Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Steve's five-step hangover cure

1. Put in "The Karate Kid."
2. Lay on the couch.
3. Place a handful of Salty Stix pretzels on your chest and eat three or four stix at a time. Repeat until full.
4. Zip A&W root beer.
5. Cry when Daniel Son kicks Johnny in the face using the crane technique.

Believe me, it works. I'm not just a doctor. I'm also a patient.

A killer on the dance floor

OK, so R. Kelly urinates on underage girls. This is obviously not a good thing. We as a society must step forward and discourage our R&B singers from staining the future of our country in such a foul manner. However, the man knows how to write a jam. And in the grand scheme of things, one's jam-writing abilities just might trump all sins.

Example: I had the privilege of spinning tracks from my iPod at Cranky Pat's in Neenah this evening. Being a novice DJ, I reveled in the rare opportunity to share my music with the public. I started the evening in bombastic fashion, playing some Tears for Fears and Steve Perry for the ironically-minded revelers in the hizee. While flashing through my extensive collection of MP3s, I came across "Ignition (Remix)." Ignoring the advice of my friend (this was an alt-country haven, after all) and going solely with my gut, I pressed play. And R. Kelly proceeded to kill every mofo in the room.

I'm telling you, if you ever get the chance to be a DJ, play some R. Kelly. It will set your table in spectacular fashion. I followed up with some Al Green, Earth, Wind and Fire and Benton Wood, and they all reaped the benefits of R. Kelly's sweaty bump and grind.

If peeing on people is wrong, no dancer wants to be right.

Friday, January 27, 2006

"The Momma of All Comedies is Back!"

So, who's going to see "Big Momma's House 2" this weekend? Apparently, a lot of you. I admit, I don't understand the appeal of the first "Big Momma's House," which grossed about $125 million. When it comes to cinema, I tend to avoid (1) movies about cops dressing up like women to nab drug dealers or bank robbers; (2) comedies where the jokes revolve around fat people being fat; (3) Martin Lawrence. But I'm in the minority here.

I'd love to expand my horizons and laugh along with everybody else this weekend. But since I didn't see the first one, I feel like I would be lost. Clearly, the "Big Momma" saga is so vast that it can't be contained to just one movie. Newbies should probably start from the beginning of the story so they don't get lost.

I can't make heads or tails of the plot synopsis: "Lawrence reprises his role as master-of-disguise FBI agent Malcolm Turner, and Nia Long returns as the love interest. This time, Big Momma takes a turn as a nanny as Turner attempts to find his ex-partner's killer. But while undercover, he starts to grow attached to the prime suspect's three children. John Whitesell ("Malibu's Most Wanted") directed the sequel."

So Lawrence is an FBI agent AND Big Momma? And Nia Long the love interest? Who are these kids? Do they represent Turner's desire to leave law enforcement and start a family? Or do they underscore his loss of innocence after embracing cross-dressing as a professional career? Clearly, with an auteur like Whitesell (who proved his hand at racial satire with the penetrating "Malibu's Most Wanted") at the helm, the second "Big Momma" will expand on the psychological themes explored in the first film and weave an even richer tapestry.

Or there might just be a bunch of fart and fat jokes. Yuk yuk yuk.

Shameless self-promotion

Heeeere's...Under 30!

VH1: Surprisingly sensitive exploiter of celebrity addicts

I am on record as a fan of "Breaking Bonaduce," VH1's trainwreck reality series about the downward spiral of former child star Danny Bonaduce. Now I have been sucked in by another VH1 reality series about a walking disaster, "Celebrity Fit Club 3." The disaster in question is Jeff Conaway, who set the world on fire 25 years ago as one of the guys who wasn't Andy Kaufman or Danny DeVito on "Taxi" and the greaser guy who wasn't John Travolta in "Grease."

Bonaduce would probably feel pretty good about himself if he spent five minutes with Conaway, a true hard-luck case who claimed in the second episode of "Celebrity Fit Club 3" that he tried slitting his wrists at age 3. (With what? A rattle?) Losing love handles is the least of this guy's problems. He wandered through the first two episodes like Slash in the "Patience" video. Except with Slash, all he had to do was lay on a bed with his snake while slutty rock chicks were hustled in and out of his hotel room. Conaway was expected to engage in competitive canoeing and verbally spar with the likes of Tempest Bledsoe. The pressure must have been unbearable for a guy just looking for a bucket to puke in.

Sure enough, Conaway was gone by episode three after overdosing on pills and booze.

The "car crash" quality "Celebrity Fit Club 3" had early on is gone now, and the show is far less compelling as a result. (Were it not for my odd but undeniable crushes on Kelly LeBrock and Countess Vaughn, I'd probably tune out.) But as it showed with Bonaduce, VH1 seems to have real concern for the E-list celebs they put on the air. Conaway's health and well-being was put ahead of the show and he was sent off to rehab, even though VH1's product is suffering as a result.

Let's not give VH1 too much credit: Surely they knew how batcrap insane Conaway was when they signed him up. But by reality show standards, the network suits are practically St. Francis of Assisi. Still, I'm betting on Conaway making a surprise cameo in the final episode.

From the home office

This has been the most kickass week of blogging I have ever had. And it's all because of you, the blog readers. Seriously, this is way more fun when people post comments. Thanks to you, I know virgins, turds and Abercrombie and Fitch are big with readers. Long essays about "Pretty in Pink," tributes to Chris Penn and Lil' Markie/Joey Buttafuoco comparisons, not so much.

I will use this data to make this a better blog for you. Thanks again. You make it easier for me to justify blowing off work to post to this thing!

Your pal,

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Doogie Howserism, or, A post that won't make sense to anybody but me

Johnny Rotten once asked, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

Um, no comment, Johnny.

Feel free to speculate on what the hell I'm talking about. I probably won't remember in a week. I'm sure Doogie looks back on his old journal entries and wonders what he meant when he wrote at the end of that episode: "Vinnie thought he had the bull by the horns. In the end, the bull just made him horny."

But, hey, at least it made Doogie chuckle when he wrote it. Oh, the sage wisdom of a teenage physician! Some call you cryptic, I call you genius!

Strange MySpace scams

MySpace is a weird place. I mean, I have met some cool people there and all. But I also have encountered some bizarre stuff. The first time I was approached by a hooker, I thought, "This is different." By the fifth time, it had grown tiresome. That old "I saw ur page and ur really hotttt!" line only works four times, e-hos.

The strangest MySpace scam I've encountered is that message you get where the guy is supposedly e-mailing you on behalf of his hot female friend, and the only way you can see who the girl is is by adding her to your friends list.

The message is always the same: "yea this girl who has been my best friend since ive been young hits me up. She says she sees this profile of someone that reminds her of her first crush. I dunno Im not the one who should be filling you in Ill let her. I will let you know that she is cool as hell and gets pretty crazy at times in a fun way. to be honest i used to have a crush on her myself but its too weird now. she said she was shy or something to be the first one to initiate talk but she even posted a blog about ya or something anyways seems like you are all she is talking about and interested in so check her out and add her up as a friend. something might work out who knows yea."

These messages are annoying for many reasons, not the least of which is the chronic misspelling of "yeah." I just don't get the purpose of them. Is there some financial gain to be had from duping horny MySpace dudes into adding fake female strangers?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I get to hear the new Built to Spill album before you do

It looks like I'm reviewing the new Built to Spill album, due out April 11, for Harp. After the band's most recent effort, 2001's blah "Ancient Melodies of the Future," this might not be cause for much excitement. But the song posted on MySpace is ridonkulously good. Here's hoping BTS is back to jamming Crazy Horse style.

UPDATE: Actually, I'm not reviewing this album now. But I am getting the new Flaming Lips, Loose Fur and two Cheap Trick reissues, so that ain't bad.

Where are they now? Chunk from "The Goonies"

In the comments section of a recent post, somebody made reference to Chunk, the loveable fat kid from "The Goonies," a movie that has somehow become a touchtone for anyone between the ages of 28 and 35.

Where is Chunk now, you ask? In jail for robbing a Jazzercise in Deep Creek Lake, MD? Nope. Starring in gay porn with that kid from "The Toy"? Nope. Representing my two filmmaker friends as an entertainment lawyer? You betcha.

Pay attention, ladies. That ugly tubbie kid in your study hall might end up being the perfect guy to negotiate your network TV deal.

P.S. If you guys show any interest, I'll try to set up an interview with Mr. Jeff Cohen for a future blog post.

I'm stupid

Can somebody explain how I can add links to my template? I can't find any info on Blogger.

Shameless self-promotion

Here is a review I wrote of the new Robert Pollard album for Harp magazine.

RIP Nice Guy Eddie

My favorite Penn brother has died. Here is a really good tribute (written while he was alive) from Salon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Blog Feature: I Disagree with Matt Neistein

Matt Neistein is a good friend of mine. He is the Op-Ed Editor for The Post-Crescent. And I disagree with him on almost everything.

Usually our fights take place over e-mail, even though we sit roughly 100 feet away from each other. (In our defense, there is a wall between us.) Despite the fact that Matt rarely is right about anything, and I usually bury him with sage-like wisdom, he continues to step up like the Washington Senators lacing up against the Harlem Globetrotters.

I think our debates are kind of interesting, so I am kickstarting a new semi-regular feature on my blog called "I Disagree with Matt Neistein."

The first episode involves the Joel Stein piece I posted below. Since Matt is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, I was curious to hear his take on Stein's "I don't support the troops" stance. Matt hated the column, but not for the reason I anticipated. What Matt hated was that Stein wrote about the subject humorously. Our e-mail exchange turned into another chapter in our long-running argument about funny vs. serious commentary. A natural born-wiseacre, I'm obviously pro-sense of humor, while Matt is pro-humorlessness. (I might be distorting his POV slightly here, but hey, it's my blog!)

Here is our exchange. Let me know who won, or more importantly, if you made it through this post without falling asleep.

Matt: What a dumbass. Waste of a column.

Steve: I think it's an interesting piece and probably more honest than a lot of anti-war columns. He's not saying the military is bad. He's saying that someone who is against the war is inherently against what the troops are doing over there, and to say otherwise is "wussy."

Matt: Oh, I get that. But the approach he used undermined the whole thing. He has a style similar to yours, in that it relies heavily on humor, which is fine. But it's fairly difficult to discuss "heavy" topics, such as people dying in combat, and crack jokes about it without coming off as snide, uninformed and supercilious. I'm not knocking the premise/point so much as the execution.

Steve: This is a central point of disagreement between you and me, I think, because I feel serious issues are often BEST handled with humor and satire. Just because he makes you laugh doesn't mean that, at its core, the piece isn't serious. He still constructs an argument with supporting evidence. Yes, the news is serious. But it's also silly in many cases. For instance, the idea that this war was fought over WMD, and there were no WMD, is both tragic and funny. And he doesn't joke about soldiers dying. He jokes about the doublespeak on the left concerning the war and the (inevitable) negative reaction his piece will recieve.

Matt: Yeah, but there are ways to do it with humor that don't make light of things that don't need to be made light of. Saying that someone who's willing to give their lives in service of their country sounds like a great guy to party with in Vegas only mocks that devotion. The Jack Abramoff crack is just that: a crack. Comparing the WMD deception to that created by a popup ad is self-centered and demonstrates an inability to sympathize, despite the preceding sentence.
Like I said, relying on humor is fine. You can comment on anything with a joke. But the tone of his piece and the specific jokes he makes come off as superiority and a grab for attention with his "mind-blowing" premise. He tries to admit he's out of his depth with his "rich kid" explanation, but then laughs that off with the phone book comment, essentially dismissing his own admission of weakness. It's cocky.

Steve: How does the Vegas comment "mock" their devotion? Isn't that just a funny way of saying, "These are stand-up guys I'd want to have a beer with"? And how does the phone book comment "dismiss" his admission of weakness? Admitting that you could be beat up by any member of the military doesn't sound very cocky to me. I just think you and I look at this from different perspectives. I think satire can be a vessel for a serious argument if people take the time to think about it. You think any piece that makes you laugh is inherently silly and not worth the same discussion as a "serious" piece. That's a valid point of view, though it pretty much dismisses everyone from Mark Twain to Jon Stewart.

P.S. Did you like "To Live and Die in L.A."? (I recently lent Matt the awesome 1985 cop thriller starring William L. Petersen and Willem Dafoe. He still hasn't said whether he liked it. What are you hiding, Neistein?)

The silliest Rolling Stone cover since Jar Jar Binks

The biggest balls in the country

I never expected this from Joel Stein, a guy more likely to appear on VH1's "I Love the 80s" talking about the Rubix Cube than taking the single most unpopular stand in the USA. Of course, Stein will crucified for this by right-wing talk show hosts who will gloss over the subtlties (and humor) of his argument. I'm sure Stein knows this, and yet he decided to take the heat anyway.

Whether you agree with him or not, you have to admire is cajones.

By the way, I have a sick feeling that he is absolutely right, and I feel absolutely uncomfortable admitting it (to myself).

"A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong."

This is a very fascinating story about the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jeffries, that confirms just about every evil theory you might have about the retail chain. See, there's a reason why I shop at Target.

A recap

It appears the comments so far are pro-turd and anti-virgin. Are these my people or what?

Yes, I bought "Pretty in Pink"

Once upon a time, I had principles. I hated Wal-Mart. I wrote long rants against the retail chain for my college newspaper where I listed all the predictable sins: the steep, hidden costs of cheap goods on exploited Third World sweatshop workers; the mistreatment of Wal-Mart employees, who are paid so little they have to take jobs at three Wal-Marts just to make ends meet; the screaming kids with Kool-Aid mustaches and Cheeto-stained fingers who always get slapped around by their overweight mothers in the parking lot. This was an evil institution destroying the soul of our country. Only Americans were too dumb to see it. Instead of realizing that discount underwear was not worth the pain and suffering Wal-Mart was unleashing on the world, we let ourselves be seduced by cheap jars of mayonnaise so large that one could feed the entire local school district for three years.

Then, I graduated from college and the sellout commenced. Pretty soon I was buying discount underwear at Wal-Mart. At first I felt guilty. I made jokes about how I set a world record for flip-flopping. In certain company, I would continue with my Wal-Mart rants, because ranting against Wal-Mart is a fashionable thing to do. But deep down I knew I was a phony. I had become a Wal-Mart shopper, and unlike those kids with the Kool-Aid mustaches I had no excuse for my actions. They could blame their overweight mothers. I knew fully well the repercussions of what I was doing, and I choose to look the other way at the display of Garth Brooks CDs.

My favorite thing about Wal-Mart is the discount DVDs. Like everything else, you can get a lot of DVDs at Wal-Mart for the price of a small African child’s education and health care for one month. I always end up going to Wal-Mart at 1 a.m. to look at DVDs. It’s like going to a porn shop. You want to go late enough so nobody drives by and sees you go in. The other night I went and they had an entire bin of movies for $4.88. That’s half the price of a movie ticket at a theater. And they had good movies. I picked up four of them: “U2: Rattle and Hum,” a decent concert movie featuring my favorite band from childhood dressed in vests and leather pants and pretending to be B.B. King's best friends; “A Simple Plan,” a stomach-churning film noir directed by Sam Raimi and highlighted by Billy Bob Thornton’s second most memorable performance as a dullard; “Escape from L.A.,” the sequel to “Escape from New York”; and (cough) “Pretty in Pink.”

The last one opens me up to some mockery, I suppose, though it’s the movie I’m probably most excited about picking up. “Pretty in Pink” is the last film of John Hughes’ trilogy of mid-80s teen films starring Molly Ringwald that also includes “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club.” It is probably the least regarded of the three but it is my second favorite (after “The Breakfast Club,” of course). The makers of “Pretty in Pink” didn’t help me by putting the thing in a pink box. I already felt slightly girly picking it up, but they could have at least put the movie in a brown bag or something.

“Pretty in Pink” is supposedly about how Ringwald (in an interesting turn from her rich girl character in “The Breakfast Club”) is this cute high school redhead from the wrong side of the tracks who falls in love with a BMW-driving “richie” named Blaine, played by Andrew McCarthy. But everybody knows that “Pretty in Pink” really is about Duckie, the dorky friend who is hopelessly in love with Ringwald. Duckie, played by future Charlie Sheen straight man Jon Cryer, is perfectly all wrong: his retro hair, his stupid vests (a recurring theme with my recent DVD purchases), his awkward Otis Redding posturing, his lame jokes that show he’s trying too hard to make an impression. He is exactly the hopeless adolescent romantic so many of us (cough, cough) can identify with.

“Pretty in Pink” sets you up for a glorious ending where Molly Ringwald realizes that Blaine, who is boring and not all that handsome, really, and a big wimp when it comes to standing up to the wonderfully creepy James Spader, isn’t for her and runs into the arms of the suddenly dashing Duckie. Hughes actually sells this ending for a few minutes, having Duckie walk Ringwald into the prom while OMD’s “If You Leave” pounds on the soundtrack. Then he pulls the rug out from under you. Blaine walks up and does his dull Blaine thing, and Ringwald swoons. She ditches Duckie and engages in some ’80s style makeout action with the back lighting and zoom-in close up. All that’s missing are those “Top Gun” love scene sheets blowing around.

Hughes throws us Duckie lovers a bone by hastily hooking him up with a cute blonde, but the resolution doesn’t wash. We all know Duckie will end up alone. This should be an infuriating turn for a film that is essentially an updated Cinderalla fantasy. But no real-life Duckie would be able to accept their roman a clef getting the girl. It would only make our own lives seem that much more pathetic.

There was nobility in always being the overlooked friend in high school, even for a guy named Duckie.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The reunion you have been waiting for

I post this only because Joey Buttafuoco kind of reminds me of Under 30 blog star, Mark Fox.

Unfortunately, there will be no Lil' Joey/Lil' Markie tour in the near future. But if it ever happens, you know where the idea came from.

The 24-year-old virgin

I was talking to a good friend of mine last week, and she mentioned that she is now dating a 24-year-old virgin. Her paramour's virgin status isn't determined by religious afflilation or some other insanity. Apparrently, he is good-looking, smart and a nice, decent fellow. He just has never been involved in a situation where adult situations presented themselves.

By the way, when I say virgin, I mean VIRGIN. He has not even experienced private time of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky variety.

My friend obviously is in a position to change all this. But should she? She's not sure. From her persepctive, the experience likely will be quick, easy and not entirely satisfying. But she also has the opportunity to mold the perfect lover, much like Anthony Michael Hall did with Kelly LeBrock in "Weird Science."

Any thoughts on what my friend should do?

Dislike mail

Re: Most recent Check it Out column

While I appreciate that you are not a "Hope and Faith" fan, and that you obviously were put through a kind of hell, I am most sorry that your experice drove you to use the words "awful, awful, stinky awful" in a sentence, which may be the most juvenile description I have ever read in a newspaper.

Suffice it to say that the show and the people on it have been very important to someone very close to me, and this person is a fan.

In addition, if you are going to criticize someone like the Hope And Faith warm-up guy, shouldn't you at least try to remember his name, which is Phil Stellar, instead of showing that you are to cool to care.

To make you feel at home with this e-mail, I'll be just as corny as your nameless warm up guys, and tell you that , juding by the tone of your column, maybe you should rename it "
Crabby Appleton" [Google it]

Most juvenile description ever? Obviously this person didn't read last week's column when I used the word "turd."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

More shameless self-promotion

Today's Check it Out. The first part will be familiar to faithful blog readers.