyway, I regretfully did not have my camera on me yesterday when I met a seven-week-old golden retriever puppy. It doesn't get much cuter than that. Speaking of, Zekers just told me that she's been leaving carrots on Baby Zekers' chair to try to form a positive connection in Zeke the bunny's mind. Apparently it worked since she said Zeke bunny-nosed him while he was on the floor yesterday. Hooray!

Anyway, a few months ago I took a handful of photos of Sherlock the hound, but had forgotten how to shrink the JPEGs to a manageable file size so they'd post here more easily. As promised last Friday, I managed to get this sorted out, so here you go:





Monday, August 25, 2008

We only got four minutes to kiss my a**

The kombucha mushroom people sitting around all day. WHO can believe you? WHO can believe you? Let your mother pray … SUGAR! Time for Musings!

- Anyone else always wonder what the words to that song were? Guess I owe it to y’all to provide some sort of public service today. No, I’m not entirely sure why we’re still here either. It’s pretty obvious I used my last bullet last Wednesday. Hey, let’s make the most of it. Maybe this can constitute some sort of “independent spirit.”
- So I managed to survive another ascent into anciency, or at least 1/365 of it. Taking bets on where I was? Who kind of odds would you have gotten on a White Sox game? Yes, JoshuaTrees and I were at Comiskey yesterday. Aside from a date with Kristen Bell, what’s better than a birthday ballgame, regardless of who’s playing? Perfect weather, and a very competitive game. Amazingly enough, at my fifth baseball game in 10 days, I managed to see the team I was rooting for lose all five times. I was secretly pulling for America’s Team, the Tampa Bay Not Devil Rays. Tampa got royally screwed by the umps in the 10th when the umpires called some sort of base path interference during a rundown that would have taken out the lead runner. Instead, the White Sox wound up with 1st and 3rd with one out. The White Sox also benefited from an automatic double-causing hop costing Tampa a run in the 9th and Tampa’s catcher’s inability to catch the ball on a play at the plate that would have ended the game. But Tampa had 3 unearned runs, so I guess it evens out on the bounces. Anyway, no real complaints out of me. There are a lot worse ways to spend a day. Like pretty much all of them. Then my friend and her husband hijacked me to go out while I was trying to make dinner.
- So let me think if I have any quintessential Comiskey stories. Well, yesterday it was apparently high school cheerleaders’ day since there were a ton of cheerleading squads there. Although I wonder if it was part of a recruitment process since I was like, “All these girls look like freshmen.” Then again, that bodes very well for my future career. Very disappointed that what with all those cheerleaders there, no one did any cheers. I think one group did “Let’s go White Sox,” but seriously, it’s your job to know cheers and perform them. Sure, they’re not all, “Brrrr, it’s cold in here,” but how about an effort? Our summer league swim coach used to make us do cheers at minor league baseball games and we weren’t cheerleaders, just goofy kids. I guess the only thing Comiskey about that is that group sales pretty much don’t exist at Wrigley given the way tickets are bought up by scalpers, so advantage White Sox on that one.
- OK, so I was sitting behind a woman with a tramp stamp. That’s not quintessentially Comiskey at all what with all the douchebags and sorority skanks pretending to pay attention at Wrigley. However, said woman not only looked like a dude, but was wearing a GWAR t-shirt. Oh, and I also saw a woman with a mullet (different woman).
- I did get to see/hear two of my favorite sources of Comiskey comedy, both which have been mentioned here previously. The song that goes, “R-O-W-D-I-E! That’s the way we spell “rowdy.” Actually, “rowdie” might be a noun, someone who is perpetually rowdy, perhaps for a living. I’ll have to look that up. So after all these years, the error may not be in spelling, but in the part of speech. And the scoreboard graphic that reads, “ROCK’ME! SOCK’ME!” I will likely go to my grave, which is one year closer, wondering about those apostrophes. Seriously, that should be someone’s dissertation.
- Our greatest source of comedy, however, is kinda difficult to describe in print, but does involve one of my favorite sources of comedy gold. When the Rays decided to intentionally walk JI …. JIM THOME to load the bases in the bottom of the 10th, this dude stood up and starting giving said decision the finger in pretty much every way he knew how. First just the finger. Then he did the thing where you put one arm sideways with the other arm under it with forearm extended and punctuated that gesture, which already means the same thing as the finger, by giving the finger with the top hand. But then for the coup de gras, he employed a move I’ve only seen used by Stone Cold Steve Austin, dojo master of giving the finger. Alternating arms giving the finger. I’ve looked for video of this because it’s really hard to explain. But it was hilarious when Stone Cold did it and mega-hilarious when this guy did it. I asked JoshuaTrees why exactly this was so funny, and he said, “I think it’s the disconnect between the message being sent and the grandiosity of this gesture,” and he then started wildly waving his arms like a monkey and I just lost it. I’m sorry that the hilariousness isn’t quite coming across, but it was just that funny.
- So I almost had a mini-meltdown last Monday at Jewel. I was admittedly profoundly homesick after my trip, exacerbated by anxiety over the impending school year of classes and practicum (it’s like student teacher for psychologists). I had already lamented the lack of Yuengling beer, California Tortilla, and 5 Guys earlier in the day. In the last week, I’ve been trying to sooth myself by listening to enough Jimmie’s Chicken Shack and Northeast Groovers to … wake the corpses of both bands? Anyway, I had resolved to make tilapia with Old Bay for dinner. For those unaware, Old Bay is a mix of spices that is served on crabs and shrimp in the mid-Atlantic and is actually sold around the country, made by McCormick. Put Old Bay on your cheap fish and it tastes awesome. However, I spent seriously close to 15 minutes staring at the spice aisle trying to figure exactly where the Old Bay was hiding. Right after I texted Diesel, “They don’t have Old Bay here? I’m moving back! Fuck this city! In the ass!” (I think that may have been the actual content), it occurred to me that maybe it could be over by the seafood. Even though the steak rubs at Jewel are in the spice aisle. That’s precisely where it was, and it was that alone that kept me living in Chicago. For now.
- My last Starbucks shift is this Saturday. Yeah, I was dead serious about having to cut back everything to make room for 12 credits and a full practicum. It increasingly wasn’t just 8 hours on a Saturday morning. Fridays got configured around it, and then I’d increasingly feel like shit the rest of the day Saturday. If I took a nap, I’d have headaches and be groggy the rest of the day, so I’d started moving the homework I did Saturdays out to days of the week, which I can’t do now. It was probably time anyway, since I was really starting to resent it and it was getting in the way of having any semblance of a life, though knowing me, I’ll find a way out of that anyway, or knowing school, they’ll find a way for me. Anyway, does anyone know of some underground ways to get free coffee, because honestly at this point, that’s what I’ll miss most.
- So I actually swam laps for the first time in 7 ½ years last week. No, I wasn’t motivated by Michael Phelps. My gym is remodeling its cardio room and it was either that or go to another gym for a week (which I actually did Saturday since I know there’s lots of kids in the pool on weekends). I was really horrible, but it could have been a lot worse. Ironically, the easiest stroke for someone out of practice is backstroke, my worst stroke. Anyway, I suppose sometimes necessity can force some positives where they weren’t expected, since I really did need to start swimming again, at least a little. If I were one of those people, I’d use this as a parallel to how overwhelmingly shitty my school schedule looks. But I’ll just stick with the fact that I sucked less the second day than the first.
- Ever hear a piece of information and it just seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle and suddenly everything makes sense? That was how I felt when I read that Katy Perry, who sings that atrocious song about kissing girls to get guys’ attention, which is apparently outstandingly popular, which I suppose I can understand given the amount of people that enjoy making out for girls for male attention or being male and attending to girls making out for their amusement, is the girlfriend of the guy from Gym Class Heroes.
- Speaking of, Gym Class Heroes are apparently touring with The Roots. This makes me upset on many levels.
- In some reverse celebrity couples news, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams have apparently gotten back together. This makes me way more excited that I rationally should be. And I’ve never even seen the damn Notebook. (I also didn’t recognize her in a trailer for a shitty-looking movie and said, “Who’s that ridiculously attractive woman?” It was she).
- I’m actually sad that the Olympics are over. Mostly because despite the overwrought balcony-diving (preferably synchronized) about China winning more gold medals than the US, and the insomnia cure that was the USA Basketball collective media reacharound (which still pales in comparison to the one AJ Daulerio gave ESPN last week), that two week break in the Brett Favre “news” cycle was one of the best gifts I could dream of.
- I know my anti-pro basketball bias is showing, but “Redeem Team?” Redeeming what? Themselves? The country? How exactly? They won an international basketball tournament. Let’s leave it at that and then no one sounds stupid.
- If you haven’t gotten to see the frame-by-frame breakdown of Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic’s finish in the 100 butterfly, but all means check it out.
- The first rule of Alicia Sacramone Fight Club? Do not talk about Alicia Sacramone Fight Club!
- Speaking of, for the love of God, when will we get video of that Cuban taekwondo dude kicking the judge in the face? That is no way this won’t be entertaining. Made even better by the fact that the guy apparently did get screwed.
- So apparently there were some US rowers who were twins with the last name Winklevoss. That is pretty much guaranteed to be funny every time. (Apparently, 8yearoldsdude beat them in rowing, which is also hilarious). I almost feel bad for them in that without ever meeting them, you’re pretty much inclined to assume they’re douchebags. Although allegedly they are, so I don’t feel so bad.
- Speaking of assumptions of douchebaggery, time for Senor Beavis’ Fashion Corner Part One! Pants with embroidered animals on them. 8yearoldsdude and I were joking about this phenomenon on our trip, and then about 10 days ago, while at the Nationals game, he started gesturing wildly from a couple rows away where he was sitting at some dude wearing pink pants with embroidered swordfish. (Had I not already seen the guy, I wouldn’t have known what he was pointing out. My actual response was, “Sure, she’s cute, but I don’t know if she’s worth that level of pointing out”). Yesterday, while on the L, I saw a guy wearing orange shorts with embroidered crabs and lobsters on them. Apparently, during his retail days at Orvis, pants with all sorts of embroidered animals were all the rage. Given that it is categorically impossible to take anyone seriously when they have embroidered animals on their pants, it begs the question as to what exactly are you communicating with such a fashion choice? Mostly you’re screaming to the world that you’re rich. Embroidering is not cheap. Ever look at the difference between sweatshirts with something embroidered versus sweatshirts merely painted on? And that’s a shitload of embroidering on those pants. More clearly, you’re communicating that you’re an ostentatious jerk with no fashion sense. DOWNGRADE!!!!!!!!!
- So a year or so ago when I was writing my parody of MySpace, I was pretty sure I was joking. Apparently, at least one person, and a drunk driver at that, seems to have followed my template to the letter. This is legitimately terrifying that someone can conceive seriously the same thing I can as a joke.
- Another leftover item from my trip, apparently they make Hannah Montana life vests. There is nothing I could say here that wouldn’t detract from this.
- So apparently, former one-hit wonder rap artist and current VH1 gravy trainer Da Brat (and that one “hit” absolutely sucked, by the way. And yes, I do judge my one-hit wonders on quality) was apparently convicted of felony aggravated assault for cutting some chick with the broken end of a rum bottle. OK, that’s kinda funny, but not worthy of showing up here. The story about this described the woman she cut as a “waitress/nemesis.” How fantastic is that? Exactly what does one have to do as a waitress to cross a pretty significant chasm into nemesis territory? If I had given someone decaf every week for a year, could have I classified myself as a "barista/nemesis?" Probably only if they knew about it.
- I was reading an old New Yorker article about hangovers last week and it referred to the Jagermeister-Red Bull concoction as a "Jag Bomb." There is nothing I could say here that wouldn't detract from this.
- Anyone want to enter a TV Death Pool to bet no money on what TV shows will be cancelled in the coming year? Why not? It looks like fun. And yes, I’m betting highly on any show starring that Juliette Lewis-looking chick from Grey’s Anatomy.
- Time for a Bend It Movie Review! So the other night, I went to go see Hamlet 2, which I had been looking forward to all summer. I’ll give credit for a great premise. In a semi-sendup of inspirational teacher movies, a washout actor turned drama teacher stages a musical sequel to Hamlet. And co-starring Elisabeth Shue. How could that not be funny? How about one of the most god-awful scripts of all time? When I see comedies, I want clever lines. Left field stuff. Jokes I either did not see coming or would not have thought of in a million years. There wasn’t a single joke in the script that wasn’t telegraphed, obvious, and cheap. It was Private Practice-level bad writing. Not to mention not showing nearly enough of the actual show itself. Anyway, by all means don’t see it. Elisabeth Shue does look outstandingly hot, as usual, by the way. (While having dinner with 8yearoldsdude while he was in college, I mentioned that between “The Karate Kid” and “Adventures in Babysitting,” Elisabeth Shue helped me grow up. 8yearoldsdude said he didn’t think he needed to know that).
- The US Open tennis is starting today and making his debut is Australian player Carsten Bell. It goes without saying that we wholeheartedly support his achievements.
- Time for Senor Beavis’ Fashion Corner Part Deux! So about a month ago, right at the beginning of my vacation, I was walking to Wrigley to (unsuccessfully) try to get in and found myself behind a woman wearing long white shorts with a pretty serious badonkadonk. (I wanted to see if I could use that in a sentence with a straight face. I can’t). This was concurrent with my research for this post, so my immediate thought was, “Too much booty in the pants!” Anyway, in the waist of the shorts, there was a small V-shaped notch cut out. On purpose. They were made this way. Anyway, I naturally found myself wondering exactly the rationale for said notch. I can’t give it a review positive or negative, I’m just curious. I considered that it could be like a small arrow pointing down encouraging me to look at her ass. In this case, I was going to do that anyway, so I didn’t need street signs. (“Well, Kurt. I was thinking about … asses.”).Then I thought that maybe it’s there to relieve pressure in the waist while still holding some sort of style. I mean I’m obviously talking about it. That might be understated genius. Given that I’m old and fat, maybe I should take some scissors to some of my old pants. Anyway, if anyone knows or has any idea about this, by all means let us know.
- And finally, and I apologize for this one since I really wanted to end with something intelligent, this is actual play-by-play from the US-China women’s volleyball match a couple weeks ago: “Logan Tom demanding it in the pipe. And she is STUFFED!” There is nothing I could say here that wouldn’t detract from this.

Luke’s a sellout now. Tamer’s a sellout now. Erik’s saying, “Like, wow. This is so goddamn easy.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gratuitous pictures of Kristen Bell

So I actually started off working on something explaining the whole use of Kristen Bell as a blog construction representing essentially every woman in the world, therefore preventing myself from writing about my personal life. Simultaneously representing hopes and dreams and also failure and seeming unattainability. Kristen Bell as a kind of romanti-sexual Tom Joad. Except since I'm in on the joke, also mocking my own hopelessness. And then I realized how much it sucked. The worst kind of self-indulgent crap. So my gift to you is not having to read it. Especially the part that equates KB's slipping away into Hollywoodness to watching the world get married. Man, and I said I wouldn't write anything overly introspective or flowery during our last couple weeks. Hey, still good on the flowery.

Let's give our muse a proper sendoff!


Hmm, looks like she and I had the same idea to go swimming the past week. Wait, that's probably not a swimsuit. It's probably some sort of nighttime attire. Maybe? I don't get out much.


Holy shit! An actual good use of bangs. Happens about once a year in the entire world. There should be some sort of monument erected. Good color on the dress as well. I can't decide if that's a loose thread on the dress or whether we're borderline inappropriate here. Let's go with the former for safety's sake.


OK, so that's not me. Man, I really need to learn Photoshop. Especially since that dude has a much better body than I do.

Lion face -- RAAAHR! Lemon face -- OOOOH! (No, I don't get tired of using that as a joke).

Hmm, that's an ... um, interesting dress. Intentionally looking like an amateur seamstress put it together? Yet it works here. Great color.


We could not agree more.


This is not my birthday present. But really should be. I've actually been a pretty good person the last year. My karma should be starting to add up.


Can't do better than that. Leave 'em smiling.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sale of the century

All must go! (Where's my wallet?).

If you've never had a week to go on your blog, you may never have had to face the question, "What do I do with the random kinda-funny (to me) pictures I've taken around the city in the last week?" The answer is to throw them all here.


As if I needed another reason this week to want to move. The top of this sign, at one Houndstooth Saloon in Wrigleyville, actually says, "Gameday Specials." Excuse me while I am dumbstruck by their generosity. I considered going in and asking what their prices for shitty beer are regularly, but it's not really a good time in my life for me to get my ass kicked. Seriously, I wouldn't pay $5 for a Bud Light ever. And I know that was implicit in my statement above. The hammer is my penis.


Leibniz invented cookies, you fucker!

Grab ... a brand new car!!!!!

Have a great weekend, and get your CD players ready for the Season 4 Soundtrack next week. And if you're sending me a celebratory case of Yuengling, if you address it to The Senor Beavis Palace, they'll know where to take it.

I like chicken, I like liver ...

Last year while I was on vacation, I was honored to make the acquaintance of one Cocoa the cat. He belonged to the family next door to where we were staying and became quite friendly. This year, I was very excited to find he was still there and we were able to rekindle our friendship, which meant either A) he remembered me from a year ago, or B) he's an attention whore. I know which one I'm liable to believe, but still. Anyway, Cocoa would wander over in front of the house where we were staying and start meowing for me to play with him. Big talker, that Cocoa. Anyway, armed with an actual camera this year, these are a few of the shots I managed to get.





When we left last Friday, guess who was waiting at the edge of the driveway to see us off?

Those better versed in Lolcat than myself feel free to send in some captions. For those dog people among us, the rejoinder is coming next week. I'd like to think that Kristen Bell would enjoy both.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Looks 3, Dance 10

So leafing through the Washington Post last week, whose Olympic coverage is at least four times that of the Chicago Tribune, it was impressed on me that there was a vast international scandal concerning China’s use of performance enhancers. But not in the sports themselves, mind you (that we know of), but rather the Opening Ceremonies. As the story unfolded, it was reported that China committed not one, not two, but three egregious violations in the production of its Opening Ceremonies two weeks ago. Oh my God, those evil Chinese! How could they possibly do that to the Opening Ceremonies? Our Opening Ceremonies. That which somehow belongs to us and every other person worldwide.

The initial scandal came when it was discovered that the little girl who “sang” some song about China in the stadium was not only lip-synching, but wasn’t the girl who actually sang it. The singer was replaced at the last minute by high-ranking officials because she wasn’t “cute” enough and didn’t have straight teeth. To once again quote Margaret Cho, “So …?”

Yes, I’ll be the first to say that’s a crappy thing to do. To both girls, in fact. One is being told that her looks, or lack thereof, are more important to her country and a worldwide audience than her singing ability. The other is being told that her looks are the only thing that is of any value and are going to carry her through life regardless of what she may want to achieve on her own. That sucks and I hope the Chinese government can underwrite some therapy in 20 years. But an international scandal? No, it just sucks. An injustice took place in the world because of physical attractiveness. Which happens more often per minute in the world than a baby being born. Is it an international scandal when JoshuaTrees and I go to a bar and all the women want to talk to him instead of me?

OK, I can explain this better. Monday I described the Opening Ceremonies as “a silly little pageant” combining elements of a circus and a parade. So at its essence, whether it's community theatre or broadcast around the world, it’s a show. And directors make decisions about their show for what they think is going to provide maximum entertainment value for their audience. They’re called “artistic choices.” So implicit in this decision is a judgment about you the audience, what they thought you wanted to see. “Oh my lord, did you see that adorable little Chinese girl singing that song? It made my heart melt.” The director made a choice and thought that a cuter girl lip-synching a song sung (blue) by another girl would be a better artistic choice than the actual singer singing the song.

What’s outstanding about this story is that if you read the stories about it, you would think that such a phenomenon would apparently only happen in China. How would Martha Wash feel about that idea? Back in the late ‘80s, Robert Cevilles and David Cole, two music producers, thought that they could sell their Music Factory, a collective of dance musicians under their production, better by having a woman named Zelma Davis lip-synch the words sung by Martha Wash, a much larger and more talented singer. Same thing with Milli Vanilli (with suicidal consequences for one of the lip-synchers) in Europe, which may have been even funnier because the guys singing on that were really old. Did people buy C+C Music Factory and Milli Vanilli records purely because of the songs themselves or in part because the singers apparently looked like Zelma Davis, Rob Pilatus, and Fab Morvan? Yeah, it sucks. But there’s a reason that Adam Sandler didn’t get cast for Brad Pitt’s role in “Thelma and Louise.” The director thought the audience would rather see Thelma (or Louise) bang a hot dude with no lines instead of a goofy-looking dude with no lines. There’s a reason why stories like “Hairspray” are written. Because it is a fantasy that the larger girl would get to be on “American Bandstand” or whatever with the hot guy instead of Jessica Alba or whoever. If the director had a choice of putting Brad Pitt or me in the opening ceremonies, whom do you think they’d choose? Unless you’ve been brainwashed by the Ocean’s 11 movies, I’m probably funnier than Brad Pitt. But why have me up there telling jokes when you can have Brad Pitt up there telling jokes that I wrote. In politics, is the President the one with the ideas? No, he’s just the mouthpiece for the speechwriters and advisors, chosen because a decision was made that he or she would be the best delivery vessel for the messages. Yes, we are a looks-based society. Some of that, as I mentioned the other day, is biological and we can’t help it. Some of it we can. But when it comes time for an “artistic choice,” whether it’s China, the US, England, Argentina, Australia, or Guam, the director is going to pick who he or she assumes would draw a better response from the audience. That’s not a scandal; that’s art. Or life.

The next scandalous story to come out was that apparently the children wearing the traditional clothes of all the ethnic groups in China were not actually from those ethnic groups and rather mostly from the majority ethnic group. Once again, to quote Margaret Cho, “So …?” Oh my God, they were actors? Of course they were actors! Do you think that normal children from all the ethnic groups would be able to withstand nonstop rehearsals for months? (Remember, child actors scare me). No, they’d want to do stuff like normal children and the director would be like, “Fuck this! Get me some actors and put them in the clothes!” Maybe that’s what did happen, but more likely, they decided, as most shows do, that they’d rather start production with actual actors than laypeople so they can get this done quicker. Who’s going to take more coaching to play the lead in “Half Nelson” – Ryan Gosling or IWasTheWalrus? (For the record, Walrus, I’ve seen you smoke crack and think you would have been fantastic). Since when did authenticity become so important in production? I’m gonna let people in on a secret. That wasn’t actually Johnny Cash in that movie. It was Joaquin Phoenix. Is it scandalous that members of the majority ethnic group were playing members of other ethnic groups? White actors play Hispanics regularly. Hispanics and Eastern Europeans play Middle Easterners. Believe it or not, this might be one of the central jokes in “Tropic Thunder.” As far as I can tell, the aim of this particular set piece was to display the costumes. Were those authentic? Mission accomplished.

Finally, it was brought up that some of the fireworks were digitally created for TV. To quote Margaret Cho one last time, “So …?” This is largely a made-for-TV event, a ratings bonanza. So how precisely is the idea of adding a flourish for TV controversial? People at the Water Cube couldn’t see the green world record line because it was a TV effect. And a damn good one. More importantly, how the hell do television fireworks get pinned on China? We’ve already established that American television dollars reconfigured the timing of several Olympic events. Who’s to say NBC didn’t ask for a few fake fireworks as part of the deal? And if it was an independent effect, a few fake fireworks didn’t change the lives of the actual competitors at all like NBC did. They were an artistic decision based on what people thought the audience would want to see.

So why were these three stories, and I did them in chronological order of how they came out, but also in terms of how much heat they received, presented as worldwide scandal? Well, I can think of two reasons. (The third reason is that reporters covering the Olympics are really bored, tired, and hungry, which the Washington Post did an excellent job of describing). The first is xenophobia. If China does the exact same thing that goes on every day in show business around the world, it’s evil because they’re a Communist country. It’s OK if a few less attractive people get screwed over in the United States, but if it happens in China, it’s obviously a symbol of totalitarian horror. It’s OK to have a fuck-ton of pollution here in the United States, but if, god forbid, they have smog in another part of the world, then they’re clearly disrespecting the environment and endangering the lives of the Olympians. It’s OK if the US government fucks over victims of Hurricane Katrina and waterboards prisoners, but if China treats some of its citizens poorly then it has a “lengthy record of human rights violations” and is unfit to host the Olympics.

Secondly, it all comes down to a matter of perspective, which comes full circle to my gripe with the Opening Ceremonies in the first place. I probably sound like I’m on the Chinese Government’s payroll, but I’m not in any way condoning screwing that singer or a few ethnic minority children out of roles in the Olympics at all. It’s just a matter of context. If you see the Opening Ceremonies for what they are, a show, then you realize that a few artistic choices, fair or unfair, right or wrong, are endemic to every show. If you see the Olympics for what they are, sports entertainment, then you can enjoy watching the best athletes in the world compete against each other. It’s when you try to project a greater meaning onto them that you create problems. If you want the Olympics to cause world peace or provide a statement on the universal condition, then you might want to try out for a walk-on part in “Pollyanna.” That is if you’re cute enough. There may have been a time when the Olympics did mean more than they do now. Blame technology, blame NBC, blame Coca-Cola, blame McDonalds, but Jesse Owens, John Carlos, and Tommie Smith aren’t walking through that door. If you just consider your TV experience as tickets to the show, then all this alleged “controversy” just seems like a bunch of self-important bullshit and boils down to the one relevant question – Are you not entertained?

Monday, August 18, 2008

You'd better not leave your girlfriends around me, because I'm out to prove a point

Inside's fish sticks, outside's tartar sauce. Pocket full of celery imagine what she telling me. Blowing on asparagus, the realest shit I ever smoked. Ridin' to that trap or die, the realest shit I ever wrote. They know I got that broccoli, so I keep that glock with me. Don't get caught without one comin’ from where I'm from. Time for Musings!

- If you weren’t lucky, it would have been entirely possible that I might have written multiple pages about the awesomeness of Brazilian swimmer Cesar Cielo Filho. I cannot possibly explain the sheer enjoyment 8yearoldsdude and I get from saying his name. I can’t decide if the fact that he’s actually an Olympic champion in the 50 and bronze medalist in the 100 free makes it more or less awesome. Trust us, Cesar. We were with you back when you were just an unadorned Brazilian with an awesome name. Seriously, when I start a new blog, I’m totally coming back as “Cesar Cielo Filho.”
- Yes, I know that two weeks ago, I proclaimed I didn’t really care about the Olympics. And honestly, I still don’t really. Yet I’m writing about it anyway since nothing funny happened to me on my trip and this is what’s going on right now. Then again, “don’t really care” in Olympic terminology means that my sun doesn’t rise and set with the Olympics and I don’t see them as anything beyond athletic competition, which is what they really are. And if you can try to ignore all the steroids and corporate machismo, is decently pleasant diversionary entertainment. As 8yearoldsdude so aptly put it, you get to watch sports for two weeks. Or if you’re me, there’s an alternative when your baseball team is walking the bases loaded and there’s even stuff on in the morning.
- So here’s my hypocritical oath of the day. I’ve been quite a fan of the larger number of live events this Olympics, since if I already know who won, there’s no drama without uncertainty. Many viewers apparently agree with me since the ratings are way up. So how did this come about? Not because China’s time zones synch up perfectly with ours. No, it’s because NBC somehow strong-armed the Olympics into rearranging their event schedules so events would be live during primetime in the US. (See: “corporate machismo” from previous item). Would the Olympics cave for the BBC? Of course not. Think if CCTV had asked the US to reschedule their events in Atlanta that they wouldn’t have been told to go fuck themselves? Next time someone’s bitching about human rights violations, they might want to consider the tremendous act of diplomacy. And by “act of diplomacy,” I mean they were probably paid a shitload of money. This is the Olympics we’re talking about after all. And if that’s not on your radar, may your common sense be beheaded by one of Juan Antonio Samaranch’s swords that he collected from Olympic bidders. I’ll keep saying it. Enjoy it as much as you want; just keep it in perspective.
- So what events do I like to watch? Well, as a former swimmer, I legitimately do enjoy the swimming. I actually did make a point of trying to watch Michael Phelps (this is made much easier when you’re on vacation with people glued to Olympic coverage). I don’t have a flowery statement to make about him; I’m most impressed by how he waxed everyone in the IMs and how much he’s improved his breaststroke. I enjoyed the prelims and semifinals in swimming and even enjoyed (gasp) watching non-Americans. Even ones not named Cesar Cielo Filho. I like traditional volleyball a lot too. Everyone jumping up like they’re all going to hit it. (8yearoldsdude, I’m running the volleyball quote next week). While the two-man or two-woman beach volleyball is getting all the coverage, it’s 100 times less entertaining. By the way, whoever eliminated the side-out rule to speed matches up can eat me. I enjoy the Olympic soccer and wish more of it were on. I could not possibly care less about Olympic basketball. I can see that plenty. I do not lose sleep over the US not having won the last couple international basketball competitions. (We’ll get into this a little more in an upcoming item). Olympic tennis? Why? Clearly the Williams sisters agreed with me. I’m very ambivalent about track. I like the competition, but remain convinced that everyone’s on the ‘roids. Gymnastics? Well, like I said about figure skating, I appreciate them as athletes, but have a hard time respecting something so largely subjective as a legitimate competitive sport.
- Speaking of gymnastics, it’s time to do something about the non-tumbling parts of the “floor exercise?” Watching the tumbling runs is impressive. I can’t do that. And I can take the posing/bowing after the tumbling because after all that flipping, you probably need a moment to collect yourself. But in between, they randomly prance and then do Madonna’s “Vogue.” Sorry, ladies. I can do that. I’m not impressed. It’s absolutely ridiculous looking, though I’m guessing high comedy is not really on the agenda in any Olympic event. Props to the men’s gymnastics for less of that shit. And a posthumous thumbs-down to the movie “Stick It” for not addressing this.
- Of course it would be the hot gymnast who “messed up” the US Women’s Gymnastics team’s gold medal hopes by falling off the balance beam. Sure, the video of this is pretty hilarious, but you have to feel for Alicia Sacramone. Can you imagine what it must be like to have to compete internationally in women’s gymnastics with an actual woman’s body? It’s like if Usain Bolt wore lead shoes. She tried jumping on the balance beam and the earth decided to exert its gravitational pull on her boobs since it actually could. No wonder you only see either prepubescent girls or those who have managed to stunt their growth by not eating compete in gymnastics. Same reason I’m not on the US Men’s Basketball team. If they’d held tryouts when we were 5, I may have been the same height as LeBron James. And by the way, Bela Karolyi needs to shut the fuck up about the Chinese gymnasts. If 14-year-olds are the best gymnasts in the world – and they are, like I’ve just said – then so be it. (By the way, Bob Costas just said that Alicia Sacramone is second only to Michael Phelps in web hits on NBC.com. This surprises me not at all).
- So if you were to do the wild thing with Nastia Luikin, not that I’d recommend this, since she’s probably like 16, could you say you were “doing the Nasti?”
- The one thing you couldn’t pay me to watch, though, is the Opening Ceremonies. Yet my entire extended family was glued to it and my cousin called his dad to Tivo it since he missed parts during dinner. I’ll be interested in 8yearoldsdude’s counterpoint here, since I’d probably rather watch an American Idol marathon. At its core, it’s a circus, yet without the awesome animals, which is what I’d want to see at a circus. Except it’s creepy like Cirque de Soleil. So it’s basically a glorified talent show. Then you add about 3 hours of athlete processions, so now it’s a parade. Except without the only interesting part of a parade, which are the floats. 8yearoldsdude says the athlete processional is hilarious because Bob Costas is taking a huge payoff to say jingoistic things about the other countries like, “This country pollutes the environment,” or “This country treats their women really shitty.” And I doubt dispute that this is likely hilarious, but I’m not sure the comedic payoff is worth having to actually sit through it. Unless a drinking game was involved. So we have the worst parts of a circus and a parade; what could possibly make this worse? Oh yeah, more self-importance than you thought was possible. (If you want, you’re going to hear more about this Wednesday). If you take it for what it is, which is a silly little pageant, then fine. I still won’t watch it, but at least our geoducks are in a row. But a five-hour “cultural statement” celebrating “world unity?” Give me a fucking break. It’s a bunch of bullshit taking up space where actual athletic competition could be. If a bunch of creepy-ass clowns came in and danced around before my swim meets in college, I would have been on the fast track to school newspaper editor.
- OK, I suppose the Opening Ceremonies do have a tag-team partner in terms of taking the Olympics way too seriously. That would be the collective journalistic hari-kiri concerning China’s winning more gold medals than the United States. I think Margaret Cho said it best when she said, “So…?” China has 3 billion people. You think if there’s a government initiative to find and produce Olympic champions that you couldn’t find an Olympic champion rower/swimmer/fencer/fellator out of 3 billion people? If Chinese athletes win a bunch of gold medals, good for them. They probably trained their asses off just like the US athletes and the other country’s athletes. Does this make the US less of a country? I can’t possibly see how. Did it ruin my day that Tyson [Homosexual] didn’t qualify for the finals of the 100-mete dash or that Katie Hoff and Kate Ziegler didn’t qualify for the finals in the 800 freestyle? Of course not. And that doesn’t mean the country is doomed. You know, it’s sports. On any given Sunday. Take it for what it is – an entertaining athletic competition. Try to make a bigger statement from it and you just wind up sounding like a complete dumbfuck. And it’s entertaining even if you’re country’s athletes aren’t in it. Does that mean I don’t root for the US athletes? Of course not, for the most part. I’m an American, so of course I’d naturally root for them just like I would a team from the DC area where I’m from. My exception is the US Men’s Basketball team, since I always thought it was boring overkill watching them, for many years they were completely into themselves and had no interested in being there, and the overwrought reaction (see: above) to them losing was hilarious. Oh, and I rooted against Maurice Greene since he was a dick.
- Yingdong Natatorium would make an excellent band name.
- With absolutely no segue whatsoever, this is from this morning’s Washington Post profile of Bob Barr by Libby Copeland: “At the University of Southern California, he briefly joined a group of campus Democrats, at which point his Republican parents threatened to pull him out of school. Shortly after, at their suggestion, he read Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”” There is nothing I could say here that wouldn’t detract from this.
- So I’ve had my New Yorker subscription almost nine months, which is why I now know so much about Tavis Smiley and semi-holy hookers in India (not the same story), and I have to ask those more experienced in its ways, is “Shouts and Murmurs” ever funny? They certainly have an impressive list of contributors, but it’s always painfully stultifyingly awful. Probably even worse than McSweeney’s. Famous people trying to get away with painfully unfunny stuff? It’s like the literary equivalent of “Funny or Die.”
- In the midst of seriously considering moving back home to the DC area since Chicago has no 5 Guys (burgers that taste exactly like a burger served in a paper bag should, and I mean that as a huge compliment), California Tortilla, or Yuengling beer (seriously, someone please send me some for my birthday. Or at the very least, please fax me one), I was subtlety reminded that rampant douchebaggery still exists in DC, just like it runs wild here in Chicago. On the Metro Saturday heading to another Nationals loss, I overheard a conversation by two guys flanking a sneaky-hot girl (unfortunately wearing a Yankees t-shirt) that involved a bunch of guys being drunk, a friend of theirs falling and requiring stitches in his mouth, and one of the storytellers and some other guy “running around bodyslamming each other into bushes.” (I actually don’t think that was a double-entendre). Nothing I heard surprised me in the least from the very beginning. Because when a guy’s story starts with someone named “Sweat,” you pretty much know exactly what you’re in for.
- Speaking of douchebaggery, while at one of Dewey Beach’s trashy t-shirt shops, I encountered a shirt that read, “I Have a PhD (Pretty Huge Dick).” It goes without saying that even without mentioning my anatomic limitations, I’m probably not that shirt’s target market, unless I’m attending an ironic t-shirt party. Now I don’t know if size matters, and I certainly hope it doesn’t, but I do wonder that if someone wore that shirt, went home with some chick with appropriately awful taste, and it was discovered his shirt’s boast was not the case, could he be sued for false advertising? Lawyers?
- Speaking of, anyone that buys a shirt that says, “You Looked Hotter on MySpace” deserves to be punched in the face.
- Talking on one’s cell phone on the beach is an implicit request to have your phone thrown into the ocean.
- While I was at the beach for a much shorter time, and therefore did not get sufficiently restless as to warrant extreme exploring, you will be happy to know that both Collier’s Trim Shop and the dildo nightlight are still there.
- You’ll also be glad to know that while playing the “horse racing” boardwalk game in which one rolls a ball into holes to get one’s animatronic horse to advance, 8yearoldsdude and I gleefully sang the “Bad Horse” song. This did not help us win, though it did possibly annoy the hell out of the other participants.
- So I mentioned this last year, but we’re always refining our methodology for looking at women. So anyway, I mentioned last year that it gets tricky as one gets older because the pool of women to be admired at the beach shrinks when you take into account trying to be appropriate. Regardless of what’s actually age of consent, I’m going to be 31 in a week so I need to be looking higher. Hey, half my age plus seven is 22 and ½. I already mentioned that women don’t necessarily age linearly, so you have to take into account accessories. Usually the guys they’re with. If not, material accessories. Unfortunately, this is much tougher on the beach. For instance, if you’re at a baseball game, is she holding a beer? We’re OK. So nowadays women on the beach break down into three categories – yes, no, and “I’m gonna need to see some ID to figure this out.” I’m sure they’d appreciate being carded. No, I’m not shallow. I’m biologically predisposed to enjoy looking at attractive women. So are you. (Or attractive guys depending on your gender and/or sexual orientation). Another difficulty of advancing age is another form of accessory. I could be walking along feeling quite pleased with myself for admiring a women who looks to be precisely in my actual age range (I’m 30, but feel about 27, which is the age people usually guess I am), and then, out of nowhere, “What? She’s got a baby? Awwwwwww! AWWWWWWW! (TM Baseketball).” Buzzkill and a half. OK, so I guess I’m a little shallow. Anyway, my advice to you if you find yourself on the beach in a similar situation is by all means, look at their face FIRST. There’s your key right there. Also, if you’re on the fence, you probably shouldn’t be looking, considering that most 20-something/30 something cosmopolitan urban semi-intellectuals don’t often drive multiple hours to the beach.
- So I actually didn't see as many Tramp Stamps as expected, but I do have to ask for a clarification on something? If someone has a huge-ass lower back tattoo, that's not a Tramp Stamp, right? What's that called? Like one that goes all across your back. Or I saw one that was a huge attacking tiger. Also, while not completely related, I saw a woman with kids who had a huge tattoo emerging from her bikini so the tattoo was half in and half out. I'd love to hear how she explained that one to the kids.
- I would like to commend the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons of the early ‘90s for briefly resurrecting the exclamation “Cowabunga!” There is no time where that word is not funny.
- I’d never noticed this before, but before crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, there’s a sign that says to pull over to a certain area for an “escort.” Hey, I can’t say that driving a hooker over the Bay Bridge has ever been on my list of fantasies, but whatever floats your scupper.
- And finally, we’ve been on the cutting edge of linguistic innovation for quite some time now. It’s one of the upshots of talking a lot. Anyway, during lunch on our trip a week or so ago, my 16-year-old cousin (Sleepless’s daughter) was talking to her two friends that accompanied her about something when one of them mentioned a guy named “Troy.” The three got very quiet and my cousin giggled and said, “Oooh, I’d do it with him.” Which even when emanating from behind the adult conversation will usually halt all conversation. I said to Sleepless, “I’m sure that’s exactly what you want to hear this afternoon.” My cousin said, “Hey, I meant I’d be the princess with him.” Which of course prompted a rejoinder of “So that’s what the kids are calling it nowadays.” My cousin tried to explain that she was talking about her high school’s homecoming court, but a new phrase had been coined. Just so you know, I wouldn’t mind being the princess with Alicia Sacramone.

There is always room at the top. Don’t let them tell you that there is not. There is always room at the top. For an 18th century brain … in the 21st century.