Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2008 We Hardly Knew Ye



I'm on Twitter now. Maybe you care. Quite possibly you don't. If you're of the creepy stalker persuasion, you can follow my ass via the following info:

RolandStLaurent

A few things before the year ends.

I got to experience the economic shit storm first hand by having my hours cut in half at work. While this gives me more time to work on my classes and dick around, I do miss having the extra money to save up. Usually when I'd hear about disasters in the news I was little affected by them, but this time it wasn't the case. I also bought $3,000+ worth of stock this year, since I finally felt confident enough to invest. Then I got to see my money disappear. I know that I'll get it back eventually, but it's still pretty fucking funny. I don't know if our new Jesus-In-Chief Barack Obama can save us all, but if by the end of his term I have more money and can see a doctor, then MAYBE I'll break with my principles and vote for a Democrat.

Speaking of politics, this election season was by far the most interesting one I've ever seen, aside from 2000 Green Party run. Since politics is just "show business for ugly people" (I think Paul Begala said that), they all put on a hell of a show this year, and I commend them for it. Too bad the debates were dull as fuck.

I graduated this year, and I thank my fantastic girlfriend Nelissa for supporting me through it all. Actually, I'm glad she put up with a lot of my shit this year. One year and she hasn't dumped my ass yet. Must be doing SOMETHING right.

My friend Sofia wanted me to include the following: Sofia's on meds and seems to be coming to. We've also known each other for ten years now and have managed not to kill each other. Amazing.

Also, I'd like to give thanks to Scott Douglas, blogger extraordinaire and my supervisor at work. Not only am I now immortalized by being included in his book "Quiet Please," but he also let me guest blog at his own site and has in general encouraged me to write. Sure, I've let this blog fall to the side recently, but I'm still glad for the support, even though he called me fat at work the other week. He also asked me to be in his wedding, though fortunately not as the bride. Congrats to both him and his wife, and I hope they start having kids soon.

Um, I also don't have Jury Duty, so that's a plus.

As for trips, Phoenix Arizona was fucking boring. The only good thing was the Mystery Castle, which everyone should see. Also, Nelissa and I got to experience the amazing Salton Sea when we visited Salvation Mountain (you must see it, even if you're a non-believer). As soon as we left the Salton Sea I spent an ass-load of time reading up on it, and watched the documentary Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea, which is damn funny and worth a view. Hearst Castle was dull, and Solvang had some good goddamn pastries.

The Bush years will officially end next month. I think I speak for most people when I say that we learned a lot about what a president can get away with in the midst of a pretend war. I can't wait for thirty years to pass, so we can fully appreciate the consequences of what happened.

Will next year be as exciting as this one? Who knows. I should be leaving for Denver next week, and I still have no idea where I'll be ringing in the new year. Y'all take care.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Interesting Things I've Stumbled Upon

I have recently become interested in cult books and plan on writing about them in the future. In the meantime, here's a link to a review of Kahlil Gibran’s Collected Works by Alan Jacobs, probably one of the funniest reviews I've ever read. Yeah, it starts getting tired around the middle and loses steam, but I laughed out loud at the opening:

"Expansive and yet vacuous is the prose of Kahlil Gibran,
And weary grows the mind doomed to read it.
The hours of my penance lengthen,
The penance established for me by the editor of this magazine,
And those hours may be numbered as the sands of the desert.
And for each of them Kahlil Gibran has prepared
Another ornamental phrase,
Another faux-Biblical cadence,
Another affirmation proverbial in its intent
But alas! lacking the moral substance,
The peasant shrewdness, of the true proverb."

The rest can be found here:

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6068


Also, I have an somewhat disgusting fascination with Ayn Rand. Not that I believe her "philosophy," but because I am intrigued by the idea of a cult made up of allegedly superior intellects. If you're interested in dating one of these superior creatures, here's an article I found through The Daily Dish about a dating site for Ayn Rand fans. A warning to the ladies: If you've actually read an Ayn Rand book and know how the sex scenes work, then you know that setting up a date with one of these charmers will undoubtedly end in rape. If he likes you enough, that is.

Here's one stud that's sure to moisten your drawers:

"thustotyrants, Selden, New York
[I am] short, stark, and mansome.

You should contact me if you are a skinny woman. If your words are a meaningful progression of concepts rather than a series of vocalizations induced by your spinal cord for the purpose of complementing my tone of voice. If you’ve seen the meatbot, the walking automaton, the pod-people, the dense, glazy-eyed substrate through which living organisms such as myself must escape to reach air and sunlight. If you’ve realized that if speech is to be regarded as a cognitive function, technically they aren’t speaking, and you don’t have to listen."

http://nymag.com/news/features/artifact/51814/

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thank You, Real Time

With the election a couple of weeks away, and with absolutely nothing insightful to say on my part, I've decided to offer you a picture of our next president in an awkward situation. I stole it from Bill Maher's show "Real Time," so a tip of my hat to the good folks there.



Scott asked me "what happened to your blog?" So, in answer to the three people who are wondering the same thing: Linguistics happened.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Why I Am No Longer "With It"

About a year ago, I came to the shocking conclusion that I was no longer "hip" or "with it." The following videos are songs that have made me hate the music industry and perhaps even more so, the fans. I can now finally say that I am out of it, and slowly moving my way into the land of old men.







Sunday, September 7, 2008

Roland's Weekend Movie

Here's one of the greatest B-movies of all time: The Brain That Wouldn't Die. This film has absolutely everything you could want in a film: a talking head, a mutant who rips someone's arm off, and a fantastic soundtrack. I plan on writing the novelization to this film at some point.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Roland's Weekend Movie

Yet another French favorite...this one is 1902's A Trip To the Moon, inspired by my recent excitement over the work of H.G. Wells.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why You Shouldn't Read My Blog


First of all, there are thousands upon thousands of other blogs out there. I'm just some random guy with dubious credentials. My only claim to "fame" is that I happened to be in a book by someone I work with. There's no skill in that.

I don't update this blog very often, and when I do it's usually wordy blather on unimportant topics that few, if any, readers actually care about. Also, in a lame attempt to increase the number of posts, I sometimes post things that I didn't even write: witness the poems I've posted and the lame "Weekend Movie" concept: a direct rip-off of Scott Douglas' "Weekend Funnies" feature.

My attempts at humor are pedestrian, frequently focusing on the prurient, and usually fall flat. There is nary a chuckle, guffaw, or smirk to be found on this site.

This blog has no personality. Usually there's a theme to blogs, but mine comes off as the journal of some angry guy who works in a library. There isn't any motif that runs through the blog. It's all over the place, which shows a shocking lack of professionalism, not to mention the glaring grammatical and spelling errors.

Unless you know me personally, you have no reason to read this blog, and even then, why would you bother? This is yet another vanity blog, as if the world needed another one.

There are plenty of other, more interesting, PROFESSIONAL humor sites that you can visit. Your time is better spent going there than here. I personally recommend Cracked, Jim Goad‘s site, Christian Humorist, and The Best Page in the Universe.

This site may very well go the way of my last two sites, Love, God, Sex, and Burgers and The Self-Help Review! Both were rarely updated and eventually abandoned. I have since recycled some of the material on those sites for other posts, which further shows my lack of interest in your entertainment.

There is nothing original on this blog. Even this post, which is specifically telling you to leave the site because of its boring content, has probably already been done by someone else, and better.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Librarians Should Never Become Poets

Theophile Marzials wrote what is considered to be the worst poem ever written in the English language: "A Tragedy." He also happened to be a librarian, and according to the book Very Bad Poetry, he "once interrupted a hushed library room by loudly declaiming: 'Am I not the darling of the British Museum Reading Room?'" Anyhow, as a service to anyone who works at a library, here's the poem. Go forth and write, for the bottom has already been reached, and there's nowhere to go but up.

A Tragedy

Death!
Plop.
The barges down in the river flop.
Flop, plop.
Above, beneath.
From the slimy branches the grey drips drop,
As they scraggle black on the thin grey sky,
Where the black cloud rack-hackles drizzle and fly
To the oozy waters, that lounge and flop
On the black scrag piles, where the loose cords plop,
As the raw wind whines in the thin tree-top.
Plop, plop.
And scudding by
The boatmen call out hoy! and hey!
All is running water and sky,
And my head shrieks – "Stop,"
And my heart shrieks – "Die."
My thought is running out of my head;
My love is running out of my heart,
My soul runs after, and leaves me as dead,
For my life runs after to catch them -- and fled
They all are every one! – and I stand, and start,
At the water that oozes up, plop and plop,
On the barges that flop
And dizzy me dead.I might reel and drop.
Plop.
Dead.
And the shrill wind whines in the thin tree-top
Flop, plop.
A curse on him.
Ugh! yet I knew – I knew --
If a woman is false can a friend be true?
It was only a lie from beginning to end --
My Devil – My "Friend"
I had trusted the whole of my living to!
Ugh; and I knew!
Ugh!
So what do I care,
And my head is empty as air --
I can do,
I can dare,
(Plop, plop
The barges flop
Drip drop.)
I can dare! I can dare!
And let myself all run away with my head
And stop.
Drop.
Dead.
Plop, flop.

Plop.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Roland's Weekend Movie

I thought it would be a "neat" idea to occasionally post a full-length film here, like I did last week with that 8 minute epic Batman film. So, here's 1928's "The Passion Of Joan Of Arc." There's no soundtrack, since apparently the original film did not have one. It's famous for Falconetti's performance as Joan, which is pretty goddamn powerful. It's a much better "passion" film that Mel Gibson's S & M Jesus flick that came out years ago.

Incidentally, I saw "The Passion Of the Christ" as a date film. The date went very well, even if the courtship didn't.

Here's the film. Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cheesy poetry

There's a book out called "Very Bad Poetry." I used to write some bad poetry, and I have a sick fascination with seeing what kind of shit other people put out. Here's a great one about cheese. Enjoy!


Ode on the Mammoth Cheese

We have seen the Queen of cheese,
Laying quietly at your ease,
Gently fanned by evening breeze --
Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

All gaily dressed soon you'll go
To the great Provincial Show,
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto.

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees --
Or as the leaves upon the trees --
It did require to make thee please,
And stand unrivalled Queen of Cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to send you off as far as
The great World's show at Paris.

Of the youth -- beware of these --
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek; then songs or glees
We could not sing o' Queen of Cheese.

We'rt thou suspended from baloon,
You'd cast a shade, even at noon;
Folks would think it was the moon
About to fall and crush them soon.

James McIntyre

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ah, those wacky Dems.


I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but I have a special hatred set aside for the Dems since, allegedly, they "own" my vote. See, I was one of the people who voted for Nader in 2000, and who get blamed for handing the election over to Bush. First of all, I truly did not give a shit whether or not Bush or Gore won. They were both douchebags, and I didn't want to waste my vote on them. I had the silly notion that, you know, my vote MATTERED. Everyone who sits around bitching about how we lost a potentially great president is forgetting how lame a candidate Al Gore was...so lame that he lost his home state to Bush, and that he picked as a running mate the loathsome Joe Lieberman. Anyhow, the next election rolled around, I followed the primaries, and I said to myself, "If John Kerry gets the nomination, I will not vote for this party." Well, we all know how that turned out, and I voted for Nader once again.

So here we are, with the Bush administration coming to an end. I will vote for neither Obama or McCain, even though I think both of them are fine people and would do a decent job in office. My issue is that I will never, for as long as I live, vote for either of these parties. Everyone can say that third parties are a waste of a vote, but the people who say this obviously hate America and especially hate Democracy. The funniest shit I've seen on the Democratic side, though, is that people are STILL saying that Nader might cost them the election. Excuse me, if anyone's gonna ruin their shit, it's The Notorious B.I.T.C.H. Hillary Clinton. Her supporters are the retards who plan on giving McCain the White House and loudly proclaim how much they hate Obama and that Hillary should have won. The Democrats are an embarrassment. And they deserve my vote? Shiiiiit.


Apparently Joseph Lieberman is going to speak at the GOP convention. This is interesting since this was the man who was running with Jesus Christ, excuse me, Al Gore in 2000. Hmmm...and this was the ticket that deserved my vote, huh?

Democrats? Republicans? FUCK 'EM. Once again, I'm voting for the Arab.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Batman & Boner



For those of you who just can't get enough Batman, here's a delightful fan-made Batman film. It's called Batman: Dead End, and it came out in 2003.

This is a surprisingly well-made short, and is definately a cut above your typical fanboy douchery. Best of all, it has two Z-Grade stars in it: one is fitness numbnuts Clark Bartram, author of "You Too Can Be a Fitness Model." If you watch Penn & Teller's Bullshit!, you'll recognize him from the episode on bodybuilding. The other is Andrew Koenig, best known to people who grew up in the 80s as "Boner" from TV's Growing Pains.



This short is only around 8 minutes long, and somehow crams Batman, the Joker, the Alien from the "Alien" franchise, and Predator all together. For comic book dorks, this is nirvana, and I highly recommend watching it. Bartram does a pretty good Batman, which isn't hard considering all you need to do when playing Batman is be buff and talk in a low, growly way. Boner's Joker was also pretty good, and now the debate begins: Who was the better Joker, Heath or Boner? You decide!

Let's Hear It For Bombast!

Here are a couple of the greatest songs ever written...if you're into this sort of thing. Enjoy!



Friday, August 15, 2008

Women Who Don't Want Lloyd Dobler

Hoodrats

Middle Eastern Women

Hillbilly women

Older women

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We Are Not Your Babysitters


Attention parents: We at the library love your children, and we want them to come as often as possible. We offer storytime programs, activities, computer games, special craft days, and some branches even have toys available for kids to play with. We think that the younger your kids are when they start reading, the smarter they'll be when they grow up and enter the workforce, and we fully encourage their active participation in every kid-oriented program we have to offer. The more often you bring your kids, the better it is for all involved.

We are not, however, your babysitters, and you really do need to take care of your children. As safe as we would like the library to be, the simple fact of the matter is that undesirables do come into the library on a regular basis, and the way some of you neglect your children makes it easy pickings for any deranged pervert who decides to try their hand at child abduction. In fact, in the years I have worked at the library, I have seen the following:

A man who would expose himself to young girls in the juvenile section. He was a regular, and by every indication he seemed like a normal, fairly attractive man. None of us would have guessed how disgusting this man would be, and on that fateful day when he was caught exposing himself, he left the library handcuffed with his member hanging out.

A trashy person who used the camera on his laptop to film little kids while he sat at a short distance away, seeming to mind his own business.

Mentally challenged men following little girls around and striking up conversations with them, making inappropriate motions and touching them. The sad fact is that the caregivers for these people are usually no better than the parents of some of these neglected children, and when the two meet dangerous things might happen. We have had more than a few issues with the mentally challenged harassing and/or grabbing patrons.

Middle aged men insisting on using children’s or teen computers, and creating problems when asked to move to adult areas. If they aren’t with their own child, why else would they insist on using a computer while being surrounded by them?

The worst of the bunch was a man who would come into the library with a briefcase filled with coloring books. He would collect pictures of kids and keep them in his wallet, and was able to keep up a charade of being a "family friend" by somehow obtaining photos of young girls and showing them to the staff to prove that he knew the kids. The girls were usually scared and would go along with it, until finally the cops came and arrested this scumbag.

I bring all this up not to scare you away from the library, but as a warning. If you're a good parent, it might be hard to believe this, but a shocking number of parents will leave their children completely unattended in the kid's room and go off to use the internet elsewhere. Under these circumstances, it is very easy for some creep to just come up and kidnap a child without the parent even knowing about it until their computer session finally ends. There are at least two children that I see frequently, around four years old, who are regularly left completely alone while their parent is on the computer in a room that is as far from their child as the kitchen in a restaurant is to the bathroom. They aren’t even left with an older sibling who is watching after them. The parent just assumes that, since the librarian is nearby, nothing will happen to their child. This is idiotic, and not good parenting. I'm sick of seeing these neglected kids, and I wish that someone at some point in these people‘s lives would have sat them down and taught them the basics of parenting.

An old boss of mine referred to the library as "pedophile paradise," and they weren't far from the truth. People just leave their kids in the library and assume that, among our other duties, library workers will look after their children and make sure that nothing happens to them. We are not paid to be babysitters, and we don't just sit at a desk all day with nothing else to do but watch someone's child. This is a dangerous way to think, and parents need to be a little less neglectful of their children in the library.

So please, if you bring your kids to the library, make sure they're with you at all times. Don't just keep it on good faith that they'll stay put and not walk away with a stranger. The library is a safe place, but there are creeps everywhere, and you're not helping matters by basically giving one of these scumbags a golden opportunity to walk off with your child.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Scale Of Stupidity


The word "stupid" gets thrown around easily, but "stupid" is a bit broad, and throughout the ages there have been some choice words to peg degrees of stupidity. The best words come from the field of science concerning severe mental retardation and even group think. Yes, I know that everyone already knows the following words, but they were, at one point, scientific, and my goal is to bring those meanings back.

Idiot

IQ: 0-25

A GREAT word which has lost practically all of its punch due to over-use. This scientific word was used to refer to someone with the mental age of two years or less, and who needed pretty much round-the-clock care. The replacement word is "profound mental retardation," which admittedly has an impressive ring to it.

Best if saved for: People who do things that are so incredibly stupid that no person over two would do them, such as sticking paper clips in electrical sockets or eating at Carl's Jr.

Imbecile

IQ: 26-50

Less stupid than an idiot, but not quite as bright as a moron, an imbecile is the more mediocre breed of dumb-ass. Yes, an imbecile is still quite stupid, but there is some sign of potential that may make life more bearable for those who take care of him. Some have achieved a degree of success, and famous examples include Paris Hilton, David Arquette, and Jim Breuer.

Best if saved for: Drunks, mid-drifts, mooks, and those who philosophize about smoking pot.

Moron

IQ: 51-70

The smartest dumb people you can meet. The word comes from the Greek "moros," or "dull." The mental age for these loveable chaps is between 8 and 12, and they are much easier to deal with than those less fortunate. In the UK they were legally known as "feeble-minded," an expression which still has some bite if you choose to use it. These people are now considered mildly retarded, and spotting them is a bit trickier than you'd expect. The revelation usually occurs after a couple minutes of conversation, and getting away from these folks may be a wee bit more difficult than expected.

Best if saved for: Political friends.

Cretin

The oldest term for a person with "developmental disabilities" is cretin. The best part about this word? It comes from an old French word meaning "Christian." According to Wikipedia, "The implication was that people with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities were 'still human' (or 'still Christian') and deserved to be treated with basic human dignity." The word was later expanded into "Cretinism," which was the term used for congenital hypothyroidism. I would post an image so you'd get an idea of what I'm talking about, but that's pretty fucked up, even for me.

Best if saved for: Lumpy people with open mouths and lost expressions.

Mongoloid

A deliciously racist expression, this one came from John Langdon Down's classic book Observations on the Ethnic Classification of Idiots (1866). We know now that idiots come in all colors, but back in the day Down suspected that those who had a certain form of retardation looked suspiciously like our friends to the east. Those who had what became known as Down syndrome sometimes had epicanthic (Asian) eye folds, which led Down to the conclusion that these poor folks were an evolutionary degeneration from the Caucasoid ideal. In retaliation for this screamingly offensive theory, the Asian community responded by banning Down from Benihana and P.F. Chang's.

Best if saved for: Any friend with an unusually large Sanrio collection or, if you're a real prick, someone with Down syndrome.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Your Lyrics Are Dumb Like The Linoleum Floor!


When people listen to songs, the last thing they pay attention to is what's being said. A song can be complete goddamn gibberish, and no one will care as long as it's catchy and has a good beat. In fact, one of the catchiest songs I've ever heard is "Informer" by Snow, a song that no one fucking understands, aside from the "licky boom boom now" part. I know that pop music is supposed to have insipid lyrics and that's just the nature of the beast, but it is nice when there's something of note being said, especially by "important" musicians. So, here's a short series of lyrics which, for some reason or another, really bug the living shit out of me. I'll be making my typical asshole comments for each.

"Get nasty, get naughty and if you want to crack a forty
But don't drink it if you're drivin', word 'em up y'all, I ain't jivin'"
2 In A Room, "Wiggle It"

"Wiggle It" was one of those dance songs from the early 90s which sound very, very gay to modern ears, much like anything else that might find it's way onto a "Jock Jams" album. I have no problem with most of the lyrical content of this song, since it belongs to the good old days of "ain't nuthin' but a party, y'all!" rap songs. Why I question this particular lyric is because it is so fucking out of place. I mean, there was no need for a public service announcement in the middle of a party song. Besides, if people are out there wiggling it and dancing their asses off, the last thing they need is some prick telling them not to drink and drive, thus ruining the party.

"Suck, baby suck
To a CD of Chuck, Berry Chuck....woo hoo!"
Serge Gainsbourg, "Suck Baby Suck"

I'm going to state right here that Serge Gainsbourg is one of my favorite musicians, and that the vast majority of his lyrics are fantastic. This little song comes from his last album, and lacks any form of subtlety whatsoever. Most of his songs have clever wordplay, and things, even in English, mean something other than what it appears to be on the surface. Not so with this song. This song is about getting a blow job, and suggestions on what to listen to or watch while getting it. It's probably the most lyrically empty song in his entire catalog, next to his reggae song with nothing but fart sounds as the "lyrics." That said, this is also one of my favorite songs of his, because the joke has still never gotten old, and I always laugh when I hear his heavy French accent slurring out "suck babyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, suck."


"Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word 'NOW'
And you say, 'For what reason?'
And he says, 'How?'
And you say, 'What does this mean?'
And he screams back, 'You're a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home'"
Bob Dylan, "Ballad Of A Thin Man"

Ugh.
I love Bob Dylan, I really do. And I wish this came from one of his later shitty albums. But no, this is from a classic Dylan song on my favorite album of his, "Highway 61 Revisited." Dylan fans are probably the most obnoxious, arrogant assholes out there, and I still don't know who's worse...them or Beatles fans. So, if you're a Dylan fan and you see this, PLEASE don't waste my time by trying to explain how this lyric is "brilliant," or how I'm not "getting it." It's a stupid fucking lyric, and it's pretty damn clear that Dylan was running out of shit to say in this song and was basically just trying to come up with words that ended in an "ow" sound.

"There you go
Wielding a bicycle chain
Oh, why won't you change ?
Change and be nicer ?"
Morrissey, "Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference"

There are many, MANY songs by Morrissey or The Smiths that I could have put here. This one has a special spot in my heart because of the strong reaction I had when I first heard it. No matter how good his other lyrics are, they are matched by a seemingly endless abyss of whining bullshit. This is probably the first time a song lyric ever made me stop what I was doing and loudly exclaim, "you gotta be fucking kidding me." My last comment on Morrissey and The Smiths is the following: I find it highly disturbing for anyone older than 21 to just start listening to this music and be touched by it. This stuff only works for teens or very immature adults. Someone who got into Morrissey as a teen has every right to still buy his albums at 40, but someone who's 40 and all of a sudden becomes a huge fan should really seek some help.

"Blame it on Ice Cube; because he said it gets
funky when you got a subject and a predicate"
N.W.A., "Express Yourself"

And here comes the rap. This one's actually pretty clever, but I have to bring it up just because how fucking lame it is to bust out grammar vocabulary in a gangsta rap song.

"If it aint another ho that I gots ta fuck with
Gap teeth in ya mouth so my dicks gots to fit
With my nuts on ya tonsils"
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, "Fuck With Dre Day"

OK, so how big does someone's cock have to be to fit in-between the gap in someone's teeth? Bonus points for the surreal "nuts on ya tonsils" line.

"Around the drive in
If you say you watch the movie you're a couple o' liars
And 'Remember only you can prevent forest fires'"
The Beach Boys, "Drive-In"

Why???? And yes folks, Mike Love, the asshole member of The Beach Boys, actually sued to get his name included as a lyric writer for songs such as this one. I hope you're proud of your opus there, Mike. Since taken out of context this doesn't make sense, let me explain how it's sung. When the "forest fires" line rolls along, the singer drops into a retarded Smokey The Bear voice, mimicking a public service announcement which is presumably playing while the teens are fucking at the Drive-In. The problem is, even when you hear the song, THIS DOESN'T MAKE ANY DAMN SENSE. It's just randomly thrown out there. I know, I know, it was a throwaway filler track. But still, it's notable because someone sued for the writing credit on this song.

"Oh yeah, I'll tell you something
I think you'll understand
When I'll say that something
I wanna hold your hand"
The Beatles, "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

I had to take a shot at The Beatles, simply because of the god-like status of these limey twats. Even when they got "serious," their lyrics were still just OK. It was a tough choice between this one and "Love Me Do," but this one wins out just because I've heard this one played at clubs more.

"Your lyrics are dumb like the linoleum floor"
Le Tigre, "Deceptacon"

I could have posted the entire song here. The song is insidiously catchy, but when you listen to the words, you become instantly embarrassed and stop dancing. This is the ultimate shitty song lyric, since it's criticizing someone else's shitty song lyrics. I like this band and used to dance to their songs a lot, but fuck is this horrible. My girlfriend respects bands that write their own songs, but maybe some of them really need to give that job to someone outside the band and concentrate on the ass-shaking music instead.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Return of the Pee-Pee Boy


The night started out just like any other.

I had just finished working at the adult information desk for an hour and moved over to the much louder children's section, and was talking to my supervisor. While discussing an allegedly fun-filled work extravaganza that I was supposed to be attending in a few weeks these two little brats hauled-ass through the library. This is nothing new, as there are always kids running back and forth, almost bumping into people and annoying anyone who doesn't own them. "WALK!" my supervisor shouted. They of course ignored her.

I was talking to my supervisor again. Out of the corner of my eye I see the two little kids running across the opposite end of the children's section, and into the bathroom. Now, nobody at any age EVER runs that fast and that loudly to the bathroom, laughing and shouting, and if they do they're put in a "special" home. I stood up and stormed over to the restroom, ready to lay down the law. I yanked the door open and saw one kid facing me and his friend facing the wall. "He peeing on the wall!" the kid said, and the kid facing the wall turned towards me with his shirt scrunched up oddly above his pants, and a big wet blotch where the shirt would hang over the front. I looked at the wall, and sure enough there was a puddle of piss where his feet were, and a splatter on the wall. I asked Pee-Pee Boy, "Where are your parents?" "I didn't pee!!!" he said in that desperate kid-whine. "Where are your parents?" I repeated. "It was him, not me!" he said while pointing to his friend who ratted him out. After a surprisingly short time of getting him to stop shifting the blame, he finally took me to him mom, and I told her what happened. Her face switched into that expression which only a mother can give to her child, an expression which I'm glad I'll never see again. Looking at her face, you just knew the kid was going to get it, and bad. I took her to the restroom and showed her the puddle of piss. She assured me that she was going to discipline him. As I walked away I could have sworn I heard her say "get down there." My heart dropped. As absolutely bratty as these kids were, I remembered when I was younger and tried to flush a dodge ball down a toilet and flooded the bathroom. I wasn't actually trying to flush it down, I was just having fun being bad and showing off to my friends. You don't give a shit about libraries or anything else when you're a child, you just make noise and do stupid things and don't truly know the concept of regret. I looked at the Pee-Pee Boy, and I saw myself. Maybe one day he'll grow up to be a linguist or a DJ. Now, though, he's gonna get his ass whipped.

I told my coworkers about Pee-Pee Boy, and the general consensus was that his pissing on the wall was disgusting. As I walked to the back I saw that Pee-Pee Boy and his mom were leaving. She turned to me and asked if I were sure that it was him. I described exactly what I saw when I opened the door. She looked at him and asked him, "did you pee on the wall?" He looked down and shook his head "yes." I turned around and felt very relieved that I didn't accidentally get the wrong kid in trouble. But then again, he DID have that piss stain on his shirt. They left, and I went to the bathroom, pissing into the toilet the way you're supposed to in a civilized society. One day, though, there might not be any more toilets, and we'll all be Pee-Pee Boys. Today is not that day.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Lowest Form of Humor


I once worked with a tiny girl who was a ray of sunshine and one of the sweetest people I ever dealt with. We were both pages at my old library, and we both hated having to shelve books in the foreign section. Our library served a large Chinese population, and the only books we had for them were all gathered in a small aisle, which was larger than the new books section but not by much. Because the aisle was so small, it got disgustingly crowded and stuffy. The only thing I can compare it to is riding a bus in India. It was a nightmare trying to shelve books there, because not only would you have to squeeze your way through and try to reach your arm around people just to shelve a book, but anytime you left a cart near the aisle there'd be five hands digging through it, destroying whatever order you had the books in. My coworker hated working in this section, but she had a strategy for clearing it out to get her work done. It wasn't a complicated trick, but damn was it effective. Basically, when she pushed her book cart to the foreign section, she would make her way inside and pass some rancid, stinking gas. Fortunately I was never there to see it happen, but apparently it did the trick, and the aisle cleared out considerably, save a couple stragglers with a strong love of books and an even stronger stomach.

I once knew someone who'd always been "gas shy," but did use their anal vapor as a weapon one time. He was shelving books in the regular fiction area, which is next to the foreign aisle (I would like to make something perfectly clear right now: I have NOTHING against patrons who read books in other languages. I'm a linguistics major, for Christ's sake.), when he heard a noisy, bratty little kid running around and yelling in Spanish. He walked over and "shushed" him, but the mother did nothing to shut the kid up, and he continued to scream. Luckily, this page had a couple Spanish magazines with him, so he walked over to the foreign section again. He bent over to shelve these on the lower racks, and with his ass pointed in the kids direction, let out something that just felt like it was going to stink. It was silent and warm; the worst ones always are. This person later told me that they heard the kid yell stuff in Spanish as the page walked away, two of the words being "fuchi" and "aqui." He thinks that the boy was blaming his sister, who he was pestering the entire time before the gas attack.

I would like to conclude by saying that this is the lowest form of humor, and I think that these actions were wrong. I merely pass them on as examples of what NOT to do when dealing with the public.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Roland's Abridgment of Plato's "Apology."

Introduction

In the world of Philosophy, few figures are more prominent than Plato. His body of work, the most important of which is obviously "The Republic of Plato," has set the course of philosophical thinking from the moment they were committed to paper. It has been said, in fact, that all philosophical thinking since has been merely answering Plato, either in the affirmative or negative. "Apology" is one of his shorter works, and is easily accessible to those who wish to begin studying the thoughts of this incredible thinker. However, in this time of intellectual poverty, even the shortest of the classics demand abridgment for American audiences. I am nothing more than a student, merely twenty-eight years in age, and it takes a great deal of arrogance on my part to suggest that I can condense the mastery of Plato's words into something that can be digested by modern audiences. However, it needs to be done, and no one else is doing it. Therefore, it is with excitement that I present to you, the modern reader, my abridgment of Plato's "Apology."

A Note on the Translation

I have spent countless hours pouring over this work in the original, and trying to transfer the basic components into our language. The point of any translation is to transmit, with as little deviation as possible, the author's intent. Certain sacrifices must be made in an abridgment, however, and with a heavy heart there are beautiful ideas such as I have rarely, if ever, seen in modern works, that had to be left out of this edition. They are there, available for those who wish to pursue the work further, as I would like any readers of this text to do, in any decent library and bookstore. What I have done is attempt to use the simplest language possible to convey the meaning of this text, so that any poetry that I have been tempted to include has been taken out. The language, clear, precise, without adornments, is the ultimate endpoint of art, and I do believe that this translation and abridgment would find favor with the poet William Carlos Williams, who's work is equal to this abridgment, if not, as I sincerely believe, even surpassed by it. I hope that the clarity of the language used leaves no misinterpretation possible, and that, upon further readings, the brilliance of this work will pierce into your hearts, as a heavy deluge of small droplets of water will pierce even the toughest edifices.



Roland's Abridgment of Plato's "Apology."
Copyright 2008.



Apology






I'm sorry.






Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Hacienda/La Puente Unified School District for their fantastic job in educating me, making sure that I had all the leisure in the world to pursue my intellectual endeavors, never once stifling my thirst for knowledge by handing out needless assignments, or homework that was too difficult, or required any length of time to complete. Also, I would like to thank the culture in which I was raised, which constantly questions any kind of intellectual thinking, making it necessary to defend yourself and explain why you bother to read books written by dead white males or anyone else for that matter. I do not think it is for any other reason than that the average person is testing intellectual vigor, and that the majority of my fellow Americans are brilliant beyond words, and that this is a continuous test of durability. In my heart of hearts, I believe that all Americans, from the states lining the oceans to the dry dusty spaces in-between, have snugly next to their Bibles editions of Shakespeare and the works of Plato, much like they did in revolutionary times. We are a culture of secret readers and hidden intellectual ability, and that rugged individualism is what makes this country great. Also, I have mentioned him earlier, but I would like to thank William Carlos Williams, who proves that poetry doesn't need fancy language, a good sense of rhythm, any kind of reference, or any kind of meaning, to be good. His work stands, much like the playful colorings of a toddler, the hypnotic mosaic of bird-droppings underneath lampposts, or the simple scrawls of graffiti which beautifully adorn stop signs and private property, as a testament that art does not have to mean anything at all for people to enjoy it. I applaud his works, and may his message of simplicity echo forever in our art!

About the Author

Roland lives in Hickory Heights, California. He has previously been published in The Ocelot (the school newspaper for Orange Grove Jr. High) and Dork Magazine, received an AA Degree from Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, and a BA in Linguistics at California State University, Fullerton. He is currently famous for appearing in Scott Douglas' best-selling library memoir "Quiet Please" (De Capo Press). His work has been praised by his Creative Writing professors and by his peers, which include musician Chonk, master of collage Sofia Zonk, and the historian Nelissa Fitzgerald. He works as a Library Technician, and is currently working on a modernization of "The Canterbury Tales." Roland's translation and abridgment of Plato's "Apology" is the beginning of a project to bring the Classics of literature to modern readers. His next project in this vein is to translate James Joyce's novel "Finnegans Wake" into English.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Library Nemesis



Superman has Lex Luthor. Spider-Man has Doc Ock. The X-Men have Magneto. Batman has the Joker. And I had Dick O'Shea.

Well, Dick O'Shea isn't his real name, but I'm not dumb enough to give the man publicity here. The point is, everyone who works at a library has, at some point, a certain patron or staff member who's only raison d'être is to cause them misery and blacken the remainder of their day. It can be anyone, ranging from a bitter patron with a permanent chip on their shoulder, an angry elderly person expressing the same exact complaints to you every time you see them, or a bratty child who no one seems to know how to take care of. You try to sit there and rationalize things. You try to take on their point of view. No matter what techniques you apply to make the situation less irksome, it never works. They still have the social effect of someone pissing in your Cheerios.

When I first encountered Dick O'Shea, I was struck by his angry, scowling face. You knew immediately that no matter how well you helped this person, they would still leave the library with that same expression, and would not even grant you the customary "thank you" for your services. He never checked out anything from our library's collection: it was all Inter-Library loans, which are books that are special ordered from other libraries not in the same system. He would spend half an hour at the information desk, talking to whichever poor soul was working the desk and no doubt making their job a living hell. Afterward he would walk up to the circulation desk and proceed to talk down to the circ staff, which is where I come in.

This idiot had the annoying habit of bringing in his own little sheets of paper and having whoever was on desk sign it when he returned his book, as a kind of guarantee that his books got returned. He would not infrequently grab a staff member's ID badge and pull it toward him, so he got a good look at their name. I'm sure people told him to not do this, but I seriously doubt that it mattered. When he would return a book, he would walk up to the desk, and throw it at us, without saying a word. When asked "are you returning this or do you want to check it out?" his snotty response would be "what do you think?" I think it's pretty damn interesting that one obnoxious prick could intimidate practically the entire staff of the library. My response to this jerk off was scowling and not infrequently walking as soon as he came to stand in line.

My own form of petty revenge has to do with his book. This man's around 70, and he self-published a book, and bullied his way into having it included in the library's collection. It has an Amazon sales rank of nothing. My own form of revenge is finding every website that lists this book and writing the most intensely negative reviews I can think of about it. Since I never got the chance to punch this son-of-a-bitch in the face, I'll do the next best thing by taking a shit on his life's work. God I hate this man.

Everyone else has their own enemy that they deal with far too often than they'd like. My coworker Scott (who's lovely book "The Library Tree" is available as a free download) has some Asian man who stares him down each time he comes in. Another coworker has a fat, hairy man who keeps hitting on her, sweat beading up on that thicket sticking out of his tank top. My best friend had this fat tub of shit with a coco puff on her cheek who got her fired. My other closest friend has a girl who gossips among the other staff members and who's face looks like shredded wheat. We all have someone who makes the job that much more annoying, that much more grating on us. Even after leaving my old branch and never having to see Dick O'Shea again, I now have to deal with an equally rude man with an obvious toupee. No matter what library I work at, there will always be someone there, waiting around the corner, with a frowny face to ruin my day.

But seeing the smile on those kid's faces when they get their Pooh Bear books makes it all worth it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ain't Nothin' Tender About It



I went to San Francisco this weekend, and besides how pretty a lot of it seemed, I was shocked when I ended up driving through a couple of the ghetto areas. My girlfriend and I got lost trying to find a club on Fell Street, and we wound up in a scummy area, driving through what looked like dirty alleys. A man who looked to be borderline homeless was moving a nasty, stained-covered couch as our car came up. He stopped and gave me a look like he was going to run to the car and smash his fist through the window. Instead he angrily moved the couch back over so that we could pass. The following day we walked and drove through the Tenderloin, and I was so unnerved that I damn near shit in my pants. I have not seen such a high concentration of drugged-up and poverty stricken people in years. At least, not since driving through skid row in Los Angeles, and even there the people seemed more miserable than murderous.

This got me thinking about cities in general, and how all of them have ghettos. I know that it isn't just the cities that have ghettos, but I wanted to concentrate on them because they have all the glamour and are the most expensive places to live in. If you want a place in LA, it's going to cost you. New York and San Francisco will set you back even further. These fancy areas cost a shitload of money to live in, and they all have violent ghettos. I wanted to know why this was.

The best guess that I could come up with was that cities are places where a ton of labor is needed, and not all of it is done by the highly educated and well off. Someone needs to do the shit work, but these people cannot afford to commute back and forth. So they cluster around certain areas, and these communities grow with more of the same people. Because of the desperation of living in an expensive city and getting paid next to nothing, some of these people turn to crime. After a generation or two grows up with this kind of desperation as a fact of life, they just take it as a given that certain kinds of crime are unavoidable, and that burglary, assault, drug dealing, even murder are to be expected just to get by. Meanwhile, because everyone else who lives in the city is making vastly more money, they avoid these spots and think only that "something needs to be done," without wanting to really do anything about them. So a reputation grows that these are "badass" areas, and the youth who grow up there take a degree of pride in being raised in these spots, since the very fact of their survival proves that they are tough. Those in neighboring areas also grow up under similar circumstances, and think that they are even tougher. So the youths gather in packs to beat the living shit or murder each other, as further proof of their toughness. These groups, in addition to protection, take part in other shady activities, such as drug dealing and theft, as ways to get the income they need to survive.

At least, that's what I think might be it. Isn't it strange that every major city has a ghetto? You would think that the employers would try to give decent wages, and that the city would try to take care of it's lower-class population, since without someone to do the shit work the entire structure would crumble to the ground. Yet if living in the city were affordable, more middle-class and lower-middle class people would filter in, and still shut out those who work at low-income jobs. Of course, everything I said could just be a bunch of crap, but I'm neither a politician nor a social scientist. I'm just some guy who finds these questions interesting. As always, relevant book and magazine recommendations are always welcome.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day!

Ever since reading Simon Schama's delightful book "Citizens," I've been feeling some cognitive dissonance with this holiday. On one hand, it's the biggest French holiday there is, but on the other, it celebrates one of the most brutal fucking events in history. Anyone who thinks that the French are pussies really needs to pick this book up, since the kind of murdering that went on among the French was shocking, from carving body parts off screaming officers with dull knives to tearing off genitals and stuffing it down the victim's mouths. Anyhow, I will do my duty as a Francophile to wish everyone a Happy Bastille Day, and present you with some charming Youtube clips of the French in Action.





Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Favorite Movie Moments!



Everyone loves lists, so here's my list of favorite movie moments. Some there will be near universal agreement on, while others will leave folks asking what the hell my problem is. Either way, the vast majority of these won't be on an AFI list:

Rebecca De Mornay telling Ernie Hudson "Don't fuck with me, retard." after the "mentally challenged" neighborhood friend spots her breastfeeding the family's baby in "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle."

Jeanne Moreau singing "Le Tourbillon" in "Jules et Jim."

Marlon Brando comforting Kim Hunter after a fight in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

The "let's feed grandpa" scene in the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

Phoebe Cates trying to serve all the different Gremlins, then getting flashed by one, in "Gremlins."

Ritchie's brother telling him, "You've grown, cabron!" in "La Bamba."

The bedroom seduction between Lea Thompson and Howard in "Howard The Duck."

The "lobster rape" scene in "Multiple Maniacs."

"GET HER!!!!!" in "Ghostbusters.

Raymond Dufayel scolding Lucien on his obsession with Lady Di in "Amelie."

Brandon telling Dawn, "Yo Weiner, you better get ready, 'cause at three o' clock today, I'm gonna rape you!" in "Welcome to the Dollhouse."

Crispin Glover as The Thin Man fighting all three of the angels while "Smack My Bitch Up" blares loudly as the soundtrack in "Charlie's Angels."

Jack Nicholson defending his less-than-intelligent girlfriend Karen Black after high-class snobs at a cocktail party insult her in "Five Easy Pieces."

When Harold feels up the suggestive statue at Maude's place in "Harold and Maude."

The last scene in "The Last American Virgin."

Jason attacking the two virtual reality girls in their sleeping bags in "Jason X."

Anytime Frodo would look deeply into Sam's eyes and say "Oh Sam" in any of the Lord Of The Rings films.

Two scenes from "Great Balls of Fire;" when Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra are on their honeymoon ("You're all woman to Jerry Lee!"), and when leaving England after a disasterous tour, a reporter asks if he has any final words for England, and Jerry says "England can kiss my ass!"

In "Me, Myself, and Irene," when one of Jim Carey's cop friends suggests that maybe his wife had an affair, because their kids have a "year-round tan."

The Barbie museum in "Rat Race."

When Sonny Bono tries to seduce some dimwit in his apartment in "Troll."

The exploding head scenes in both "Scanners" and "Maniac."

The dumb "we just needed to pick up the kids!" joke at the end of the "Man Who Knew Too Much" remake.

Beetlejuice's first TV ad, where he's dressed up as a cowboy, in "Beetlejuice."

Bill Murray saying "Mexico...was a disaster" in "Ed Wood."

The exchange between Audrey and Cousin Vicki on the teeter-totter in "National Lampoon's Vacation."

The arm-wrestling scene in "The Fly" remake.

The Tramp's face at the end of "City Lights."

Carrie and that curly-haired jock dancing at the prom while the camera spins around them, going faster and faster in "Carrie."

Brando running around with the orange peel in his mouth in "The Godfather."

Pagoda yelling "you son of a bitch!" and stabbing Gene Hackman in "The Royal Tenenbaums."

Divine prancing through the park with her new boyfriend in slow motion, while Bill Murry sings that "one boy...one girl" song on the soundtrack in "Polyester."

Johnny Knoxville (I think) as an old man getting kicked out of a store for trying to shoplift, then mumbling "I was Lon Chaney's lover!" in "Jackass, The Movie."

Burt Reynolds punching out Dom Delouise in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

The weighlifting girl somehow falling alseep while lifting weights, then being turned into a cockroach by Freddy, in "A Nightmare on Elm Street part 4, The Dream Master."

Barbara's brother taunting her in the graveyard at the beginning of "Night of the Living Dead."

Jeffrey giving a hotel room full of hookers his "super crack," causing all of them to explode in "Frankenhooker." Also, later on, when Frankenhooker screws a John until he blows up.

The last skit in "History of the World, Part 1," where Gregory Hines is walking down the street and a blind man is begging for money. The man somehow sees Hines and they greet each other in delicious ghetto fashion. Also, the scene with Moses is probably one of the best religious jokes I've ever seen, second only to:

Brian addressing the crowd outside of his house in "Life of Brian."

Gizmo's xerox machine torture in "Gremlins 2, The New Batch."

The bums at the drive-in, sitting on crates, telling Pee Wee, "Look Pee Wee....BOX SEATS!" in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."

Ass-kissing dean Larry Miller greeting an old couple at a fundraiser, telling the man, "And when did you marry Sharon Stone?" and then telling the old lady "keep those legs crossed!" in "The Nutty Professor."

The first 40 minutes of "Full Metal Jacket."

The old Jewish man telling a joke during the credits in "Coming To America."

The "I saw a window open, so I said 'fuck it!'" scene in "Friday."

Anytime the butler would walk in "The Corpse Bride."

Judas being tormented by evil children in "The Passion of The Christ."

Wormtail dumping the tiny, chihuahua-esque Voldemort into a cauldron before the final battle in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

The herd of burning cows at the beginning of "Mars Attacks!"

Satan singing "Up There" in "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut."

Lucy Harker walking through a decaying town overrun with rats in "Nosferatu." (1979)

Tiny Tim talking to a half-naked woman on his hotel bed in "Street of Dreams."

The Butler's psychedelic song and dance sequence in "Gumnaam."

Kong peeling off the outer layer of Fay Wray's clothes in "King Kong."

William Holden and Gloria Swanson dancing the tango in "Sunset Blvd," mainly because of the look on Erich von Stroheim's face when he picks up her discarded tiara.

Any scene with Stromboli in Disney's "Pinocchio."

Abe Vigoda yelling "The bastards stole my candy!" in "Look Who's Talking." Also, Kirstie Alley imagining her future with John Travolta; "Just because it's free don't mean it ain't good."

"Mind if I smoke...while you eat?" in "Deep Throat."

Morris Day asking Prince, "How's the family?" in "Purple Rain."

The floating raft being invaded by monkeys, one of which Klaus Kinski picks up, stares at, then throws to the side, in "Aguirre, The Wrath of God."

And finally, the big gross out vomit and snot fest at the fashion show in "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie." I also like the way the kids seemed to not care that all of their friends were murdered Auschwitz-style at the State Home For The Ugly. Very shocking for a children's film.

That's all I've got for now, but this list will obviously be updated as I see more films. Feel free to add your own, or better yet, make your own list.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Got 10,000 Hours to Spare?


This morning I spent a couple of hours at the bookstore with my girlfriend and was flipping my way through several books. One of them was a book that I started reading a couple of years back and never finished: "This Is Your Brain On Music." When I read the back of the book, I saw something that grabbed my eye. There was a claim that to become a virtuoso, you need to practice for 10,000 hours, rather than be born with some innate "gift." I read that section of the book and was pleasantly surprised, because this applies to everything, from tap dancing to playing the piano.

The way it breaks down is to practice three hours a day, every day, for ten years. This level of dedication is far beyond that of most people, but is actually is doable. When we got back home I went online and started going to different websites, just to see what the opinion was of this. There were a lot of different takes on it, and some guy broke it down into how good you would be at something after an hour, ten hours, a hundred hours, etc. It seems as though some people need to have clearly defined milestones, just so they can slap a label on their progress and thus can say "I have arrived" when they reach a certain point. Hell, I'm still trying to figure out at what point I can say "I am a linguist" and not "I am a student of linguistics."

So why even bring this up? First of all, I just find shit like this interesting. It's a nice number to throw at people when you feel like showing off ("Hey guys, wanna know how long it takes to be an expert at something? Do ya?"). Second, it's another attack against the idea of innate abilities. I'm not going to knock our natural tendencies, or continue the lie that there are no real differences between men an women. I just like the idea that in order to be good at something, you actually need to get off your ass and do the work for it, rather than piss and moan that you weren't born with the genius of a Mozart or the ball-handling skills of a Michael Jordan. For a lot of people, it's easier to just throw the idea of innate ability around, rather than face the fact that they just aren't that good at something because they don't practice. Lock yourself in your room for three hours a day, every single goddamn day, and practice, and in ten years you'll be an expert at something.

And if you're not, send me a message and I'll apologize for lying to you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Enthusiastic Amateur


There's a book out called "The Cult of the Amateur" by Andrew Keen. I found out about it when I was looking up that book "Wikinomics." Basically, Keen's book is about how shitty the internet is, and how things like YouTube, Myspace, and what I'm doing right now (blogs) are killing our culture. I haven't read the book yet, but it smells suspiciously like "The Closing Of The American Mind," that great 80's book about how our culture is dying because of people no longer reading the classics, among other reasons. It gets very tiresome seeing old pundits who can't get with it bitching about how things are changing. I honestly feel that the internet is probably one of the greatest things we have going now, since everyone all around the world is more connected now than they've ever been at any other point in time, and the media monopoly that we've had to deal with for most of our lives is finally starting to crumble away.

I can't even begin to count how many things I've discovered online. Maybe because I've used the internet for so damn long, I have a hard time seeing how it's destroying anything. The one thing I wanted to address, though, is the idea that culture in and of itself is falling apart, and that talented people will no longer find an audience because of being drowned about by folks on the internet.

First of all, just because something is published does not mean that it's good. There always has been and always will be people with no talent who somehow get book/music/film deals. That's just the way things are, and blogs, iTunes, and YouTube aren't going to change that. Second, the problem for the author, it seems, is that too many hands are getting into the pot, and entertainment is now, possibly for the first time, entirely democratic. He bemoans the "wisdom of the crowd," and while I do the same from time to time, I think that the sheer amount of choice we have makes up for the extra amount of sifting we have to do to find something of value. The DIY of the punk scene has finally made it into a medium that will embrace it and give the artist the kind of audience they may never have had. A friend of mine who's in a band told me that his band got booked for a few shows due solely to a couple of demos that they have posted on their Myspace page. Let's see...talented people getting the word out about their work to a large number of people that they might never have gotten to otherwise...how is this a bad thing, again?

Also worth noting is that people no longer have to depend on the media giants for their entertainment. This is the best thing of all about the internet. One thing I hated about the radio while growing up is that I always had to sit through a bunch of god-awful bullshit before I heard a song that I liked. Now I can browse the internet and discover new music through MP3 blogs, and get recommendations from people who have the same taste in music that I do. Hell, I only heard about bands such as Franz Ferdinand (a demo recording, no less) and The Gossip through free MP3's that the bands posted on websites, and this was before these bands attained their popularity.

If something is good, people will find out about it. There will always be "quality," and it will find an audience. Yes, a lot of what's online is crap, but there is a lot more that's worth checking out. I plan on reading Keen's book, but I doubt very much that I'll agree with any of it. An interesting take on this book is at the following website:

http://www.lessig.org/blog/2007/05/keens_the_cult_of_the_amateur.html

Read it, come to your own conclusions, and then post your opinions. And if you agree completely with the book, then DON’T post your opinions, since, you know, you’ll be contributing to the problem.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Haven't Been This Sad Since Pantera Broke Up



I grew up listening to George Carlin tapes and watching his HBO specials, so I'm pretty sad to hear that he's dead. His bits on euphemisms, religion, and damn near everything else made me laugh harder than what I've heard from most other comedians. I always looked forward to his specials coming out, and they never disappointed.

To mourn his death, I plan on listening to his albums and laughing my ass off, and I suggest you do the same.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How To Annoy Your Friendly Public Librarian


1) If the computer you're working at has icons, delete them all as soon as you finish your session.

I don't know why patrons do this, but I will occasionally see a computer station with either one, a couple, or all of the icons missing. Since there are a ton of computers in the library, it's usually not a terrible inconvenience to the public, but it sure as hell pisses me off when I see it. The reason I get so mad about it is that when all the icons are missing, it's because someone did it specifically to be a dick.

2) Randomly shuffle books around in the non-fiction section.

As a page, the most infuriatingly annoying thing I dealt with was shelf-reading the foreign section. The books were always out of order, but in a very special way. The books would be just a few over to right, and everything following it would be following this disorder. The reason? Well, pages are almost the lowest rung on the library ladder (the lowest is the volunteer), and if you work for LA County where the pay is shit and they make it known how little they need you, you don't normally do your job very well. So you sometimes blank out and follow whatever pattern you see, even if it's completely wrong. If a book was in the wrong spot, the page would assume that it was in the RIGHT spot, and then put whatever books they were shelving right after it to follow it's order. Thus, when it came time to set everything in order, if I had to do it, I had to shift entire shelves around just to get everything back to normal. After an hour of working on one section, I would come back and see patrons mindlessly putting books back in random spots, or, my favorite, children shoving every book as far back as they can until they dump out and mingle with everything on the other side. And speaking of children...

3) Don't watch your children.

It is astonishing how little parenting is involved when parents decide to take their kids out to the library. I can sometimes hear screaming kids all the way from the other end of the library, and when I come over to see what's going on, I see children running around throwing shit at each other, and the parents just sitting there talking to each other, doing nothing.

4) Remind them that you pay their salary.

For some patrons, the simple fact that they pay taxes should allow them to keep out books for as long as they want and return them in whatever condition they want, get limitless free photocopies and internet printouts, get unlimited internet time, stay at the library for as long as they like even if the library is closed, talk as loud as they want while having places nice and quiet for them, use the phones for free for as long as they want, get free unlimited snacks, borrow (or even just receive) money, get medical advice, use the library as a place to sign people up for either a political group or religion, and even take their clothes off if they think the room is getting too stuffy for them.

5) Hide the newspaper.

If a newspaper is missing, I can promise you that an elderly man will raise hell over it. In fact, I have heard that there was almost a fist-fight at my library awhile back because one old man was hogging the paper and another man wanted to read it. I know that not getting to read the newspaper might be annoying, but come on. Is it really a reason to punch someone? Then again, people have been killed for less.

Monday, June 16, 2008

ChaCha, a Retraction

I wrote a blog defending the text-answering service ChaCha awhile back, and I have to say that my ass has been handed to me...by ChaCha. I haven't used it as much as I did when I first found out about it, but the last few questions I have asked it have been answered with shit that was completely irrelevant or wrong. Even a question that my coworker Scott asked awhile back about a train rate in the 50s which no one was able to answer was easily answerable by a quick Google search that I did on a whim. The worst was what happened today. I was running some errands and decided to text ChaCha asking if the new Beck CD was out, because I heard a month ago that it was coming out in June and I wanted to buy it. The answer? "It came out last week." Well, I went to Best Buy, and they said that it doesn't come out until June 24. I come home and do a quick search on the internet, and find out that it doesn't come out until July 8th. So both ChaCha and Best Buy as "staffed" by incompetent jerk offs. Come on, you assholes. Get on the fucking ball! Most ChaCha twats answer questions by using the internet. Since I was able to get the answers to my own questions immediately by doing the barest of internet searches, I have to wonder what kind of retards are getting hired to work for this service. I know that it's a free service and that I should expect next to nothing, but not too long ago, they DID answer my questions correctly and accurately. They need a much better screening process than the one they have now.

The moral of the story? If you're in a bind and need a quick answer, by all means try ChaCha. Just be aware that now your questions will be answered by dumb asses who can't figure out the complexities of a Google search.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Puff Piece, or Things I Love


(With apologies to John Waters)

Some people accuse me of bitching too much. So to the haters, fuck you. There's plenty of shit that I love, and if you'd pay attention to the love that pours out of my heart like pus down a homeless prostitute's perineum, you'd see that I smile more often then not, and get legitimately excited about lots of things. Here's a small sample of things that I LOVE.

A bright blue sky after a bout of rain, with everything slicked and looking new.
When I hear a terrible song, one that I've always hated, and for NO reason start loving it.
Flaming Hot Cheetos con Limon...especially when I scrape the layers of cheese/Limon powder off of my fingers with my teeth.
Getting packages in the mail.
Coming home from work and finding that someone's bought me food.
Waking up ass-early in the morning and not being tired.
The feeling of winding down after doing something that I've spent the past several days worrying about.
The world may disagree, but I LOVE the way I look in plain white shirts and wife-beaters.
When I rediscover a previous obsession, and all those long-gone feelings come flooding back all at once.
When a DJ actually plays something that I both love and never in my life expected to hear.
Reading about the Mormon faith and Mormon history.
Also, seeing non-insulting references to the LDS in popular culture.
When, during a casual conversation with someone I barely know, something I say reminds them of something that they adore, and you see their faces light up and they start talking faster and more enthusiastically than before.
Historical Linguistics.
Biological anthropology.
Finding dichotomy in everyday things.
Having certain beliefs that I've held for years shattered.
Talking to people and having them one-up me when it comes to saying something shocking or foul.
That fresh out-of-the-shower feeling.
Taking a nice long piss and having that weird feeling that you've earned it.
Women in sweaters.
Delicious twists on common expressions, such as when my professor was talking about intimacy and said, "love will NOT conquer all."
Any stupid joke that begins with "now that's what I call..."
When I'm having a conversation and there's rapid references to shit we're both familiar with, and we both get it.
Sassy black women.
Rose Maddox's singing voice.
Reading about the dark underbelly of the music/film business.
Those old-fashioned devil costumes with the floppy horns.
When people say "get it?" after telling a lame joke.
Stretching and hearing my bones crack.
The words "sleepy" and "scary."
Banjos.

I will add to this when I think of more things. For the moment, there you go. PROOF that I'm one happy-go-lucky fuck.

Monday, June 9, 2008

God Bless Tiny Tim


I remember reading quite a bit about Tiny Tim, and for years the only song I'd ever heard of his was "Tiptoe Through the Tulips," his only hit song. It's usually thought of as a novelty tune, which I assume is because of his falsetto, the ukulele, and the tongue-popping solo in the middle of the song. I've always been a fan of novelty music, so of course I loved the song, but when I started reading more about him the "joke" aspect of it wore off, and I started hearing it as just a great song. Then, while doing research, I found out that his "Live at Royal Albert Hall" album was for sale, so I made one of my impulse buys and purchased it. When I finally got it in the mail and listened to it I liked every song on it, and I became a fan.


When people hear Tiny Tim they have to ask why anyone would seriously be a fan of his. First of all, I like his delivery on the songs he sings. He doesn't sing everything in a falsetto, and his style of singing is different from the way that everyone else sings. To me, that means a lot. Second, the songs he performs span all the decades of popular music, and he had no problem playing an obscure song from the 20's next to "Stairway to Heaven." And he wasn't ironic about it. He loved all these songs equally and played whatever he felt like, and unlike the Nirvana's and Radiohead's of the world, he would play his major hit anytime someone requested it, which goes into my third reason: he legitimately loved music and performing, and would bust out his ukulele and go to town at the drop of a hat. According to his official website "Tiny made hundreds or perhaps thousands of homemade recordings for people," all without asking for money. Performing meant so much to him that even after his career fizzled he joined a circus to perform, and eventually, as seen on an old Howard Stern New Year's Eve special...he could even be hired to play at birthday parties, wedding receptions, and bar mitzvahs.


One more thing about Tiny Tim...when you listen to his music, you KNOW that he loves what he's doing. You can hear it in him, that he's thrilled to actually be in a studio, doing something that he loves. I heard this kind of enthusiasm in early rock 'n' roll songs, I heard it in the Nuggets box set, and I hear it in Tiny Tim. Go ahead and call the comparison ridiculous. I stand by it. When I listen to his music I can't help but smile because he seems so goddamn happy to be performing for us. I can't say the same about much of my other music, no matter how good it is.


I hate going to concerts, but I'm sad that I never got the chance to see him sing. Beck's my favorite musician, but I have zero desire to ever speak to him. I don't know why, but the vast majority of musicians that I love I never want to meet in person. Tiny Tim is one of the few exceptions. I would have loved to have met him. I don't know what I would have said to him, but I think I would have wanted to just give him a hug and tell him "thanks." For some reason, he's probably the only musician who would welcome that.

God bless Tiny Tim.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Del Shannon: Godfather Of Goth

That's right. It wasn't Moz. It wasn't The Cure. It wasn't Joy Division. The REAL godfather of Goth is Del Shannon. Yes, THAT Del Shannon. The man who blessed the world with the classic mood piece "Runaway," and who in 1990 shot himself due to a lifelong depression that was in no way helped by the Prozac he was taking. If you doubt me, and I KNOW you do, just listen to the aforementioned song, or "Keep Searchin'," or "Stranger In Town," or the classic "Sister Isabelle," where Del's bitch leaves him for Jesus and becomes a nun, and Del proceeds to scream at her, "Does He need you more than I do?" Strangely, Del has never gotten his due, and I aim to set the record straight once and for all.

"But...but...couldn't Goth easily trace itself back to country or the blues?" The answer to that is a resounding NO. Let's look at the evidence, shall we? Most Goth music is performed by pale, scrawny bitch men who would rather pop pills than down some hard liquor, and who focus more on THEIR pain then pain in general. Goth performers whine or moan rather than snarl or scream, and Del's career was littered with more whine than an Italian resteraunt. Also, Goth music shoots for atmosphere rather than force, and Del's music certainly had enough of that. "Runaway" is a song that still scares the shit out of me, and has by far the creepiest solo that I've ever heard in any pop song. That goddamn keyboard popped up in many of his other songs, including upbeat dance songs like "Handy Man," where it gives a regular happy song a disturbingly eerie feel. Then there's "Keep Searchin'," with a guitar that sounds a bit off, a shrill organ in the background, echoing hard stomps during the chorus, and Del's ambulance shrieks.

And what is one supposed to make of the song "Stranger In Town," which is by a longshot THE most paranoid song of the 60s? "Stranger in town...he's out to get me..." Del sings, followed by more echoed thumps and a tamborine, after which Del lowers his voice and sings in a hushed voice, then starts yelling "yeah, we'll run" over and over, resulting in a song that should send any self-respecting goth straight to the medicine cabinet. This creepiness is something that oozed itself into almost everything in Del's catalog, and by doing a little "searchin'," you'll find plenty more of these frowny delights in any of his CDs that you may or may not decide to pick up.

Aside from that, there is also another key ingredient to Del's foresight, and that's his bitchiness. "Hat's Off To Larry" is the ULTIMATE bitchfest, where Del taunts his ex-girlfriend by telling her how happy he is that the guy she left him for fucked her and left her, and then has the nerve to tell her that he wants her back! Or how about "So Long Baby," where Del tells his ex girlfriend to fuck off, because even though she cheated on him, he cheated on her too, and he wants her to stay "far, far, far, far, far from me, me, me, me, me"? Then there's "Little Town Flirt," about a slut who "plays around with every guy who walks by," but you'd have to be blind to not be able to figure out the real story. She dumped his ass for someone else, so it's up to Del to warn not only her new boyfriend, but every guy in town that she's a whore who'll toy with you until she gets what she wants. Now THAT'S bitchiness!

Of course, Del's career went down the toilet when everyone decided that they wanted to look and sound British, and it wasn't until the 80s that he managed to chart again with a cover of "Sea of Love." There was also the rumor that he would join the superstar shitfest the Traveling Wilburys, but that didn't happen, because he started taking Prozac and, as stated earlier, shot himself. Thus, the first Goth king made the ultimate Goth exit.

When Del dropped out of the top ten, it was up to Brian Wilson to teach the Beach Boys how to mope, and with the release of "In My Room," the Goth crown was stolen and placed on the new kings. While a case can be made for The Beach Boys keeping the Goth tradition alive, it was Del Shannon who was the pioneer, the originator, and the almighty God of it. After all, you wouldn't confuse Jesus with the Apostles, now would you?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

He's so sweet!


He stalks you down the street, doe-eyed, and sneaks up from behind, tapping your shoulder and asking a simple question. You answer because he seems harmless, and his intentions are obviously nothing more than wanting a small piece of information. Later you see him again, maybe in the mall or at a club. The two of you begin talking and he seems like a nice enough person; in fact you enjoy his sense of humor and wouldn't mind seeing him again under the right circumstances. He's different from the others, mainly because the way he talks to you, the way he acts around you, he obviously isn't hitting on you, and obviously values only your friendship, which you are more than willing to give.

You start seeing him regularly, and when you see him at a distance you holler out his name. His company makes things more interesting. His maladroit mannerisms are just the right peg to slide into your ever-expanding group of acquaintances. The two of you call each other, and not infrequently talk for over an hour on the phone. Finally, a decent fellow. A good person. A nice guy.

Slowly things start changing. He shakes more when you're around. He keeps his eyes on you for more than what is usually considered normal for friends. The tone of his voice softens, like a pile of dough. His smile is considerably warmer. When you show up, his back twists automatically to block away any other figure with a vagina, and he fixes his attention on you. Other women become shadows, and you're the only clear figure in the room. At the same time, he starts ignoring you more. He'll walk by, pretending to not see you, not out of malice, but because his fears are getting the best of him and he doesn't want to tell you the truth. The truth is, he has a long list of female "pals", and he no longer wants that. He wants something more. Something he hopes you can give him, something you couldn't possibly give him. While you're valuing his friendship, he slowly slides more and more stone under your feet, raising you higher and higher until you're teetering on this impossible pedestal.

By this time you're wondering why things are so different, as he still hasn't worked up the courage to tell you how he feels. He waits...getting sicker and sicker each time, building up a personal inventory of "moments" that he imagines he's having with you. You walk in the room, and he either pounds down a drink or bolts out to light his cigarette. All the while months pass by, and people who are more forward with their thoughts come to you and express an interest, and sometimes you feel a spark with someone. Finally, many months after the fact, he blurts it out, and you tell him that you're not really interested, because you see him more as a friend, and that while any girl would be lucky to have him, the two of you just couldn't work. Suddenly, you plummet down from being an angel to being a vicious, cold, no-good lousy cunt. He's still nice to you, but in private he curses you and wishes that every single relationship you have goes to hell. He savors nothing more than finding out that you fell for someone and that they fucked you over. You see, in his mind, no one could treat you the way he could. No one could love you as much as he could. You are obviously unlovable, so you really should be thankful that someone as wonderful as him was interested in you to begin with.

The nice guy is the worst kind of parasite imaginable. He earns your friendship only to suck on whatever you have to give him, emotionally or even physically (depending on the circumstances, an over-analyzed kiss may occur). He's never satisfied, never straightforward. If he could he'd shower you with gifts, subconsciously trying to buy your love. They chop off their own legs to crawl to you, sobbing and clawing at your heart. If you're fucked up in the head, that's even better. They'll be whatever they can for you; friend, father, therapist, conscience, anything except a real person. A vacuum cleaner hiding being a gallery of masks. An insecure, stuttering, bitter piece of shit. Worse of all, he'll openly admit this to you, thinking that honestly admitting that he's a fuck up will somehow endear him to you. He won't bother trying to defend himself, because deep down, he knows every criticism flung at him is true. You can't chop off his balls and hand them to him because he's holding the knife and already has a handful of questionable manhood.

You wanna know how to immediately spot a loser? This phrase; "Oh, do you know so-and-so? He's such a nice guy."