December 8, 2009

Rock Supergroups Combine to Make Ultimagroup.

In a press release from a small studio in Burbank, California, it has been declared that some of rock music's most recognizable superstars have joined together to form perhaps the biggest rock band the world will ever know. The many iconic musicians were pulled together from existing groups by the King of Side Projects, Dave Grohl.

Grohl, whom you might remember from grunge side note Nirvana, had also organized a failed supergroup called Probot, which featured Lemmy of Motorhead fame, in 2004. Throughout the years, Grohl has also been sighted behind the drum kit for bands like Killing Joke, Tommy Iommi, Tenacious D, Queens of the Stone Age, Garbage, Cat Power, Nine-Inch Nails, Juliette and the Licks, Pete Yorn, Paul McCartney, The Prodigy, and also sang back-up vocals for a toaster in his kitchen.

This new project is being said to be something "far beyond a supergroup." Needing a new word to describe the sheer hugeness of the band, they have been dubbed an "omega-group."

Inside the packed studio were music heroes from the last two decades, of all ages and all sub-genres. United for the common cause of rocking like a hurricane.

Although no cameras or recording gear of any kind were allowed inside the studio at the time of the announcement, the following list of names has been distributed:
  • Scott Weiland and Slash of Velvet Revolver
  • Chris Cornell of Audioslave and Temple of the Dog
  • Eddie Vedder of Temple of the Dog
  • Jack White of The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather
  • Travis Barker of The Transplants
  • Tom DeLonge of Angels and Airwaves
  • Billy Corgan of Zwan
  • Ted Nugent of Damn Yankees and Damnocracy
  • John Paul Jones of Them Crooked Vultures
  • Bob Dylan and Tom Petty of The Traveling Wilburys
With a wild amalgam like this, the potential is limitless. And there seems no possible way that all of these egos could collide in a terrible way, causing in-fighting, ultimately leading to a massive split. It's like mixing dynamite with more dynamite. It's a recipe for an explosion of musical tolerance.

Pictured: The greatest band ever.

Though no songs have been released, recorded, or even written at this point, the music industry has already placed the group's upcoming album, Too Much To Handle, at #1 on every major music chart in the universe.

November 23, 2009

Poet, Celebrity, Creeper.

My name is on your lips, on your best friend's heart.
I eclipse politics, religion, and everything near or far.
I am on your lunchbox, inside your idiot box too.
I'm stitched into your clothing, my t-shirt wears you.

I'm staring, bare-chested on your wall.
My hand's on my phone, awaiting your call.
We live in the same world, only mental blocks away.
We're breathing the same air, pumped through the same veins. 

I am outside your window.
I am under your skin.
I am David Hasselhoff,
And I'm coming in.

- Sincerely,

November 16, 2009

Netflix Kills Thousands. Yet to Be Brought to Justice.

Mass murder doesn't require guns, blades, detonators, mental defects, or the capacity for feelings. Sometimes it just takes a system of technology bent on mischief. Case in point: Netflix kills hundreds of people every year. How? Aside from the dozens of parents whom, whether due to laziness or sheer lack of intelligence, put Harry Rotter and the On-Fire Gobbling into their queue and put their toddlers into epileptic shock from the overwhelming amount of man-on-woman-on-wizard action, there are the unfortunate renters who have fallen victim to a curse.

The curse in question is derived from the popular Japanese-horror-knockoffs The Ring (2002) and The Ring Two (2005), wherein the main characters die under mysterious circumstances exactly seven days after watching a videotape. Director Gore Verbinski was foolish enough to include actual footage from the videotape in both films--footage that causes viewers of The Ring series to find themselves dead after seven days. Now one might argue that you can't blame Netflix for simply carrying the two films--after all, Blockbuster and all other major media retailers stock both films on their shelves--but you can certainly blame Netflix for not including any sort of disclaimer on the packaging, warning potential viewers of the inherent risks.

Fact: The Ring is distributed most often through Netflix than any other retailer. Fact: The Ring kills people. Assumption: Netflix is responsible for more Ring-related deaths than any company on the planet.

Need more evidence? Inclusion of The Ring in members of Netflix's outgoing queues have increased drastically since 2007. Oddly, most people who find the title waiting in their list claim that they have no recollection of putting it there, but decide that perhaps they should see the once-raved horror flick anyways. Netflix also has a function on their website that automatically gives suggestions for related viewing based on what their customers have recently watched or rated. Regardless of what films the customer likes or hates, The Ring will show up in the suggested viewing box. Liked The Big Lebowski? You'll love The Ring. Liked Wall-E? You'll love The Ring. Hated The Ring? You'll Love The Ring Two. (Also, you will love The Ring.) 

Is Netflix cursed? If so, is Netflix actively passing the curse along to its unwitting customers? Or is this a conspiracy enacted by Netflix to wipe out a part of the population that enjoys renting movies from the Internet? And will the next step be to target all online shoppers? Is going to start engraving spooky images into their jewelry?

Only time will tell. But know this, Netflix: we've got our eye on you.

November 6, 2009

Freddie Prinze Jr. Says Something. No One Remembers Exactly What.

On Wednesday of this past week (or possibly the week before) Freddie Prinze, Jr (son of Freddie Prinze, Sr. from what we've gathered) was said to have made a comment to Star Magazine outside of a Burbank coffee shop in regards to something or other. According to his IMDB page, Prinze starred in many teen comedy romps in the late 90s through the earlier parts of this decade. They were popular if I recall correctly.


Although there were literally dozens of onlookers who saw the wryly smirking Prinze speaking to a reporter, none of them could recollect what the actor (?) said. Rather, the group looked on in befuddlement as they individually tried their hardest to put a name to the kinda-familiar face.

Said one witness, "I think [he was speaking] about a new film he was working on. Or an infomercial he was doing." She added, "Or a children's book he was writing..."

The reporter for Star Magazine answered a key question. "I wasn't actually there to get a comment from [Freddie Prinze, Jr.]. I heard the guy from those ShamWow commercials was eating there. Thought I could get some words from him."

It remains certain if Prinze is still pursuing an acting career. It's also unclear whether or not he's the guy from that movie with Julia Styles that was based on that Shakespeare play. (*Editor's note: 10 Things I Hate About You starred Heath Ledger, not Freddie Prinze, Jr.) A number of onlookers outside the cafe began questioning Prinze, Jr's heritage as well. Several were heard commenting about his father's profession as either a musician, t-shirt designer, or rock climber. The concensus rested somewhere between extreme skiier and spoken-word poet.

Star Magazine has stated that they will not be publishing Prinze's comments in any upcoming issues of the near future.

In related news, Adam Lambert was spotted at Champagne Bakery at the corner of Santa Monica & Hilldale in West Hollywood eating a Turkey Florentine Panini with extra red onions and a small glass of iced tea.

November 4, 2009

Action Movie Lecture Series: Hulk Hogan's Triumph Over the 1990s.

In case you didn't hear that, class, that's what we call a bell. That means this lecture has started. That also means--hey Lonnie, take the earphones out, put Lil Wayne on pause, okay--that also means that the talking stops and the listening starts. And you're listening to me and not to Young Jeezy, as I said before. I'm saying stop listening to what I'm saying.

All right, today's lecture in Flimsy Arts 203: Modern Movements in the Action Film Genre, we'll be looking at the success of Hulk Hogan and particularly his key role in the family-action genre. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just put your groans in your pockets and save 'em for another day, guys. This is nearly important to learn. I'm saying you need to accept what I've laid out on the syllabus for our course what I'm saying.

Our topic today transitions us from last week's conversation on the importance of future political figureheads blowing up supernatural creatures. Remember, we looked at Jesse Ventura's role in Predator? Can anyone tell me what Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan have in common? Well...technically yes, Allen, but how about we move away from well-defined facial hair for just one class, huh? Come on, people. Professional wrestling! Right? Both wore tights for a living. Take that down in your notes because that will be on the midterm.

Bonus points to the person who can name the first movie Hulk Hogan appeared in as well as his name in that movie. I'm sorry Jerry, did you say Lightning Hips or Mighty Hips? For clarification, both are incorrect. It was Rocky III and "Thunderlips" was his characters name. Here he played a professional wrestler. Yep, yep. He, uh, he really "flexed" his acting muscles here. Ha. These are called jokes, class, and it's perfectly acceptable to laugh at them.

You'll notice that Hulk's next big movie was No Holds Barred where he again starred as a professional wrestler. A little piece of trivia about this film, as well: a lot of people think that Hulk's counterpart in No Holds Barred, Zeus, was a wrestler in the WWF before the film came out, but actually, Zeus didn't appear in a WWF ring until after the film was in theaters. But in any case, these two films came out in the 80s, so we're not so concerned with them. I'm saying they're not important to our topic and we aren't going to discuss them further no matter how badly you want to reference Zeus' role in the Chris Tucker/Ice Cube film Friday, what I'm saying.

We want to look at the 90s. This is where the real gold is. I want to highlight his star-making turn in Suburban Commando, opposite the Christopher Lloyd. Hulk plays a time-traveling alien dropped into a "suburban" household, righting wrongs and beating bullies and resolving plotlines with witty one-liners. I think it's safe to label this film under the popular sci-fi/comedy/action genre that got its start in the late 80s. To any film critic who thinks brevity cannot replace depth, I say to them: you clearly have not seen Suburban Commando in the right setting.

On a much broader note, I want to mention one way that Hulk Hogan really carved a niche for himself in the film industry. All you have to do is look at the names of the characters he's played: Shep Ramsey, Hurricane Spencer, Cutter, Dave Dragon, etc. That's an action star! I'm saying you won't pull these types of names up under Kevin Spacey's IMDB what I'm saying.

Kenny, it looks like you had a question, yeah? Okay, I seriously doubt that you saw Hulk Hogan in Adrian Noble's adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Kenny. First, I can't even believe that you saw a movie based on a Shakespeare play when just last week you couldn't stop ranting about the redeeming social values of Meet the Spartans. Second, Hulk could pull off Petruchio from Taming of the Shrew, if anything. So henceforth we will not be discussing the possibility of Hulk Hogan in a Shakespeare adaptation. This is, after all, a serious course.

Moving on, I direct your attention to the slide on page 3 of your handouts:

I ask the rhetorical question, "where would we be as a society without Mr. Nanny" knowing full well that the question can never fully be answered or even understood. It will take perhaps another decade before we can account for the influence its had on directors and action-comedians alike. After all, Mrs. Doubtfire came out a full month after Mr. Nanny had already laid the groundwork for hairy men costumed in aprons. For the time being we're going to ignore Michael Keaton and his role in Mr. Mom--released in 1983--because the ratio of Michael Keaton's apron-wearing to Michael Keaton's overall screen time is overwhelmingly low and thus, not directly influential of Mr. Nanny. I'm saying Hulk Hogan revolutionized the way comedy and aprons and former professional wrestlers could work in relation to each what I'm saying.

Three words: Secret Agent Club. Ring any bells? Okay, five more words: Hulk Hogan is...Ray Chase! My god have you people lived under a rock for most of your lives? Secret Agent Club, tagline: "It's 10 PM. Do you know where your Dad is?" All right, well this is sad. And quite frankly it's far too deep to go into in the short amount of time we have left. I do want you to make note of a few things, though. One: Hulk Hogan is a toy salesman. Two: Hulk Hogan has a child. Three: Hulk Hogan is a secret agent and not actually a toy salesman. And four: Hulk Hogan has a laser gun. Chronology is not important on this, either. Just make sure those facts are ingrained in your minds.

Okay, well, we're just about out of time so I want you to come to class next week with three of the most historically signifcant one-liners Hulk Hogan has said in response to pulverizing a bad guy on screen. They will be graded. I suggest watching Thunder in Paradise II for some possibilties.

October 28, 2009

The Spiffy Clothing Effect.

Mathematics be damned. Must equations always involve numbers and numerics and numerals and numbness? Sometimes. But not today. Strap yourselves in for this brain buster because it's one heck of a doozie, folks. One heck of a doozie, indeed.

This ratio might save your life. This ratio will save your life. Sitting down? Glass of water at the ready? The amount of money a celebrity spends on their clothing is directly proportionate to the aura of dickhead they will give off in public. Boom, pow. Yeah, no fooling around here. Just calling a spade a spade and an asshole a douchebag. The fancier the clothes, the more likely that the famous person wearing them will act out in a way akin to a toddler in a toy store whose parents have only enough money for one of the toys they want. Except the celebrities don't want a toy. They want to make you cry.

If years of reading Us Weekly has taught me anything it's that wealthy people like to look wealthy. And if listening to Puff Daddy has taught me anything it's that "mo' money" equals "mo' problems." And also that it's "all about the Benjamins." And similarly, he can both "make this money" and "take this money." Really, what I've learned is that Sean P Puff Diddy Daddy Combs likes to rap about money. And he's an asshole. The equation doesn't lie.

Here: a helpful tutorial for the basic levels of fanciness as related to the actions that will follow from that particular level of fancy pantsiness.
  • A celebrity wearing a t-shirt and ratty jeans helps an elderly woman change a flat tire.
  • A celebrity wearing a hipster hoodie calls that same elderly woman a tow-truck, but then blatantly mocks the woman behind her back. 
  • A celebrity wearing a Prada anything stabs the elderly woman and steals her purse. And then burns the valuables and pours an expensive white wine on the ashes. 
  • A celebrity wearing floppy shoes and full body armor spins in an empty parking lot for hours until falling down due to pure dizziness/exciteabilty. (As not every clothing choice is directly related to the dickhead principle.)
The various degrees of spiffy attire aren't always easy to detect. There are sub-categories of each degree and can often be confusing to the untrained eye. Paisley tie vs. power tie? Aviators vs. Aztecs? Cool sweater vest vs. lame, though incredibly similar sweater vest? Plenty of factors at play here. For this reason, play it safe. Don't get too close to someone you recognize from television if that person looks like they might have spent a lot of money on that backpack they're toting around. Especially if the backpack is empty. This would clearly be a non-fuctional aesthetic choice which shows that they have no regard for the cost of things. They might kick your dog. (And if you're not walking a dog/don't own a dog, it's entirely possible that they'll take you to a nearby pet store, buy you a dog, and then kick it. Remember, they are ruthless.)

Other signs to watch out for: reality stars wearing fuzzy scarves. Game show hosts with impeccable jewelry. 3-piece suits in heavily-wooded areas. Any men wearing fancy bracelets. Suits are okay if they look something like this:

Those are okay. He's probably just going to a wedding. Or is being inducted into some kind of classy hall of fame along with other purple vest-wearing famous people. Either way, you're in the clear. But if the suit looks like this:

See, that's not even a suit. That's a blazer that somehow costs more than an actual suit. And it's just one half of the suit. Do not approach this celebrity. He's probably on one of the CW shows. He'll be a dickhead.

(Imporant Sidenote: if you see Bruce Willis wearing Gucci shoes, you're probably already dead.)

The Oscar pre-show isn't going to show you this stuff. I'm telling you all this because I care about you. The next time I read about a Gap shopper being slapped in the face by a sharply-dressed Seth makes the day a little harder... careful out there. For me.

October 25, 2009

I Heard You Hear It.

When I was at the stoplight and I looked over at you, enclosed in your car doors and glass windows and heated seats, did you not think I could hear what was going on inside? You had a boogie in your nose, by the way. I saw you pick it. You're kind of gross.

But after you finished flicking that little green glob to the floor I saw you bob your head to that really girly song on the radio. Yeah, the one with the high falsetto towards the end that sounds like the screeching of tires against a urethra. That guy from that old boy band sings it. Jason? Jared? Paul? I don't remember his name. But I'm sure you do.

The dance moves you managed from the driver's seat are actually commendable. How you pulled off the running man from a seated position I may never know, but one thing that I do know is this: no one cabbage patches to a funky pop song and gets away with it. Not on my watch.

You obviously would have been embarrassed had you looked over to the car sitting next to you while you exhaled that super-girly crescendo. Because you would have seen me flagrantly mocking you. Although, to be fair, if someone else had pulled up to the right of me at that stop light and seen me mocking you they would have had no idea that I was actually mocking you and presumed that I was simply embarassing myself in the same way that you were and possibly caused them to start mocking me, which would have then caused a weird sort of chain-mocking situation at the intersection of Johnson and Park. You wouldn't have seen it on the news or anything, but it would have been a pretty rare occurence nonetheless.

You try to fool the world with those really hip band stickers haphazardly placed all over your windshield. Logos of fish and eyeballs and fire spelling out the name of that Finnish heavy metal band that you "like" so much. Right. Your fuzzy beard and fashionably-ragged threads can't cover the fact that you shimmied around to a girly pop song in your car. You sir, are a fake. And a coward.

Roll those windows down, my good man. Don't be afraid to showcase your ability to mime the heights of your changing notes with your hands. Don't hide behind a fedora and a stack of Paste magazines. Let your inner pop-nerd out to play for a while. I won't judge you. At least, not the way that I am now.

I guess what I'm trying to say, Guy In '98 Subaru Hatchback, is be yourself. Do the hussle. Sing those high notes. Make kissy faces at the rearview mirror. But let the world see it.

October 20, 2009

Comic Actors Form Coalition to Perpetually Disappoint Audiences.

Announced last Saturday on set of the new Eddie Murphy film Fat Black Swim Team, a smattering of Hollywood's A-list has-beens and former funny people will be coming together to once and for all put an end to any sort of joy being experienced at the movies. The announcement came from Murphy himself who, while wearing a prosthetic fatsuit and oversized speedo, was preparing for a scene in which he played all 16 members of the titular swim team training for the fictional Huge Ass Olympics.

"People are always smilin' when they come out of my movies," said Murphy. "Big, goofy grins, ya know? Like they just saw somethin' really funny or endearing. But I haven't done shit that's funny or endearing since Beverly Hills Cop 3."

Affixing a thick, curly wig beneath a swim cap, Murphy continued, "I'm sick of people thinkin' I'm hilarious for no damn good reason. They need to learn what funny is and what it ain't. And what funny ain't is Nutty Professor III: Klumps of Dookie." He explained, "That's why I haven't made a decent movie that wasn't Shrek in over 15 years. I'm controlling the laughs now."

Joining Murphy in the joy-sucking are former collaborators Steve Martin, Martin Lawrence and Mike Meyers, as well as Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Rob Schneider and Tyler Perry. It is projected that Tyler Perry will overthrow Murphy and take control of the group in a matter of months. (Jim Carrey and Bill Murray are both unsure of whether or not to join. Every six months they change their minds one way or another.)

Steve Martin, the first to enlist in Murphy's brigade against the American viewing public, stated that he and Murphy had considered starting the protest many years ago when they worked together on Bowfinger, which was supposed to be an outright gut-punch to the giggling masses, but ended up being more of an ear-flick. According to Martin's publicist, "that mistake won't be repeated."

Together these non-comedic actors will make fans of humor, wit, hilarity, smiles, laughter, amusement, jokes, and even tomfoolery wish they never stepped foot inside their local movie theater to temporarily escape the sorrows of their own lives.
Said Murphy, "We're sort of like The Expendables of the comedy genre in that we're a supergroup of movie veterans." He added, "And we will take 12 dollars out of your pocket and slowly kill your soul with broad sight gags and off-putting one-liners every time you make the poor decision to see one of our movies. As God as my witness, we will not stop until there is no more funny left in this world."

Look for the group's first official project, Latex Bodysuit Face Scrunching Terrible Accent Promise Not Disappointment to hit theaters alongside the much-anticipated I Paid 12 Bucks For a Punch in the Nuts?

October 14, 2009

7 Dead in Local Pub, Cast of Cheers Covered in Vomit.

16 years later...

Onlookers will forever remember the event as if culled from a syndicated version of their cold sweat-inducing nightmares. Their gag reflexes will spark upon each and every reflection. 1 in 23 Americans will claim to have witnessed it, but only a handful make this claim truthfully.

Insides on their outsides. Outsides covered in their insides...

Ted Danson, beloved television actor and probable recurring lead in the next 3 Men and a [...] sequel, was the first to succumb to what would gently be referred to by the press as "alcohol poisoning" in a Pittsford, New York pub. His body was found on the very bar stool he had been sipping a vodka tonic on just minutes earlier, clutching a copy of Becker: Season 6 to his chest. It was his 768th vodak tonic since the final episode of Cheers aired on May 20th, 1993.

According to the bartender--the only witness to come forward since the incident--Danson "just kept staring at the DVD case he was holding, shaking his head back and forth and saying 'come on, get it together.'" The bartender fetched another patron a drink and returned to Danson to see him face down on the bar, which was now drenched in vomit. Underneath all the puke and bile he had no pulse.

It was everywhere...

In another corner of the pub, two fellow Cheers alum were reminiscing. The barkeep says George Wendt (Norm) had just finished trading opinions on the pros and cons of doing voice-over work with John Ratzenberger (Cliff), when his face became scrunched and discolored. Wendt set down his empty glass, leaned back in his chair and performed his final, fatal pratfall. The bartender claims that "Cliff gave a double-take deserving of more canned laughter than the world could offer." He even spit out his drink, his 8,233rd Pabst Blue Ribbon since beginning work on Toy Story 2.

Ratzenberger's reaction was not an acting maneuver, though. Realizing his former buddy and co-star wasn't breathing, he jumped off his stool and began an attempted resuscitation. But while pumping at Wendt's heart, his own gave out on him. Clutching his chest in agony, he vomited twice--once on himself and once on Wendt, an act of camaraderie some might suggest--and slid to the floor in a heap.

Some kind of miraculous tragedy...

Coroners later found Kirstie Alley in a ladies' room stall, pig fat sandwich in one hand, a bottle of Jameson (her 87th since Fat Actress was cancelled) in the other, and remnants of her stomach lining covering her blouse. The official cause of death was never released, but various rumors suggest it had something to do with a piece of pig gristle found clinging to one side of her throat. Regardless of what may or may not have killed Kirstie Alley, it is deemed certain that the sight of Kirstie Alley is what caused her Cheers' precedent Shelley Long to keel over and hit her head on the bathroom sink, causing hemorrhaging in her brain. (Long was making a pitstop/bathroom break while on her way to her engagement as director of Pittsford Elementary's rendition of Wicked.)

A truly supernatural stench overtook the place...

Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith) was discovered in the bar's phone booth, hunched over a vodka-cranberry and a pornographic photo of Rod Stewart, which was, of course, covered in vomit. Rhea Perlman (Carla) was found dead somewhere in the pub, too, though no one can quite remember exactly where--possibly due to the conspicuous absense of vomit on or around her.

It's like the Civil War all over again...

Woody Harrelson and Kelsey Grammer, the only cast members not present during the time of the incident (Nicholas Colasanto, who played Coach Ernie Pantusso, had already died in 1985), are being detained by Rochester police for questioning. Grammer has gone on record, issuing the follow statement:
"The shenanigans that took place have been injected with so much hyperbole that it's become utter folderol. It would be scrofulous of me to make any suggestions of what happened that night, as my propinquity to the events was distant. I will chrysostomatically rationalize thoughts of the occurence to myself, but to offer other animadversion would be pure conjecture.
Grammer added, "Onomatopoeia!"

No decision has been made as to whether there will be a group funeral or not. In all likelihood though, it will be televised in some facet on some kind of network at some point in the semi-near future.

October 11, 2009

Entertainment in Heaven Really "Kicking It Up a Notch."

The 2009 season has been an eventful one. Dozens of new residents have been drafted--some completely out of left field--and the year isn't even over yet. So what can we expect in the final months of '09? "A lot more where that came from," according to the ruler of the heavens, The Almighty.

The guy upstairs has made no bones (or at least, very few bones) of the fact that the entertainment level had been stagnant up in the clouds for too long. It needed a strong celebrity injection and it needed it fast. The comedians' jokes were tired, the musicians' songs had been sung a billion times over, and the cast of "actors" couldn't perform to save their immortal souls. A change needed to happen, if for no other reason than to boost the morale of the rest of the eternally restless spirits. So tough decisions were made and the end result was a mind-blowing set of picks being sent heavenward.

This year's rookie squad reads like an MVP roster: Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcet, Issac Hayes, Les Paul, John Hughes, David Caradine, et cetera. According to consummate "boob tube" watcher, Pope John Paul II, it was "especially pleasing to see Dom DeLouise could finally join us. I loved him in that hidden camera program. He is just a hoot."

Saint Peter, the angel in charge of Primary Entertainment Programming (PEP), has expressed his satisfaction in the quality of recently-deceased by gushing that "it finally feels like a family up here." He added, "I've been working on signing Swayze since I saw his breath-taking performance in Ghost. We're big fans of his work." According to most in the clouds, Patrick Swayze was one of the last big pieces to a successful 2009 draft.

But while this year seems to be the year that Heaven reaped all the entertainment benefits, a change in the air could be noticed as early as January of 2008 when God made what has been referred to since as "the big call home." Actor Heath Ledger was brought on board just after completing his star-making turn as The Joker in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight. The drafting of Ledger was jaw-dropping to those upstairs who witnessed it first hand. Said one angel: "I haven't gotten chills like that since the first time I met Elvis at the annual Pearly Gates Meet n' Greet."

The big question remains: what other tricks does God have up his sleeve? Though no official answer has been given, a representative on His behalf told us that "He is very excited about the recent acquisition of Japanese rock musician Kiyoshiro Imawano. God has become tired of hearing Johnny Cash sing In My Life every five seconds and is excited for some new death up here."

All lips were sealed when the question arose of who was next in line. But we did overhear something about the cast of Cheers...

October 5, 2009

Dow Da Bah Bwamp.

In Rural Somewhere, a boy enters his room and closes the door. His age is irrelevant, as is the year of this story. For simplicity's sake, the boy is timeless and infinite. The time, however, is 1:22 AM. He plugs his PRS guitar into his pocket-sized amp with his left hand while his right hand searches his nightstand for a lime-green pick. The white noise escaping the petite tubes is amplified at 10.

Holding the pick between thumb and forefinger, he plays a riff. It is the only riff he has played in the last 4 years and it is the only riff he will play until he dies. It is 4 notes. "Dow da bah bwamp" is the sound as described by the boy's neighbors, who have heard the noise reverberate from the boy's bedroom in the basement for the last 1,460 days at 1:22 AM. They have never once complained. In fact, some set their alarms for 1:20 AM, opening their windows or stepping out to have a sit on their porch while the riff is played. It is, for lack of greater definition, a tradition. Every day, at 1:22 AM, he has played the riff at full volume. No one can say why, exactly. The boy has never spoken of his affinity for the riff. In fact, outside of his room, it seems the riff does not exist to him.

Passersby in automobiles have been known to pull off to the side of the road when they hear it.

Some say the riff is so monumentally original and pure that nothing like it has ever been plucked before. For those who have heard it--and the millions of future passersby who have yet to--the experience is life-altering. Letters neatly stacked beside the boy's amplifier tell him that his 4 notes are the closest they've come to looking God in the eyes. A hand-written letter from Oakdale, Michigan hastily lays claim that the author disowned all of their tangible possessions in a quest for the inner purity they experienced during the 14-second riff. In St. Joseph's church at Sunday mass the pastor proclaims to his flock that "dow da bah bwamp" (or the "lime-green riff") is possibly the sound a deaf man hears when he has reached enlightenment. After the service, an elder member of the congregation whispers to the priest that she "has heard the infinite reaches of space being defined in 4/4 time." Another, when eating breakfast with his family, will liken the sound to "riding a horse made of fire while wearing flame-retardant marshmallow knickers."

Because of its unique characteristics, detractors have taken to stamping their feet and shaking their fists in outrage that they did not play the sound first. They will then tell anyone within ear's reach to listen to Jimi Hendrix's Manic Depression in reverse, in slow-motion to hear where the lime-green riff really originated. No mind will be paid to such outrageous accusations.

The riff is almost a religion to the surrounding counties. Countless times they have requested to have the boy play the 4 notes at a birthday party or even a festival. But what the fanatics may never understand is that the boy will never play it unless he is in his room at 1:22 AM. It's the only place that it feels "right." So while the boy's phone beeps 33 messages by lunchtime most days, he will leave them unanswered and unheard, because he knows that all but one of them will be requests for him to play "dow da bah bwamp."

The boy ignores adulation-soaked stares in the hallways at school. He does not accept donations from neighboring residents for the culture he has brought to their community. When congress finally gets around to passing a bill mandating that all television sets and electronic devices issuing any type of noise be turned off within a 4-mile radius from 1:18 to 1:28 AM, the boy will not gloat. Nor will he pay attention to the politicians arguing from behind desks on CNN about how much of a tax break should be given to a family containing America's foremost "national treasure." (It will eventually be decided that the family pays no taxes and that the rest of the state will be taxed additionally to pay for a bigger amplifier for the boy, which he will not accept.)

The boy will sit by himself most of the time. He will only open his mouth to speak around his immediate family. He will choose a life of solidarity (but not the type of solidarity that comes from being a monk, in which he would show his solidarity with a bunch of other people). The boy will die alone at the age of 74.

But today, tomorrow, and for the days that follow, the boy goes to sleep every night knowing that there is such a thing as a perfect moment. And he will experience that moment every night, in his room, at 1:22 AM. Until the day he dies.

September 27, 2009

Rodney Dangerfield Visits a Coldstone Creamery.

Cake Batter,Coffee, Mint, Sweet Cream or Cheesecake? Toffee bits, Butterfinger pieces, white chocolate chips or Gummi Bears? Waffle bowl, sugar cone, shake or cupcakes? This is why on July 5th, 2003, Rodney Dangerfield spent six and a half hours choosing what kind of cold treat he would like to have.

“You got a lot of options here, ya know? I get more options here than I get respect, I tell ya,” Dangerfield informed the staff behind the counter, waiting to turn his request into a tasty concoction. “So many varieties to choose from nowadays. In my day you had two flavors: chocolate and vanilla. And the vanilla tasted like expired eggs and the chocolate was really just vanilla with a dye-job.”

For a generous part of those six and a half hours, Dangerfield mused on the difference between what ice cream was like “back then” and what it was like “nowadays.” In between tasting several dozen samples of the creamery's flavors, he also speculated on how each mixture might react once in his digestive system.

“I'm a fan of Kit Kat bars but Kit Kat bars ain't a fan of me. They hate my guts! Seriously, they can't stand my intestines, but I can't walk away from the stuff. I like it, I love it, I gotta have it!”

So as not to disrupt the customer flow, Dangerfield routinely allowed the patrons behind him in line to continue ahead of him as he mulled over the possibilities. This is the reason—perhaps the only reason—he was allowed to loiter inside the business for six and a half hours. Still, each person to frequent this particular Coldstone during Dangerfield's stay was provided insight into the many downfalls of the current American society, including (but not limited to) the introduction of the chocolate shell, the economy's mass aversion to sprinkles, and the overall lack of ice cream trucks.

“The ice cream truck gets no respect anymore. The driver, he gets even less respect! The kid gets a strawberry waffle cone that tastes like real strawberries and real waffles and he has a fit, I tell ya. The only reason so many kids chase after it anymore is to get a refund!”

Dangerfield also gave employees several suggestions for new flavors.

“You should get a flavor that tastes like Bananas Foster. I'd eat it twice a day, even though honey does bad things to me. Honey is what I call my wife. She hits me in my sleep and leaves me all sticky afterward. I'm a sado-masochist, ya know?”

He also explained his distaste for their more popular flavors.

“What if I want the first birthday cake mix? Why does everything nowadays need to be redone and remade? Wasn't it done and made the first time? Twice-baked potatoes, re-fried beans, double-fudge brownies, double-stuffed Oreos...”

Dangerfield continued a list of similarly-dissenting foods until well after 10 o'clock, when workers were attempting to close down the store. He left Coldstone Creamery that night with a bowl full of pecans covered in whipped topping, singing the lyrics to Erasure's “A Little Respect” all the way to Burger King. The rest of his night was spent debating the high school staff on exactly how a lobster sandwich didn't fit into the company's branding of having it “his way.”

September 20, 2009

John Mayer Gives Girlfriend Mix-tape of John Mayer Songs For Anniversary.

At a small, candlelit table inside Gino's Italian Cuisine, blues-guitarist/emotive crooner John Mayer sat across from his girlfriend of six months, Jeanine Beasley, clutching a small object wrapped in shiny blue paper and topped with a silver bow. Staring into his ladies' eyes, reflecting on the pitch-perfect days that led to this, their 6-month anniversary, Mayer presents the thin gift. Watching her hands gently pull the blue wrapping away, he beams. Her heart aflutter from the thoughtfulness of her companion, Jeanine begins to slide away the last bit of cover as she says, “John, you shouldn't have...done this.”

She sees her expression change from cheer to confusion in the reflection of John's gift: a clear jewel case containing a Memorex disc inscribed Songs From Me, By Me, 4 U.

While debating what he should give to his beloved at the half-year mark, Mayer says he “searched deep inside his heart” for the perfect token of his affection. The end result was a mix-tape featuring sixteen songs, all previously performed and recorded by Mayer himself.

“At first,” says Mayer, “I considered writing a batch of new songs dedicated, specifically, to Jeanine. Then I realized that those songs already existed. The songs on that blank CD are for her.” He added, “It just happens that another twelve million people know the lyrics to them.”

“It was cute in a way,” Mayer's now-ex-girlfriend recalls. Mayer opened the “album” with his biggest hit, Your Body Is a Wonderland. “What girl doesn't love that song? But by the time I got to track 4 it was apparent that every song was his and, to be honest, I just—I don't think he really thought it through very well.”

Sources close to the couple admit that after Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, Come Back to Bed and Back to You, the mix-tape seemed to dissolve into a list of Mayer's chart-topping hits and personal indulgences. Some even went so far as to call it a “last-minute slapdash.”

“I mean what's the hidden meaning in Love Song For No One?” a bitter Jeanine asked. The answer seems clear.

Mayer continued her sentiment, saying, “In retrospect, I'm Gonna Find Another You, was probably a poor choice of inclusion. Overall, though, the point of my gift was to show her all the different sides of me. It's like, yeah, I can be a sentimental dude and completely soak you with your own tears by singing Daughters. But right after that I'm going to finger-pick some little blues ditty that's going to make you think 'Wow, this dude's just a legitimate, technically-proficient blues musician.' Ya know? And I think that's the sign of a really great anniversary present.”

Jeanine considers it differently. “It's pretty obvious that he just wanted me to listen to a lot of his music. I think he was starting to get jealous of all the Jack Johnson records I owned.”

Two weeks following the couple's anniversary, the relationship suffered a broken string and subsequently lost its tuning. Jeanine decided that their harmonies no longer mixed or layered in a pleasing way. All vocals in the matter were severed, leaving only the final rasps of a disheartened Mayer to echo through the walls of Jeanine's inner sound stage.

Since then, Mayer's record company has started production on a greatest hits collection entitled “Songs From Me, By Me, 4 U.”

September 10, 2009

Dave Grohl Stole My Dollar.

On February 25th, 2008, my body glistening with the sweat of my hero, my poor brain swollen to incomprehensible dimensions, I walked out of a Foo Fighters concert aglow with the euphoria of live music. On February 26th, I filed a police report.

After the nearly three hour set, the plan was to sprint to my car–parked 5 blocks away–grab a framed photo of the band, and return to have it forever slicked with Sharpie ink. With Dave’s autograph. On my way out of the arena that plan was voided when I noticed the band already shuffling toward the tour buses. It would be impossible to make it from the car back to the bus before they became permanently inaccessible. Decision time just came knocking...and I wasn't about to answer the door in my skivvies.

I had only three things in my pocket: a cell phone, a dollar bill, and some Big League Chew. Since I could never in good conscience relinquish the Chew (which was grape), the obvious choice became the dollar bill. Shoving through the crowd, I waved the green wildly near Dave Grohl’s face, screaming for him to “sign it, sign it ” He appeared confused. “Put your name on it with that pen in your hand!” He looked at me, then at the dollar, and then at me again, finally taking the bill. I stared, horrified, as he walked onto his bus without saying another word...dollar in hand.

I was stunned. Here I was, a loyal fan who had waited everlong to meet my idol, forced to leave that meeting tragically dollar-less.

It’s at this point that I hear at least a dozen people ask how I could get so up in arms over something as silly as a dollar. Maybe it’s because I have morals. Okay? Don't misunderstand; I can appreciate the “edginess” of rock and roll as much as the guy behind me at the concert (who accounted for no less than 12 percent of the overall perspiration on my body) can, but a guy has to draw the line somewhere.

And quite frankly, big me to talk about this experience openly. I applaud myself for not falling prey to the mysticism of superstardom that allows regular people to be walked on by those with famous faces. And I will re-tell this story as many times as it needs to be heard before my message rings throughout the nation: famous people, stop stealing my money. I'm serious with this. It's disrespectful and I don't have to take it.

It saddens me that a successful, Grammy-winning singer/guitarist of one of the greatest rock bands in the history of singers and guitars would think it funny to thieve away MY dollar. It’s not funny. It’s heartbreaking. I’m not some incredibly stacked actor that throws his dollars around like quarters; I’m a poor college student who could’ve used that very dollar to buy a McDouble for sustenance, which is exactly what I would have done had I known where its final whereabouts would be.

It’s times like these that I worry about the future of the celebrity/fan relationship. I mean, all my life I’ve been raised to believe that if you respect people and follow the Ten Commandments, good things will surely happen. Well, guess what? The last time I checked, “thou shalt not steal” was still listed on the stone tablets. And from the moment I was without that dollar I found myself wishing I still had it. That’s coveting, Dave! So now you’ve turned me into a sinner. And for what? Is this retribution for that time I illegally downloaded a copy of Monkey Wrench instead of purchasing it off of iTunes? Because, if so, that only cost 99 cents. You still owe me a penny.

To date, the police have done nothing to help me regain my monetary property. One officer went so far out of his way as to openly mock me in a private rebuttal to my police report. In it, he claimed that my request for legal recourse was “a waste of time, energy and ink” and that I should spend more time trying to “locate” my “balls.” Though I have yet to formally reply to these statements, let me say here and now that this sounds like a classic case of the pot calling the disheartened victim of theft black.

Dave Grohl hasn't returned my calls, either.

I find it difficult to think that I’ll ever be able to move beyond the events of February 25th, 2008. The events that took place that night will never completely dissolve from memory. In the end, Dave got the best of me. I learned, much to my own displeasure, that the deepest blues aren’t black, but green. I also learned that you don’t always get what you want or what you expect. From this point on, I will never again ask for an autograph from a famous person, or anyone else for that matter. Especially Dave Grohl.

The only thing I’ll ever ask of you, Dave: you gotta promise to stop stealing my hard-earned cash.

August 30, 2009

One-Hit Wonders: The Beatles.

    The Beatles were an English “rock” group, part of a genre that faded into oblivion soon after the release of their chart-topping album, Meet the Beatles!*  The group consisted of four Liverpool-ians: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. In their first and only US radio single, I Want to Hold Your Hand, shaggy-haired singers Lennon and McCartney beg their audience to “let [them] be [their] man” and eventually “hold [their] hand.” As it turns out, this form of skin contact was to be short-lived.

    Two days after arriving in the United States, “Beatle-mania” reached its peak with the band’s performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This broadcast was viewed by nearly half of the American population. In the following weeks, American teenagers went into "Beatle-monium" with the majority of youth donning skinny black suits and perfectly-shaped bowl haircuts. But a mere two months later, with the release of aptly-named The Beatles’ Second Album, it seems the Brit band was placed on the back-burner of American culture. The album stirred up more "ap-Beatle-thy" than "Beatle-bedlam." Ed Sullivan refused to have the group on his show a second time for fear that his ratings would plummet along with the band’s record sales. "Beatle-mania" ended just as abruptly as it began.

    Still, what some may consider to be simply a mix of timing and sheer luck is actually a significant moment in the history of music. When the group dropped off the face of the Earth in 1964 they took with them the idea that sex appeal could sell records. Following the lackluster support of their second album, the youth audience seemed to have had enough of the "Beatle-bauchery." This particular sales tactic has yet to be used again in a mainstream sort of way by record companies, as evidenced by the strict dress codes still enforced on today’s rock acts. Their demise also helped bring the end of rhyming in popular music.

So where are they now?
  • Paul McCartney began a solo project in the 70's called Soar, which primarily revamped classic gospel songs. Soar permanently disbanded in 1981, leaving Paul to his secret passion for penning romance novels. 
  • George Harrison is VP of marketing for an off-brand soda company. According to a recent “flashback” article with Eternity Magazine, he hopes to one day “step out of [company President Peter] Lennox’s shadow” and start his own business.
  • On December 8th, 1980, at the age of 40, Ringo Starr was shot and killed outside of the hotel he was staying at. Starr was accidentally caught in the crossfire of a gang-related riot.
  • Most notably, John Lennon has since gone on to pursue a career as a talk show host. His show, Early Chats with Jonathan Lennon, features some of today’s most prominent musical acts including hard-edged Swing favorites Bleak Notes and Rock-Bop darlings With Your Permission. However, when referencing his previous work with The Beatles to his guests, he is generally met with groans of indifference from both the guests and the audience.

(*Exclamation theirs.)