December 16, 2010

Ozzy Osbourne Yells Something From the Bathroom.

Hey! Mmzzz it, fuckin, no p-p-p-p rrgghh aaay!

Th-th-thez no dmmm, I mean I kahnt eyyven woy, for fuck...I n-need ssssum fucking sssstuff man! Jesus.

Et's like dunn jus leyve the fucking r-r-rollll uff! Fuck.

Wutamisuppozzadowitnodam...fucking t-tee pee, man!

Wwwerztheffff, aahm teychin a shit and thez no tee pee! Jesus.


November 26, 2010

Steve Urkel: A Retrospective.

It should have been a true “revenge of the nerds” success story. Instead, it played out like a slippery slope oiled with comedic atrophy and worn-out catchphrases, causing a major viewer revolt. Couch potatoes turned into snobby French Fries, demanding something better. (And probably saltier.) The potatoes had spoken: Steven Quincy Urkel was out.
TGIF: Thank God It’s the goddamn Finale!
On July 17th, 1998, after ten years as America’s go-to nerd-in-suspenders, Urkel was launched into space for the series finale (…logically), and after a testy few TV minutes, he returns to the Winslow home, safe and sound. Sadly, he never returned into the homes of America.

Steve Urkel remains one of the most infamously annoying people to occupy the airwaves, sporting suspenders made of woman-repellant and the voice of kitten rape. He was a blundering genius and serial stalker who incessantly asked people that he’d just pissed off if he did indeed just piss them off. (The answer is always yes. Forever, yes Steve, you did do that.) And for nine seasons, America tolerated him. Hell, some even accepted the 100 pounds of squinting sexual repression with open arms.

And some wore blackface to...ya tribute. pop culture-obsessed vagina.

Strangely though, for all of the 90s nerd archetypes that found their bespectacled selves on sitcoms, Steve Urkel is the only one who thrived as a suave, pants-dropping playboy when not in the immediate presence of his costars. When the Winslows were away, Urkel would play. He’d play hard.

Let’s face it; Screech outside of Bayside High is probably the exact same guy as Screech inside Bayside High, just with a lot more baby lotion and hand-to-dong contact.

But Urkel?

At some point between oiling his six-pack and disrobing the ladies at the bar using only lyrics from a Boys 2 Men ballad, Urkel crossed the threshold into nerd-dom, inflicting ulcers on the world from 6 to 7 pm on Friday nights. He transitioned from shades to geek goggles, cranked the pitch up on his vocal chords, and presumably gave himself a very large, very permanent butt probe. (How the hell else did he walk like that all the goddamn time, people?)

And, to some extent, he made it work. For one hour every week, Steve Urkel was routinely welcomed into millions of homes—even with the very real possibility he’d break all of our expensive glassware.

That fucking table's going to snap any second. Just you wait...

To look at Steve Urkel’s track record in the post-Family Matters world is to look deep into the soul of a classically poor decision. It’s the moral of why a handsome man should never, circumstances be damned, hike his white jeans up to his shit-eating grin and talk like the puree option on a blender. During Family Matters' fragile final years, Steve Urkel was a lost dog, sniffing out anything vaguely familiar to take a crap on. Bewildered audiences found themselves staring at a nerdy apparition, the Ghost of Sitcoms Past. Urkel was on Full House. Urkel was on Step by Step. Urkel was on Meego (which was about a 9000-year-old alien...or something).

The fall of Urkle-Mania is not surprising. In fact, when looking back on those nine years, one begins to wonder how he lasted so long without being shot by his neighbor, who carried a gun as part of his job and had the temperament of a colicky baby.

Still, the fact that the handsome Steve Urkel never got the chance to unleash himself on the world the way his ball-squeezed, dork montage of a counterpart did is just wrong. The Steve Urkel whose gaze could unhook bras. The Steve Urkel who was sponsored by Plan B contraception. The Steve Urkel who…kind of looked a lot like that guy Stefan Urquelle, now that I think about it…

Like seeing Clark Kent without his glasses...and a dashing goatee.

The fact that he never got proper face time with America is an outright tragedy. An irresistibly hunky tragedy.

November 22, 2010

Jean-Claude Van Damme: The Quest to Dress Like a Male Prostitute not such a Hard Target for a Timecop. Could Have a Double Impact? Bloodsport!!!

Punch. Kick. Double punch. Jump, spin, kick. Splits. Pose.

Such is the life of "the Muscles From Brussels." This tedium is surpassed only by the constant flex of his biceps and straight-to-DVD work ethic. Jean-Claude Van Damme is a man of pattern: A + B + C = Damme. And for nearly 20 years, it worked like a charm.

Type "van damme flex" into Google. Then watch your computer explode.
In the 80s and early 90s, Jean-Claude Van Damme was to action movies what cranberries are to Thanksgiving: colorful, easy to digest, and on your plate every single year, regardless of if you wanted him there. But he was harmless and handsome, so it could easily be brushed aside.

You were never going to leave a Van Damme movie saying, "boy, I did not see that twist ending coming," or "I need to re-evaluate my outlook on life." What you more than likely said is something like "Jesus, did that guy dress himself out of Elton John's 'DONATE TO GOODWILL' pile?"

Liberace would have told him to tone it down.
Pick any one of Van Damme's movie titles from a hat. In that movie you will be guaranteed to see Van Damme do two things: wear a fluorescent tank top and split-punch a bad guy in the dick. There is no movie featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme where this does not happen! In some rare cases, they may even happen at the same time.

I understand that this era was a confusing time for male fashion, but frequent viewings of Death Warrant, Kickboxer, and Double Impact have made me think Van Damme was actively vying for the title of Fruitiest Wardrobe in a Movie About Avenging Someone's Untimely Death.

Like you wouldn't vote for him...
The only real question is why? Why wear the rejected items from a Kylie Minogue video when you're about to throat-kick someone?

Hold up. I was told this was an audition for that Right Said Fred video...
Budgetary restraints? Did you lose a bet to Dolph Lundgren? What, man???

In the end, you could dismiss it by saying that in the beginning, the rookie actor wasn't enough of a big shot to make decisions about his wardrobe. Surely the director/producer/assistant to craft services told him to shut his mouth and put the leg warmers on. But then, how do you explain this?...

Hold up. I was told this was the Miami Vice reunion...
Jean-Claude Van Damme: action star, ball-puncher, flagrant misuser of pastel colors.

**Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, Martial News,,, Picsicio, Punch Drunk Critics, and Muscle Weights for the photos.

November 11, 2010

An Open Letter to Troy Duffy, Director of Boondock Saints 2.

Look. Before I start, we get it. You like to see gunfire in slow-motion. And you love bloody squibs popping from the chests of your racially insensitive bad buys. And you obviously have a fixation with making people say and do manly things in very manly ways using a lot of expletives to prove how large their dicks are. Got it, thanks.

But the thing is: you already did that. Remember, it was called The Boondock Saints, and it was pretty terrific. Did you really need to go and make a second one?

I’ll answer that for you.


No, you definitely did not. Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day acts as nothing more than a shout-out to the fact that you made a movie that some people liked ten years ago. You took the original, shoved in some more over exaggerated action sequences, turned the main characters into Irish versions of Inspector Gadget (minus the cool technology), brought back the supporting cast to read the same lines they read before, and replaced all of the dead cast with new dead weight.

There were no characters in your movie. There were only glimpses of people who would die, kill, or eventually call someone else a queer.

In Sunshine Cleaning, Clifton Collins Jr. played his character Winston, a handicapped sterile products salesman, with great subtlety and charm. I’m curious then, when Collins showed up on set for All Saints Day, did you make him re-watch that performance all day in a tiny room with the volume cranked up and the Spanish subtitles on? And then make him sit through twelve hours of Speedy Gonzalez cartoons?

And holy H.E. Double Hockeysticks, you replace Willem Dafoe’s Agent Smecker with that ridiculous collection of tit-wearing Southern witticisms? (Also, she was the worst part of the show Dexter. It’s like her job in show business is to take potentially wonderful things and ooze a deadly case of the terribles all over them.)

After watching two once-commendable actors play grab-ass and masturbate each other (mentally) on camera for two hours, I can see why Dafoe would want as little to do with this as possible. And yet, you somehow got him to show up for two minutes at the very end—for the purpose of…fuck, I dunno, something about faking his death in order to facilitate another horrible sequel? It’s at this point I’m forced at ask: do you have nude photos of Willem Dafoe banging an orangutan while force-feeding meth to a child laborer? I honestly don’t know how else he agreed to show up on set.

He can't even look you in the eyes...

I know, maybe he was so engulfed by the script that he was desperate to be included in the plot in any way possible? I mean, what’s not to love about this plot?

These things are not to love about the plot:
1)     The son of the mob boss who was killed by the boys in the last film is Judd Nelson...? (I’m not asking if that’s really Judd Nelson, I’m asking if it really had to be Judd Nelson?) He suddenly gets the urge to go after his father's killers. After 8 years. It took him 8 years to figure out he didn’t like that two dudes killed his dad? That’s just a poor family bond.
2)     Meanwhile, the boys have spent the last 8 years growing beards and playing hide the pickle with each other—though the last part is purely (accurate) speculation—in Ireland until they get news that someone killed a priest they used to know...or something. Annnnnd cue romantic comedy montage of trying on fancy dresses in a mirror while Hall & Oates plays in the background. Or something equally unnecessary and stupid.
3)     And that final conversation between Henry Fonda and Billy Connolly? You must have shot so many loads over that scene that both actors are now pregnant with scripts for Boondock Saints sequels. I’m sure you were aiming for an Oscar here but you got a fucking Elmo, guys. Sorry.

I’ve heard you say that you wanted to do another Boondocks movie “for the fans.” You wanted to “repay the fans putting clothes on [your] back for the last ten years.” But couldn’t it be that you wanted to do a sequel because you haven’t had a gig in ten years and need more clothes on your back? Well, hopefully the box office from this pays for some new threads from Farm & Fleet.

This wasn’t for the fans, Troy. This was two hours of homage to the first movie. A re-cut, regurgitated mess full of annoying new characters and bad accents.

Hopefully it’ll be longer than 10 years until you ruin your franchise even more.

Essentially Condensed Reviews: Nirvana - Nevermind

Today I'm reviewing Nirvana's seminal grunge album, Nevermind, which spawned mega-hits "Come As You Are" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

It's pretty good. You should go download it or something.

Next week I'll review Michael Jackson's Thriller.

October 18, 2010

Shaky Jake: Facebook Status Editor

No, no, no. You're still not getting it. The whole idea of a Facebook status update is to grab all your friends' attention and let them know, without a doubt, that you're not f'ing around here!

Let's go over it again. When Jenny reads that you "wish some people would just get over themselves," she's not going to know you're talking about her. Because you're not being specific enough! When she told you how excited she was about those new bedazzled headphones for her iPod, she probably didn't even catch your inconspicuous eye roll--mostly because that's what the word "inconspicuous" means. So do you really think your passive aggressive update is going to catch her attention? If anything, I suspect Jenny's going to "like" that update.

Go for the jugular! Try something like, "I wish some people wouldn't bedazzle every goddamn thing they own and stop cheating on RICKY WITMER with that douche from her Intro to State Gov class!" And to make sure it doesn't go unnoticed in the news feed, comment on your own update an hour later with the douche-in-question's address and phone number if you have the information handy. Now you're being specific and helpful!

And what about this update from Friday? You're "gearing up" for the weekend?
Mm. Mm hmm.
Well...who isn't? Not that I'm sure everyone won't be super impressed by your willingness to drink on a Friday--clearly you're a party animal--but this might be an undersell. Instead, let everyone know of your dedication and, again, be specific. Maybe something along the lines of "ready for tonight, I think: flares, wire cutters, shot of adrenaline, and a change of pants. Let's go bar-hopping!" Extra points if you post it on a Tuesday.

Hey! Are you even paying attention? Look, I'm trying to help--did you just post another status? What's it say?

Uggh. Inspirational song lyrics? ...Really? Okay, I understand that Josh Groban really "speaks to you" but nobody should have to wade through twenty lines of sappy, faux-motivational lyrics. No matter how badly you need to express your wish to "stand on mountains" and "walk on stormy seas." If you're going to go the lyric route--or post movie quotes--make it more than sappy and/or inspirational. Make it informative! Get everything out in the open using Tiny Tim's "She Left Me With the Herpes." Or make it instructional! Let Poison express exactly how you want that special someone to talk dirty to you. (Even though they still haven't confirmed your request to be in a relationship.)

Whatever you do, be specific, be confident, and most importantly, don't post an update every hour. Or I'll come back for another lesson. And I'll bring some rope, a ball gag, several swords, and a video camera. And my status will read: "Shaky Jake is gearing up for the weekend!"

September 30, 2010

Let's Hear It For the Boys...Hearing It For the Girls

In an age when music is more abundant--and thus, more divisive--than ever, a person can listen to truly anything that fits their personalities. The choices are endless. And yet, if you are the proud owner of a vagina, you may still feel underrepresented in the music world. Especially if you're not all that fond of current pop music. (Which you are, so stop lying on all of those surveys.)

There's not that many french-tipped fingernails holding the microphone nowadays. Who can you count on to tell the world how you feel? Not everyone can read your diary! And Taylor Swift is only allowed to sing about one topic for the remainder of the century. (Love, and how it's good and/or bad.) You're just not being heard out there!

But ladies, stop bedazzling the ass of your jeans for a second and think of how rough it must be for those on the other side of the gender tracks. You're not being heard because a huge part of the population can't hear you. No, I'm not talking about deaf-mutes. Or those who lost their ears in tragic goggle-related accidents. I'm talking about men.

Tell me this: when is it acceptable for a straight, heterosexual, masculine, non-cross-dressing, penis-having, labia-less man to listen to a female-fronted rock band? Or any variety of ovary-bearing musician? If you answered anything other than "very rarely," you're very wrong.

We with the extra appendage, the hanging sack full of guilt and social anxiety, the heavy burden of manliness, we are judged for enjoying things considered too feminine. And what could be more feminine than a female singing songs about feelings?

Meanwhile, you with the innie in your skinny, a closed door to your closed minds (and equally closed legs), you are the ones judging.

Men: why must we cross our fingers when we put our iPods on shuffle, praying the next song to come on isn't "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (even though we're totally ready to deal with anything the world throws at us)? Why shouldn't we just hear what we want to hear, gender issues aside?

I've picked my brain (and my dong-waving iTunes catalog) to come up with the following list of acceptable chick music. I'm calling it...

It's now officially cool to listen to the sounds of estrogen when...

#1. When she's manlier than you.  
Joan Jett. She's the bad ass rocker chick that Juliette Lewis wants to you to think she is. Her raspy, "just smoked a pack of Marlboro Reds before chugging whiskey-coated rocks voice" would be enough to justify having her on your iPod, but she's also a leather-clad hottie.

GET YOUR MAN ON to Cherry Bomb.
Sisters In Arms: Pat Benatar, Patti Smith.

#2. When she's got (legitimate) attitude. 
Gwen Steffani with No Doubt. There hasn't been a boobed-punker with this much attitude since Patti Smith. Even the lighter songs ("Don't Speak," "Simple Kind of Life,") will make you remember you have a heart buried somewhere around your weiner. Society still won't condone you singing karaoke to "Just a Girl" though, regardless of how much you've been practicing your high-kicks.

GET YOUR MAN ON to Spiderwebs.
Sisters In Arms: P!nk, The Donnas.

#3. When she's a bit odd. 
Regina Spektor. She caters to all the hipster boners out there. For some reason, guys are allowed to dig the quirky music of weird girls with no excuses necessary. I'm not complaining, of course. I'd love it if Regina's mouth was open 24/7.
...singing...singing music...not...
 ...She's a very capable musician. Is what I'm saying.

GET YOUR MAN ON to Folding Chair.
Sisters In Arms: Lily Allen, Kate-Miller-Heidke, Kristeen Young.

#4. When she clearly runs the show.  
Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Girls who truly LEAD bands are just plain fucking cool. And Karen O definitely knows how to take control.
...with her music. When know...when...singing...
...I'm starting to feel like this article isn't furthering the cause much. It might be doing the exact opposite by this point. Oh man.

GET YOUR MAN ON to Dull Life.
Sisters In Arms: Bat For Lashes, Fly Leaf.

September 16, 2010

Mel Gibson Hates You, Expects You to Deal With It.

Mel Gibson kindly invites you to fuck off. And if you could also stick those kitchen tongs over there up your own ass, he'd really appreciate it. Seriously. Just go to hell already. Don't cry to him about how far he's fallen and ask "what happened to the guy who played Riggs?" If Mad Max wanted to hear about your feelings, he'd read the screenplay he just wrote about your life in which he changed your name and occupation to avoid any legal issues.

Also: punch yourself in the dick. You deserve it for eyeballing him like that.

If you don't do it, he will. And he wants those things tenderized.

To be clear, Mel Gibson doesn't want to kill you. He just wants to severely hurt you. In the worst way possible. Broken bones, deep bruises, an eventual skin graft...these things will all be in your future if Mel Gibson has anything to say about it.

And ladies, for the love of Christ, please stop asking him why he's not more like the guy from What Women Want. You and he both know the only response to that will be a titty grab and a purse snatching. His life is not a romantic comedy, it's a snuff film. He doesn't buy flowers, he doesn't make speeches, and he doesn't run through the airport to stop you from flying to Paris. (Unless it's to give you an impromptu brain transplant...with a baseball bat.)

He knows you don't like him, but guess what? He hates your guts, too! He doesn't even know you and he doesn't like you. Deal with it!

Oh, and if Mel had his way with the Ransom script, the kid would have died at the end. Not the character, the actual 9-year-old actor who played his son would have been drowned, off-screen, once the credits started rolling.

You don't even want to know what his intentions for Braveheart were...

*Image courtesy

August 25, 2010

Name That Porn.

Hey party people, Justin here. For those who don't know me, I'll explain a bit about myself. I have a two-bedroom loft in West Hollywood, filled with plush lounge chairs, trays of fresh fruit, and copious amounts of items to snort and sniff. And it's all paid for by the two days a week I work at home. I'm the creative director in charge of titular copy-writing for an adult entertainment provider. Basically, I make up the names for your favorite porn movies.

Six Inches of Kevin's Bacon. That was me. Once Upon a Time In Karen. That was mine too. Debbie Does Dallas was some other guy, but the sequel two decades later, Debbie Does Your Taxes (While You Bang Her) was the one that put me at the top of the porno naming game.

You think you like your job? Why, 'cause you teach underprivileged kids how to read? BFD, pal. You drive a company Corvette with a license plate that says "DCK MAN" on it? Yeah, me neither. My Vette's license plate says "UR DONG" because "DCK MAN" was already taken. I bet you think it's rewarding to see the look on some half-retarded 10-year-old's face when he learns how to spell the word "moron." Well buddy, you can't imagine the pride I feel knowing that on Halloween night, a man is going to pick up the new Lexxxus Leggs film because the name Ghosts and Gobblin' caught his eye. It makes me feel warm all over.

The thing people don't understand about my job is that it's equal parts science and art. You look at the genre of the movie first--is it a parody of an existing movie, a big-budget plot pounding, or a simple "guy does girl in back of van" kind of thing?--and then you let your creative juices just drip all over the page. It's exhausting.

Right now I'm working on a three-movie series with an ex-reality star. I'm tentatively calling it Hogan Knows Bestiality. It's a little more low-brow than the type of thing I usually attach my name to, but a guy's gotta eat, ya know what I mean?

I love this job. I'll do it until the day I die or until it's no longer spiritually satisfying for me. When I jot down something like Escape From Ass-catraz and don't feel anything tingle inside me, then I'll know it's time to pack up my dirty word thesaurus and get out. Until then, I hope you'll think of me, Justin Syde-Yu, when you browse your local adult video store and take home The Whole Nine Yards (of Dick).

July 6, 2010

Dale Hazel Lives His Favorite Lyrics.

Dale Hazel is a music lover. He loves how songs tell important stories in a few melodic minutes. Dale believes that every song is a chapter in someone's life story. Dale wants every song to be a part of his life story. That's why every day, Dale attempts to live out one of his favorite songs, for better or for worse...

Dale's feet are tired and layered with blisters. His muscle mass is all but deteriorated, with the exception of his newly-toned calves. It could be from all the time he spent on his feet over the last few weeks. More specifically, it might be the collateral damage of walking 500 miles from Rockford, Illinois to Lincoln, Nebraska, and then another 500 miles to Oklahoma City. This was all in an effort to be the man who walked a thousand miles to fall down at Marcy Hoover's door.

One late night, Dale came across Marcy's online dating profile and was instantly entranced by her gentle features and winning smile. After briefly perusing her personal interests, Dale discovered that he and Marcy shared a passion for mango-flavored drinks and 90's pop music.

Following his heart in a blind race towards true love, Dale put on a pair of tennis shoes and MapQuested the walking directions to Marcy's home in Oklahoma City. Showing up uninvited and unknown into Marcy's life was a risk, but Dale felt that their matching astrological signs--along with their shared fondness for Tom Hanks movies--had joined their souls in a cosmic, and irreversible, way.

The trek to reach Marcy lasted nearly three weeks, during which Dale fought off wild animals, slept in abandoned buildings, and broke two of his toes. He also dropped 34 pounds and became dangerously dehydrated, as he took no provisions and had to subsist off scraps of food people threw out of their car windows. But upon waking from his heat-induced mini-coma in a bed at Saint Anthony's Hospital, Dale expressed his joy and sense of accomplishment at seeing Marcy's fantastic smile in person.

Staring into Marcy's eyes, he said, "When I woke up, well I knew I was gonna be, I was gonna be the man who woke up next to you."

In actuality, the look on Marcy's face would later be self-described as that of "pure confusion and a little bit of terror." Marcy had taken Dale's "romantic" gesture as a creepy and reckless act of self-endangerment. Had Dale spent more than a few seconds glancing at her dating profile, he would have seen her personality type listed as "cautious and definitely not impulsive."

Although she took Dale to the hospital and stayed with him until doctors confirmed his stable health, Marcy has since issued a restraining order against him; coincidentally, Dale is no longer allowed within a thousand miles of Marcy.

"It's dangerous to encourage that type of behavior," said Marcy. "I think I'll be deleting The Proclaimers from my iPod."

June 8, 2010

Permanently Down the Rabbit Hole.

Hello boys. Girls. For my next presentation I present a gift to you all. A present, you might say. For those us of with the presence of mind and the gift of pleasant understanding, the next part of this immediate life will be quite a treat. Our lives will be wonderful for ages and ages and years. We will all be happy here--you, me, Alice, The Jabberwock, The Cheshire Cat, we will be safe and presentable here in Wonderland. Forever and ever. Call me mad, if you must, so long as you never call me late!

You know that I know that you pay, with dignity, many dirty green fibers to see me appear larger than I am in reality. I am louder, I am more looming, and I could very well crush all of you in your seats if I was gifted with another dimension--though I wouldn't! And when you look at my huge face it is never the same as it has been before, though you could call it similar. Very similar, indeed. So much so that you think you've seen it somewhere before--which you have because it's always my face, you see.


Did you know...? I used to have scissors for digits! Yes, yes, and drank myself drunk on rum on a boat on a film stage! Not so long ago, I sang and murdered and barbered and...where was I?

My face!


As you see, 'tis tasked with looking wonderful for all time. And in time my wonderfuls, you'll get to see this same face of mine looking like the same face of mine for all time. It's because I'm staying right where I am. Down here. Down the rabbit hole. With Alice, with Tweedledee, Dum, Dormouse, if you'll remain delighted enough to stay.

Of course, there can't be a sequence without a consequence (though I've yet to see a prosequence for proper balance) and this sequence causes a doozy. The downside of staying down here is that I'll never again be a pirate. My ahoys will be reserved for rather unusual maties in all three of Underland's dimensions. And for you, of course, if you'll stay enlightened enough to remain here.

Think of the possibilities! The tea! My scods, think of the tea! An unending buffet of Earl's Grey and Pearl's Green. We wouldn't need anything else. We would have Tweedledum, Dee, Cheshire, the White Queen and...well, you'll stay, too, won't you? We could all have each other. We could all have each other. We couldn't all hate each other...

Just drink three potions and we'll stay delightfully heavy here in Underland. The first potion makes you small; so small that you could fit inside, say, a hat. Not my hat, necessarily, but just any old hat, really. The second potion turn you the hue of all the brightest colors. The third potion will keep my face on the reflection of your eyes forever and ever. And when you sleep, I'll sleep inside of your eyelids. And when you wake, I'll look back at you in the mirror. And when you look away, you'll be looking my a-way.

And we'll never, ever not not hate each other. You'll stay. I'll stay. We'll live in wonder and you'll never have to wonder about pirates ships, or demon haircuts, or chocolate factories, or headless horse riders. You'll just see me, Hatter.

And you won't be sorry.

June 3, 2010

What's In a Band Name?

Somewhere among the bongos and steel guitars and Van Halen posters and Iggy Pop records, perhaps beneath the abandoned love letters to Whitney Houston or behind the KISS lunchbox collection, or even in between the Stoli vodka bottle and the empty 12-pack of PBR, sits an identity crisis. It's collecting dust, much like the second Proclaimers cassette mix on the floor.

Four different walks of life with four favorite bands, four favorite lead singers, and three favorite guitar solos (coincidentally, two share common ground in appreciation for Hendrix's underrated shredding on "Stone Free") have formed a group of their own. They've recorded two songs, mused up enough lyrics to fill a barn with 12-point Times New Roman font, and are nearing their first gig. But when they are called up to the stage to open for the Foreigner cover band--Feels Like the First Time Again--how will they be announced to the crowd? As an overly complex, pretentious clan of Thom Yorke devotees? Or maybe they'll come off as simpletons; hillbillies flailing their fingers in hopes to make something resembling music? Or worse yet, with complete silence--only a finger point and "here are...some musicians!"

They are, as America would say, a horse with no name.

The most optimistic voice in the group is also the most talkative, which makes sense. He is the lead vocalist, after all. When Allan (who will soon add a third 'L' to his name for extra sex appeal) is alone for too long, his throat starts vibrating the theme songs to his favorite 80s sitcoms out of habit--though he can rarely make it all the way through Growing Pains without tearing up.

"We're in your face! Ya know? Like, we're right there and we're not leaving, is the thing! We don't take "no" for an answer because we didn't ask you a fucking question! We just tell you what we're going to do and then do it!"

It's a rallying cry that has landed on deaf ears. Hours into the naming debate, defeat burrowed itself into three pairs of eyes. But not Alllan's.

"So we should tell people that with our name!"

Alllan's iPod is a melodic rainbow. Green Day, Blue Oyster Cult, Pink Floyd, The Black Crowes, Silverchair, Deep Purple, Sister Hazel, The White Stripes...

And while he loves their music, he's never felt a connection to their names. Unimaginative and vague. There's too much wiggle room in a name like that. The best band names will stand out for their uniqueness and the punch behind them. What's unique about red? Not a goddamn thing.

"But we're deep, too, is the other thing. We're a bunch of guys who like to break strings and push shit over, but when it gets down to the core of us as a band, we've got sentimental souls, right? So let's tell 'em right up front that we're some emotional dudes."

As much as Alllan dislikes bands named for colors, he hates ones named for numbers even more. Blink-182? What the hell does that even mean? The B-52s have an outstanding body of work but should have spent a little less time dedicating songs to crustaceans and a little more time working out that name. Numbers got a big resurgence with that whole pop-punk trend from the nineties: Sum 41, 311, Eve 6, SR-71, 3rd Eye Blind. He really needs to start listening to that last Eve 6 record a lot more though, because it was surprisingly terrific.

Maroon 5 fucked themselves from the start, joining the worst of evils into one name. Never had a chance. And that's not going to happen for...for...well, for whatever these guys end up calling themselves.

"We're kind of a yin and yang balance, when you think about it. Like, we're hard as bullets but we're soft as crushed velvet..."


Wayne is an idiot. That's why he's a drummer.

"Velvet Bullets is too close to Velvet Revolver, which was already too close to Guns N Roses."

Points for trying, though. It's about time someone else got in on the action. Too bad that someone has to be Wayne, though. Give him a pair of sticks and the guy's a genius. Give him a thought and he's a fucking moron.

Great band names are special and you know it right when you hear them. The best ones roll off the tongue and stick to your brain. Two words? Three at most, probably. The Beatles. Metallica. Journey. On the other hand, a lot of them tend to sound kind of silly the first few times you hear them. The DJ says, "here's the new rocker, Bullet With Butterfly Wings from the Smashing Pumpkins!" And you think, what did he say? Isn't it July? Halloween is months away, guy.

"It's got to be a declaration! Something that tells our fans that--"

"Fan. Mitch Whitford. He's the only one registered on our PureVolume profile."

"Fine. We need something that tells Mitch Whitford that we've got creative juices dripping down our legs and the name is just the start. Because I've got news, guys: no one's coming to a show to see Blank Gray Straw."

Blank Gray Straw presents their breakthrough album "Dull Farm." It just peaked at #798 album on the Billboard Hot 1,000.

Alllan knows that the name isn't really their biggest problem. The real issue here is that there's no sense of direction within the band. There's just too much going on to have any cohesion. What are they about? What do they sound like? To describe the band's sound in one word would be a nearly impossible task. "The Ballad of the Toad in My Basement" is clearly goth pop/folk rock. But "Steel Pants Dance" could get lumped in with 70s punk blues metal. And what's "Johnny Grossman and the Lumberjack's Extra Molar?" Alternative hillbilly funk, maybe?

"We're not getting anywhere just sitting here. Let's start throwing stuff against the wall and see what sticks! All right? Now, whatever our name is, it should provoke action!"

"Developing Face Cancer."

"It needs to be more optimistic than that."

"Racing With the Wind?"

"Manlier! It's got to have some balls, guys!"

"Fucker Heart!"

"Maybe a little less vulgar..."

"Earth Hammers!"

"Well, that's...that's not actually that bad. Ooh..."

"Raising the Living! Practical Drunks! Smite With Breakfast!"

"Holy God, when did you get good at this game? Let's keep the magic rolling..."

"Muffin Box Frenzy!"

"Oh, okay. You're done."

Alllan and Boris, the bassist, have always been just a page apart musically. Aside from their aforementioned appreciation of Hendrix's style of guitar solos, they can never quite agree on what is best, but they're never too far apart. For instance, Boris thinks Def Leppard's Pyromania was the greatest record to come out of the hair metal era, while Alllan thinks its Leppard's Hysteria. Same ground, different type of dirt. So if Wayne has CCR's Greatest Hits on loop for too long or if Tommy (the lead guitarist) starts lecturing about the purity of the Styx discography, Alllan and Boris give each other knowing glances and wander off to share headphones full of The Fratellis.

Names now fly around the room at a mile a minute, which prompts Tommy to suggest Mile a Minute as a possible band name. It's thrown out in jest, really--he's secluded himself from the discussion by making animal shapes out of his shoe laces, so the suggestion is covered in sarcasm (and the smell of sweaty tennis shoes). But it lingers in the air long enough for it to sink into everyone's subconsciousness. And silently, each person--even Tommy--allows themselves to fantasize about the moniker; the first album cover, the cheering crowd demanding an encore, their faces on the cover of Rolling Stone.

And it's not perfect, but it's them. What is perfect anyways? Perfect is boring, especially perfect music. No, Mile a Minute is something better than perfect--it's sudden and constant. It reflects their souls. It celebrates their aggression, surely, as well as the way their thoughts and emotions run. For them, it's balance.

Most importantly, though, it's something they can all agree on. A phrase to unite four separate beings.

And a fucking killer logo to put on t-shirts.