Monday, August 30, 2010

Song of the Year?

May I present to you my nomination for Song of the Year. In the past 72 hours since I discovered this clip I watched it dozens of times and have the song running through my head constantly. I even woke up in the middle of the night with this song buzzing through my head.

What are we watching here exactly? This is footage of Antoine Dobson, the brother of a girl who was awoken by her would-be rapist on July 28th. Luckily Antione and his sister managed to beat off the rapist, though he left behind his shoes, shirt, and fingerprints all over the place. The local news came an interviewed Antoine and his sister when Antione went off on a rant which was broadcast as part of the piece. The rant quickly became an overnight viral video.

But that's just the beginning. Enter the Gregory Brothers, a family of, uh... viral video makers. They're somewhat known for their "Autotune the News" clips you can find on Youtube. Usually they've taken well-known newspeople like Katie Couric and given them the autotune treatment for comedic effect. But what are more funny are their clips of "unintentional singers", basically everyday Youtube clips from everyday people which get turned into songs. You may have recently seen the Double Rainbow clip and the Gregory Brother's remix sensation version that's been making the internet rounds. As for the Bed Intuder Song, it's garnered more than 15 million views on Youtube in the past month.

What I love about the Bed Intruder Song is it's perfect mimicry of hip-hop/dance floor song tropes. Music companies spend thousands of dollars on focus groups, advertising, and training so that they can make the next Britney/Justin Bieber, while the Gregory brothers probably spent no more than twenty bucks on the pizza and pepsi they ordered while they sat around and make this awesome clip. And how could you not love the breakdown near the end?

What I find even more amazing is how quickly this song has spread. There's literally hundreds of covers of this song already, including a version by the North Carolina A&T University Blue & Gold Marching Band. There was a piece on NPR about the song. The band Linkin Park was even interviewed recently with the interviewer asking "Ok, which one of you is the rapist?". The song is currently the #35 seller on iTunes. And to top it all off just this past week Antione was invited onto the Today Show.

Maybe I'm overstepping it a bit here, but I'm more and more convinced that pieces like these are some new art form. It's not quite a traditional song because the lyrics were unintentionally "written", and it's not quite a random viral video of something you might see on America's Funniest Home Videos. There's definitely something clever going on here, and me, I love it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another Shitty Article From Slate

Call me juvenile, but any Slate article that contains the phrases "anal sphincter," "anorectal angle," and "streamlines defecation," no matter how scientifically valid the usage, gives me the giggles. I will say this: Slate is willing to write an article on just about anything. Here are some choice excerpts from "Don't Just Sit There! - How bathroom posture affects your health":
Other entrepreneurs peddle similar products, like the In-Lieu, the Lillipad, the Evaco toilet converter, and, for those who don't like explaining their squat platform to house guests, a $688 Japanese toilet that lets users switch among different squatting and sitting postures, from the "East Asian squat" to the "aft sit."

People can control their defecation, to some extent, by contracting or releasing the anal sphincter. But that muscle can't maintain continence on its own. The body also relies on a bend between the rectum—where feces builds up—and the anus—where feces comes out. When we're standing up, the extent of this bend, called the anorectal angle, is about 90 degrees, which puts upward pressure on the rectum and keeps feces inside. In a squatting posture, the bend straightens out, like a kink ringed out of a garden hose, and defecation becomes easier.

For a study published in the medical journal Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, six subjects had their rectums filled with a contrast solution and then released the fluid from a squatting or a sitting position while being filmed with X-ray video. Image analysis showed that the anorectal angle increased from 100 degrees to 126 degrees as the subjects moved from a sit to a squat.

And for 28 years—from his junior year at Yale in 1970 to the moment when he completed the first Nature's Platform prototype in 1998—Jonathan Isbit "perched," as he put it, squatting on the rim of toilet seats. So I decided to try it—each morning for a week, following a bowl of corn flakes and a cup of coffee.
Thanks to my backpacking youth, I must confess that I have gone au naturel. One can develop an ease with this sort of method, although it is probably much easier to do so in the middle of the wilderness, where one has no other choice, than it is to do so in the toilet oasis we call civilization.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Avalanches - "Frontier Psychiatrist"

Almost all music videos, since the dawn of time, have made at least some attempt to show the the actual musical artist featured in the video pretending to be performing the actual song that is being promoted by said video. Often these "performances" don't even follow the rules of logic. Where's Britney's microphone? If she's doing all that dancing, how come she doesn't sound out of breath?

But what if, in the case of the Avalanches, there's just one problem: there is no performer? What if your song is just a bunch of kitschy '50s soundbites strung together?

Never fear. The video for "Frontier Psychiatrist" is an endearingly literal interpretation of what is actually present on the recording. For every absurd sample, there is the corresponding image of a psychiatrist/ape/horse/parrot/Peruvian folk ensemble "performing" what is heard. The video reminds me of those creative writing or acting workshop exercises where people are given a random set of words and are supposed to slap together something cogent out of that randomness. The Avalanches probably created this song in their basement with no intention of ever passing it off as something that anybody would, or even could, perform live. But when it came time to make a video, I guess they figured, "Hey, what if there was an actual band that had to perform this song? What would it look like?" Ladies and gentlemen: it would look like this. You can even see the microphones!

The Beatles quit touring because they didn't think they would have been able to play Sgt. Pepper in concert. The Avalanches would have at least tried to put together a video. Imagine their take on "Good Morning, Good Morning." Given their experience with barnyard animals, I think they would have been able to come up with something appropriate.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thumbs Up For Some Thumbs Down

Lately, for some reason, I've been looking forward to reading Roger Ebert's negative reviews more than reading his positive ones. I think it's fair to say that some of his negative reviews are more artistically memorable than the movies they're purportedly reviewing. Other critics shriek and rant and express their moral outrage; Ebert just likes to make himself chuckle. Some highlights:

The Last Airbender:
"The Last Airbender" is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that.
One night at a party, his moves don't work. It must be said he uses hopelessly outdated lines. When a man says, "You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen," a woman should reply: "I know. But why would that make me want to sleep with you?"
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time:
Anyway, the evil Nizam insists that the Persian army invade the peaceful city of Alamut. This is a beautiful city surrounding a towering castle. King Sharaman has ordered the city not be sacked, but nooo, Nizam has secret information that Alamut is manufacturing weapons of mass destruction for Persia's enemies. (Poor Dick Cheney. He can't even go to a Disney swashbuckler without running into finger-wagging.)
Eat Pray Love:
Here is a movie about Liz Gilbert. About her quest, her ambition, her good luck in finding only nice men, including the ones she dumps. She funds her entire trip, including scenic accommodations, ashram, medicine man, guru, spa fees and wardrobe, on her advance to write this book. Well, the publisher obviously made a wise investment. It's all about her, and a lot of readers can really identify with that. Her first marriage apparently broke down primarily because she tired of it, although Roberts at (a sexy and attractive) 43 makes an actor's brave stab at explaining they were "young and immature." She walks out on the guy (Billy Crudup) and he still likes her and reads her on the Web.

In Italy, she eats such Pavarottian plates of pasta that I hope one of the things she prayed for in India was deliverance from the sin of gluttony. At one trattoria she apparently orders the entire menu, and I am not making this up. She meets a man played by James Franco, about whom, enough said. She shows moral fibre by leaving such a dreamboat for India, where her quest involves discipline in meditation, for which she allots three months rather than the recommended lifetime.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse:
Of Taylor Lautner’s musculature, and particularly his abs, much has been written. Yes, he has a great build, but I remind you that an abdominal six-pack must be five seconds’ work for a shape-shifter. More impressive is the ability of both Edward and Jacob to regard Bella with penetrating gazes from ’neath really dope eyebrows. When my eyebrows get like Edward’s, the barber trims them and never even asks me first.

There is a problem with the special effects. Many of the mountain ranges, which disappear into the far distance as increasingly pale peaks, look suspiciously like landscapes painted by that guy on TV who shows you how to paint stuff like that. The mountain forests and lakes are so pristine, we should see Lewis and Clark just arriving.

Much leads up to a scene in a tent on a mountaintop in the midst of a howling blizzard, when Bella’s teeth start chattering. Obviously a job for the hot-blooded Jacob and not the cold-blooded Edward, and as Jacob embraces and warms her, he and Edward have a cloying cringe fest in which Edward admits that if Jacob were not a werewolf, he would probably like him, and then Jacob admits that if Edward were not a vampire — well, no, no, he couldn’t. Come on, big guy. The two of you are making eye contact. Edward’s been a confirmed bachelor for 109 years. Get in the brokeback spirit.
"Predators” may be the first film in history to open with a deus ex machina. Yes, the entire plot and all the human characters drop into the movie from the heavens.

Who runs this game preserve, and why? If you recall the first “Predator” (1987), Arnold Schwarzenegger and other killers found themselves in the Amazon fighting an unseen predatory alien. Has that race of aliens imported humans to its solar system for a rematch? Is it a wise use of resources to transport several mammals untold light years through space just so you can watch them getting their asses predatored?

No time to think about them. Here come some really vicious warthog-looking creatures. They weigh about half a ton apiece, move as fast as lions, and have so many horns and spikes sticking out of them that fornicating must have to be a sometime thing.

Can you spot the design flaw? Its horns or fangs, whatever they are, extend too far in front of its mouth! Yes, after they kill their prey, how do they eat them? It's as inconvenient as a muzzle on a pitbull. I thought, maybe they lie on their backs and shovel the food in with their feet? But no, how's that gonna work with all the spikes on their backs?

There is of course one woman in the film, Isabelle (Alice Braga). She and Royce slowly bond, and eventually at the end ... but no, I can't tell you if they kiss. That would be a spoiler. One thing you know for sure: The alien warthogs don't spend a lot of time frenching.
Sex And The City 2:
The characters of "Sex and the City 2" are flyweight bubbleheads living in a world which rarely requires three sentences in a row. Their defining quality is consuming things. They gobble food, fashion, houses, husbands, children, vitamins and freebies. They must plan their wardrobes on the phone, so often do they appear in different basic colors, like the plugs you pound into a Playskool workbench.

Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) has the two little girls she thought she wanted, but now discovers that they actually expect to be raised. Mothers, if you are reading, run this through your head. One little girl dips her hands in strawberry topping and plants two big handprints on your butt. You are on the cell to a girlfriend. How do you report this? You moan and wail out: "My vintage Valentino!"

There's more cleavage in this film than at a pro wrestler's wedding. And crotches, have we got crotches for you.
Best Worst Movie:
I bought the DVD of “Troll 2” because a friend advised me to see it. “You're busy,” he told me. “You don't have time to see every bad movie. So you might as well see the worst of all time.” Yes, “Troll 2” has a coveted zero percent rating on the Tomatometer: the lowest-rated film ever made. A critic could become the most-hated person in fan circles by awarding it even half a star and spoiling the perfection of that zero.

I always intended to view “Troll 2” but, I dunno, never found the time. Now comes “Best Worst Movie” to save me the trouble. This is a documentary about what happens to you when you appear in “Troll 2.” It stars the star of the original film, a dentist from a town in Alabama named George Hardy. This is one nice guy. Even his ex-wife says so. He has a Harrison Ford head of hair and a smile so wide, it's like a toothpaste billboard. He treats poor kids for free.

He made the movie 20 years ago when he was living in Utah. It was being directed by an Italian named Claudio Fragasso, who didn't “speaka the English” but said he understood Americans better than they understood themselves. The movie was originally named "Goblin" but the title was changed to "Troll 2" because that sounded more commercial. There was a "Troll" (1986), but there was no connection between the two movies, not even trolls, other than that "Troll" ripped off the title.

Fragasso himself, who looks very slightly like an embittered Fellini, attended revivals at the Nuart in Los Angeles and in Salt Lake City, and said his actors were morons then and are morons today. He adds that to make the worst film is as great an honor as making the best one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Was Michael Jackson a Communist?

Be sure to stick around for the guitar solo!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hilarious Headlines Of Articles I Can't Quite Bring Myself To Read

1) American Girls Reaching Puberty Earlier Than Ever

2) Germs Gone Wild: How The Unchecked Development of Domestic Bio-Defense Threatens America

3) What Does Obesity Cost Your State?

4) Why Is David Lynch Pimping This Handbag?

5) This Doctor Does What To 6-Year-Old Girls' Clitorises?

6) When Did Testicles Become Courageous?

All right, I have to confess, I did read that last one, along with other Slate Explainer gems such as "How Many Americans Can't Swim?" and "Did Report Cards Ever Have a Grade of E?" I also succumbed to the allure of "Whatever Happened to the Box-Office Bomb?," "Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality" and "George Washington Racks Up Late Fees at Library." Apparently he owes $300,000, but the library "isn't seeking payment of the fines." Father of Our Country? How about Father of Our Late Fees?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hey Come On, Did Charlie Watts Ever Direct A Movie? I Didn't Think So

I consider Marc Bolan, lead singer/songwriter/guitarist/mystical hippie sorcerer of the glam rock band T.Rex, the greatest "bad" lyricist of all time. Some quick examples:
On a mountain range
I'm Dr. Strange
For you
I've got stars in my beard
And I feel real weird
For you

Shady politician in my bed
Tying bolts of lightning to his head
Call me Rabbit Fighter, you know it's true
'Cause babe I'll rabbit fight all over you
I wouldn't have been too interested in a 1972 film about him, however, if I hadn't learned that said film had been directed by Ringo Starr. That's right, the man who could barely even write his own Beatles songs directed a feature film - in 1972. Suffice to say, Born To Boogie is the greatest movie ever directed by Ringo Starr. Let me ask you this: did a film by Alfred Hitchcock ever have:

A) Ringo Starr dressed up as a mouse?
B) A dwarf eating a driver side mirror?
C) Marc Bolan singing "Children of the Revolution" as a disembodied floating head in Elton John's piano?
D) Ringo Starr dressed as a circus clown?

That's what I thought. In reality, Born To Boogie is really just a concert movie with a couple of bizarre little bits on the side. But what bizarre little bits they are. I think if Marc Bolan was born to boogie, I was actually born to watch this YouTube clip.

Note: if you're not in the mood for a smoking live version of "Baby Strange," I recommend skipping to the 2:30 mark in the clip above.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Know What Hugo Chavez Is Up To!

According to the New York Times: "Venezuelans have been scratching their heads over President Hugo Chávez’s possible motives for the removal of Simon Bolívar’s remains."

Just follow this link: