Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, April 07, 2006

Suck/lame results

First of all, thanks for voting. I counted 19 media-related posts and 12 votes, not a great turnout but it's spring time and people want to spend time outside, so I understand.

According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, just 15 percent of Americans put a great deal of confidence in the media. At Under 30 blog, however, it's more like 92 percent. Not suck won out in the great media vote by 11-1, a shocking landslide. Yowsa!

This is so weird. As a media professional, I'm not used to being liked. I'm used to people telling me that I suck, that I love George W. Bush, that I hate George W. Bush, that I'm controlled by a vast left-wing conspiracy, that I'm controlled by a vast right-wing corporate conspiracy. I feel like a kid that's been beaten with wire hangers for 15 years and suddenly gets a pony and a hug.

Gee, thanks, dudes. You don't suck, either.

The "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" Rule about sequels

At the end of “Basic Instinct,” did you ask yourself, “Gee, I wonder what happens next?” I know I didn’t. My thought was, “Gee, I hope my friend’s mom doesn’t catch us watching this.”

“Basic Instinct 2” died at the box office last weekend, grossing just $3.2 million. That’s about one-fourth of Sharon Stone’s salary for reprising her star-making turn as sexy seductress Catherine Tramell. Talk about money well spent.

Why did “Basic Instinct 2” fail? Reviews so toxic they need to be buried for 100 million years surely contributed to the debacle. But the biggest problem with “Basic Instinct 2” is timeliness.

If it had come out in 1996, four years after the original, “Basic Instinct 2” could have been the love child of “Battlefield Earth” and “Gigli” and still done good business. The movie was still fresh in everybody’s minds, Sharon Stone was still a sex symbol, and viewers didn’t have another 10 years of perspective on a silly erotic thriller that now plays like an unintentional comedy.

Sequels must come out within five years of the original (or most recent sequel) to get the public excited. This is known as the “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” Rule, named after the Swayze-less sequel to “Dirty Dancing” that came out 17 years after the original and grossed the equivalent of bus fare for a dozen people.

Even if you bring back the original stars, the magic dissipates after five years. Handsome men grow haggard, beautiful women get beefy, and the rancid stench of “Why the heck are they doing this?” grows stronger.

The textbook example is “The Godfather Part III.” Nobody will argue with “The Godfather Part II,” which came out just two years after the first “Godfather” and is more continuation than sequel. “The Godfather Part III,” however, came out 16 years after “The Godfather Part II” and ended up being the Fredo of the trilogy. Personally, I think “The Godfather Part III” is a pretty good movie, especially if you don’t compare it to the first two films. (Any movie blows compared to the first two “Godfathers.”) But the big gap between sequels ruined “The Godfather Part III” before they even started filming.

The same can be said of “Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace,” released 16 years after the previous “Star Wars” movie, “The Return of the Jedi.” There’s no question “The Phantom Menace” is a step down from the first three films, which came out in well-spaced three-year intervals. (I write this knowing “Star Wars” fan boys already are scrambling to their computers to write long e-mails telling me otherwise.)

So, Hollywood, beware of the untimely sequel. Or else more films will suffer the unfortunate fate of “Basic Instinct 2,” “Blues Brothers 2000,” “Caddyshack II,” “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” and, my personal favorite, “The Next Karate Kid.”

Shameless self-promotion

I have two new album reviews in the latest issue of Harp magazine, Loose Fur and two Cheap Trick reissues. Check it out!

Rhyming "neato" with "libido"

The Onion's AV Club has a fun feature on songs with factual or logical mistakes in the lyrics. The obvious example comes first with U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" where Bono claims MLK was shot in the morning of April 4 when it was actually early evening. And, yet, Bono still doesn't suck on this blog. How strange.

My favorite entry is about Young MC's "Bust a Move":

Though Young MC is completely logical throughout most of this song––he's absolutely right, in most situations, you should bust a move––things get a little confusing in the last verse. He raps: "Your best friend Harry / has a brother Larry / in five days from now he's gonna marry / he's hopin' you can make it there if you can / 'cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man." Now, why would your best friend's brother choose you as best man over his own flesh and blood? Is Harry just going to be a run-of-the-mill usher at his brother's wedding while you're toasting and keeping track of the rings? Also, why would Larry inform you of his family-shaking decision a mere five days before the wedding? It doesn't make sense. Fortunately, Young MC totally compensates for any logical gaps in the next line, when he rhymes "neato" and "libido."

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Meet Gavin, dude who hates me

I just received a nice e-mail from a reader named Gavin who liked my Under 30 column on swearing.

Gavin normally hates me. A lot. To an almost scary degree, actually. If you read this, you'll understand why he responded positively to this week's column. (Warning: The language is pretty bad, so for sure check out the link.)

Judging from this post, I have to agree Gavin is a better writer than me. Gavin, if you're reading this, I'd love to "but" you a shot, too. You know, once you wipe the spittle away from your mouth.

The worst of Steven Hyden: Shacking up in sin really, REALLY ticks people off

Sometimes you write something you know will make people mad. Politics, religion, abortion, these are the topics that are virtually guaranteed to stir up a caulderon of hate mail.

Then there are the stories that tick people off by accident. My Under 30 column from Feb. 13, 2004, for example. I intended the column to be a sweet Valentine's Day piece about how I was working up the courage to propose to my girlfriend. (I did propose, she said yes, and we had a perfectly horrible five-month engagement. Ah, the sweet nectar of love!) I normally don't write sweet stuff, so I figured readers would eat this up like chocolate-covered cherries. I was wrong. A vocal minority hated the column, apparently, because I wrote about living with my girlfriend out of wedlock and didn't beg for forgiveness.

I ended up on the Letters to the Editor page every day for two weeks. After a while, people started ripping other columns from the same period. In a way, it made my local reputation as a columnist. People still think I'm hated by our readers because of this one column.

Here's the column, which I think you'll find is pretty mild. I'm also posting some of the letters and calls we got about it.


A couple of weeks ago I learned a valuable life lesson: If you go to Jamaica with your girlfriend, you must propose marriage at some point during the trip.

I did not know this. Apparently I am the only person in the continental United States who did not know this. In the weeks leading up to my trip, at least a dozen people sidled up to me, poked me in the ribs and said, "Soooo" with a sly grin. I just stood there stupidly while they nodded and gave me that I-know-what-you-are-up-to look.

Then it occurred to me: Hey, Steve, you are going to a romantic paradise with your special lady friend. People must be expecting you to pop the question. Boy, are they dumb or what?

Alas, I did not drop a ring in Jamaica. (When I do, I promise you will be the last ones to know.) But I have been forced to confront the marriage question like never before in the past few months. I shouldn't use the word "forced" because it's not like I'm being threatened with bodily harm or Janet Jackson's right breast if I don't comply. In fact, this is the first time in my life where marriage seems like a real possibility, if not a certainty.

{dcIdc}WARNING: The remainder of this column is inappropriate for children under 13, pregnant women, people with heart problems, the elderly, small pets and most imaginary friends. Please exercise caution. The Post-Crescent is not responsible for any brain damage that might result from reading the following passages.{dc/Idc}

For lack of a better term, I have been living in sin with the lady friend since the fall. And it's been great. She definitely has been the best roommate I have ever had. She's usually in a good mood. She doesn't leave half-eaten bowls of cereal on the coffee table. She flushes the toilet after she's done using it. What more can you ask for?

Let's just say I "like like" her and leave it at that because there's nothing more boring or nauseating than hearing about how much some guy loves his girlfriend or wife, even on Valentine's Day eve. Nothing worthwhile ever has come out of a mushy boyfriend's mouth. While it is always better being in a good relationship than not from a personal standpoint, the reverse is true artistically. That's why hit country songs today stink compared to hit country songs from 30 years ago -- the former tends to be about being in love while the latter is about falling out of it. Which song would you rather drink beer to?

Everybody knows that when you move in with somebody, you are stepping into the on-deck circle for marriage. The co-habitation time is spent preparing for the batter's box. You swing your bat, check your cleats, do some stretches and basically get your head right before facing a series of 100-mile-per-hour fastballs.

Of course, being in the on-deck circle means fans are going to heckle you. In this case, the fans just happen to be your friends and family members. Everybody wants you to rush. "Hey batter, propose now! What are you waiting for? We want a husband, not a noncommittal 20something son!"

Being a professional single man, I don't let the hecklers get inside my head. You can't rush your swing. You might pull a quad, get hit by a pitch or even strikeout. You can't let that happen. After all, if everything works according to plan, you only should go to bat once.


I am writing in regard to the column by Steve Hyden that appeared in the Friday, Feb. 13 P-C.

I found this column to be very inappropriate and not necessary for publication in a so-called family newspaper.

The column, in my opinion, glorified living together without the benefit of marriage. As Mr. Hyden put it, "The cohabitation time is spent preparing for the batter's box."

In a time when this country is facing issues such as premartial sex among teens and where we preach abstinence to our children, we have a newspaper column written by a young man glorifying living together and equating it to facing a pitcher and making sure you get it right before you go for the home run.

I have also found other columns by Mr. Hyden offensive. However, this was, to me, the worst.

Please reconsider the material that's published in your newspaper and realize that not everyone takes living together without marriage as a test run.


Steve Hyden's Feb. 13 column is not appropriate for a family newspaper. Can you help me understand how this column conforms to your stated principle to "serve the public interest"? The public interest is not served by the promotion of non-marital cohabitation.

Both "under 30" and "over 30" readers have better taste than to want to read material such as this. Please do not print non-newsworthy, morally detrimental material such as this in the future. Thank you.

To Mr. Hyden: It is bad enough, sir, that you are "living in sin." To voluntarily put it in the paper goes beyond unacceptable. In addition to having no shame or judgment, have you also no class and no taste?

How did the girl, her family and your family feel about this public airing of your prenuptial escapades? Do you simply lack the creativity to come up with a useful idea for a column? Please, sir, if you must write about matters such as this, I would thank you kindly to write in your diary and not in my family's newspaper.

Imagine please, as you are preparing to write the Feb. 13, 2032, "Under 60" column, reading about your "under 30" daughter shacking up with a boy who, lacking the moral integrity and self-respect to save what is sacred for marriage, also lacks the judgment to keep his private matters private and furthermore lacks the respect for your daughter to not advertise her foolishness.

I pray that any children you may father will have more wisdom because you grew up to be a man who provided them with wisdom.


Harry Dorman wrote an excellent letter to the editor regarding Steve Hyden's Feb. 13 article. I have been reading Mr. Hyden's articles regularly and thought he wrote in an interesting manner. However, the article flaunting his "living in sin" appalled me, as I'm sure it did many others. I also intended to write a letter, however, I could not have expressed my feelings any better than those written by Mr. Dorman.

Please add my name to the growing list of people who are disturbed by the Steven Hyden column. Thus far, he has degraded Christianity and condoned drunkenness and cohabitation. Why have him in a family newspaper? This is the ideal for the "under 30" group? I think not.


As Steve Hyden continues to write insensitive, offensive articles in his Under 30 column, one can only hope he will soon be 31.

Shameless self-promotion

My Under 30 column was posted a day early this week. Check it out here.

Suck/lame update: You really like the media?

The latest suck/lame election has the makings of a landslide for Not suck re: The Media, to which I can say only this: YEAH FRICKIN' RIGHT.

I work for a newspaper, and we hear from people all the time who hate our guts. I'll tell people I work for The P-C, and they will rip the paper unapolegetically to my face. (Which I don't mind, even if it makes me laugh. Just for the sake of politeness, I wouldn't go off on how much I hate, say, Target.)

What I'm saying is this: You people are stinkin' liars! Stop kissing The Media's butt!

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe you like us! You really, really like us! Do I really see a rainbow on the horizon?

Say it with me

My Weekend cover story is on the 50th anniversary of the Exclusive Company. If you grew up a music fan in Wisconsin, chances are you spent a lot of time in an Exclusive Co. store. I remember riding my bike across the town to buy my first two CDs ever there, the Beastie Boys' "Check You Head" and the "Singles" soundtrack. The whole trip took about two hours, but it was worth it.

Anybody have any Exclusive Co. memories to share?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

News flash: Jocks STILL stupid turds

The Smoking Gun has some good dirt on the ugly rape case involving Duke University's la crosse team, including an e-mail sent by the accused before he allegedly committed the crime. Because of this blog's affiliation with The Post-Crescent, I can't quote from the e-mail like, at all, because the thing is filthy. So be warned of some serious adult content if you click on the link.

Is anybody still reading this post?

OK, I'm a guy, and I use e-mail, and I admit writing things to other guys who use e-mail I'm not particularly proud of. Of course, when I wrote about strippers, I was usually joking. I also did not go out and allegedly rape someone afterward. That means I'm better person than this guy and allowed to throw stones at him.

I mean, just look at his picture. You know this douche has been torturing four-eyed Poindexters since he could walk. If only his comeuppance didn't have to come at the expense of an innocent woman.

Then again, we all know what happens to pretty boy jocks who can't control themselves around exotic dancers in the big house.

Well, Mother Teresa did star in that sex tape ...

Under 30 regular Cheddar just alerted me that Paris Hilton is under consideration for the lead role as Mother Teresa in an upcoming biopic.

Obviously a horrible idea. So obvious, in fact, that I'm not sure I buy it. This strikes me as one of those rumors that gets started on a message board and picked up by desperate newspaper columnists and radio talk show hosts looking to get indignant about something. "Paris Hilton as Mother Teresa! What will they think of next?!"

So, in accordance with my desperate columnist responsibilities: Paris Hilton as Mother Teresa! What will they think of next?!

Suck/lame: The media

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 world’s most influential and controversial institutions, the media.

OK, so I work in the media so maybe I'm biased. (Um, actually, I'm not biased at all! No siree, definitely not biased! Forget I said that!) Anyway, I think the media is pretty cool. The media is staffed by tireless professionals who have dedicated their lives to informing and entertaining the public. Without the media, people still would be stuck in caves picking dirt and bugs off of each other. If some folks have a problem with the media, it’s only because the media reflects certain realities about the world they might not like. Of course, it’s also possible some folks hate the media because it historically has distorted women, minorities and anybody else not in power. Or they might hate the media because it is a machine powered by sex, violence and sitcoms starring vulgar fat guys and their pretty wives. At any rate, the media’s rep makes lawyers look like priests.

So, is the media a force for good in the world or evil? In other words, does it suck? Please vote by NOON FRIDAY.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Suck/lame results (finally!)

First of all, thanks for voting. I counted 15 votes and 34 mustache-related posts. That's handsome!

Perhaps shockingly (or perhaps not), the mustache cruised to easy Not Suck status by a vote of 11-4. I agree with that, though mustaches don't suck the same way killer sharks don't suck: you admire it, but you don't want to get too close to one any time soon.

Thanks again for voting and be sure to vote in the next suck/lame election, this time with prompt results! It's like democracy, only more fun.

Does my blog look weird to you?

I can't see any of the links on the left side of my page and the text is funky lower down on the page. It doesn't look like this any other computer. I'm confused. Can somebody help me out there?

I'm back


After a long break, I am back and ready to rock the Under 30 blog. Thanks for your patience.

-- The Management