Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, June 23, 2006

Waiting for the end of the world

Religious people all over the world are jonesin' for the apocalypse, so much so that they are no longer willing to wait for it. According to the Los Angeles Times, religious groups of various faiths are trying to bring about the End Times by making the world more comfortable for the Messiah, whether it's converting every person in the world to Christianity or the president of Iran making Tehran prettier for a holy stay.

Conversely, some Jewish groups in Jerusalem hope to clear the path for their own messiah by rebuilding a temple on a site now occupied by one of Islam's holiest shrines.

Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple — along with two 6½-ton marble cornerstones for the building's foundation.

Then there is Clyde Lott, a Mississippi revivalist preacher and cattle rancher. He is trying to raise a unique herd of red heifers to satisfy an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers: the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer for purification rituals needed to pave the way for the messiah.

So far, only one of his cows has been verified by rabbis as worthy, meaning they failed to turn up even three white or black hairs on the animal's body.

Linking these efforts is a belief that modern technologies and global communications have made it possible to induce completion of God's plan within this generation.

The LA Times also reports that 40 percent of Americans believe that a series of events presaging the end of the world already is underway. That means four out of 10 people reading this blog expect either a spot in heaven or in bloody damnation some time in the not so distant future. If you are one of the four, please post a comment. It's bound to be entertaining.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

One "Crazy" Summer

In the great summer song of 2006 sweepstakes, we have another potential winner: “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley.

This insanely catchy slice of psychedelic hip-hop soul currently sits at No. 6 on the Billboard singles chart. It appears destined to hit No. 1 in the next few weeks and stay there through July and possibly August.

A lot of people predicted “Crazy” would be a huge stateside hit after it became the first song ever to hit the top of the British charts based solely on downloads. Big ups to the experts. I, for one, didn’t believe mainstream pop listeners would have the guts to latch on to it.

Not that I don’t love the song. Musically “Crazy” is “a complete Ennio Morricone rip-off,” according Danger Mouse, the mad genius DJ who makes up Gnarls Barkley with rapper/singer Cee-Lo. (Morricone is a film composer best known for scoring Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti westerns” starring Clint Eastwood in the 1960s.) It’s true. The plunking electric guitar, operatic choir and soaring string section are photocopied from the “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” soundtrack, and they give “Crazy” an irresistible sense of drama and atmosphere that’s immediately likeable.
But then there’s Cee-Lo’s singing.

When Cee-Lo sings about being crazy and enjoying it, it’s not like he’s saying, “I’m a crazy party guy!” like they would in most pop songs. The dude actually sounds unhinged. “Does that make me crazy? Does that make me craaaaazy?! Does that make me craaaaazy?!” Cee-Lo bellows. Then he answers his own question. “Pah-sib-leeeeeeee!” This wasn’t made in a recording studio. It was made on a street corner by a guy talking to his dirty diaper. The first 20 times I heard “Crazy,” I bobbed my head a lot, but I felt creepy doing it.

Now the song is a hit and I’ve heard it 50 more times and I don’t get that same unsettled feeling anymore. Which is good, I guess. But “Crazy” still has a subversive edge that makes it an unlikely, though very appealing potential summer definer.

By the way, the rest of Gnarls Barkley’s debut album, “St. Elsewhere,” is just as strange, unpredictable and compulsively listenable as “Crazy.” It won’t spawn another hit nearly as big, but it will probably end up on my year-end best-of list.

Woman glad she's not my grandmother

I like to make people happy. I'll tell jokes to make them laugh. I will compliment their hairstyles or tastes in music, even if I have to lie. Sometimes all it takes to make someone happy is to not be their grandson. That was the case with a recent letter-writer to The P-C.

As for Steve Hyden — I'm glad I'm not his grandmother, for I would feel duty-bound to read him and that would be a chore.

Contrary to popular belief, I don't make my grandmothers read anything I write. This is not a "Clockwork Orange" situation, I promise. However, I do require at least one cheek-pinch per visit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Your day is over

Pitchfork has perhaps the awesomest list ever created: 100 Awesome Music Videos with YouTube clips for each entry.

Don't dig into this thing unless you have a few hours to kill. It is incredibly addictive and watchable. Some of the videos are legitimately eye-catching, like The Decemberists' "16 Military Wives" and Elton John's "This Train Don't Stop" (featuring Justin Timberlake as a young Elton). The best videos, though, are the delectably cheesy ghosts of MTV's past. You got your Cyndi Lauper, your Go-Go's, your Duran Duran. But the pinnacle is Lionel Richie's hilariously overwrought "Hello," which tells the story of a professor (Richie) hopelessly in love with a blind sculptress. I'm weeping already.

After a quick scan of the list (quick as in 45 minutes) I've decided the most entertaining video of all-time is "Hot for Teacher" by Van Halen. And the most entertaining part of the most entertaining video ever is watching Alex Van Halen screw up his elementary dance moves.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

This is your ear on Q-Tips

A friend sent me this picture this afternoon. He took it after a doctor pulled the thing out of his ear. The black thing, not the dime.

Pretty gross, I know, but I post it because I'm fascinated. My friend just had his ears cleaned, and he said this kind of goo is typical in all ears. Here's what he wrote:

Believe it or not, that wad of ear filth came out of my good ear! I actually went in to get the other ear cleaned out (you should've seen the filth from the bad ear). It was a special day though - my ear had never given birth before.

I highly recommend getting a regular ear cleaning, like you might a teeth cleaning--especially if you're a Q-tip user. All that (stuff) gets shoved into the canal and, for whatever reason, turns black. After the cleaning, I was hearing things I've never heard before. Best $90 I ever spent.

My friend is promising nothing less than a transcendent, life-changing audio experience if I get my ears cleaned. Like I said, I'm fascinated. Will my taste in music change? Will I pick up dog whistles for the first time? Hmmm.

Monday, June 19, 2006

iPod Playlist: 10 Songs You Will Make Fun Of Me For Loving But I Don’t Care Because They Are Awesome

1. Justin Timberlake, “Rock Your Body”: The best single so far of the ’00s. Please don’t beat me up for thinking that.

2. Olivia Newton-John, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”: Quite possibly the wussiest song ever written. If there is a wussier song in the history of mankind, don’t let me hear it. I’m afraid I will want to download it.

3. Bryan Adams, “Heaven”: This song always makes me think of middle school dances in the 1980s, which is strange because I never attended a middle school dance in the 1980s. That must say something about how evocative this power ballad is. Or maybe I just have a really overactive imagination when it comes to middle school dances.

4. Keith Urban, “Making Memories of Us”: OK, I really hate this song. But the lyrics are so awesomely bad that I love it despite my hatred. “I wanna honor your mother/I wanna learn from your Pa/I wanna steal your attention like a bad outlaw.”

5. Peter Cetera and Amy Grant, “The Next Time I Fall”: This song makes me think of the first girl I ever liked, Rose, in the fifth grade. At age 11, Peter Cetera and Amy Grant perfectly expressed my romantic anguish. At age 28, that’s my only excuse for still kinda liking this song.

6. Genesis, “In Too Deep”: Not only do I really love mid-1980s Phil Collins/Genesis albums,I also love the ballady songs most of all. This dentist office classic is one of the best.

7. Fall Out Boy, “Sugar We’re Going Down”: Nobody older than 15 has the right to like this song. Still, it’s on my iPod. I like it when the guy sings, “Number one with a bullet!” When skater kids roll by my car, I roll up the window as I sing along.

8. Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl”: When the term “stupid-brilliant” is finally added to the dictionary, “Hollaback Girl” will be listed as the definition.

9. Phil Collins, “One More Night”: Remember how I said “In Too Deep” was one of the best dentist office songs? This is the best.

10. Billy Ocean, “Caribbean Queen”: Contrary to popular belief, “Caribbean Queen” is the superior Billy Ocean song to “Get Outta My Dreams (Get Into My Car).” You know, just in case you and your friends ever argue about Billy Ocean songs.

Need advice?

I'm writing an advice column for Gannett's male magazine, Bull. I'm writing it today, in fact. Anybody have any love-related questions they want me to tackle?

More wisdom from soccer fans

Hey guys! What up? Just got back in the office after a long weekend. I hope to have some postage up soon. In the meantime, here are two more hate letters from disgruntled soccer people upset about my latest opus.

"i'm going to give you a constructive feed back my friend. Please if you don't know anything about soccer, please, please don't write anything about it, because you going to look like an idiot.
think out of the box (you country.) Soccer game it's the most sport played in the WORLD, if you have some coments about it, please talk to you stupid friends but don't do it in a VERY important newspaper like this one.

Just one: How did you know my friends were stupid?

"I dont feel that Steven is correctly informed about the game of soccer. I can make equal comparisons to football, baseball, basketball, or any other sport crying about some "jerky" kid on the team. I could say all basketball is about is putting a ball into a metal bucket with a hole in it, but that would just make me look like an idiot who doesnt know what he's talking about. Obviously sports are far more complicated than what first appears to the viewer. Did you even waste money paying Steven for this poorly written article? I dont understand the "snooty elitism of soccer fans" just because it's the most popular sport in the world and many people love to support their teams and countries doesn't make them a "superior" cocky person. I don't care if Steven doesn't like soccer but this isn't the type of thing Appleton needs to have in its newspaper prior to the Regional Tournament at USA Soccer Complex which will bring money into businesses in the community. This is quite embarassing article to have written in our local newspaper."

All basketball is about is putting a ball into a metal bucket with a hole in it? That's hilarious! I'm totally stealing that line for my next column!