Friday, March 27, 2009

So, here's what I don't get. You've got this song and it seems to have two hooks to it, it's in a minor key so self indulgent club goers can get drunk or high and dance to it and feel like the song is somehow channeling them and represents their ego's plight on a celestial level, there's a strong beat to it which means it hits you in a core place, like it physicallly resonates with you and you're going and going and going and then it just ends abruptly. Who the fuck made that lousy decision? Whoever it was better have been fired.

I've been at home sick for three weeks and so for some reason I've been listening to a really weird and limited collection of music - with the exception of the day last week when I re-discovered Lush at like 11pm as I started to inadvertently research Dream Pop and bought Lush's 1990 album that really seems ageless. For the most part however, I've honestly been listening to the above song and this other, equally as inane, gay as fuck dance music by September called "Can't Get Over".

Before I found an interview with the above woman I assumed she would be some hard talking English woman from East London who had turned her weekend club slutting into a career - which, I guess all of us have done at some point. She's actually Swedish I think which makes the whole thing less hard edged and cold and mean.

Regardless, if you look at the two songs above there are all the essential elements that anyone would need for a night out in 1995. Like I said, they're in a minor key and there's heavy bass. Also, each features some absurd woman in either enormous sunglasses or some space aged animated car. They both crawl about a lot. We're, I guess, meant to identify with September more - perhaps in the same way we are meant to identify with Carrie Bradshaw.

The other song I have been listening to is "The Riddle" by Nik Kershaw and I played it on repeat 8 times yesterday or maybe the day before. There's a nostalgia to it but I always cringe at the line "Sold to America the brave" and by that point I don't like it at all but I feel stuck with the song so I just go with it. Then I start again. It's a weird, pointless circle.

Last night I had dinner with my friend Adam at his place and he was playing random music in the background to provide atmosphere and he played The Flaming Lips "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" which you can see here because Embedding was apparently disabled by request and that's unfortunate because it's the least irritating of the four songs I've referenced here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The New York Times reports today with a full page spread, that the Whoopie Pie is having a resurgence across the nation. Ok.

There was even a segment on it on The View this morning where Barbara Walters aggressively snatched the segment away from Whoopi Goldberg (whose name justifies the entire segment anyway) because apparently Whoopi didn’t see the story in the Times first and Whoopi was moderating.

Here is the actual text of how Barbara Walters snatched the story:

They come back from a break and there’s the star spangled “V” and the camera cuts to Whoopi Goldberg.

Goldberg: Did you happen to see the front page
Walters: YOU DIDN’T ….and I did
Goldberg: Oh…yes…go ahead Barbara
Walters: So, I’m going to do it…So, I pick up the New York Times and on the front page I see what Whoopi did NOT see. It says Whoopie! There you go. So, I got all excited and I brought it in.
Goldberg: You got excited and I split an atom and I got Whoopie Pies for us.

So, ultimately, Whoopi Goldberg wins because she brought the pies and later points out that her name has no "e" in it but it’s worth noticing the needless aggression from Barbara Walters for anyone who thinks she’s gone soft.

So, despite the fact that everyone is living for them at the moment, can I just say that I think that Whoopie Pies are, with the exception of anything that contains peanut butter, the MOST disappointing dessert experience I’ve ever had? I mean, that doesn’t include the disappointment of being at a Christian babysitter’s house and having them drag out fruit salad that has been pre-served into small plastic cups – there’s hardly anything worse than that entire scenario; the fact that you’re act a Christian babysitter’s house in the first place gives pause for thought. But apart from that I think these freaking Whoopie Pies are a really disappointing, deceitful experience.

I mean, look at them; they're amazing looking. It’s all cake and chocolate and then there’s this whipped up cream inside and it just looks like the kind of thing that could potentially replace Prozac or Lexapro or Paxil or whatever free samples your therapist has given you that week because you don’t have prescription insurance. Nothing about Whoopie Pies LOOKS disappointing. I have been to the Union Square farmer’s market on several occasions and I have seen them sitting there in bakery stalls, apparently assembled with organic cream and sugar and eggs and sunlight and Buddhist zen perfect flour from the head of Siddartha Gotama and I bought them wanting to take part in this apparent universally loved and now New York Times acknowledged cake pie whatever and from the moment you actually take a bite it’s all downhill.

The fact is Whoopie Pies are a dessert that is there without really being there. For starters, I think anyone with a brain can see that it's not a pie so, like the Catholic Church's World Youth Day, the name is saturated in deception. Then, the Whoopie Pie generally seems to refer to itself but it never really gets there and actually delivers. The cake isn’t quite chocolate cake. It can’t commit to being a cookie or a slab of cake so it just sits there in uninspiring oblivion and the cream is so light on flavor that you actually feel resentful when it spills out all over you and gets all over your face and you eventually swallow some. I mean, it’s like if you’re going to be that annoying at least be cream cheese based or have something extraordinary going on like gold leaf or little pellets of Vicodin.

Crème brulee, tirami-fucking-su, good old American pie…now THERE are some desserts you can set your watch and aim a missile launcher to.

So, even though the New York Times is all thrilled about noticing that Whoopie Pies are the new Palestinian scarf or heavy black-framed reading glasses when it comes to stall bought desserts, I really don’t agree.

When I got out of the shower my hands were so white they were transparent and I could see blue arteries pulsing beneath the skin in much the same way Tom Cruise’s face was covered in subtle blue veins in Interview with a Vampire that were probably put in later on with digital software. My hands didn’t need digital software. Does this mean I’m probably now a Vampire? I think we can all safely assume that it does.

Actually, I have no idea what it means but my gut instinct is to eat more chili. [source]

Monday, March 16, 2009

Here’s an ad campaign for Johnson and Johnson in Switzerland that kindly and charmingly illustrates that the tampons they make are as hungry for your menstrual fluids as a vampire is for the blood of life – which, if you’ve done any research into the matter is a lot. On the weekend, I actually watched Queen of the Damned for some reason and it really teaches you a lot about how much Vampires need blood. They need it so much they'll often kill for it. I was as shocked as the next man.

So, consequently, if you’re a woman who menstruates, wouldn’t you want the kind of commitment to absorbency from your tampon that a Vampire has to staying alive? I’m not going to try and answer for women but I will say that if I were speaking about myself and if I were hypothetically a woman, I’d like that kind of commitment to my sanitary needs.

There was this sanitary napkin ad that was running in California back in 1989 that used to drive me insane because they never fucking said what the product even did. These two women sat on the beach and rabbited on about how it was “thin” and “with wings” and every time it came on I would get increasingly angry at the television. “WHAT is thin with wings?” and I even started to get resentful. “How the fuck am I supposed to know if I would even be interested in buying your ridiculous thin, winged product if I don’t even know what it is?” I would yell. Years later I realized I would never need to buy that product but it still annoyed me.

When you’re making an ad for women’s sanitary products there are so many things you can’t do. I mean, you can’t use any other color ink for demonstrating the absorption power than light blue. Anything else would immediately connote disease or tragedy. As we know, disease and tragedy are not usually big sellers when it comes to things with which you can willingly associate your body. [source]

Here’s Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz in a video he and his whacky badnmates made where he talks about bottling his urine backstage so he can later put it onstage and drink it in front of people. They all did this because they were “bored”. This video has youtube views going through the roof.

The weird thing about writing about this is that I feel like I’ve said the same thing again and again about Pete Wentz. He’s a business created product who, despite being a nice guy (thank you Details Magazine for pointing that out – incidentally, if I read another celebrity interview in Details Magazine where it starts out with the writer waiting for the celebrity they’re interviewingin a hotel lobby or cool, downmarket café I’m going to puke my guts out. After a while, that technique means everything sounds the same, isn't that obvious?), does the same thing over and over again.

Firstly, kudos for wearing the ubiquitous black rimmed glasses with no lenses just like every other hipster is right now. Clearly, we’re throwing away the Paletinian scarves for some totally pointless faux nerd aesthetic eyewear; finger on the pulse there, yes. But fundamentally, these kind of pranks are what keeps Pete Wentz edgy. Oh, look at that…we’re on tour so we need press and the clothing line, tour sponsored by Honda, the non threateningly repackaged use of eyeliner and dive bar for him and his “dorky” friends in the East Village which is actually now a franchise are threatening the edge factor? No problem. Pee in a bottle and drink it. My guess is that as time goes by his fan base becomes younger and younger. His fan base would need to be less and less capable of critical thinking. And I’m talking about Pete Wentz’s fan base here, not necessarily the band itself.

And, just to make this even more generic, I fully admit that if I actually met him and interviewed him for something, I’d probably find out that he’s a really nice guy with a wife and kid who just flat irons his hair and wears non-gender specific eye makeup and has great teeth. Yes, I’d probably then, as I always annoyingly have, find him attractive. Curse you Pete Wentz. I really think it’s his facial structure that keeps him viable as a band based celebrity character.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Huffington Post is really wringing the shit out of this story centered around the the terse argument between Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart (who has been careful to point out he’s not alone in manifesting entirely for the point of ratings) and I just can’t stand when he does this kind of thing. Well, sort of.

Never mind the fact that clearly the entire thing had been negotiated prior to the interview with NBC logos plastered everywhere all over the background of the Comedy Central set and Jim Cramer firmly in the apologetic hotseat in much the same way Republican politicians seem to be with Rush Limbaugh, Jon Stewart may very well be in the right with this argument but the victory he has is annoying.

Jon Stewart does this every now and then. He quickly steps out of his role as a comedian and puts on the journalistic hat and tears into the media for failing to do their jobs properly and when he does that he takes credit for his work as though he were a journalist. He does that until it’s inconvenient to be a journalist and then he steps back into the entertainer category. He picks and chooses.

A large component of what has created this problem for Jim Cramer is the fact that he works within the media as a journalist and editorialist on an ongoing basis and as such has to, on a daily basis, deal with the combination of market pressures that include eviscerating his ability to focus on certain topics no matter how important they may be simply because people aren’t interested in those topics. In fact, Jim Cramer explains how it’s an extraordinarily difficult place to be because he’s running a show that is meant to be a financial information show but it has to be absurd and entertaining at the same time.

I’m not actually making an argument about Jim Cramer in this and I do think that the NBC marketing department is at fault for not reigning in their Jim Cramer campaign and Jim Cramer needs to examine his editorial philosophy obviously. Further more, from what the ocean of hype suggests, Jon Stewart has articulated the frustration of many people with regards to the current economic crisis quite well and he has pointed out the flaws of the finance media extremely well as well. That’s not what I’m irritated by here.

I’m so bored with the way Jon Stewart smugly walks into the media sphere every now and then and acts like a journalistic monitor by being a journalist because he claims he has to and then after he does that he gets a round of applause for being a demagogue and iconoclast and then goes back to his post.

Part of the profit generating appeal Jon Stewart musters up with young audiences who have shown in polls for years that they get their news from shows like his and The Colbert Report and Real Time with Bill Maher is that he is can be considered a news reporter and editorialist and yet he picks and chooses when he plays those roles so he doesn’t fall under journalistic market pressures of someone like Jim Cramer and as a result he can be as uneven as he wants. But, that doesn’t stop people from considering him a makeshift news anchor. And if you want to talk about responsibility as he clearly wants to do with Jim Cramer and the financial experts at NBC then his track record must come into question.

Stewart admits to being politically skewed but he doesn’t admit to being skewed when it comes to his role as a journalist or as an entertainer.

I sincerely doubt that without the use of someone like Michael Moore or an independent documentary film maker to explain to the average person how their media is so heavily untrustworthy and skewed, your average person would really be able to explain how media is so skewed. To many people, it’s just reassuring to be able to locate an enemy and hate them without having to think.

Right now, Huffington Post has three links. The story has headlined all day, one showing where you can watch the entire thing online, one where White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs has chimed in on the matter indicating that the president has talked about the argument (which does what? Makes the whole thing suddely more legitimate as news?) and there’s also the highlighted promise that Jim Cramer will be responding on his own show at 6pm tonight. Which is right now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Here’s PETA’s newest celebrity ad campaign featuring Ricky Gervais and Pink that is designed to sway people from buying products that rely on the harming of animals. Even though this is predictably gratuitous with the featuring of a skinned crocodile and a skinned rabbit trying to get their skin back from a demanding woman, it’s so much less annoying a statement than PETA are usually responsible for.

PETA is in a unique position because it manages to be the perfect entity for people to get completely lost in their high school anxiety and really vent some bottled up rage on the public at large but you can’t say that what they’re doing is for a mindless cause. I can't complain that I find the skinned crocodile painful to look at because who really WANTS animals to be tortured? No one except mean people, that’s who so fuck you, look at the mutilated horror. That's essentially what PETA always says to the public with their marketing gestures.

Consequently, PETA can do more or less whatever they like to anyone in public and no one can really stop them. Admittedly, PETA aren’t as bad as those people who go to anti-war rallies and stand up and get on the microphone and talk about how they were sexually abused as a child and that this is the first time they’ve ever said anything about it. No, those people are difficult to deal with.

But you know, I’ve been dealing with a fax based crisis for a while now and suddenly, it’s been solved. I have a fax machine now so that crisis is over. I mean, can you imagine not having a fax machine? Anyone who doesn’t have one will know that their life is a crisis because of the lack. So, I have a fax machine, a landline phone and seven hundred boxes that do things to keep the fax machine and landline phone working. The space I now work in is quite compartmentalised. I actually find it mildly oppressive but I’m not really admitting that to myself until summer. Nowadays everything is about the economy.

The New York Times and the Guardian and everyone else is vomiting in terror-stricken glee about the fact that a new portrait of William Shakespeare was just found and it’s believed to be the only one painted within his lifetime.

The Guardian says:

“We should visualise Shakespeare as a rosy-cheeked, long-nosed man who was something of a looker.”

And the Times says:

“It shows the Bard as a far more alluring figure than the solemn-faced, balding image that has been conveyed by engravings, busts and portraits that have been accepted by scholars as the best available likeness of English literature’s most famous figure.”

Then they all allude to the fact that the painting also brings into further question Shakespeare’s sexuality and I’m trying to figure out why. The main reason given is because it was commissioned by the Earl of Southampton who was Shakespeare’s literary patron and rumoured to be his lover. The way they word it it’s as though the visual properties of the painting itself are somehow telling.

My favourite part of these kind of stories where the sexuality of a prominent figure is scrutinised is when the standard self righteous reader writes a comment like “Who cares if Shakespeare was gay. He is remembered for his plays and everyone can enjoy those.” Or “Why are we talking about the sexuality of a dead man when there’s the biggest economic crisis in close to a hundred years going on right now? Thanks a lot New York Times” Plus, there has to be the requisite, “Everyone knows he was gay…get over it.”
From now on though, I will be taking the Guardian’s advice. I will visualize Shakespear as a rosy-cheeked, long nosed man who was something of a looker. Primarily because I should. [source]

Monday, March 02, 2009

Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for Best Screenplay this year for his script for Milk , was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her show and the above clip is what that is. Just in case you read this part before you watch – I’m assuming that isn’t the case but whatever.
I’m working from Atlas Café again, and so when you combine the fact that there’s radio blaring in my ear and also the fact that there are all these graphic designers around me who look totally serious as they stare at their laptops, I haven’t really been able to totally listen to the entire thing. I’m putting it up anyway because The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took down the other two clips I put up – the ones of Tina Fey and Steve Martin and also the acceptance speech by Black – which was so totally moving and warm that Id didn’t mind that the script to Milk wasn’t actually that great. Oprah includes a bit of the speech in her segment with Black.
The great thing about this is that you get to see Black’s hair and bone structure again which is genuinely unbeatable. Genuinely. Unbeatable. I am banking on his cute, clean, bookish aesthetic becoming the new alpha male in gay culture now. Thank goodness. I was just about ready to puke over the boredom inspired by Spartan army clippered facial hair. Because it totally matters in the end. It totally matters.

Here’s a picture of a vibrant collective of male comics Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel in a parody of Annie Leibovitz’s portrait of Tom Ford and Scarlatt Johanson. Isn’t it great? I’m dying. They’re in fat suits! They’re not really that fat, they’re in suits that make them look fat! Hilarious!

Never mind the fact that this has been parodied twice before from what I can remember; once by Radar Magazine and another time by this kind of insufferable actor I once met.

Even though I think Paul Rudd is pretty attractive there’s something completely boring about him. He’s in a new movie called “I Love You, Man” and the poster for it is all over the place. Actually, maybe it’s not, it’s on the subway walls along the L line in New York and every time I see it I get the same reaction. This is just tired South Park humour. Smug, clever white straight men making hilarious jokes with a socio political angle but the majority of the humour comes from them humiliating themselves stupidly using physical comedy but ultimately everything HAS to be on their terms. They can act out and be silly and absurd and ridicule whoever they want but at the end they have the moral superiority and status to inform everyone else about what is reasonable and appropriate. That’s why I can’t stand South Park because underneath all that formalized moralizing there are just two infantile men who are dying to be noticed. South Park degenerated into reactionary bullshit with no deeper point than whatever moral they gleaned from the media that week which was invariably that everyone should just chill out and not take themselves so seriously. Except, of course, for the people who react to their work hysterically because that hysteria is the main reason they still get work. It feels mechanical and clever and shallow.

I think the thing about the movie poster at Lorimer Street that gets me every single time is the smug, self satisfied look on Paul Rudd’s face as he stands there going “Yeah, man…I’m straight but I can be sensitive…check me out…dude, I’m so cool. Just go with it man, feel what it's like. Just like I do. I'm so damned amazing and I should be celebrated.” And I just want to puke and or maul the poster. Maybe both. Pukemaul.

And the thing is, I don’t even care if he keeps working – go ahead, do stuff. I’m sure people love it. Go for it and be successful. I find it asinine. [source]