Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What the world needs now is Barack Obama's big ears.

Now that the election is over and I can stop defending my voting choices based on purely political reasons, I can come out and say the best thing about this past election is Barack Obama's big ears. [Also, CNN's wacky Princess Leia style holograms and giant touch screen state puzzle thing were fun!!!]

A list of all that is adorable in this world:

  1. Baby ducks.
  2. Puppies.
  3. Barack Obama's big ears.
  4. Barack Obama holding the puppy he will eventually buy his daughters. [yes, this has not happened yet, but I am sure it will be adorable]
Note, not all big ears are adorable - just Barack's are. George W. Bush has big ears, but they just make him look like a goof. If I had big ears they would probably look like fish fins.

Basically what I am trying to say is that I have a huge crush on Barack Obama. Whatevs. It will probably only last until January 20th, because then he will actually have to start doing stuff. Right now all he does is post YouTube videos where he paraphrases Langston Hughes and looks cute talking to 60 Minutes about the forthcoming puppy.

So yeah, I'll swoon on Inuaguration Day. And then I'll swoon when the puppy pictures are released.

And then I'll stop.

The Hills: Team Justin Bobby ?!

The rumor went like this: LC got it on with Justin Bobby.
Oh, and Audrina had heard the rumor from some dude named "Dino."

There were like 2 episodes this season where I kind of liked Audrina, but then she went and believed a ridiculous rumor from a ridiculous dude named Dino. I have never met Dino, but since he prefers to be called "Dino" I am pretty sure its safe to assume he's ridiculous. Clearly all said Dino wants is his shout-out on the Hills, so he craftily made up this ridiculous shit hoping Audrina would be dumb enough to believe him. [There. Did I say "ridiculous" enough?]

And since LC had the gall to call [snap!] Justin Bobby - and I quote - "disgusting" on national television, I don't think she is too worried about hurting his feelings. So I am going to have to say this rumor is probably not the truest thing in the world.

Oh, and Audrina apparently left Justin Bobby a string of foul mouthed messages asking him what the deal was. Which is, I suppose, kind of awesome. But their face to face conversation about the rumor sure made Audrina seem like a spoiled 12 year old while Justin Bobby was surprisingly and uncharacteristically eloquent and mature [he used the word "fictitious" for goshsakes!!]. So when the most mature person in this whole situation is Justin Bobby, I think you might have a problem Audrina.

Also, LC and Audrina - when having a serious conversation is the best place to meet really a bangin' club?! And who exactly was that random woman seated between you who looked awwwwwwwwwwwwwkward during the whole thing?!

None of this matters really because next week we get to see Grandma Pratt!! excla!

Speaking of the Pratts, congratulations [!!!!11] to Heidi and Spencer on getting married last week. This marriage is clearly a sham, much like the entirety of this show, and since it happened sneakily in Mexico I am pretty sure it actually didn't happen at all.
Nevertheless, watching this 'After Show' is totally worth it just to see the part where the host casually mentions that the wedding happened on Thursday, not that day like Holly clearly thought it did. Her shocked "what!" is priceless. But her tears are kind of sad. Aw.

This week's playlist.

  1. Single Ladies - Beyonce
  2. 808s & Heartbreak - Kanye West
  3. Kill the Lights - Britney Spears
  4. All I Want - Joni Mitchell
  5. Beware of Darkness - George Harrison
  6. ABC - Jackson 5
  7. Sweet Jane - The Velvet Underground
  8. Another Way to Die - Jack White & Alicia Keys
  9. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Joan Baez
  10. Working on a Dream - Bruce Spingsteen

Yay/ Nay.


808s & Heartbreak - Kanye West

If Bob Dylan was Kanye West and he tried to record Blood on the Tracks in 2008, he might have made 808s & Heartbreak instead. Neither Bob nor Kanye can sing, and neither of them really care. While Bob channeled his graveliness into raw emotion, Kanye takes the opposite approach - covering his voice up in AutoTune, instead stressing the dehumanizing effects of grief and loss. This shift over the course of four decades may actually speak more about society in general than about the artist - after all, we now live in an age when more people might be devastated if Facebook shut down than they would be about losing a significant other. Kanye's trademark wit is sparse here - there are no Klondike/ blonde dyke rhymes - and the rapping that is present, especially from Lil Wayne, is kind of annoying. [Rap on a Kanye West record annoying?! Go figure.] But if you are home alone on that rainy night, this is it.

Plus, leave it to Kanye to make a video that includes women in day-glo body paint:

Single Ladies - Beyonce

Damnitt Beyonce, this song is catchy. I didn't realize I was a fan of Beyonce until I noticed this song has near 40 [forty!!!!] plays on my iTunes. And the video? Kind of awesome. Sure the choreography is sort of spazztastic and that Micheal Jackson-meets-Anakin Skywalker metal glove thing is freaky but I am pretty sure the only person capable of pulling it all off without being laughed at is Beyonce. Oh and If I Were A Boy? Also annoyingly catchy.

Without Justin Timberlake in tights:


David Cook - David Cook

This album would have been really good - if it was released in 1998. I have a lot of nostalgia for the '90s, so that probably helped when my friend sent me the YouTube video of David singing Mariah's Always Be My Baby on American Idol. I didn't really know and/or care who he was until I saw that video, but after watching it I thought he was pretty adorable. But it's one thing to cover '90s songs and quite another to release a whole album of them - but since his intended audience is "cougars" who last cared about music in 1998 and 13 year old girls who are too young to remember what music sounded like in 1998, he should probably do alright. And Johnny Rzeznik co-wrote the first song which only proves David probably would have been better off just releasing a cover of say, Iris, than actually having one of the Goo Goo Dolls write songs for him. Or if he wanted to be really brave, maybe he could have covered ...Baby One More Time - I so would buy that.

Oh, and also, why does his music video feature high schoolers? Isn't David Cook, you know, not David Archuleta?

Quantum of Solace

So I have really good memories of Casino Royale, mainly because I watched it for the first time in a rather nice hostel in Switzerland which had the most a.maz.ing instant coffee [for serious!], a week after I had the very James Bond-y experience of waltzing into the casino in Monaco, and just a few a days after I had walked around Venice, the setting for the film's finale. The fitting locales aside, I still thought it was a pretty quality movie [Daniel Craig decidedly helped this verdict]. But while Casino Royale was plot driven, Quantum of Solace shifts to action, action and more action - and the plot that is there is rather confusing [it somehow involves a performance of Tosca, the country of Bolivia, and a MI6 agent named Strawberry Fields]. That being said, there are decidedly worse movies I could have gone to see and I will most likely see the next movie in this franchise. As I said, Daniel Craig should probably be thanked for this.

But Jack White and Alicia Keys sound weirdly good together!

A Depressing Depre$$ion Playlist.

I made the mistake this afternoon of reading the most recent issue of 'The Economist' which some member of my family left on our kitchen table, and which was basically an entire magazine of dire warnings and numbers and figures which I didn't understand but which certainly sounded scary [But hey, on the bright side its finally paying off for Africa that they are so isolated! Um, yay?! So says the article anyway].

But all I can think of now is how my grandma used to say her family would mix ketchup and water together for tomato soup [delicious], and that maybe I should start collecting tin cans to kick around and making corn husk dolls to play with. Oh, and maybe I should invest in some Steinbeck and the DVD of 'Annie.' You know, before the money runs out and my shoes have no soles.

In addition to all these depressing thoughts, I have been working through the situation the best way I know how by creating the ultimate Second Great Depression Playlist. Because really, I think the first one would have been a whole lot easier to get through if they had just invented the iPod a century earlier.

1. The River - Bruce Springsteen
One of the Boss' more depressing tales about teenage pregnancy, woking in construction and swimming in a river [obviously]. But it also contains such gems as this line: "for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat." I feel ya, son. This is the perfect song to listen to while you scroll through monster.com and feverishly flip through newspaper want ads as it also includes the highly comforting verse: "But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy/ Now all them things that seemed so important/ Well mister they vanished right into the air/ Now I just act like I don't remember/ Mary acts like she don't care." Preach it Bruce.

2. Talkin' World War III Blues - Bob Dylan
I might actually have votedA for John McCain if he just owned up to the fact that he's the candidate more likely to start World War III, as everyone knows the tried and true way of turning around an economic depression is to begin a big old jolly world war. I've been having a lot of weird dreams lately, like about freezers full of avacados and making out Dan Humphrey, all of which are probably harbringers of doom. So when Bob says "Some time ago a crazy dream came to me/ I dreamt I was walkin' into World War Three" I can definitely relate. In his dream poor Bob wanders through an apocalyptic world were he gets shot at because he knows "I look funny," gets [mis?]taken for a Communist, drives an abandoned Cadillac [a "Good car to drive after a war"] and begs "Give me a string bean, I'm a hungry man." In the end Bob concludes "Everybody's having them dreams/ Everybody sees themselves walkin' around with no one else" and I conclude its about time Rosie the Riveter made a comeback. I would look totally cute in overalls and a red bandana.

3. The Big Three Killed My Baby - the White Stripes
Last week my GM-employed uncle asked my brother and I " Soooo - when are your parents buying you a GM car?" Wait....don't you mean a GM/Chrysler car?! So while you are sitting around waiting for the merger that may or may not happen, you can listen to Jack White wail that "their ideas make me wanna spit/ a hundred dollars goes down the pit/ thirty-thousand wheels a rollin/ and my stick shift hands are swollen/ everything involved is shady/ the big three killed my baby." I don't know why Barack isn't using this song in the background of every campaign commericial he airs in Michigan, as it includes such blatant lines as "the motor's runnin on truckers' blood/ dont let 'em tell you the future's electric/ cuz gasoline's not measured in metric/ thirty-thousand wheels a spinnin'/ and oil company faces are grinnin'." So blast this song and have a memorial service for Michigan's soon to be non existant economy, and the good old days when the Big Two was the Big Three, General Motors had that sweet building all to itself in the New Center and no one cared about foreign hybrids because the Model T was just so damn novel.

4. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - The Band [or Joan Baez, your pick!]
In a reassuring effort to let you know that the world has always been pretty sad and fucked up, the Band would like to remind you that "In the winter of '65/ We were hungry, just barely alive." Omg...you mean there was a time when Americans weren't only starving, they were also fighting a war - on their own soil?! Against other Americans?! Gah! The horror! Just when things seem really dire and you want to attempt suicide in the hopes your mortage might be forgiven [I think this only works if you are a 90 year old woman], remember it could be worse. There could be foraging armies to contend with too, not just a housing crisis: "Now I dont mind choppin' wood, and I dont care if the money's no good/ Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest/ But they should never have taken the very best." By the time Levon Helm starts "swearing by the mud below my feet" you'll be so thankful for running water, electricity and a wardrobe without corsets you'll forget about that mortage.

5. Good Life - Kanye West
This song isn't so much about livin' the good life as it is wanting to live the good life, and in an economic crisis who doesn't want that? Even Kanye has the presence of mind to remind us that "Whether you broke or rich, you gotta get this/ Having money's not everything not having it is." [Though of course, if you watch the video the "this" you gotta get is a hot woman, so that take for what its worth] But as we tend to be reminded every 4 years we Americans are a can-do people, and we can make it on our own if we try. After all, its the man doing his own thing on Main Street not Wall Street that makes this great nation of ours run, so as Kanye says: "go 'head switch the style up/ And if they hate then let 'em hate/ And watch the money pile up." So if making it means dressing like Steve Urkel, wearing funny glasses and talking shit about George W Bush, so be it. Kanye's just happy he thought of it first, because he's laughing all the way to the bank.

6 & 7. The Downeaster 'Alexa'/ Allentown- Billy Joel
A Billy Joel double feature!! The only thing doing worse than the auto industry right now is the...fishing industry? Well, I don't know about that, but Billy certainly makes it seem dire. [Rhode Island did just pass Michigan as the state with the highest unemployment rate - so maybe?] The poor captain of the 'Alexa' claims that "Like all the locals here I've had to sell my home/ Too proud to leave I worked my fingers to the bone." Sounds rough man. And if that wasn't enough to make you feel sorry for all the Gorton's Fishermen of the world, he's also "got bills to pay and children who need clothes/ I know there's fish out there but where God only knows/ They say these waters aren't what they used to be/ But I've got people back on land who count on me." Oh, tear. The captain says he "Can't make a living as a bayman anymore" - but then, could you ever?
Billy then takes us from the tapped out waters of New England to Pennsylvania, where "they're closing all the factories down" and "Out in Bethlehem they're killing time/ Filling out forms/ Standing in line." I've never been to Allentown but I am guessing from Billy's song that its basically the Flint of Pennsylvania - which means I will probably never find reason to go there. Though my grandma [the same one who made ketchup soup] came from Pennsylvania and I also heard from her horror stories about coal miners, so any song that says "And we're waiting here in Allentown/ But they've taken all the coal from the ground/ And the union people crawled away" has a special place in my heart. Though if my family tree is any indication, they just moved away to Michigan - where things still sucked. But hey, on the bright side, the Phillies are in the World Series!!

8. Living in the Material World - George Harrison
Material goods suck! Well actually, they sort of don't - but if you don't have any, its a good thing to tell yourself. So when you are living in your cardboard box in your friendly neighborhood Hooverville [Bushville?] let George remind you that no matter what Madonna says it's kind of deadening to your soul to be a material girl: "I got born into the material world/ Getting worn out in the material world/ Use my body like a car/ Taking me both near and far." Take this opportunity to work on your inner self - now that you lost your job you have time for that sort of thing, right? So tap into your inner Job and even though you might "Get frustrated in the material world" remember that losing everything can be a spiritual awakening: "I'm living in the material world/ Living in the material world/ I hope to get out of this place/ by the LORD SRI KRSNA'S GRACE/ My salvation from the material world." Okay fine, it's not the '70s and we're not living in communes and walking around chanting "Hare Krishna" and banging on tambourines anymore, but you get the point.

9. Hard Knock Life [Ghetto Anthem] - Jay-Z
A rap song about how rough life is in the ghetto that samples a song from a musical about the actual Great Depression?! Perfect!!11 I'm not even going to try and pretend I can figure out exactly what Jay-Z is saying, but he does manage to rhyme Glocks, blocks and clocks with Hard Knocks so you know, maybe he even broke out the rhyming dictionary for this one. That's about all I can say, except that the singing children from the chorus can get vaguely creepy. You may have 99 problems, but an economic recession ain't one.

10. Money - Pink Floyd
So I kind of hate this song. Okay, I really hate this song. But I didn't hate it before I had to listen to it over and over and over again coming from some kind of arcade game at Gatwick Airport for an entire night. And even though I heard the opening line "Money, get away" once every 5 seconds for 18 hours, right now I can totally relate to the sentiment. Fuck money. Who needs money? Can't buy me love! [Oops, wrong band. Still stand by the idea though.] Let's go back to bartering, shall we? Hell, I would settle for wampum. I think it might be easier to make fake beads than fake$1 bills. But Pink Floyd certainly has a plan to make you rich again: "Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash/ New car, caviar, four star daydream/ Think Ill buy me a football team." Maybe I will buy the Lions. And the entire state of Rhode Island. Right now I could probably pay for both in wampum.

11. Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi
Who doesn't feel sorry for Tommy and Gina? Working on the docks! And in the diner! All for love! So sad, yet so heartwarming. Sure, the union's been on strike but who hasn't been "down on his luck" and yeah we know "its tough, so tough." Maybe that's why this song is the International Drunk Anthem - we've all been Tommy and Gina at one point so what better way to feel well, better about it all then singing loudly while drunk?! Seriously, who hasn't gotten crunked and belted out a "Whooooaaaahhhhhhh" along with Jon Bon Jovi? [If you haven't, you are missing out on one of life's finer joys] Red state? Blue state? Who cares! I am pretty sure the one thing ironically cheap hipsters and actually cheap rednecks can agree on is that there's nothing like a cheap [of course] case of beer and few good "WhooooooAAAAAAAhhhhhs!" Come on America, take my hand and we'll make it I swear - livin' on a prayer!

Why [fake] jerks are awesome.

Some Monday night in the very near future, I will probably go brain dead.
Yes, it will specifically be a Monday night, because that is the night I descend into that lowest rung of TV viewership and watch 'The Hills.' And 'Gossip Girl.'
I know my brain is supposed to be occupied with thoughts that make me worthy to attend the Brown Graduate School, that I am supposed to spend all my waking moments thinking about [post?] post modernism, the correct number of footnotes for my thesis and learning my 4th language so I can fit in cultured society [Uzbek? Try to give me a language exam in that!].
But come Monday nights, fuck that. I mean, how can I concentrate on being a pretentious, elitist Ivy League grad school bitch when Spencer Pratt is so damn entertaining?! And don't even get me started on the pure genius [in fashion sense and otherwise] that is Chuck Bass.
Okay, so on Thursday nights any intellectual brain activity goes out the window as well. But seriously, its ABC's fault for allowing Dr. Alex Karev to walk around for at least one scene weekly during 'Grey's Anatomy' in nothing but a wife beater.
Clearly, my affinity for jerk characters on melodramatic and brain wasting television shows needs to be analyzed.
Because the only thing better than wasting time on these television shows is wasting more time discussing them.

Exhibit A: Chuck Bass
In real life, I would hate Chuck Bass. But you can't get further from real life than 'Gossip Girl,' so in fake life, I totally love him. In real life, I would probably have a crush on his kinda nemesis Dan Humphrey, the mopey boy from Brooklyn who writes short stories on the Hamptons beach by bonfire light about his tortured love for the unattainable girl and who, thanks to some enterprising prop master, has a copy of Terry Eagleton's 'Literary Theory' on his bookshelf [Yes, I actually noticed that. And yes, I guess I can't escape my pretensions even when watching trash TV]. But on TV writing mopey stories bonfire-side seems kind of ridiculous [which I suppose even in real life, it is] but not ridiculous enough to be all that entertaining. My dear Chuck on the other hand, is so ridiculous that he is amazingly entertaining. And by ridiculous I mean he has tried to seduce a 14 year old girl [in the pilot episode, natch], Dan Humphrey's woman by offering her a grilled cheese with truffle oil [in the pilot too], and his best friend's woman [In the back seat of a limo. A classy move which actually worked]. And he does it all while wearing fashion ensembles which would probably give Tim Gunn a stroke. He's the best dressed man whore around. And after I've spent 3 hours agonizing over the correct word to use in my [never-ending] thesis, the guy who wants to agonize over his Moleskine notebook isn't all that appealing. But I have to admit, the hard-drinking, hard-drug taking, hard-scheming, plaid and stripe mix-matching man slut kinda is. You know, for a change of pace. Look, in real life it would be in my best interest to end up with mopey, Moleskine-toting, Eagleton reading boy. But hey, this is fake life where there are no consequences and white suits never get dirty. So be a fake jerk, and I'm all yours.

Exhibit B: Spencer Pratt
For all intents and purposes, Spencer Pratt is the biggest fake jerk around. Yeah sure, 'The Hills' is a "reality" show, just a reality show that re-shoots scenes to fit into a narrative and doesn't even care enough for continuity to make sure their star isn't wearing two different colors of nail polish in the same "scene." Spencer Pratt resides in that special place, the reality of the fictional universe, where the fake is presented to the world as real [...maybe reality television is the actual desert of the real] and where the real we see is clearly fake. Chuck Bass is a true fake jerk, but Spencer Pratt wants us to think he's such a fake jerk it's totally real - I mean, no one could act like that big a douche unless they actually were one. Right? But acting like a fake jerk takes some skillz - just ask one of my other loves, Kanye West. Kanye gets more press for not winning an award than he would if he actually won one, just for throwing a diva fit. Spencer Pratt can throw a carefully crafted diva fit too, ones that include such gems as telling his none-too bright sister "You're making yourself cry" [Probably the best line ever uttered on that show. Trust me. And here is the link for the episode containing this line for your viewing pleasure.]. But Spencer can pull off lines like that, just like Kanye can pull off classics like "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and it makes them more famous than they were before [In Spencer's case, 'fame' might be a relative term]. But basically Spencer Pratt is the Kanye West of 'The Hills.' Just white. And generally talentless.

Exhibit C: Alex Karev
Okay, I'll admit it took me awhile to warm up to this fake jerk. That's because I spent the first three seasons of 'Grey's Anatomy' totally enamored with George, who in real life I probably would have been enamored with too [too bad in real real life he's actually gay]. But then George turned into a man whore, getting married in a quickie Vegas ceremony only to sleep with his best friend, who let's face it, is one hell of annoying character. Suddenly George's over-earnestness stopped being endearing and was just an excuse as to why he couldn't possibly be a jerk. Too bad he was. Alex on the other hand, had always been a jerk and never admitted to being anything otherwise. A jerk who had surprising moments of tenderness - if you didn't melt when Alex pried the sobbing prom-dress clad Izzie off Denny's dead body to hold her in his arms while the sweet pseudo-indie chords of Snow Patrol played in the background then you don't have a heart [ This show has only gone down-hill after that amazing prom episode, btw]. All of this begs the question: which is better - the jerk masquerading as the nice guy or the straight up jerk who ever once in awhile has a genuine streak of niceness? This in turn begs another question: why am I using 'Grey's Anatomy' to ponder real life questions?!

As you can see, my love for the fake jerk runs deep - from trash TV to Kanye West to Bob Dylan to Mr. Darcy. Why?
I can only conclude that is because they are, indeed, fake.
No girl wants to date a real jerk....unless of course, that jerkiness if you know - fake.

Got that?