Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who're you calling a cantaloupe, you melon head?

It's Friday and I'm feeling distracted, so what better way to waste time than to post about "Saved by the Bell," a show that has stolen countless hours of my life?

The above YouTube clip is from the "Zack Attack" episode, which might be my favorite "SBTB" ever. If you haven't seen it, this is the one where Zack dreams that his garage band Zack Attack becomes the biggest group in the world and subsequently endures "Behind the Music" style drama. The episode is memorably narrated by Casey Kasem, who seems to be under the impression that Zack Attack is a real band. There's also a killer cameo by Casey Kasem's sweater.

The clip is of the climactic "Friends Forever" reunion performance. Those looking for stupidity won't be disappointed. (Has "SBTB" EVER let you down?) My only gripe is that AC Slater isn't shown pounding the skins until the 1:36 mark, though he makes the most of his screen time with a killer drum fill.

I've got "SBTB" on the brain because I was recently discussing the show with a friend who admitted that he found it legitimately funny at times. That makes two friends who claim non-ironic laughs for "SBTB." (Cough, Tom, cough.)

Here are some examples of "SBTB" style comedy courtesy of IMDB.com.

Screech: Once, my dad let me back his car out of the garage. Then he got mad at me.
Mr. Tuttle: Well Screech, your father was probably just nervous.
Screech: Well, he had a right to be - I forgot to open the garage door.
Lisa: I hope your dad had "dork" insurance.

Mr. Belding: Screech, you can't elope.
Screech: Who're you calling a cantaloupe, you melon head?

Jessie: Slater, haven't you heard of the Women's Movement?
Slater: Sure..."Put on something cute and MOVE it into the kitchen."

Screech: Zack, something terrible has just happened.
Zack: You found out "Alf" was a puppet?
Screech: He is?

Slater: [smiling] So what happened, Preppie? Did she turn you down?
Zack: Guess again, my high school friend. She and I just agreed to get together and meet at "The Attic".
Screech: Wow, the attic. That is cool. There could be bats up there.
Slater: YOU'RE bats, screech. "The Attic" is an 'over 18' club, and Zack's only 16.
Zack: That may be true, Slater. But by tomorrow morning, we'll all be 18.
Screech: Oh no. Mom said I have to move out at 18. I gotta look for a place.

Mr. Belding: Zack, calm down. Just tell me who's threatening you.
Zack: Kelly "The Killer" Kapowski.
Mr. Belding: Kelly Kapowski?
Zack: Yes.
Mr. Belding: Excuse me for a minute.
[turns head to laugh]
Mr. Belding: [still snickering] What's she gonna do? Spike you to death with a volleyball?

Screech: Hey, ya know what, Slater? With this microscope, your nose hairs look like the Amazon Rain Forest.
Slater: If you don't get that thing out of my face, I'm gonna have the Natives come out and eat you.

Jessie: Eh, I hate coffee. Suzy, can I have another cup please?
Zack: So why are you drinking it?
Screech: What else is she gonna do with the coffee Zack?
Zack: Use your head as a donut and dunk you in it.
Screech: No way, my head would never fit in the cup.

Screech: Kelly! I know he asked you to go with him. Is the answer yes?
Kelly: Well, you can't tell Zack, but
[shakes head yes]
Screech: Oh, my! What a moment! What a thrill! First the Berlin Wall comes down, then the Brady Bunch comes back, and now Zack and Kelly are going steady!

Screech: You girls are lucky; wait 'til you see me in a wet t-shirt.
Lisa: Only if it involves you drowning.

Shamless self-promotion: Under 30 column salutes Trapper Keepers

I hate it when I make things more difficult than they need to be. For instance, I went shopping for school supplies this week and ended up with a son named T.J.

How did it happen? It's a long story, but if you have a minute I'll tell you. It begins with a simple question: What ever happened to Trapper Keepers? You know, the Velcro binders with the plastic rings and vinyl finishing that every kid lugged around school back in the 1980s and '90s.

Back then owning a Trapper Keeper was a rite of passage. For the average fifth-grader, it meant you were old enough to be trusted with an ample supply of loose-leaf paper, folders and notebooks.

This was exciting stuff because, let's face it, the first five years of school are strictly Dumbsville. Tying your shoes, addition and subtraction, state capitals, it's not very stimulating. It's also vaguely condescending. I often wanted to pull my teachers aside and say, "Look, I know I'm at an age where shows like 'Webster' and 'Punky Brewster' are still legitimately funny, but come on! Don't treat me like a complete moron!"

Getting a Trapper Keeper suddenly made you an older kid on the cusp of awesome older kid things, like doing homework and complaining about homework.

But Trapper Keepers were more than just handy homework holders. They were a mode of self-expression. Perhaps your Trapper Keeper cover featured the cast of "Beverly Hills 90210" or your favorite member of New Kids on the Block. Maybe you were the kid with a mystical-looking dolphin on his Trapper Keeper. Maybe you were like me and got stuck with the solid red cover. No matter. My favorite color was red, and I was pretty solid about it.

Trapper Keepers served another important function specific to boys ages 12 to 15, providing much-needed cover for a particular body part when it malfunctioned on the way to algebra class. Since this particular body part also malfunctioned whenever a girl came within five feet, it would have been nice to get homework at school dances.

Read the rest here.

Has Outkast finally jumped the shark?

As perhaps the most critically acclaimed pop group of the past decade, Outkast was bulletproof before this week's releases of "Idlewild," the movie, and "Idlewild," the movie soundtrack. Now critical consenus has turned against them, and it's a foregone conclusion that Andre 3000 and Big Boi are finished as partners.

Wha' happened?

The album came out Tuesday, and reviews have been less than kind. More than ever Outkast looks like the hip-hop Beatles. Before "Idlewild" the comparison was apt because Outkast was the one rap group everybody liked, and their likeability was tied mostly to their artistic adventurousness. "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" was the least commercial thing they ever did (the singles "Hey Ya" and "I Like the Way You Move" being HUGE exceptions) and yet it sold better than almost all their previous releases combined. Having the whole cake and eating it too is almost unheard of unless you're, well, you know.

In light of "Idlewild," which continues and underlines the creative estrangement between Oukast's wildly divergent halves that's been going on for at least five years, the Beatles analogy illustrates the group's dissolution. If "SB/TLB" was their "White Album," "Idlewild" appears to be their "Let it Be", a slumped-over moan of exhaustion, a death rattle, the end. I say APPEARS because I haven't heard the whole album yet. But Outkast to me has been on the decline since "Stankonia." The rambling "SB/TLB" has its moments, but for the most part it's the most overrated album of the '00s. A dictionary definition of inconsistency, "SB/TLB" is loaded with too many aimless experiments and, well, just too many songs. Artistic genius is great, but pity you can't tell genius to shut up.

What about the movie? The preview actually looks really good. I want to see it, though my gut tells me I'll probably be disappointed. (The reviews support my gut.)

Outkast is anything if unpredictable, so I won't write their eulogy yet. But if "Idlewild" is their last record, fans can't complain: This is one of the great groups of our generation. Now if we could just get them on a rooftop.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rolling around naked in my love o' "Rock Star"

My friend Tom Rozwadowski, who covers entertainment for The Green Bay Press Gazette, and I are inexplicably hooked on "Rock Star: Supernova" this summer. We ended up chatting about it over e-mail today, and I thought it was fairly interesting so I'm reproducing it here. I might try to get Tom to make this a weekly thing, so look out for some more pop culture tedium, suckas!

Tom: What did you think of the "Rock Star" drama (last night)? How does Lukas not get into the final three, or even have to stand the hell up? Dude sounded like he was gargling mouthwash during "All These Things I've Done."

Me: I think it's funny that Dilana has already entered her late period Dirk Diggler phase. She's clearly the best person, but I think this ego thing might cost her. I thought Ryan's original song was pretty good in a crappy modern rock sort of way, but he still seems really stiff and self-important on stage. Lukas is terrible. I was SURE the judges would rip him after the Killers song. He sounded like absolute horsecrap.

Tom: Last year, nobody failed on the "let's get someone to say something bad about another rocker to the press" ruse. Even the dude who won refrained, and he was known for Dilana-like criticism about how the band saved others, etc. I found it quite amusing. It was a bit contrived, but if Dilana had to perform last night, she would have totally choked. The camera shots had her looking legitimately shaken. Now that Patrice is gone, it actually gets interesting because Magni and Toby are my favorites (if i had to pick two outside Dilana), and they're getting in the bottom three. I, too, thought Ryan's song was decent. I just think he's a dime-a-dozen meathead rocker. Toby, to me, is the most fluid and comfortable on stage. Magni has some chops. Storm is too theatrical. I thought she did a great job with "Cryin'" -- an overplayed song i hate -- but she always makes me crack up with her "Matrix" style dance moves and bug eyes. Gotta ease up on that. I thought Dilana was mediocre on "Every Breath," to be honest. I wonder if this is the beginning of the end for her, though she might be the kind of person needed for a group with three alpha males. I also think school girl emo crushes are keeping Lukas alive in the voting. His Killers cover was just as bad as the hole butchery from a few weeks ago.

Why don't they play Jane's songs with Navarro?

Me: Maybe the same reason they won't ever play Metallica covers with Newsted. (Quick side rant: Navarro is the Rod Stewart of his generation. He could have been one of the greats based on his mindblowing playing on "Nothing's Shocking and "Ritual de lo Habitual." but once he became a rock star, he realized he could coast on his fame and not try anymore. and he's been doing it for 15 years.)

Toby is decent. I really don't like magni. His covers of Nirvana and Radiohead were WEAK. (Seriously, who is dumb enough to cover "Smells Like Teen Spirit"? I know you hate "American Idol," but Randy and Simon would have slapped Magni upside the head for tackling such an iconic song.) I don't think Ryan is a meathead. He's just a humorless dude who takes himself WAY too seriously. I can't see him surviving a band with Tommy Lee. I really think it's Dilana's race to lose.

Tom: As a sidenote before I respond on "Rock Star," have you ever seen "The Thin Red Line? I don't claim to be a movie buff, but I know you actually take your film watching seriously. I got into a heated discussion with two co-workers about my hating "Crash" yesterday, and I was subseuqently slammed for liking "Thin Red Line." It's not your typical war movie, which is why I like it. The symbolism is very "Lost" like, but more than anything, I love it's deliberate pacing. It almost lulls you into submission, or maybe i'm the only one who dug it.

Back to "Rock Star," I think I like Magni the person more than Magni the performer, which sounds stupid. I can't imagine a dude like Lukas making the bottom three and singing along with say, Toby, when he put the mic in my face. I really enjoyed his rendition of "Starman," though. But you're right ... tackling iconic songs is a bit foolish, and I think that has hurt him in the voting. I don't think he's been awful, per se, but he can't live up to either Yorke or Cobain, so the fans will naturally yawn. I'd much rather risk comparison to Brandon Flowers or something.

I say Ryan is a meathead because he couldn't even defend himself with Dilana. It was Magni who had the best line about how she's just doing the same thing every week. I would have been all up in her grill, yo!

Totally agree on navarro. It's pretty sad, actually. I suppose there would be a hell of a lot of pressure to perform "Been Caught Stealing" with Navarro, but it'd be great TV. Or maybe they can do a Panic Channel song next week.

Was that original Supernova song actually pretty catchy, or should I just end this conversation now?

Me: I saw "The Thin Red Line" when I was in college and remember liking it. I'm a fan of Terrence Malick, the director, who is best known for his first film, "Badlands," which came out in 1973 and starred Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. It's about this young couple who go on a killing spree across the Midwest. Awesome, awesome movie that is definitely worth Netflicking.

"The Thin Red Line" definitely isn't for everyone, and I think it suffered in comparison to "Saving Private Ryan," a more traditional war movie that came out around the same time. I liked "Crash," by the way. I don't think it deserved Best Picture, but it's certainly not hate-worthy. When I saw it I thought it was a well-made rip-off of "Short Cuts" with a racism theme mixed in. Not terribly profound or anything but pretty entertaining at the time. I support your right to rip "Crash," though. I remember hating "American Beauty" when it came out, and most people got ticked at me whenever I voiced that opinion. But seven or so years later, critical consenus has really turned against that movie. So I feel vindicated, fools!

Back to "Rock Star," I agree Magni seems like a decent dude. I also thought Patrice was nice (and surprisingly hot this week), but she definitely needed to go. Toby is a good singer but he has no charisma. Storm has the swagger (and she's also pretty hot) but she seems a little bush league to me. I can't stand Lukas, but he'll stick around til the end because he fits a washed-up rocker's definition of a modern rock singer.

It's clearly between Ryan and Dilana, and I'm leaning towards Dave's assertion that Ryan is the dark horse who seems to be gathering strength. Dilana seems a little to big for her britches. Ryan is a TOTAL (jerk), but aren't most rock singers?

Re: catchiness of Supernova: I kinda like their songs, too. If they pick Ryan and record his "Back of the Car" song, they might actually be better than Velvet Revolver, which must be their main goal.

Please ignore this video I just posted

The old complaint about MTV from codger music fans is that it made image more important than music. Which, of course, is ridiculous. Tons of people bought Elvis and Beatles records based solely on the coolness of the album covers. The fact that the music was great was an irrelevant coincidence. Image has always been a huge part of the equation.

Still, it's nice sometimes to fall in love with a band without knowing what they look like. Take Danish space rockers Mew. My favorite record right now is "And the Glass Handed Kites," a difficult but ultimately rewarding piece of prog rock sprawl that recalls a lot of music I love: "OK Computer" era Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, New Order and the Beach Boys, to name four bands.

I just watched the video for "The Zookeeper's Boy," my favorite track off the record, and my view of Mew has changed slightly. I still like the record, but, well, these dudes look kinda lame. If I saw the video without hearing the record first, I might dismiss it altogether. (Which is a greater indictment of me than Mew, but still.)

Watch the video and check out the band's MySpace page, which has four songs you can stream. (Including "Special," another album highlight.) And, please, try to ignore the singer's resemblance to Jon Bon Jovi.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Laughing at celebrities on drugs

Some Web site named Cracked.com (apparently related to the old Mad Magazine knock-off, now trying to be an Onion knock-off) has a funny feature called "The 5 Most Obviously Drug-Fueled TV Appearances Ever."

A lot of good stuff here, including clips of James Brown, Richard Pryor and Klaus Kinski. (Now there's a party I want to be at.)

My favorite clip is from a supremely weird Crispin Glover appearance on David Letterman from the late 1980s. Acutally, I don't think Glover is on drugs here, just doing his George McFly on acid schtick. But it's still pretty entertaining.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Who needs advice?

I'm writing another advice column for Bull Magazine and I need some relationshippy type questions, so if you gots somethin', hook me up!

Finally! A soluation to the war on terror AND Whitney Houston's career decline

Most people agree that the worst thing ever to happen to Whitney Houston was Bobby Brown. But it appears Whitney actually has a worse romantic option available to her: Osama bin Laden. According to the terrorist's former "sex slave" Kola Boof (did the Emancipation Proclamation not apply to sex slaves?) bin Laden was obsessed with Houston and dreamed of killing her husband.

Boof says bin Laden couldn't stop talking about his favorite singer and had lofty plans for her. "He said he wanted to give [her] a mansion that he owned in a suburb of Khartoum. He explained to me that to possess Whitney, he would be willing to break his color rule and make her one of his wives."

But bin Laden's murderous side also emerged in his fantasies about the pop superstar. "[He would say] how beautiful she is," Boof claims, "what a nice smile she has, how truly Islamic she is but is just brainwashed by American culture and by her husband - Bobby Brown, whom Osama talked about having killed, as if it were normal to have womens' husbands killed.

"In his briefcase, I would come across photographs of the Star [magazine], as well as copies of Playboy. It would soon come to the point where I was sick of hearing Whitney Houston's name," Boof writes.

I say we stop the war and drop the Whitney bomb on the Middle East. We just need to find which crack house she's sleeping at this week.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sometimes your heart cuts a fart

An essential companion on any road trip is an ample amount of Tenacoius D. Listen to the songs once and you will know them by heart. They will enter your brain like a virus, invade your head like the Russians in "Red Dawn" and explode your mind like the scanners in "Scanners."

Obviously I'm a fan of the temple of rock built by Jack Black and Kyle Gass. And I'm pumped about their upcoming movie, "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny," even if I'm pretty sure it won't be any good. I mean, check out this preview. This is gonna be our generation's "Song Remains the Same"!

A short history of football video games

Last week I wrote a brief history of football video games for our Weekend cover package on the new John Madden game. It brought back a lot of memories of Mountain Dew and Dorito-fueled gridiron battles.

One of my favorite games ever is Tecmo Bowl, and one of the best players was Bo Jackson. The above YouTube clip is a powerful reminder of his brilliance.

Here is my short history:

Atari Football (1978): Remember that part in “2001” when the monkeys are scrambling around the desert at the dawn of man? Of course you don’t. That movie came out 200 years ago. So did Atari Football, and the primitive game definitely looks its age. It kicked off modern gridiron gaming, but hardly anything about Atari Football resembles the actual game of football. There are no field goals, no PATs and no end zones. And the players look more like robotic toads than people.

Intellivision’s NFL Football (1980): It’s a few years after Atari Football and video game football players have grown arms and legs. Sure, they still have solid color bodies so nobody is going to mistake the little guys for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Intellivision’s NFL Football was a giant leap for video gamekind. Among the evolutionary leaps are fairly sophisticated play calling options and way technical (for the time) game details like interceptions and tackling. Kids played this until the end of the ’80s.

10-Yard Fight (1985): Starting out as an arcade game in 1983, 10-Yard Fight was the first football game of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Despite the name, there was very little 10-yard fighting in this incredibly easy game. It was more like Run-Back-99-Yards-And-Hit-A-Wide-Open-Player-In-the-End-Zone Fight. If you sucked at every other video game, there was no better self-esteem builder.

Tecmo Bowl (1990): The game that sparked a million sleepless nights among the nation’s teenaged boy population, Tecmo Bowl revolutionized football gaming. At least it seemed that way at the time. The lack of plays (each team gets four on offense and defense) and dull two-dimensional graphics would put the average 13-year-old to sleep in 2006. Like the success of MC Hammer, the other great phenom from 1990, you had to be there to understand it.

Tecmo Super Bowl (1991): My favorite non-Madden football game ever. Tecmo Super Bowl was the first game to feature every NFL team and the superstar players of the day. Finally, your dreams of being Bubby Brister could come true. Also new was being able to play a full schedule with a post-season. Best of all was the dominance of studs like Bo Jackson and Jerry Rice, who will go down in the annals of history as the greatest video game football players ever in their Tecmo Super Bowl incarnations.