Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Simpsons on "Fresh Air"

This week on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air," Terri Gross interviewed Al Jean, who has written for the Simpsons since its first season, and Nancy Cartwright, who does the voices for Bart, Ralph Wiggum, and Nelson Muntz, among other characters. Both interviews are terrific.

Interview with Al Jean

Interview with Nancy Cartwright

Friday, July 27, 2007

"Works Every Time"

Paul Smecker and I both love the old school Billy Dee Williams advertisements for Colt .45, but disagree on the meaning of their catch-phrase, 'works every time.' Paul believes that it means that it will get you drunk every time, while I have lng though that, coming out of the mouth of Billy Dee Williams, the implication is that it will get you laid every time. You be the judge:

Let The Sun Shine In

Loyal readers: We apologize for the light posting this week, but the last week has been a pretty scattered one for the CSD writing staff. I took the New York state bar exam, Jake Taylor finished up his last week of work for the foreseeable future, and the Inspector has been enjoying a well-deserved vacation.

The question I have most frequently been asked since 4:30pm on Wednesday is: "How does it feel to be done with the bar exam?" My answer is that it feels sort of like this:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Jesus Christ, Guys

It's not clear who's having a worse week, Alberto Gonzalez or the Tour de France. Both have been making everyone cringe with some mixture of despair, disbelief, and sheer shock. As detailed elsewhere, Gonzalez took his lying and outright contempt of the legislative branch to new levels. Likewise, the TdF, in the year after its winner tested positive for testosterone, has had its pre-race favorite and arguably most popular rider, Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov, be caught for blood doping. He withdrew, and his team left with him, taking top riders Kashechkin and Kloden. Next, the entire Cofidis team withdrew because a random rider tested positive for testosterone. Today, Rabobank pulled their leader, the Dane Michael Rasmussen, who was IN YELLOW for team violations. These violations had been known for months; anyone who knows anything suspects that the real reason Rasmussen was pulled was because someone was afraid he'd fail a test. I suspect he failed an internal test.

Everything good in life depends on people following certain norms. In other words, some level of playing nice, of respect for something fundamental. Especially such beautiful, complex institutions as federal government and international sport. If you want to screw them up, it's really, really easy. Just show utter bad faith and contempt, and these comparatively delicate structures will unravel. And the press will make their buck writing about it. I see no hope for Gonzalez. But I am guessing most riders love their sport, enough to risk testicular cancer. So please guys, get it together.

Monday, July 23, 2007

"I'm Into Leather"

My favorite blogger is Andrew Sullivan. Though his blog is primarily about politics, he takes the time to have running diversions such as "The View From Your Window," where he runs slice-of-live photographs taken by his readers around the world. In recent weeks, he has been posting a different candidate for the "Best Movie Line Ever" every day. Today, he posted a line that I sent to him. Its from Annie Hall, my all-time favorite movie (well, maybe second favorite.) In a film full of wonderful lines, it might just be the best. Here it is:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

This is Frightening

"Dove: Evolution" has been getting a lot of hits lately, and its easy to see why. Does anybody else find this kind of disturbing? One reason I've never understood the appeal of, say, Maxim is that none of the models in there look like, you know, actual women. Gisele is about as any non-airbrushed woman can come to looking like the Maxim ideal, and even she gets airbrushed. If Gisele isn't good enough to be photographed without airbrushing and heavy layers of make-up, nobody is. Here's the video:

Given the absolute impossibility of looking like this naturally, why do people still feel pressured to try? What's a bigger indictment of our society - that this is the beauty ideal, or that people spend billions of dollars a year on cosmetics and plastic surgery in a doomed attempt to chase it?

Reveling in the Pleasures of YouTube

I've received a lot of favorable e-mails in response to the Muppet Mash-Up I posted last night. Here are two more that you might enjoy! The "nothing is forever" back-up vocals on the Charlie Brown "Hey Ya!" video always kills me.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Ann Althouse"

Thanks, Jon Swift, whoever you are, for hitting this one out of the park. I realize that I'm linking to this a couple of weeks too late, but better late than never.

Money quote:

You know, she actually sounds pretty lonely.
Perhaps like everyone Althouse just wants to be loved but she doesn't know how to go about it. Freud believed that all love was unrequited, even self-love. No one loves Ann Althouse more than Ann Althouse does, but sadly, she doesn't always return that love.

You can read the rest of it here.

All Through the Night: The Muppets Get Mashed-Up

I'm a big fan of YouTube mash-ups - those videos the audio to one video is replaced with entirely different audio. When its done well, the results can be glorious.

This is the best one I've seen yet. Music courtesy of Escort, a 12-piece Brooklyn disco band. Pupperty courtesy of Jim Henson:

The National: Live at La Guinguette

In lieu of a real post, here's a 3-part video of a live concert by The National. Its a little too impressionistically filmed to give you a real feel of what its like to see them in person, but the music sounds really good. This was recorded on their previous tour, so all of the songs are off of their 2004 album "Alligator."

Part 1: Abel

Part 2: Baby, We'll Be Fine

Part 3: About Today

Friday, July 20, 2007

Is it possible to ride the Tour de France while high?

This is an interview with US time trial champion Dave Zabriskie. Mullets are discussed at length... Just trust me, click on it. Note: Zabriskie is a time trial specialist -- time trialling is the most anal detail oriented part of road racing. He also graduated with high honors from Berkeley. It just doesn't compute.

Explanatory note: "Lantern rouge" means last place in the overall rankings in the total combined time in the TdF. Zabriskie's job is to a) win the time trial stages b) help his team leader, Carlos Sastre, when asked to, bu allowing Satre to draft off of him. He doesn't give a crap about his total time, so he just saves energy on the stages when he is not asked to help Sastre. Hence "defending the lantern rouge" means "getting last place for shits and giggles."

Speaking of Saturday Night Live....

....does anyone want to read an article about Jon Lovitz kicking Andy Dick's pansy ass at the Laugh Factory last weekend? I do!

According to the owner, Lovitz "picked Andy up by the head and smashed him into the bar four or five times, and blood started pouring out of Andy’s nose.”

It's hard to imagine Jay Sherman beating someone up, but if Dick really said the things about Phil Hartman that Lovitz claims he did, the asshole definitely had it coming.

Just Because They're Awesome

In 1977, Elvis Costello was the musical guest for an episode of Saturday Night Live. Lorne Michaels told him that he could play any song he wanted, except for "Radio, Radio," on the grounds that it was too critical of the media. During his third and final song that night, Costello and The Attractions started playing their then-hit song "Less Than Zero." After less than a verse, Costello stopped playing, said to the audience "I'm sorry ladies and gentlemen, but there's just really no reason to do this song here tonight," and turned to face his band, which immediately launched into a fierce rendition of "Radio, Radio."Michaels was so pissed at Costello's insubordination that he didn't invite him back for twelve years, despite the fact that fans of the show consider his 1977 performance to be one of the best musical performances in the history of the show, right up there with Simon & Garfunkel's 1975 reunion concert, Run-DMC's appearance in 1986, Radiohead's "National Anthem" and U2's winning, victory-lap performance of "I Will Follow" in November of 2004. Then, for Saturday Night Live's 25th Anniversary broadcast, (twenty-two years after his previous SNL performance,) Costello appeared on-stage to "interrupt" the Beastie Boys' performance of "Sabotage." Not only was it a cool idea, and a nice in-joke for those who understood it, but it showed that there's room for a little peace, love and understanding, even in the world of filthy-rich television producers.

Here's the video:

Quote of the Day

"[Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Chris] Simms has his boyfriend's initials tattooed on his leg. Pretty gay. However, he's an exceptionally tough gay man, as he completed a game against the Panthers last year despite having his spleen destroyed and subsequently removed. So he's a tough, gay, crappy quarterback - or, as I like to say, a tough Eli Manning." - Captain Caveman of Kissing Suzy Kolber

Amen. Good Lord Eli Manning is awful.

Also, it's definitely worth a few minutes to check out KSK's "Prekakkes," or previews of individual NFL teams for the upcoming season. So far they have done the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The 50 Greatest Deaths in Comic Book History

Courtesy of Wizard Magazine.

Common Sense Dancing loves lists. I haven't read enough of these comic books to really have an opinion on all that many of them, but I will say that nobody knows how to do deaths quite like Frank Miller. John Hartigan's death in Sin City and the deaths of The Waynes in Batman: Year One and of Joker in The Dark Knight Returns his are famous for a good reason - I might have even had both of them in my top ten.

Oh, and Frank Miller is also the man responsible for penning the death of Elektra in Daredevil, and of the Spartans in "300." If you want to do a story where people get dead, Frank Miller's your man.

Jean Grey's death and its aftermath are dealth with in two years' worth of X-Men stories which are now collected in the graphic novels "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "From the Ashes," written and drawn by Chris Claremont and John Bryne, when they were both at the peak of their powers. There's no argument that they're not two of the greatest storylines in the history of mass-market comic books, and, as a teenager, "From the Ashes" was my favorite comic book, period. You can't get much deeper than that without being an independent graphic novelist like Alan Moore or Frank Miller. Then, they messed everything up by bringing her back to life and re-killing her too many times to count. Staying in the X-Men universe, I would have put the Morlock Massacre in the top fifty, probably in the place of Colossus' death.

Rorschach's death in Watchmen #12 was a fitting way to wrap up what is arguably the greatest comic book series ever written. Its being turned into a movie next year. Based on the beefcake names attached to the project (Patrick Wilson, Jude Law, Jason Patrick) I'm sort of afraid that they're missing the entire point of the mini-series. Billy Crudup, whose name has also been attached to the project, is more like it.

Your thoughts?

John Kricfalusi Is Back!

The creator of Ren & Stimpy is back! Too bad he decided to make his comeback an advertisement for the Comcast Triple Play.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

World of Warcraft Puts On Its Dancing Shoes

I know next to nothing about The World of Warcraft, other than that it is very popular and it inspired "Make Love, Not Warcraft," one of the better South Park episodes in recent years. Judging by the number of views this video already has, its probably been around for a while, though I only discovered it today. Somebody edited animations of dancing World of Warcraft characters into most of the famous tv and movie dance scenes in recent memory. I was skeptical until the 1:46 mark, after which I was sold.

ESPN Has Jumped The Shark

I've had this conversatioon with Jake, Paul, and The Inspector many times before, and, finally, the mainstream media has taken notice. This Newsweek article points out what sports fans have known for years: ESPN has jumped the shark.

Fifteen years ago, ESPN looked totally different than it did now. For one thing, a much larger portion of its schedule, perhaps 8 hours a day, was devoted to SportsCenter, an hour-long sports news program. Over time, ESPN became known for a unique brand of wit, as its anchors peppered the highlight reels with one-liners, funny nicknames for players, and clever historical analogies. Nobody was better at this than the team of Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman, whose literate copy was music to the ears of discerning sports fans. And, most importantly, they were actual journalists.

Over time, ESPN began to put the cart before the horse, hiring sports anchors more for their wit than for their knowledge of sports. Stuart Scott and Craig Kilborn, for instance, were basically talk show hosts whose employer happened to be a sports network. Its no coincidence that, when Kilborn left ESPN, it was to host a late-night comedy talk show on CBS, in what is now Craig Fergeson's time slot.

Stuart Scott is still on ESPN, but has become a characterchire of his old self. Originally hired to bring an urban sensibility to the once lilly-white network, he has become a sort of minstrel, a parody of an inner-city fast talker. Nobody, not even the young, black professional athletes, have any idea what he's talking about half of the time. SportsCenter soon became populated by a series of former athletes who possessed varying degrees of talent at the skill of speaking in front of a camera. Some, such as Sean Salisbury, employ the Fox News-inspired tactic of repeating a single point at increasingly loud volumes until the dissenting opinions in the room just give up and move on. This, combined with increasingly-prevalent product placement spots, such as the Budweiser Hot Seat, the Coors Light 'Cold Hard Facts,' the Coors Light Freeze-Cam, and the Coors Light 'six pack of questions' make me reach for the Sony cold, hard remote.

All of this product placement is only possible because ESPN has a near monopoly on the sports news market. Otherwise, who would watch it? With so few alternatives, sports fans are not only subjected to ESPN's worst excesses; they are also subjected to ESPN's programming decisions. I want to know who at ESPN decided that televised poker, hot dog-eating competitions, and American Gladiators reruns make for good television. Most sports fans would probably add the WNBA to that list, but I don't mind the WNBA as much as a lot of other people - at least its basketball, and there isn't much other than baseball on during the summer. But the poker and American Gladiators are now broadcast year-round. I feel about these shows the same way that I feel about figure skating - it draws an audience, but the people who watch it don't even think of it as sports.

Sometime around the end of the last decade, ESPN began to show more and more opinion-oriented broadcasting. The first successful show of this sort, Pardon the Interruption, or PTI for short, is still one of the best talk shows on TV. Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, both well-known sportswriters from the Washington Post, would discuss a series of different issues over the course of half an hour, never staying on one subject for more than three minutes. The opinions were short, sweet, well-informed, and pointed. Unfortunately, this spawned a series of knock-offs, such as Around the Horn and Rome is Burning, all of which lack the style and panache of PTI.

ESPN's current "Who's Now?" feature represents several different aspects of this phenomenon. Here is a partial list of things that piss me off about the "Who's Now" competition:

1) Nobody knows what it means to be "now."
2) To the extent that I am able to discern its meaning, it seems to mean "the biggest deal."
3) Since ESPN basically has a monopoly on sports journalism in this country, it more or less gets to arbitrarily decide who is a big deal, and who is not.
4) Therefore, the contest is, basically, ESPN asking its fans to vote on who ESPN devotes the most time and attention to. Not who they should devote the most time and attention to, but who they already do devote the most time and attention to.
5) Everybody knows that Bill Simmons, ESPN's most famous columnist, is under strict orders not to make fun of the network. When he decides to say "fuck it, I'm going to make fun of the 'Who's Now?' competition because its stupid and I don't care what my bosses think about it," you know its pretty stupid.
6) The bracket is set up like a half-assed NCAA tournament, with four brackets of seeds #1-16. The brackets are named after Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King, Babe Ruth, and Muhammed Ali. However, in the NCAA tournament the brackets are named after the region of the country in which the games are played. For instance, the games in the "Southeast" regional are played in the southeast. (Under the old rules, the teams used to actually come from the southeast.) It means absolutely nothing to be in the Jordan bracket as opposed to the Ali bracket.
7) There is no good way to compare athletes across genders and across sports. For instance, Roger Federer is as "now" as any tennis player has ever been; he is both the best player in the world and the focus of more press coverage than any other player. But even the tenth-most popular baseball player gets more publicity in this country than does Federer. By any definition of the word, is Ryan Howard more "now" than Roger Federer? Not in my view.
8) Though ESPN's viewers get to vote, ESPN provides a panel of "experts" to help the viewers make their decision. If nobody knows what it means to be "now," then how can somebody be an expert in now-ness? Today there was a panel of Kirk Herbstreit, Michael Wilbon and Jon Barry. Do any of those guys know more about being "now," than, say, any the first ten people you see on the subway in the morning.

Its all a shame, because ESPN used to be one hell of a great television network.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Two Minutes In Heaven Is Better Than One Minute In Heaven

Episode 5 of The Flight of the Conchords aired on Sunday night. "Business Time," the song of theirs I've been waiting to hear since the series began, was finally used in an episode. So far, Bret and Jermaine's music videos have been pretty dramatic improvements on their concert songs, and, since the concert version of "Business Time" was their best-known song before their tv series debuted, I expected the "Business Time" music video to really blow me away. It was still funny, but I was a little disappointed - perhaps this sort of thing works better in the abstract, on a bar stool in the middle of an empty stage, instead of with real actors interacting with one another.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Simpsons - An Oral History

Like Wade, I was a History geek as an undergraduate, and on a number of occasions I had to read so-called "oral histories," or transcripts of field interviews conducted by historians with ordinary people who were somehow affected by an important historical events. Unlike the ones I read, which were typically fascinating but overwhelmingly depressing (e.g. Rwandan genocide, the Battle of the Somme, the reign of Shaka Zulu, etc.), this oral history of The Simpsons from the most recent issue of Vanity Fair is both interesting and funny.

Some sample passages:

Conan O'Brien: Friends of Matt's would be traveling and they would find bootlegged Simpsons merchandise. Sometimes they were funny and sometimes they were disturbing. Like a Marge made out of a lizard's skull … or T-shirts that were from some country—recently liberated from the Iron Curtain—that had Bart saying weird phrases that were mildly threatening or racist. I remember Matt cracking up once. "Did you see what they just found? Ceausescu had this in his basement."

Colin Lewis: [Under David Mirkin] it stopped being like the geeky guys from college writing the show and became people who just really wanted to be comedy writers, and wanted to be Hollywood, so they could say, "I work on The Simpsons." That's when Homer sort of became stupid.

Tim Long: Mr. T [another guest] was telling me the scenes that happened in Rocky III, where he lost. The reason he lost was because his mother needed money for an operation, and so he was paid to take a dive. And I said, "Well, I don't remember that in the movie." And he just looks at me right in the eye and says, "Things you don't see!" I said to him, "I remember you put out a record called Mr. T's Commandments." And somehow he heard that as "Mr. T, please sing 'Mr. T's Commandments.'" So he sang me the whole song. And I just thought, If I'm killed by a sniper tonight, well, my life would have ended beautifully, because I have been sung to by Mr. T.

Jay Kogen: We thought we were really writing these really funny, smart, special shows that were chock-full of jokes every few seconds. And then someone showed us this study Fox had done: the No. 1 reason why people liked The Simpsons was "all the pretty colors" and they liked it when Homer hit his head. We were writing the show for ourselves—we always made it funny for ourselves—but who knows why America likes it. Maybe they like the pretty colors and when Homer hits his head, but I hope it's for more.

Cody Paul Makes it Rain on Dem Hoes

Cody's runs

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Better grab an umbrella, because Cody Paul is making it rain. According to the video description, Paul (Red #5) was a star tailback for the Los Alamitos Griffins, who capped a 15-0 season with a victory at this past year's Pop Warner National Championships.

As distressing as it is to see grown men obsess over the athletic exploits of what are essentially little boys - the worst example of this being University of Southern California basketball coach Tim Floyd offering a basketball scholarship to a 14 year old eighth grader who had not yet picked a high school - there is still something awesome about a 12-year old Reggie Bush clone tearing it up to the musical stylings of Fat Joe and Lil' Wayne.

PS - It's amazing how disciplined this team of young kids is - #20 in particular delivers a few different Lorenzo Neal-quality blocks.

PPS - Paul definitely stays on his feet on the last play, which is unbelievable.

Video from: Kissing Suzy Kolber

Adventures In Air Travel

Earlier this evening, I flew from Madison, Wisconsin to Buffalo, New York, with a lay-over in O'Hare International Airport. On the flight from Madison to Buffalo, I sat a few rows behind Tommy Thompson, the current presidential candidate and the former Secretary of Health and Human Services and Governor of Wisconsin. Later, in O'Hare, I walked into a men's room as Mike Martz, the former head coach of the St. Louis Rams and current offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, passed me on the way out. I didn't exchange words with either of them, though I did give Secretary Thompson a look that said "are you who I think you are?", he answered with a nod. If I didn't have to pee so badly, I would have asked Mike Martz whether it was still possible to freeze Marshall Faulk out of the offense, despite the fact that he's been retired for two years.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Stressin' Out

I'd like to congratulate my colleague Jake Taylor on his last day of work for the foreseeable future. For those of you who have not experienced it, the sense of liberation that comes with leaving a soul-sapping office job to go back to school is difficult to describe. Enjoy your well-deserved time off, Jake!

Nothing new to report today. Studying for the bar exam continues to scare the living hell out of me. Every once in a while I have to take a break to listen to some great music to get my mind off of bailments, permissive joinder, and easements by implication. Here's Eric Clapton blasting through a terrific rendition of "Layla." One of the things I've learned while studying for the bar is that, if you ever hear somebody refer to the "Unplugged" version of this song as the original, and the original, electric version of this song as a cover, that's a valid defense in both criminal law and tort for any of your actions that may follow.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

We All Need A Little Boss In Our Lives

The River - I know that I've posted this video before, but its one of my favorite things on all of YouTube. I'm convinced that, if this was released commercially, it would have been a HUGE hit. I wish I was able to put it on my iPod, but sadly, that's not possible. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest rock ballads of all time.

The Promised Land and No Surrender - I was there in person to see Bruce sing this in Madison, Wisconsin, on October 28, 2004. It was about three weeks before the presidential election, and Senator Kerry's rally outside of the state capitol building drew almost 200,000 people, easily the largest gathering of humanity that I've ever seen in my life.

Thunder Road - From Bruce's Born to Run Tour, 1976

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CSI: Jim Carrey

Jake is absolutely right about what Lenny Brisco would do to David Caruso. I'm pretty sure that Lenny would also take out Mrs. Caruso for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

Other than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jim Carrey hasn't been funny in a very long time, but his impression of David Caruso on the Late Show with David Letterman is worth two minutes of your time.

Jake Taylor Here (again)

Hey everyone, I've been traveling for most of the past month so I haven't been able to post in a while. Taking the lead from Wade and Paul, I have decided to make my first post back a somewhat-lazy YouTube dump, with hopefully something else to come sometime this week.

Most Recent Simpsons Movie trailer:

This absolutely killed when it was shown as a preview before Knocked Up which I saw about a week ago (especially Ralph in the beginning and Homer's "Spiderpig" bit at the end).

Compilation of David Caruso's CSI: Miami one-liners:

A couple of these have to be among the cheesiest moments in the history of American television. Many don't even really make sense if you actually think about them for a second. If he were still alive, Lenny Briscoe would make David Caruso wash and wax his Trans Am. The first note of "Won't Get Fooled Again" is weirdly hypnotic after a while.

Cool Scene from Season 1 of The Wire

Stop me if you've heard this one before - The Wire is the best show on TV, and is possibly the finest drama in the history of television. I was a little skeptical myself at first - until about eight months ago, I had watched individual episodes, but since the storylines are so complex and self-referencing, I didn't have a clear picture of what was happening. Finally I decided to Netflix the first season to see what all the hype was about and....damn. Just amazing. The fourth season (which concluded in late 2006) was possibly the best yet, and I can't wait until the fifth (and final) season arrives.

If you've never seen The Wire, watching this one scene won't come close to capturing exactly how awesome the show is, but it's still pretty cool anyway [there are probably cooler scenes to post, but they require context, i.e. the "where the fuck is Wallace?" scene with D'Angelo and Stringer]. In any event, I think you'll enjoy watching homicide detectives Jimmy McNulty and Bunk Moreland reconstruct a cold murder scene using only variations on the word "fuck."

Cool scene from pilot for Friday Night Lights

Another show I'm looking forward to starting up again is NBC's Friday Night Lights. This scene is from the pilot for the show, which I think is among the best pilots I've ever seen, up there with Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, West Wing, and The Wire. Everything about the art direction and set design of this show is absolutely spot-on. In the scene, the Dillon Panthers have a playful scrimmage with a local Pop Warner team on the Wednesday afternoon before their first game of the season. Star quarterback Jason Street's line in the locker room towards the end is an absolute home run. While NBC has had trouble attracting viewers in recent years, I think the good karma of keeping shows like Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock around for second seasons despite some ratings issues will eventually reward them in the end. Well, hopefully.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

For those of you who love and hate your job at the same time

This is in regard to the Paris-Roublaix bike race, a "road" race traditionally run on muddy cobblestones.

"It's a pile of shit, this race, it's a whole pile of shit ... You're working like an animal, you don't have the time to piss and you wet your pants ... You're riding in mud like this and you're slipping and ... it's a pile of shit, you must clean yourself otherwise you will go mad ... " Dutchman Theo de Rooy speaking to John Tesh of CBS Sports after his breakaway during the 1985 Paris-Roublaix race. Tesh asks, "Will you ever ride it again?", to which De Rooy responds, "Sure, it's the most beautiful race in the world!"

Monday, July 9, 2007

A youtube dump of my own

Youtube is the best. And since I revere these musicians, please go out and buy their stuff on iTunes, or even better, go to the blues clubs in Chicago. Especially Kingston Mines and Buddy Guy's club!

Anyway, first off, some filthy, sweatdripping blues from Mr. Buddy Guy and Mr. Junior Wells. I suggest having a glass of bourbon with this, for your sanity.

Next, Death Letter Blues, the song that brought the great Delta bluesman Mr. Son House back to international attention. His older songs are available on iTunes with th rest of Alan Lomax's Library of Congress Recordings. Please check them out.

To throw a changeup, here is Mr. Carlos Santana doing the heavy lifting while playing with Buddy Guy. Demonstration of how to make a guitar talk and cry.

Finally, you may remember this guy from a certain movie:

That's Mr. John Lee Hooker. In this video, he reprises two great blues traditions: The almost spoken word presentation, and singing about natural calamities.

Thanks for indulging me!

Totally Gangster: Hall and Oates

Our BarBri lecturer made a Hall and Oates reference in class today. In regards to a question of federal jurisdiction, he said "You can't go for that - no can do." Nobody laughed, either in my classroom or in the auditorium in New York City in which he delivered the lecture. Nobody, that is, besides myself. This has happened on more than one occasion since the start of the BarBri course, which leads me to wonder where, exactly, the other 10,000 bar candidates lived in the 1980's.

From time to time, I get into discussions with hip-hop fans about how their music isn't as original as they probably think it is. I have one former roommate who was shocked to find that most of his favorite rap songs borrowed from 70's and 80's music which, in his view, only old white people listened to.

"I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" has been sampled in almost 100 hip-hop songs over the years. Probably the most famous of these is "Say No Go," from De la Soul's 1993 album 'Three Feet High and Rising,' which many people, myself included, consider to be among the greatest rap albums ever recorded. Michael Jackson admitted to "borrowing its groove" to make the song "Billie Jean." Just last year, Gnarls Barkley used the Hall and Oates hit "Maneater" as the background music for their hit song "Smiley Faces."

Personally, my favorite Hall and Oates song is "Private Eyes." They hadn't quite perfected the art of the music video in 1981, but its still pretty sweet.

Update: I forgot to mention this when I first published the post, but Hall and Oates formed in the most gangster way imaginable. Darryl Hall and John Oates independently entered a "battle of the bands" competition when they were both undergraduates at Temple University in Philadelphia. When local gang warfare spilled over into the building in which the battle of the bands was being held, Hall and Oates took cover in the same industrial elevator. That's how they met - WHILE THEY WERE BEING SHOT AT. This means they're harder than N.W.A., right? Right?

Update: More Childhood Memories Under Seige

Jim Carrey and Robert Zemeckis are remaking A Christmas Carol.

Colt .45 has undergone an image makeover. Does anybody else miss the old "Works Every Time" ad campaign with Billy Dee Williams?

Here's a review of the Cat In the Hat movie, which I criticized so harshly the other day. Of course, the Onion A.V. Club did a more elegant job than I ever did.

This is the poster for the new Alvin & The Chipmunks movie. Did anyone else just throw up in their mouth? Not even a little bit?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Have Hollywood Movies Ruined Your Childhood Memories?

Remember when you were a little kid, and you felt closer to your favorite fictional characters than you did to anybody outside of your own nuclear family? I was a serial monogamist, falling in love with characters from cartoons, books, and children's movies, moving on when I had outgrown my toys, or worn the VHS cassette to threads. Children's fiction, regardless of medium, allows children to develop their imaginations and gives them something to relate to when the real world seems so grown-up and impossibly complex. It still seems that way to me, and I'm twenty-seven years old. I can only imagine how intimidating it would be to me if I hadn't had The Muppets, Calvin & Hobbes, and Peanuts to help me make sense of it. I am still protective of these franchises, even twenty years later, and if some smartass Hollywood producer decided to turn one of them into a big-budget summer movie, I would be very wary of going to see it - I like my memories just fine, thank you very much, and don't need them ruined by some studio's attempt to cater to the lowest common demoninator. I have no interest in seeing Statler and Waldorf drinking Pepsis as part of a product-placement campaign, Linus and Schroder making fart jokes, or Eugene Levy and Meg Ryan playing Calvin's parents. Thanks, but no thanks.

Well, last week the Transformers movie came out, and, sure enough, it was director by Michael Bay, last seen directing "Pearl Harbor." Remember that movie, with its sappy love story, boring lead actors, and incomprehensible action scenes? Apparently, Transformers' bare-bones plot is more of a love story than anything else, and the robots (who admittedly look pretty impressive) spend too little time on screen. When they do, the action scenes are so rapidly edited that it is impossible to keep track of what's actually happening. I can live with his butchering America's saddest day by turning it into a bad Ben Affleck romance, but Transformers? No way! This is almost as bad as Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer, which turned one of the most famous stories in the history of comic books - the "Coming of Galactus" trilogy by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee - and turned it into a vehicle for Jessica Alba. To comic book fans, this is about as big of a travesty as you could ever imagine. I still haven't seen X-Men: The Last Stand, because the storyline on which it is based - the "Dark Phoenix Saga" - is the most famous storyline of the most popular comic book of all-time. A single 90-minute special effects extravaganza just seemed as it it would fail to do it justice. I'd rather not see it, but keep my childhood memories intact.

Later the summer, 20th Century Fox is releasing a movie version of The Simpsons. Warner Brothers recently announced that it is making a movie based on Alan Moore's Watchmen, considered by many to be the best-written comic book of all time. It is apparently to be directed by Zack Snyder, whose last movie, 300, opened to mixed reviews, though it ultimately proved to be very successful at the box office. I don't know if I'm excited about these new movies or not. They have the potential to bring millions of new fans to the characters I loved as a child, but they also have the potential to just . . . ruin them. I saw Star Wars: Episode I the day it opened, and I still haven't recovered from the experience. Will that happen again?

Best Week Ever has a list of "Ten Movies That Ruined Our Childhood Memories." Its not a bad list. Star Wars: Episode I deserves to be number one - with a bullet. I would have had "The Cat in the Hat" second. Words cannot explain how bad of a movie that is; four years after its release, Theodore Giesel is still rolling over in his grave and puking. I would have left the video game movies off of my list, because,until they make a movie based on the "Legend of Zelda" series, no video game movie is going to have that traumatic of an effect of me. The Flinstones movie definitely deserves to be in the top five.

What movies ruined your childhood memories? Where would you rank them on this list?

Friday, July 6, 2007

"The Heart Is A Lonely Menagerie"

Charming as always, David Sedaris has a new essay in the latest issue of the New Yorker. You can read it here.

A Couple of Quick Blog Notes

1) At 11:10 this morning, an unknown visitor from New York City became Common Sense Dancing's 15,000th visitor. Thanks, everybody, for reading!

2) I don't want to jinx anything, but this site might be adding a couple of contributors in the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted.

3) We've made some minor changes to the site; namely, we've divided the links section into two groups: our friends, and our favorite links. If you sense that some of the old links are missing, its because our friends Jack Kukoda, 8yearoldsdude, Liz Henry and Ann Altmouse have all taken a break from blogging, at least for the time being. If they ever pick it up again (and we hope they do!) we'll be sure to let you know.

4) New links: Seriatim Opinions, a law student team blog focusing on quirky aspects of the law, is a new favorite of mine. New York actor, stand-up comedian, and Buffalo native Mike Hartney's blog, So I Like Superman, offers hilarious takes on the fringes of show business, comic books, and gay sex (or, as Mike calls them, The Holy Trinity.) Bring Out Your Dead! is a new blog, written by a law student friend-of-a-friend, but not focusing on the law.

5) And of all the new links, the one I've gotten the most feedback about is Jen Adams' Rubber Buns and Liquor. In fact, I've already had three guy friends tell me of their love for her, despite the fact that they haven't met her. You know you have some serious game when your blog generates that type of devotion. I'm sure Jen is happy to know that she has three potential blind dates lined up and waiting to go.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Go Big or Go Home

If I expense an overtime meal to the wrong client, I get yelled at. Maybe, instead, I should embezzle $55M and spend it on someone nice. I mean, I don't want to date an actress, but I could find some uses for $55M that I stole from funds to be used to develop land for the Church. Perhaps this fool needs a private screening of Godfather III. Hosted by this guy.

Ozzy Osbourne, Activist for Taiwanese Independence?

Does anybody know whether or not this article is for real? Its been picked up by Reuters, Yahoo and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, so the fact that more than one news agency has posted it lends it some credibility. Unlike, say, this one. Then again, the idea of Ozzy Osbourne fighting for Taiwan to join the United Nations is pretty hard to wrap one's head around.

I wonder if the Chinese and Taiwanese governments know who they're dealing with - its this guy:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Its the Fourth of July

In honor of our nation's two hundredth and thirty-first birthday, this video if Marvin Gaye singing the Star Spangled Banner at the 1983 NBA all-star game seems appropriate.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I'm Officially Obsessed With "The Flight of the Conchords"

A mere fifteen days after its premiere, The Flight of the Conchords has already given rise to enough catch-phrases, in-jokes, and one-lines to rival such classic films as Caddyshack and Anchorman. I hope that people are able to see past all of the hipster hype and recognize the brilliance of Bret and Jermaine's parodies. The show can best be described as a cross between Tenacious D and the BBC's original version of The Office, with a liberal sprinkling of dead-on-balls accurate 80's music video parodies.

Compare The Flight of the Conchords' "Inner City Pressure" . . .

To the Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls" . . .

And The Flight of the Conchords' "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room" . . .

To Prince's "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" . . .

Elizabeth Edwards Pretty Much Owns Ann Coulter.

The original title of this post was "Elizabeth Edwards Shames Ann Coulter," but, since Ann Coulter has no sense of shame, I changed it. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that, if you chopped off Ann Mann Coulter's head, a new one wouldn't grow back and start turning itself around like Linda Blain in "The Exorcist." The applause near the end of this video made me very happy.

Common Sense Dancing has previously blogged about this bitch here.

Monday, July 2, 2007

"The Mix-Up"

The Beastie Boys have a new album out. Twenty-One years after their first album, License To Ill, these former rabbinical students are still going strong. How many people, buying a Paul's Boutique LP in 1988, would have thought that they would still be around 19 years later? Hip-Hop was barely ten years old at the time; it must have been like that scene in Almost Famous where producer Dennis Hope tells Stillwater that "If you think that Mick Jagger will still be doing the whole rock star thing at age fifty, well, then, you are sorely, sorely mistaken," and everybody believed him.

Flight of the Conchords, Episode 3

The third episode of The Flight of the Conchords was possibly the best one yet. My favorite part was when they took they took the rap stage names "Rhymenocerous" and "Hip-Hopopotamus" and made this video:

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"Gangsta Rap Is On Death Row"

After 15 years of dominating hip-hop culture, gansta rap music's popularity is sharply on the decline.

KRS-One goes back to the days when rap music really meant something. I'm not a big rap fan, but, when I was a kid, rap music took one of two forms: political (Public Enemy, KRS-One, etc) and fun-loving (De La Soul, Run-DMC, the Digital Underground, etc). Some of the political rap was violent (like KRS One's "by any means necessary,") but at least it had a serious message, even if that serious message was one that most people, even most urban blacks, disagreed with.

Dr. Dre's album "The Chronic" was really what made gangster rap music mainstream. The Chronic is widely regarded my music critics at Rolling Stone and The Onion to be one of the best rap albums ever made, and its popularity spawned a host of imitators who tried to one-up Dr. Dre by getting even more violent, sexist and misogynist with their lyrics. I'm glad to see that cycle has reached its conclusion. In recent years, rappers like Kanye West and Dead Prez have brought political rap back to the mainstream, and rappers like Common and Outkast have made the sort of goofy, lighthearted rap of Run-DMC popular again.

In case anybody's interested, the documentary "Dave Chappelle's Block Party" is a great introduction to modern rap music for people who otherwise know little about it.