Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Yesterday's mass murderers - where are they now?

All over the mass media. To wit, the newly-convicted Klan killer...

And that Kansas serial killer, too...

Credit: all me

And to think that they were both under our noses all this time, riding Kingda Ka and asking for our favorite curse words. Be alert people.

Straight up, now tell me

Paula Abdul has, in essence, got off scot free for sleeping with that American Idol kid. Beyond a few carefully-worded denials and attempts to make light of the situation, she (or her handlers) figured out that it would all blow over. And sure enough, it did, by relentlessly sticking to talking points ("He's only doing this to promote his album!") and dishing up red herrings ("He picked out his own clothes!")

Replace "Paula Abdul" with "President Bush" and "sleeping with that American Idol kid" with "recklessly invading Iraq," and it's no wonder where her rebuttal strategy came from. From talking point discipline to red herring buffets, Dubya preceded Paula move for move, with a verbal prowess that would shame MC Skat Kat.

And yet despite so many unanswered questions, the world has moved on, even for the main players in this analogy. Just look at today's headlines:
  1. Former 'Idol' Contestant Clark Busted In Alleged Food Fight
  2. Abdul urges tough nail salon standards
  3. Bush cites 9/11 in plea for Iraq support (he's making a new argument, right??)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Picture pages

Random pictures = buckets of fun. Just add water.

"So why did you get into modeling?"

"So I could model bushy wigs."

Like Jerry Lewis and David Hasslehoff, Kamala was huge in France. L'attraction principale, some dirty Frenchmen would say.

Joe Cocker, rotten food, and lousy coffee.
I'd said one of these things is not like the other, but is that really true?

You should be...

  • Reading The Wishbones - All about getting married and growing older and not being certain about you really want. It's also set in Jersey, and the lead's main job is playing in a wedding band. What's not to like? Perotta also wrote Election, but this is his Stairway to Heaven.
  • Listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Body Workout. A 1983 gem that overlayed 80's pop hits with his accented motivational spiel. The people of California are well served.
  • Dancing. Yeah!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

More than words

How could one decade so neatly encapsulate junior high, high school, and college? By virtue of being born in 1978, the 90's were able to cover that span for me. Continuing the discussion from my 90's pre-retrospective, I offer this playlist from iTunes that are not necessarily the best, but rather the iconic songs that defined the decade.

Listening to this mix takes me all the way from my awkward phase in 6th grade to, umm, my awkward phase in college, with pauses in between at beach dances, YMCA swim meets, high school plays, dirty frat parties, long drives, and a lot of hours under the tutelage of MTV. These are my misty watercolored memories of the way we were. Can't touch this.

U Can't Touch ThisMC Hammer1990
Ice Ice BabyVanilla Ice1990
Gonna Make You Sweat
(Everybody Dance Now)
C+C Music Factory1990
The Humpty DanceDigital Underground1990
More Than WordsExtreme1990
Freedom 90George Michael1990
Mama Said Knock You OutLL Cool J1990
Let's Talk About SexSalt-N-Pepa1990
Istanbul (Not Constantinople)They Might Be Giants1990
I Wanna Sex You UpColor Me Badd1991
Don't CryGuns N' Roses1991
Now That We Found LoveHeavy D & the Boyz1991
Good VibrationsMarky Mark1991
To Be With YouMr. Big1991
O.P.P.Naughty By Nature1991
Smells Like Teen SpiritNirvana1991
Losing My ReligionR.E.M.1991
Tom's Diner
Suzanne Vega1991
Right NowVan Halen1991
SummertimeWill Smith1991
What's Up?4 Non Blondes1992
Mr. WendalArrested Development1992
No RainBlind Melon1992
Nuthin' but a "G" ThangDr. Dre1992
Hey JealousyGin Blossoms1992
Jump AroundHouse of Pain1992
JumpKris Kross1992
I Got a ManPositive K1992
Everybody HurtsR.E.M.1992
ConnectedStereo MC's1992
Life Is a HighwayTom Cochrane1992
Rump ShakerWreckx-N-Effect1992
End of the RoadBoyz II Men1993
CannonballThe Breeders1993
Insane in the BrainCypress Hill1993
Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)Digable Planets1993
Getto JamDomino1993
Ordinary WorldDuran Duran1993
What Is Love?Haddaway1993
Into Your ArmsThe Lemonheads1993
Show Me LoveRobin S.1993
TodayThe Smashing Pumpkins1993
Gin and JuiceSnoop Dogg1993
Whoomp! (There It Is)Tag Team1993
Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)Us31993
Sure ShotBeastie Boys1994
Fantastic VoyageCoolio1994
A Girl Like YouEdwyn Collins1994
LongviewGreen Day1994
Lucas With the Lid OffLucas1994
Come Out and PlayThe Offspring1994
I'll Stand by YouThe Pretenders1994
RegulateWarren G1994
You Oughta KnowAlanis Morissette1995
Breakfast At Tiffany'sDeep Blue Something1995
You Were Meant for MeJewel1995
One of UsJoan Osborne1995
Stay (I Missed You)Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories1995
Doin' ItLL Cool J1995
One Sweet DayBoyz II Men & Mariah Carey1995
FantasyMariah Carey1995
This Is How We Do ItMontell Jordan1995
SpiderwebsNo Doubt1995
LumpThe Presidents of the United States of America1995
Cotton Eye JoeRednex1995
1979Smashing Pumpkins1995
California LoveTupac & Dr. Dre1995
Song 2Blur1996
No DiggityBlackstreet1996
LovefoolThe Cardigans1996
Crash Into MeDave Matthews Band1996
Da' DipFreak Nasty1996
Killing Me Softly With His SongThe Fugees1996
Stayin' AliveN-Trance1996
WannabeSpice Girls1996
HellSquirrel Nut Zippers1996
Sucked OutSuperdrag1996
One HeadlightThe Wallflowers1996
Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?Paula Cole1996
EverlongFoo Fighters1997
Flagpole SittaHarvey Danger1997
FaithLimp Bizkit1997
Feel So GoodMase1997
The Impression That I GetMighty Mighty Bosstones1997
How BizarreOMC1997
Mo Money Mo ProblemsPuff Daddy1997
Bittersweet SymphonyThe Verve1997
Gettin' Jiggy Wit ItWill Smith1997
Gone till NovemberWyclef Jean1997
IntergalacticBeastie Boys1998
Take Me ThereBlackstreet, Mya, Mase, Blinky1998
Fire It UpBusta Rhymes1998
CrushDave Matthews Band1998
Save TonightEagle-Eye Cherry1998
The WayFastball1998
Praise YouFatboy Slim1998
Ray of LightMadonna1998
Angel of MineMonica1998
You Get What You GiveThe New Radicals1998
Ghetto SupastarPras1998
Can't Get Enough of You BabySmash Mouth1998
...Baby One More TimeBritney Spears1999
Better Days (And the Bottom Drops Out)Citizen King1999
BabylonDavid Gray1999
Blue (Da Ba Dee)Eiffel 651999
No Scrubs TLC1999
Steal My Sunshine LEN1999
NookieLimp Bizkit1999
My Own Worst EnemyLit1999
I TryMacy Gray1999
Scar TissueRed Hot Chili Peppers1999
Livin' la Vida LocaRicky Martin1999

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Backbeat the word was on the street

What is the true legacy of the 90's? I attempted to answer that back in 1997 via this college newspaper column. Was I onto something? Or just on something? And is this just an easy way to avoid writing a new post by repackaging old material? Only you can decide.

It used to take 20 years for a decade to be appreciated. The 1970’s weren’t fully appreciated until earlier this decade, when bell bottoms and John Travolta emerged from a rightfully-imposed exile. But the American attention span has gotten shorter, and we are now nostalgic for the history we can remember.

In recent years, the 1980’s have enjoyed a resurgence. On campus, WTSR is stuck in the 80’s every Monday night and The Signal frequently features a 80’s-themed crossword or column. There’s even a website (www.80s.com) devoted to all things from the decade of Pac-Man, Ferris Bueller, and Wang Chung (Does anyone know why, or how, we should Wang Chung tonight?).

Assuming this cycle remains constant, we will find ourselves five years into the new millennium longing for relics from the decade past, and this creates an important question: What will be the cultural legacy of the 1990’s?

Most would like to think that our cultural contribution consist of such respectable fare as Seinfeld and Pulp Fiction, but Billboard charts will tell future generations that we admired the Beverly Hills of 90210 from afar, and jumped-jumped ‘cuz the Daddy Mac made us. For every Braveheart, there has been a Dick Tracy; for every ER, a Herman’s Head. The durability of CDs and VHS ensure us that what is too painful to remember, we cannot choose to forget. So to ease our future shame, let’s relive the forgotten moments and minor celebrities of the decade so far.

The music that has entertained America for the last seven years induces the most cringing. Even though few would admit to MMMBopping with Hanson or zigazigha-ing with the Spice Girls, their recent success cannot be ignored. Similarly, the most popular group in 1990 was the New Kids on the Block. They had the right stuff, at least in the eyes of several million pre-pubescent girls. More inexplicable was the rise of Vanilla Ice, who further shamed the institution of white-boy rap, yet entertained thousands with his Ice, Ice Baby. Millions more pleaded “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em”, as they snatched up the compact discs and parachute pants of MC Hammer. No weatherman could have predicted the outbreak of Snow, who warned us of the Informer that had the mythical power to licky boom boom down.

Those turned off by hip hop took solace in Wilson Phillips, but the group couldn’t “Hold On” for one more album. Similarly, Right Said Fred apparently isn’t “Too Sexy” for obscurity. Also missing in action is Billy Ray Cyrus, who is doubly dishonorable for having brought both country music and line dancing into the mainstream with his “Achy, Breaky Heart.”

The alternative to all of this, so-called alternative music, also produced its fair share of one-hit wonders. Discarded Spin Doctors and 4 Non-Blondes CDs clog the clearance bins at Tower Records. These musicians are the forgotten victims of the recession and remind current chart toppers that success fades faster than an hand print on a Hypercolor t-shirt. Mr. “Butterfly Kisses,” invest your royalties wisely.

This glut of forgotten celebrities can perhaps be linked to the divorce between success and talent. This is most evident in the movies and TV programs of the 90’s. Even Clarissa can’t explain why there were once two prime-time shows featuring Bob Saget. Pauly Shore wasn’t just an MTV VJ, but also an Encino Man and a Son-In-Law. Kevin Nealon was rewarded for flubbing jokes on Saturday Night Live with not one, but two sitcoms.

Those who actually posses a modicum of talent foolishly try to expand and conquer. Witness Shaquille O’Neil as “Shaq-Fu” and “Kazaamm,” or the Bo Jackson Saturday morning cartoon show. A good lesson to take from the 90’s is that you should stick to what you know. In the case of Jackson, all Bo knows now is physical therapy.

But the 90’s have been cyclical within themselves, where washed-up stars can reinvent themselves in new guises. The artists formerly known as Marky Mark and Fresh Prince have become respectable actors. A new show starring Dan Cortese is deemed “Must-See TV.” And Bayside alum Jessie Spano has lapdanced her way back into our hearts. Perhaps snap bracelets and Skidz shorts will return to the fashion runways. Maybe Macaulay Culkin will team up with Kid N’ Play for a Home Alone House Party.

The comebacks of these and other forgotten celebrities are inevitable. Pop culture is too legit to quit.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

If you can't join them, beat them.

"Wouldn't it be funny to combine Jay Z's "99 Problems" with the 80's pop hit "99 Luftballoons?" I recently thought, chuckling to myself. Turns out someone else had the same thought. No word if they then chuckled to themself.

It's official: it's all been done before. But rather than sulk about this, I salute those who make the world even more clever-er:

To them I say: I see your ideas, and I raise you one: Nuclear Option would be a really good punk band name.