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 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:

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 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."

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."

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Conundrum

I was talking to a friend about an episode of Oprah, and the conversation brought up some interesting problems. I would like to state that I did not see this episode of Oprah, nor do I watch her show, so this entire conversation came about by way of a digression. Anyhow, she told me that the guests were these twins, both female, and one of them had a sex change to become a man. Apparently she had the body structure of a man and looked manly, and only her voice was feminine. Sex changes have been going on for years, and there was little that was unusual about that for me. The odd part came when the manly twin said that she still was attracted to men, so basically she turned herself from a straight woman into a gay man.

Well, this man-woman will ALWAYS be a woman in God's eyes, and also through sheer scientific reasoning. I mean, she will never be able to get someone pregnant, thus, she will never be a man. It's all just major plastic surgery, like that one scary bitch who's trying to make herself look like a cat. But that's not the point. The point is...she still loves the cock. This set my mind going in a million directions, and I had a few questions about this.

Since she's a woman with a penis, if a straight guy fucks her, or if she fucks a straight guy, does this make that straight guy gay? I mean, we're ALL curious at some point. Can a straight guy marry her and still be considered straight? She still is a woman, except she has a fake dick and balls, and I believe some extra hair. If they get married, is it legal? Gay marriage is still up in the air, but these stupid laws are dictated by religion, and I'm sure that the preachers would still consider the manly chick a woman. If she hooks up with a gay guy, does this make the gay guy straight, since he's having sex with a woman and loving it? Since she's a woman and ass-sex shouldn't provide any kind of pleasure for her, does she get all of her sexual enjoyment from sucking guys off? It's not like she has a prostate or anything. Finally, as a gay male, will she be able to give her sister better pointers on how to satisfy a man? I've never fucked a guy, but I've heard some interesting stories...

In discussing gay qualifiers with my friend, she told me that if you have gay tendencies, then you're gay. I then asked if someone was in a gray area because their girlfriend stuck things up their ass, but she assured me that since these things weren't attached to a man, they were in the clear. But what if they were attached to a fake man? I mean, I'm sure if a straight guy was sucking a woman's dick, he'd still be straight, right? Just because you're fucking a woman who had surgery to make herself look like a cat, it doesn't mean you dig bestiality, so I'm sure the same applies to this. I don't know. This is a question for the ages, which can sit snugly with "Why are we here?" and "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

The worst poem I've ever written

For many years, I wrote poetry. Tons and tons of poetry, so much that it filled several notebooks. Some of it was pretty decent, some of it was OK, but most of it was self-pitying tripe. The words that every writer's friend dreads are "I wrote a poem, can you tell me what you think of it?", so with that in mind, here's what I consider the worst poem I've ever written. I don't know what I was trying to accomplish with writing it, all I know is that when I read it again, I couldn't help but smile.

It hurts
Delicious thick red seedy jam
Running down my thighs
Open wide, baby.
Four kinds of syrup
Uterus, eggs, blood, and love.
Hungry? Why wait?
And on the menu, my baby batter
Mixing with your eggs, in a pre-heated oven

And yet, it still kicks the living shit out of anything William Carlos Williams has ever written.