Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A MySpace experiment

I've been on MySpace for about six months now, and it's starting to get pretty boring. So I'm doing an experiment with my profile. I deleted my pictures and put up a pic of a pretty girl. (It's the picture here. When you do an image search on Google for "pretty girl," this comes up first or second.)

I changed my gender to female and my name to Stevie. Otherwise my profile is exactly the same. I'm curious about a few things: (1) Will dudes want to nail me if I'm a girl with the same personality I have now? (2) What kind of stupid messages will dudes send me in order to nail me? (3) How soon can I post those messages on my blog?

I will definitely keep you posted on this groundbreaking experiment that everyone is talking about.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The worst of Steven Hyden: Cyndi Lauper is a psycho hosebeast

When you write about entertainment for a mid-sized Midwestern newspaper, you end up interviewing a lot of celebrities on their way down the media food chain. The biggest challenge is wading through the sea of delusion that has all but swallowed them whole.

The worst celebrity interview I ever had the displeasure of conducting was with Cyndi Lauper, a woman who is none to happy about still being associated with red hair and wrestlers. So much so that any questions that veered in that direction were either ignored or greeted with hostility. When I asked Lauper if her MTV-created image from the 1980s was a problem for her today (a question akin to, "Is your name Cyndi Lauper?") there was a long pause followed by, "Maybe there is for you, but not for anyone else."

So, the next time somebody says "Cyndi Lauper" and the first thing that pops in your head is "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," blame me.

Unfortunately, I don't have a transcript of the interview. But here's an excerpt from my story previewing her opening slot on Cher's tour stop at the Resch Center in 2002. Take a drink every time you read my dislike of Cyndi between the lines!

Show opener Cyndi Lauper, who could learn a thing or two about career longevity from the former Mrs. Sonny Bono, said there is also a down-to-earth side to the otherwise hyper-glamorous singer.

"She's a very cool gal," the 49-year-old MTV icon said in a telephone interview. "I guess that whole diva thing is a crock. She's not your typical starlet-type of person. She's pretty down to earth, pretty off the shoulder. She's a good woman, that one."

While Lauper was known for her own unique fashion sense in the mid-1980s when she dominated the pop charts with hits such as "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "True Colors," which sold as much on the strength of her quirky quasi-punk image as the music, she has since scaled back to a more serious "it's all about the music" production that is diametrically opposed to what Cher does.

"I purposely don't do a costume change," she said. "I don't wear anything super-flamboyant. It's just about the music. I try to have it so what I'm doing, you can't even compare it. ... We come to play music and kick your butt, that's it.

"I think it's a good show," Lauper said of her pairing with Cher, which first came together for a tour in 1999. "Our audiences overlap. We're different from each other but in a lot of ways we're alike. ... It's kind of nice to share a bill with another strong woman and also she's very cool. It's not exactly like I'm your typical opener because I'm not, but it's a nice bill to have. It's something real interesting to do. It works out well for me because I have a new CD that's basically been people driven. It's a good way to present a new song and see how it lives because they let you know right away."

The CD Lauper is referring to is "Shine," an independently produced four-song EP available at her Web site, www.cyndi lauper.com. "Shine" was originally a full-length album that was supposed to come out on Edel Records last year, but the label went under before the release date. While Lauper searched for a new record company, songs from "Shine" somehow ended up on the Internet. When Lauper sang the new material in concert, she was surprised to find her fans singing the songs back to her.

The songs on the EP were the ones that fans sang the loudest, she said.

Recent involvement in a VH1 "Behind the Music" episode notwithstanding, Lauper is extremely reluctant to talk about her past. While the first part of her career was juiced with a wild sense of fun, the leftover baggage from her red-hair-and-wrestlers MTV period has made her a tad humorless about the good old days. Questions that veered in that direction were greeted with long pauses and curt responses.

What does interest Lauper is the future, and she insists she has one in music even with middle age in full swing.

"I've been signing to people for a long time, but when you hear their voice back at you at this level, not just on the old songs but singing the new songs, then it becomes bigger than me," Lauper said. "It's got to be about more than just commercial success for me. I want to contribute. I want to contribute to the world. I came here for a reason, and I want to see it to fruition. I don't want to be just another famous person. That's pretty frivolous. Frivolity is great at times, but I want to do something great with my life. Really great."

Shameless self-promotion

Today's Under 30 column is about the eternal question: Does she like me?

OK, so I won this award

An anonymous poster who I may or may not have kicked in the back when I was 10 posted a comment about my recent Milwaukee Press Club award for best topical columnist in Wisconsin. I wasn't going to blog about it otherwise because, well, it's a little embarrassing.

Obviously, I'm honored and flattered by the recognition. But I'm also on record calling journalism awards "dumb," "meaningless," "self-congratulatory," and "dumb." So to change my opinion now that I finally won one seems a tad hypocritical. But I'm not ungracious. I really do appreciate it. And it makes me feel good.

I'm just really surprised. Under 30 is (supposed to be) funny, and funny stuff never wins awards. If you want a journalism award (or as Oscar), you're much better off writing about a one-armed mentally handicapped mountain climber who triumphed over adversity than cracking wise on grinding. It's not my thing to do "human spirit" stories, which is not to say those stories aren't worthy, just that award judges typically think my stuff isn't. Until now, which is cool, I suppose.

Who wants to join my redneck yacht club?

While getting my oil changed today, I heard a very dumb contemporary country song called "Redneck Yacht Club" by Craig Morgan. It is so dumb, in fact, that I wanted to show you this.

Basically, I'm looking to start my own redneck yacht club. Who's with me? Maybe these lyrics will change your mind.

I'm meeting my buddies out on the lake
We're headin out to a special place we love
That just a few folks know

There's no signing up, no monthly dues
Take your Johnson, your Mercury or your Evinrude and fire it up
And meet us out at party cove

Come on in' the waters fine
Just idle on over and toss us a line

Basstrackers, Bayliners and a party barge
Strung together like a floating trailer park
nchored out and gettin loud all summer long
Side by side there's five houseboat front porches
Astroturf, lawn chairs and tiki torches
Regular joes rocking the boat that's us
The redneck yacht club

Bermuda's' flip-flops and a tank top tan
popped his first top at ten a.m.,
thats bob he's our president

We're checking out the girls on the upper deck
rubbin' in 15 spf, its hot
everybody's jumpin' in

Later on when the sun goes down
we'll pull out the jar and the old guitar
and pass'em around



When the party's over and we're all alone
well be making waves in a no wake zone


Suck/lame results

Well, the vote was a little better this time. I counted 31 Oprah-related posts and 18 votes, a comeback from last week's Bud Light debacle but still well below our old turnouts. Come on, dudes. This is democracy in action!

Predictably, Oprah sailed to Not Suck status by a vote of 12-6. Oprah irritates me, but not overwhelmingly so, so I'm fine with the result. I just don't like the idea that Oprah is considered bulletproof, like you're somehow talking the name of the talk show host your god in vain if you rip her.

Whoops, sorry about that god reference, anonymous poster.

She's not God. She's not perfect. I think your insulting her viewers. I think we are intelligent enough not to buy a box of used toilet paper and you are insulting Oprah that she would take advantage of people by selling crap!!!

Remember to vote next week in the next Suck/lame!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shameless self-promotion

Here's a story I wrote previewing Tuesday's Ashlee Simpson concert in Green Bay.

You have to hand it to Ashlee Simpson. When she got caught lip-synching on “Saturday Night Live” in 2004, many people left her for dead on the side of the pop culture highway.

But here Simpson is with a successful sophomore album, “I Am Me,” and tour that comes Tuesday to the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon. Say what you will about Jessica’s sister, but there’s no denying Ashlee’s survival instinct. Life gave her lemons and she made lemonade. Or, more specifically, life exposed her as a lip-syncher and she made people forget it.

If only it were so easy for other celebrities looking to claw their way back to prominence. Scandal, failure and public embarrassment usually devastate careers and render comebacks impossible. But Ashlee Simpson proves career resuscitation isn’t just a fantasy as long as you have luck and a good plan. We think we have the latter for five celebrities in need of a rebound. Come on, guys. If Ashlee Simpson can do it, so can you.

Read more here.

Fetus fever extinguished

It's a sad day here at Under 30 HQ. Fetus was voted off "American Idol" last night. He was 16.

OK, Fetus didn't die. But Fetus fever did, along with my dreams of T-shirts and bumper stickers. I'm a little choked up about this, so I'll just quote from MTV.com:

Simon Cowell seemed to have amiable "American Idol" hopeful Kevin Covais pegged from the very beginning of the contest's fifth season. The cutting judge mused that the 16-year-old Long Island, New York, native's survival on the nationally televised if talent contest rested solely in the hands of doting grandmothers and crush-prone schoolgirls infatuated with his charming impishness. Apparently there weren't enough calling in to keep Covais' crack at "Idol" grandeur going.

Soon after the results were revealed, Seacrest wondered aloud, "What are we going to do without you?"

"I don't know," Covais responded.

Neither do we, Fetus. Neither do we.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Who's gonna win "American Idol"?

Two writers from The Onion's AV Club blogged about the current season of "American Idol," and it's pretty good. Here's what they had to say about Under 30 favorite, Fetus:

Thanks to Paula Abdul, he's constantly referred to now as a "sex symbol." Okay, I'm confused: When you call this kid a sex symbol, are we still talking about the sex that involves (screwing) and whatnot? Or is there some other kind of sex that's possibly presaged by a choirboy singing "Starry Starry Night" in an angelic voice?

While "AI" has long been a hit, this season seems to really be capturing people's imaginations, including viewers like myself who watched only occasionally in the past. I can't explain why, because only two or three of the remaining contestants deserve a weekly showcase on network television. But Scott Tobias nailed the show's appeal for me when he wrote this:

If American Idol was #100 in the Nielson's instead of #1, I don't know that I'd care about it that much. The fact that this cheesy karaoke show actually does change the face of popular music—and popular culture in general—makes it compelling. That so many people watch also raises the stakes and makes you nervous for the performers, who do occasionally wilt under the pressure. But the primary reason I watch remains Simon Cowell. The sadist in me wants him to put these kids in their place, but mostly, his criticism is just dead-on most of the time. What's more, I think the contestants and the audience, however often they vocalize their displeasure with his opinions, look to him as the real standard-bearer of excellence.

The writers also speculate on who they think will win. Katharine McPhee, who is uber foxy in my opinion, seems to be the favorite, though I think Chris Daughtry, despite his love of awful modern radio rock standards, is the best overall performer.

Any thoughts on possible "American Idol" winners?

Suck/lame: Oprah Winfrey

We continue our mission of clearly defining those people, things, ideas, thoughts, actions and other nouns and verbs of questionable suckitude with one of the most famous women in the world, Oprah Winfrey.

Millions of people adore Oprah Winfrey. Oprah encourages people to read, comforts hurricane victims and gives away cars to audience members like grandpa’s quarters. She is richer than God, and yet has maintained a down-to-earth approachability that makes her unique among celebrities. People trust Oprah, and heed her words on everything from relationships to body wash.

Maybe they trust her too much. Oprah’s endorsement of James Frey, despite early warnings that he wasn’t on the level, proves she is not infallible. But don’t tell that to Oprah followers, whose devotion to the daytime talk show host is akin to the Branch Davidians with David Koresh. Honestly, if Oprah’s name was put on a box of used toliet paper, these people would buy it.

So, is Oprah an inspiring celebrity who uses her power for good, or an overrated talk show host with too much power? In other words, is she lame? Polls are open until NOON FRIDAY.

Attention: Tony Parker a hero, not zero

A mini controversy has erupted over the nocturnal skeeeyiiills of one Tony Parker.

Parker's girlfriend, the "Desperate Housewives" chick that everyone is talking about, is trying desperately to clear his name. Apparently, the "Desperate Housewives" chick implied in a previous interview that Tim Duncan's right hand man is all thumbs in the bedroom. But that's totally not true. Tony Parker is a stallion, a man among boys, a baller with a body like Arnold and a Denzel face.

So, just to make it clear: Tony Parker is hot in the sack. Got it?

Whiny + crybaby = Republican

According to a new study, whiny kids grow up to be conservative, independent kids grow up to be liberal. I'm not sure how this fits in with this, but you know, it's sorta interesting.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Come see me DJ

I am going to spinning some serious tuneage Sunday night at Cranky Pat's in Neenah. Anybody who wants their socks blown off their feet and into the murky depths of Lake Winnebago (through the ice even!) should show up around 9:30 p.m. I'll be playing everything from Johnny Cash to Justin Timberlake, Joy Division to Journey, and Jay-Z to the Jam, and that's just the Js!

More Orwellian fun from the Bush administration!

In case you missed this, George W. Bush marked the third anniversary of the Iraq War Sunday without using the word "war."

War is an icky word, isn't it? May I suggest changing the name of this conflict to Iraq Ice Cream Sundae? It just sounds more delicious.

This is what I get for defending Bud Light

An anonymous blog reader recently posted this:

I find it amusing that you chose Bud Light for your poll. I have to assume that your a micro/import consumer, but why not list all 3 major light beers, Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Bud Light? You are obviously not a fan of Bud Light and obviously in a minority catagory with your alcoholic beverage choice. Bud Light being the number one selling beer in this country, are you insinuating that those of us who enjoy Bud Light are lame? Seems to me that an American Company like Anheuser-Busch (Not Canadian owned Coors, or South African owned Miller)spends countless amounts of money of disaster relief, wildlife preservation, consumer education and awareness, and responsible drinking campaigns keeps them quite far from lame...or sucking for that matter. Maybe next weeks topic should be, "Biased newspaper columnists trying to look and sound cool by slamming something they no little about...Lame or No? Give me a break, I truely dislike the POst Crescent more and more as the months roll by. Am I mistaken, or are you also the same guy who ran an article on why Designated Drivers suck? Now that IS lame.

This is an example of what I like to call "phantom criticism." This is when a reader rips you for saying something you didn't actually say. For the record, Bud Light Fan, if you're still reading me: (1) I was one of ONLY TWO people who said Bud Light DOES NOT SUCK. That means, against my better judgment, I kinda like Bud Light, which renders the rest of this post moot. But because this is so much fun, (2) If we say something sucks on this blog, that doesn't insinuate that people who like said suckiness suck. This is known as the "Creepy Robin Williams Fan Rule." You might suck for reasons unrelated to Bud Light. (3) Yes, you're mistaken on the designated drivers thing. I honestly have no clue what in the hell you're talking about on that one. Perhaps you're thinking of the story I did on why handicapped parking is sham? Or my suggestion that the elderly should be used for firewood?

I do like the Does he suck? idea: Biased newspaper columnists trying to look and sound cool by slamming something they no little about. I'm voting Not Suck on that one, I think.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Shameless self-promotion

In this week's Check it Out, I wrote about the hubub that won't go away over "Brokeback Mountain" winning best picture. Here's a sample:

What's annoying about "Brokeback Mountain" is that it has been turned into a referendum on gay rights, like "The Passion of the Christ" was for Christianity and "Fahrenheit 9/11" for George W. Bush. Not liking "Brokeback Mountain" somehow is equated with not liking gay people, a silly argument that actually undermines the gay cause. Are we supposed to regard "Brokeback Mountain" as a love story about two star-crossed lovers that anyone can relate to, or a "gay movie"? That even the film's supporters seem to believe the latter is a sign we haven't come far enough, not "Crash" winning best picture.

Read more here.