Thoughts, notes, observations on the everyday nonsense of American Pop Culture from one of the most not-hip people on the face of the planet...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Please, make the hurting stop

McDonalds, give it up. Fire your ad managers. For the love, of God, please.

The "I'm Lovin' It" ad campaign has not only run its course, I think it may have permenently ingrained itself as one of the most memorably god-awful ads ever. I know, I know, you're going for that "hip, street, urban appeal" and lemme tell you, you missed the mark. A lot. No amount of teen girls giggling about Chicken Selects or college party scenes or unseen black guys saying "Bro" and "dawg" in the radio spots will change the fact that you have no idea who you're advertising for.

I'll give you a hint though: It isn't me...and I'm supposedly in your target group. Every time I start to hear the "Ba ba bah bah bah..." I grate my teeth. I prepare myself for your asinine commercials.

The Chicken Selects commercials, you know the ones (about people stealing chicken) are voted "most likely to make me intentionally crash my car." I chew out my radio when I hear the idiot girl talk about needing a pnkie massage. Then I make a pact to not go to McDonalds.

Besides, everyone knows (except you), the people have cut back on McDonalds because of Jared and his lowfat awesomeness. But don't worry, poor people, kids and stoners will still keep you (and Taco Bell) in business.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Stones rock me

If you have the means, I highy suggest you pick up the Rolling Stones' Rock 'N Roll Circus on DVD. Terry, bartender extraordinaire at Buck Bradley's on State Street, played the Dvd tonight on the bar's flat screens...and it was sick. Absolutely off the chain.

The Stones themselves were not what made it great, per se. This was an actual circus type show om Dec. 11, 1968 that featured the Stones, Jethro Tull, The Who, Lennon. Clapton, Taj Mahal and a bunch of audience people in ponchos. Oh God. I've never seen more high people in my life (except for Kent State, May 4, 2000...). At least, not on DVD.

The performances are of all the hits, as can be expected.., but the most awesomely recockulous part of the show exists about 30 minutes in, when John Lennon is on vocals, Clapton in on lead guitar and Keith-freaking-Richards plays the bass. Aw snap. Watch it, listen to it, download it. Hear it. Preach!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Someone has to ask...

Whatever happened to the female-fronted bands of the 90s (Garbage, Cranberries, Cardigans, etc) ?

Are the Gin Blossoms still together?

Are we entirely sure the rest of the Wu-Tang clan is alive?

Is Pras still out here?

These are burning questions. I'll add more as I think of them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Goodbye, Killers

Oh, TRL, why must you ruin all that is beautiful? I saw The Killers perform on TRL for the usual crowd of starry-eyed jackasses and it made me want to cry.

I’m not one of those people who will go on about how bands shouldn’t "sell out." After all, if they don’t, they won’t be heard from again. However, TRL ruins everything. And right after they performed the incredible "Mr. Brightside", two 20-something idiots posing as teens introduced a Lindsay Lohan video. Is there no justice?

Thus is the end for The Killers' respected works. It's tragic. Now let's just hope they don't win the Best New Artist Grammy and complete their quick descent.

Monday, January 17, 2005

A little TOO sexy "Phantom"

After seeing "Phantom of the Opera" on screen, it’s hard to believe it was ever done well on stage. The opulent, over-the-top theatrics of Andrew Lloyd Webber's shopera just deserves surround sound, galloping horses and a gorgeous, sweeping set.

From the very first note of the sweet-ass organ on the main theme, you know you're in for a ride of some sort, good or otherwise.

I can safely say the neo-classic tale of opera novice Christine and her Phantom is played out even creepier here than ever before. For those that don't know: Christine is an orphan who lives in the opera house. For years, she has been taught to sing by the opera's "ghost," The Phantom, who Christine thinks is the ghost of her father guiding her. In actuality, the Phantom is a deformed old loony with a mad jones for her in a not-fatherly kind of way. But, Christine's Daddy issues lead her to be torn between said Phantom and real life with someone her own age.

Now that we're caught up, I'll tell you that none of that matters, because the stylings of Joel Schumacher and Webber himself are definitely the "star" of the show...and you shouldn't think of that as a bad thing. The Paris Opera House is a funhouse of plush carpets, red roses, Tiffany lamps, velvet and gold. Down in the Phantom's lair, it's all Elvira-esque gargoyles, cobwebs, a creepy River Styx and black stallion. Ginormous masquerade balls, giant diamond rings, uber-creepy cemeteries and over-the-top costumes? Sounds like theater to me.

Now I know my professional equivalents will harp on about how Andrew Lloyd Webber ruined the stage or wrote crappy lyrics, but let's face it: 1. I'm no theater critic and 2. All musicals have crappy lyrics. They have to, they rhyme. and 3. Just try getting some of these songs out of your head.

While the theme song is soooo much better without lyrics (the PHAN-tom of the Opera is here...inside my mind! *gag*), the movie version's of "All I Ask of You" and "Music of the Night" are good enough to stick in your head in a pleasant fashion, in no small part due to Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson as young lovers Christine and Raoul.

Rossum (otherwise known as "that girl from The Day After Tomorrow") has one helluva voice and is just so dewy-eyed and youthful kind of gorgeous that you almost feel dirty watching her cavort around in Webber's fetish dreams. That's right: This Phantom, it should be noted, has a healthy dose of serious sex appeal. From the boobs practically popping out of corsets to lots of lustful daddy-spank-me panting, in at least three separate scenes I thought for certain it was going to veer into R territory (sadly, it didn't). But the first time Christine is taken by the Phantom, her see-through lace peignoir, white corset and white thigh-highs in the big gold bed lead me to believe that at any moment, it was going to devolve into hardcore porn (again, sadly, it didn't).

All in all, I couldn’t believe my parents let me see the show as a little girl. Then again, in the show, Christine wasn't I mean, I'm a heterosexual female and I was getting a little uncomfortable in my seat. But I digress.

Despite the perfect casting of Christine and Raoul (and Minnie Driver is a real scene-stealer as the diva Carlotta), the most important part of this Phantom is horribly, horribly miscast. As you'd predict, the Phantom's a pretty darn important character and Gerard Butler was the worst idea ever.

The reason this play is good is because even though the Phantom is a murderer and kidnapper, he's a misshapen, ugly older fellow who you just can’t help but pity for his unrequited love for Christine. In this case, the Phantom is too young and attractive (the mask looks more like an accessory) to be taken as anything but a sex offender. Instead of a sad old man in love with a young girl, he's a controlling playboy rapist. It's downright unsettling to have him kidnap young Christine...cause you can't help but envision him as a GHB-toting frat boy. Ewwwwww.

Despite the god-awful Phantom, the movie is something you just have to see to believe. From the odd placement of blatant lust to the starry-eyed pomp of the set, I guarantee even a non-theater geek will appreciate the film as the spectacle it is. Honestly, by the time you walk out, you'll forget it was even a musical. You'll just be asking your friends, "Whoa, how old is that Rossum girl?" (18...barely legal)

2005: Year of the Geek

The new issue of EW confirmed it: 2005 will be the Year of the Geek.

We have a few major comic book movies that will hopefully (*crosses fingers*) will not ruin the case for "X3." We have "Daredevil" follow-up "Elektra" (which is already out but I haven't seen), then Keanu Reeves in what looks to be a fitting post-Matrix role in "Constantine" (AKA Hellblazer). Then, after years of disapppearance and mass suckage...Batman returns. Only this time it's "Batman Begins" and Christian Bale is the young Dark Knight. Oh, and confirming it as a big year for Marvel Comics...there's the long-delated "Fantastic Four" which, sadly, looks pretty sucky.

But that isn't all! We've also got another "Harry Potter," "War of the Worlds" (with Tom Cruise), "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and Aeon Flux. And in the world of great remakes, we've got Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's new "Willy Wonka," which promises to be even more of an acid-dropping good time than the original. (Of course, we'll also be saddled with "King Kong" and "Pink Panther" remakes that I'm going to ignore for my own sake)

And did I call it or what? I said after the awesomeness that was the LOTR trilogy that it was time to do that other great fantasy series some justice. That's right..."Chronicles of Narnia." Rock. I don't care if it is elaborate Christian fairytales, the special effects we have out there combined with some of the best adventures in children's lit makes me a very happy geek.

And for the lit/film geeks, Spielberg is finally rolling out the epic "Memoirs of a Geisha" (if you haven't read it, do) and we're going to have America's first Big Gay Film Scandal when "Brokeback Mountain" rolls out (and Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall will get-it-on).

But if you're like me and comics, cartoons and/or politics are your geek outlet, you'll be happy to know that we can all look forward to some good TV. "Family Guy" returns to TV as "Chappelle's Show" starts its third season. Oh, and in case you missed it in best-thing-ever news, "Boondocks" will be debuting on Adult Swim. That's right: Adult Freaking Swim. How fantastic is that?

And it isn't a true geek year without George Lucas playing with our minds. Yep you could say there's a little film that will either make or break a lot of reputations on its way. "Star Wars: Episode 3" drops this summer. If the movie is even half as awesome as the art and advertising, I'm sold. But then again, I'm easy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Great Moments in Punditry

If you don't know by now, "The Daily Show" is somehow both the most informative and most laugh-out-loud funny show on television.

The best part of the show is the regular elements (as opposed to the interviews and news). Segments like "This Week in God" and "Back in Black" are always good for a laugh. As was the election special segments of "Guess the Candidate's IM Screen name."

But one of my favorite segments is the all-too-rare "Great Moments in Punditry (as read by children)." Yes, they take transcripts from pundit programs and news discussions and give them to ill-prepared elementary school students. It's comic gold.

Last night's segment, for inctance, was genius and made me nearly lose consciousness from laughter. It was from the August 7, 2004 CNBC exchange between Bill O'Reilly, Paul Krugman and Tim Russert.

In it, O'Reilly calls Krugman a quasi-socialist and Krugman calls O'Reilly a quasi-murderer. Hearing little kids sound it out (and compltely mispronounce "economic") is just too much.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

No Doubt at one time did not pose

I was driving to the gym today when my faithful alternative station surprised me by playing No Doubt's "Spiderwebs" from 1995's Tragic Kingdom.

It made me feel bad for hating them so damn much in recent years. I once loved them so.

Because at one time, No Doubt wasn't out to imitate every form of music in the world. They were ska, and they were awesome. The music was fun, poppy and wacky. Remember ska? Too bad it had to die off in mainstream music. And too bad No Doubt had to become Gwen Stefani and Some Dudes trying to be the Beatles.

It's just a shame that dreck like "Hey Baby" and "Hella Good" have become No Doubt as opposed to "Ex-Girlfriend," "Excuse Me Mr." and, of course, "Just a Girl." I blame Gwen Stefani's star complex. And her tendency to intentionally sound like Betty Boop.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Believe it or not, the most random duet of the year does NOT suck balls.

Nelly and Tim McGraw's "Over and Over." Check that out. It's actually a pretty amazing collaboration. The video too, is pretty swwet considering how tragic this COULD have been. Definitely good stuff from the Worst Rapper Ever and Ultimate Sappy Country Guy...maybe they should do a whole album?

"Best" of 2004

I know, everyone does this, which is why I'm cutting loose this year. Why? Because I'm not any better than any of you. I am not granted by some higher power with better knowledge of what makes "good" culture. I am just blessed with insomnia, Tivo and a laptop. Despite every other "best of" list you see (many of which conflict), critics don't really know more either. They just get to judge because they have seen/read/heard a lot more than the rest of us. So I can give you the best of what I know from 2004. No artsy poser crap...just my honest take.

Best movies I saw:

1. Garden State
You read my review. This was my favorite movie this year. Why did I not say "Maria Full of Grace" or "Sideways"...cause I haven't seent hem. Der.

Runners Up:
2. Kill Bill 2
3. Spiderman 2/The Incredibles
4. Kinsey
5. Ray

Worst Movie: Anchorman

Oh I know, for some reason, it is blasphemy to be under the age of 30 and not like a Will Ferrell movie, but it's true. This movie was terrible. I'm even a journalist and I was disappointed by the utter lack of quality in this"fun" journalism spoof. With a cast that stellar, there's no excuse for the head-shaking awfulness that was this movie. My crew and I almost left halfway through. "Team America" was the comedy of the year. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Best Songs:

1. “Float On” Modest Mouse
Overplayed? Hardly. Overdue, I say. Modest Mouse have been at this a long time and it took a song this catchy, this happy, this drive-worthy to get them on the radio? So be it.

Runners Up:
2. “Portland, Oregon” Loretta Lynn and Jack White
3. “American Idiot” by Green Day
4. “Take Me Out” Franz Ferdinand
5. “A Thing Called Love” The Darkness/ “Mr. Brightside” The Killers

Worst: “The Reason” Hoobastank
If I hear this song one more time, I'm going to crash my car into a building.

Best Album of 2004:
"Smile" by Brian Wilson

You don't have to even like the Beach Boys to find Wilson's masterpiece fascinating ear candy. Originally conceived as a sort of pro-Sgt. Pepper psychedlic rock opera, Wilson has his infamous meltdown before he could really pull this together. Sporting an all-new and all-incredible "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes and Villians," this album proves, above all else, that Brian Wilson will go down in history as a musical genius, even without the rest of his band.

Runners Up:

2. "American Idiot" by Green Day
3. "Van Lear Rose" by Loretta Lynn
4. "With the Lights Out" by Nirvana
5. "Confessions" by Usher

Best of 2004 TV: TIE
1. “Chappelle’s Show”
Season 2 of this Comedy Central staple wasn't quoted absolutely everywhere for nothing. It's a pop culture gold mine that, even decades int he future, willl be watched by my generation on DVD and they will all say: "Whaaaaaat?"


“The Daily Show”
This was the year of Jon Stewart, and his show was only a part of it. Not only did "TDS" give the best, most interesting and least biased coverage of Indecision 2004....they made it hilarious. Somehow, in 2004, TDS came out of the drom room and into the spotlight as an almost-legit news show. Jon Stewart's infamous appearance on "Crossfire," of course, was a turning point.

Runners Up:
3. “Arrested Development”
4. “Jack and Bobby”
5. “The O.C.”

Worst: Any Fox reality show
Between "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss" and "Who's Your Daddy?" Fox proved itself not only to be the purveyor of "fair and balanced" news, but also of pure crap. Congrats Rupert Murdoch, you've earned your spot in hell.

Best Books of 2004:

"Dress Your Family in Cordouroy and Denim" David Sedaris
Sedaris is the master of the modern short stories, no bones about it. Like his past books and his stints on NPR, Sedaris once again makes us think, makes us tear up a little...and, of course, makes us laugh until we piss ourselves. Don't believe me? Try reading a Sedaris short in a crowded bus station or a quiet restaurant or a library. I guarantee you'll laugh out loud and everyone will hate you for it.

Runners Up:

2. "America-The Book" by The Daily Show
3. "I am Charlotte Simmons" Tom Wolfe

Worst: "Everything You Know is Wrong" by a bunch of liberal elitists

This book had potential to be a good read, but it was liberal to the point of ridiculousness. I know the point of it is to make the reader question everything about the government and society...but if I'm going to question something, I need a little more proof than some study from the Rand Institute or a report by some liberal think tank. I'm a journalist and I require more proof than "Cause Norman Mailer said so."