Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Got Burned By Costco Weeds

Those shelves don't stock themselves.

The sense of smell has a very powerful recall effect on my mind. When I smell certain specific aromas (and it has to be the exact smell), I am instantly transported to a particular place or moment in my past. It is more effective than any other sense memory. Better than music, better than a photo or a shaky home video.

For example, every time I smell axel grease my mind immediately conjures up a very specific moment of me standing in line at Lagoon circa 1987 or so, waiting to get on Colossus. They must lube the hell out of that chain, because you can smell the grease from The Wild Mouse. If I smell the musty smell of furniture and carpet baked in cigarette smoke (not second hand smoke directly, but the way a smoker’s clothes smell), I think of playing with Star Wars toys at Luke Geddess’ house when I was six. I loved Star Wars toy as a boy, Luke had every single one and his parent’s smoked. It makes complete sense that I would have such an association. But I’m always surprised at how vivid the memories are in such moments. By the way, if you loved your Star Wars toys as a kid, check out that last link. You might spend the rest of your day browsing around and reminiscing.

I bring all of this up because I had such an experience yesterday. I was walking through Costco after purchasing a pair of khakis off a pallet. Is there any other way to buy khakis? The familiar smell of hot dogs boiled in water fused a combo pizza sitting under a hot lamp punched me right in the face. And it brought up this particular anecdote from six or seven years ago.

I was home from college for the summer and I needed a job. Always a sucky spot to be in. It’s hard enough to get a job, much less one that will only last for three months. I have sat through my share of scams being advertised in the want ads as “12 dollars an hour! No commission! No door to door sales!” You know what, Vector Marketing? You can take your CutCo Knifes and blow it out your lying ass.

Anyway, I ended up getting the glamorous job of working the late night / early morning shift stocking shelves at Costco. The coveted 3:00 am to noon shift. Weird hours to work. My first day there was early on a Saturday morning. I hadn’t adjusted my sleep schedule yet (I never did through the rest of that summer) so I just rounded the horn and didn’t sleep at all before I punched in at 3:00 that morning.

It was a pretty menial job of dodging forklifts, folding the previously mentioned khakis and listening to the Black Crows’ Shake Your Money Maker on repeat over the PA system. It forever ruined that album for me.

It was my first day and I didn’t know anyone so I was trying reasonably hard to look somewhat interested. I kept my head down and just stocked shelves. I never took a lunch or a break of any kind the whole shift. No one told me to and I never noticed anyone else take one.

At about 9:00 in the morning, the snack bar started boiling up those damn hot dogs. The store opened and, it being a Saturday in the summer, the place was packed.

At about 12:30 that afternoon, I was exhausted and thought I was finally done for the day. Again, I hadn’t slept the night before and I wasn’t comfortable enough with this job to be the lazy, corner cutting bastard I typically am. I went and asked my boss if he needed anything else from me, which is code for “Please, for the love of all that is decent, let me go home!” He told me to take back a cart of weeds and punch out. For those of you not in the know, “weeds” is a Costco speak for misplaced items. So I am walking through Costco on a Saturday with a cart full of random stuff, trying find where they go.

As I am doing this, I ran into a friend of mine from school. Her name was Nicole and we had a marketing class together the previous semester. Nicole is your typical uptight, hot as hell, BYU chick that is constantly on the look out for things to disapprove of. We were in a project group together and worked quite a bit on this semester long presentation. She wore lots of sweater vests that made her boobs look both fantastic and forbidden. And since I wasn’t a douchebag accounting major and I didn’t play lacrosse like all the other cake eaters, she had no interest in my dumb ass. Rugby is so much cooler than lacrosse. Seriously, what the hell?

Anyway, I see Nicole on my first day of work at Costco while I’m returning said cart of weeds. We exchanged pleasantries. She was living in Salt Lake with her grandma for the summer. Sensing an opportunity to make my summer more interesting I then went into my semi flirty, quasi desperate pick up mode. I felt like I was gaining a little bit of headway. I had her laughing. That’s always a plus. And right before I drop the “So what’s your number? We should totally hang out this summer.” She looked down at my cart. A look of authentic disgust flashed over her face and she said quickly without making eye contact, “Well great seeing you, I really gotta go.” She then walked away as fast as politely possible.

Feeling more confused than rejected, I looked down at shopping cart. Again, this is my first day on the job. I don’t have a vest or a tag or any visual sign that I was an employee. I looked like every other Costco customer with a cart full of stuff that I was about to buy.

Sitting there on the top of my cart was a 12 pack of KY Jelly. Seriously, this thing weighed like twenty pounds. It was a whole lotta lube at a very reasonable price.

Just what in the hell would a single, Mormon (read celibate) guy be doing purchasing KY Jelly in bulk? It does taste good on a cracker. But I don’t think that was the conclusion she drew. Suddenly I understood why she ran like hell. Now every time I smell Costco hotdogs, I think of KY Jelly.

I started this long winded entry talking about the smell of axel grease and ended it with KY Jelly. It all has a certain symmetry, don’t you think?

Monday, October 27, 2008

McDonalds, Embrace Who You Are

I hit a McDonalds drive-through this morning on my way to work. It’s the first time I’ve been to a McDonalds in a few months. I was itchen' for a greasy, salty sausage biscuit with cheese. I get to the menu / order box and I noticed that all the photos of the food have them displayed on plates. As if I’m expecting some howty towty (sp?) fine dining experience. Then the cheerful voice comes chirping through the speaker, “Welcome to McDonalds, what can I make for you today?” Really? Make? If by “make” you mean "defrost and microwave", I’ll take a greasy, salty sausage biscuit with cheese.

Look, I’m not a big McDonalds fan. I was once arrested for stealing Grimace and a Fry Guy from the McDonalds playland on 21st south. It wasn't a hate crime or anything. Just something to do when your bored and seventeen. But that's a story for another day. (I'm pretty sure that my mom has never heard that story and just learned of it for the first time.)

I can only handle one of their double cheeseburgers about once every other month. Although I do love their extra wide straws and their fries are glorious. Simply glorious. And they have the best soft serve ice cream on the planet. It’s always fun to order a hot fudge sundae for a buck and then ask the lady at the window for an extra nutsack. Don’t smile. You need to have a straight face. They giggle nervously and hand it over. I figure it gives them something to laugh about after I leave.

But with that being said, McDonalds needs to stop living a lie. Come on! (to be read as if spoken by GOB Bluth). You own the market. Stop apologizing for who you are. You do not serve fresh, good food, you never have. And yet billions and billions have been served. Has Morgan Spurlock really messed with your head this much? You don’t need to pretend to have any quality whatsoever. Everyone knows exactly what they are getting when they pull up to a McButtholes; greasy, processed, soggy food that somehow tastes delicious when eaten once every six weeks. You don’t need to shine up that turd. People are quite happy to eat your unshiney turd food. That is the best description of McRib I have ever heard.

Your competitors don’t live a lie. Burger King doesn’t give a crap about appearing to be a nice place. They take the Marlboro Man approach and say, “Yeah, our food will kill you, so what! You’re not a pussy are you? No? Then eat our double bacon, sausage, cheese crousandwich like a man!”

This is all Morgan Spurlock’s fault. A couple of years ago, that red mustached pile of human waste made a self indulgent, obvious “documentary” where he espoused the danger of McDonalds. This guy makes Michael Moore look like Frontline. It turns out, shockingly enough, if you eat nothing but crappy food you feel terrible and get fat. Holy shit! Really? It took almost two hours for the film to draw that conclusion. But it somehow gained traction and McDonalds overreacted in their attempt to overhaul their image.

My buddy John wrote a very insightful review of Spurlock a few years ago on his blog. Here’s the link. It’s worth a read. Here is an especially perceptive paragraph:

Morgan, who likely has not completed a lot of courses in scientific research, made a fundamental mistake with his conclusions in Supersize Me. He contributed most of the adverse health effects to McDonald's less-than-healthy food when I would argue, in my scientific opinion, that 75-80% of Morgan's problems stem from being a pussy, not from eating fatty foods.

So embrace who you are McDonalds. Don’t let some preachy, unfunny douche like Spurlock push you around. Don’t ask me what you can make for me when I order my food. Instead say, “What item of ours will you regret eating in 10 minutes?” or “How specifically would you like to get fatter and more sluggish today?”. And instead of nice place settings with china and flatware, display your food half eaten on crumpled, grease speckled paper bag sitting on an empty passenger seat. That’s how your food is consumed. So stop lying to yourself. We see through it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Is There Such Thing As a Nonmiserable Sports Fan?

I like to think I am a reasonably intelligent person. Maybe not the smartest guy in the room. But if I am experiencing some sort of pain or discomfort, I am a good enough problem solver to remedy the situation. If I walk face first into a closed door, I have the acumen to try turning the knob before smashing my face again. If my hand should come into contact with a hot stove top, it doesn't take me that long to remove it. Basically, I hope I have at least the common sense one could expect from an average lab rat. Push one button and get food, push another button and get a shock. It doesn't take long to figure out which button to push. And yet I predictably bash my face into the same locked door, over and over. Mixaphorically speaking.

At some moment in my life I decided to be a sports fan. If only I could take that decision back. It was a shit weekend for the three teams that I live and die with. The Red Sox made a valiant effort in climbing out of a 3-1 hole but in the end they lost to the damn, dirty Devil Rays in game 7. Although game 5 (Fenway is glorious) might have been the best baseball game I have ever seen. BYU’s football team pissed their pants and humiliated themselves against TCU. Quest for Perfection my ass. And the Utah Jazz’s point guard and best player Deron Williams had to be wheeled off the court of a preseason game with sprained ankle putting his availability for the opening of the season in question.

If I were as smart as a lab rat, I would recognize that there is a source of pain in my life and then make the appropriate decisions to relieve myself of that pain. I would stop pushing the button that shocks me time and again. I would realize how foolish it is to emotionally invest in something that I have no control over. I would stop handing my happiness over to a bunch of athletes who have no idea who I am. But somehow, the more they hurt me the more I love them.

It really is a dysfunctional relationship. I am Tina and my teams are Ike. And just like Ike and Tina, the good times do not compensate for all the crap. Yeah, BYU bought me some nice flowers when they beat UCLA by 57. And the Jazz tell me, "You're beautiful, baby. I love you." every spring when they start the playoffs. But those moments of happiness and anticipation only make it all hurt that much more when they get drunk and beat the hell out of me. I tell myself they didn’t mean it. I say, “Yeah, they cut my heart out this time, but next year will be different.” But next year isn't different. It never is.

But even as I type this, I am still convinced that the Jazz will win the NBA title this year. Williams is a future Hall of Famer in his prime. Boozer and Memo are playing for contracts, so they should have career seasons. With AK coming off the bench and CJ starting that gives us the depth to beat the best teams in the west. Korver will finally settle in and consistently bomb it from outside. Brewer will continue his impressive rise. How could we not win the whole thing? John Hollinger on picked us to win the west. So it’s totally reasonable for me to make the “they must win it all this year or my life has no meaning” ultimatum with myself. Right? Ike loves me. He really does.

I need to have some sort of sports fan lobotomy. I need to surgically remove the irrational part of my brain that cares so much about this meaningless, stupid crap.

That or I need to man up and stop whining. When you accept the vicarious joy of victory, you also sign up for the heartbreak. If I am going to leap off the couch in genuine glee when Deron Williams hits a pull up three pointer in Kobe Bryant’s face, then integrity demands that I feel like shit when the Lakers win the series in six. But like I said, the highs don’t compensate for the lows. It’s a losing, abusive relationship. Stay clear at all costs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This is the best part of the trip: Five Songs From The Doors

I’ve never liked it when people categorize and subcategorize music into overly specific genres. It just never really works. Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Acid Rock, Glam Rock, Grunge Rock, Metal, Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, Emo, Scremo, Punk, Pop Punk, whatever. Trying to corral the enormous variety of Rock and Roll into a million preset classes is futile and counterproductive. It requires one to lump together bands that sound nothing alike for the sake of convenience.

I say this because The Doors defy any attempt to categorize. No one has ever sounded anything like them. Sure they were heavily influenced by the Blues. But their take on the Blues remains completely distinctive forty years after their records were made. Jim, Ray, Robby and John made a total of six albums in span of about four years. (There were three made after Jim’s death, but I’m not counting them.) On those six albums, they don’t have a bad song. When you consider how totally unique and downright strange their sound is, that is an incredibly impressive accomplishment.

Now, I realize that it is necessary to classify different eras and varieties of music into genres. I just don’t like it when people use those terms in an effort to define that music. For the record, in my Itunes I have The Doors filed under the genre “Music So Good, It Makes Me Weep”.
Peace Frog - Morrison Hotel 1970

It’s kind of Funk, kind of Jazz, certainly Blues and Rock. Peace Frog illustrates The Doors’ talent in seamlessly crossing musical boundaries.
I Looked At You - The Doors 1967

This is really just a poppy little love song. Seriously, The Monkees could have sung this song. But when you filter its puppy love lyrics and catchy hook through Ray’s funeral organ and Jim’s aggressive and primal delivery, it becomes dangerous. And the threat of danger is a definitive element in their music.
Five to OneWaiting For the Sun 1968

Jim tears the hell out of the vocals in this song. I love his mumbly ad libs. “I love my girl. She’s looking good. One more.” Morrison is without question the greatest front man of any band ever. Whenever I lose myself in a rock star fantasy (screw you for judging me, you know you have done it) I am always Jim. I’m actually me, but I sound and act like Jim. Not Mick, Plant, Freddy, Bono, Ozzie, Axel or Eddie because Jim beats the hell out of every one of them.

I love Zeppelin, as I have previously documented. I love them just the way they are. But imagine for a moment if Jim Morrison sang the vocals for Whole Lotta Love. It would kick complete ass. Now imagine if Robert Plant sang Light My Fire. It doesn’t work.. This is not a rip on Robert Plant. It’s just something to thing about.
The Soft ParadeThe Soft Parade 1969

Of the six Doors records, The Soft Parade is the unloved, weird looking, smelly step child. A lot of Doors fans don’t like it very much. When I previously declared that they never recorded a bad song, I bet a few of you said to yourself, “But Soft Parade sucks.” If you did say that, you are wrong. Yeah, a lot of it sounds like a Frank Sinatra impression. But I love the use of the horn section. And damn it, if Jim Freakin Morrison wants to croon, I’m gonna let him croon. Check out this performance of Touch Me. They're almost lampooning themselves. Completely different from anything they had done, but it totally works.

The song The Soft Parade is a strange one. It drastically changes like 6 times. It starts slow, but stick with it. At about three minutes you hear this: “The monk bought lunch!” What does that mean? I have no friggin idea. But at that point the song settles into itself with a badass rhythm section and more of Jim’s patented delivery.
Riders On the Storm - L.A. Woman 1971

The Doors are unique as a band in that they feature the organ more than the guitar. Robbie has some blistering hooks and solos, but Ray’s organ work does most of the heavy lifting. It gives the music its bizarre character. Riders On the Storm is a song that is both disturbing and peaceful. Play this one loud while driving by yourself late at night on an empty highway.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Frank Caliendo Sucks and So Do The Red Sox (at least tonight)

Of the many thousands of comics that have done a Jack Nicholson impression, Frank Caliendo just might be the worst. And the fattest.

Fair warning. I'm pretty pissed off right now. I’m sitting here watching my beloved Red Sox totally puss out against the damn Devil Rays. I know they dropped the Devil part and are now just"The Rays", but screw 'em. I still call Joey Romney Joey, even though he became Joe sometime around 7th grade. You can’t just change your name and expect everyone to obey.

Damn it, Wakefield is getting slammed.

I can get a little pissy when the teams I love play like crap. My buddy Gregg woud have you believe that the remote control to his TV mysteriously flew out of my hand and smashed into the wall when the Jazz lost by a buzzer-beater to the Mavericks back in 02. Of course Gregg is a dirty liar and cannot be trusted. I would never overreact in such a childish . . . DAMN IT! Aybar just it a two run shot off Wake. 5-0 in the third inning. Wakefield has to be done.

When I get pissy, things that would usually just irritate me infuriate me. For example, at this moment, nothing would make me happier than to punch Frank Caliendo is his fat, unfunny, talentless face. There’s nothing wrong with doing crappy, clich├ęd impressions of celebrities that other comics have been doing for twenty years. But when it’s the only thing you do, I would expect you to be at least competent. But he isn't even that. And Frank Caliendo must now bare the wrath of my misplaced anger. Damn Red Sox.

So last year, the MLB playoffs began its first year being broadcast on TBS. For the most part, I like it. I love Ernie Johnson from the NBA on TNT. Cal Ripken and Dennis Eckersley provide excellent commentary. I always feel like I learn something. And the best part is, that I don’t have to listen to Tim McCarver’s senile babbling, at least until Fox takes over the World Series. Seriously, someone shoot Tim McCarver. Please.

But the sucky thing about the MLB playoffs on TBS other than watching the Red Sox get their asses ripped and bloodied by the f*cking Devil Rays are these damn adds for Frank TV. TBS knows this is the only time a large number of people actually watch their station, so they endlessly pimp out their crappy original programs.

I will give him this much. Frank Caliendo does do a funny John Madden (who is fat). He’s the only one to do it and he nails it pretty well. But that’s where it ends. Look, if you are a fat guy, you are limited in the number of impressions that you can do. A fat guy can’t do impressions of a non fat guy. Skinny guys can do fat guys. But it doesn’t work the other way around. It may not be fair, but it is reality.

George W. Bush is a lot of things. But he is not a fat guy. He’s incompetent, stupid, bumbling, inarticulate, but in know way is he a giant, fat faced slob. So no matter how good the voice is and the facial expressions are, the fatness cancels it all out.

But let’s forget the fat thing for a second. Let’s imagine Frank was a Mystique style changeling that could actually take the form of these celebrities. His impressions still suck. Look at this Seinfeld bit.

I guess the idea of the show is that Frank is such a chameleon, he can play all the rolls. The problem is that the only character he does half way decently is Newman, who happens to be a big fat guy. If you’re going to do a sketch comedy show, just get other more talented people to play the others parts. That is a terrible George and let’s not even mention Elaine (was that Camryn Manheim?). Hell, Jimmy Fallon does a better Seinfeld than that. And when Jimmie Fallon is kicking your ass at anything, you suck floppy donkey balls.

Holy shit. Manny Delcarmen has given up five runs in the sixth inning. To the damn Devil Rays? I don't care that they led the AL all season. They are still the retarded little brother in the AL East. Son of a bitch.

Bush, Clinton, McCain, Nicholson, Dr Phil, Robin Williams, Shatner, DeNiro, Pacino. There are tons of comics who do better impressions of every one of these celebrities than Frank.

Papi just hit a triple and Yuke hit him home. We’re down 11-2. The Red Sox were down 3-1 to the Indians last year in the ALCS. And we are playing the damn Devil Rays, so there is still hope. But I’m still too pissy to be able to abide one more single Frank TV ad.

Nope, just had another one. Al Pacino looks and sounds nothing like that. Nothing at all. Gregg, I’m coming over to your house to break your remote again.

UPDATE: The final score was 13-4. The season now rests on Dice K's arm on Thursday's game 5. Seriously. The Devil Rays?

Monday, October 13, 2008

It Grows On You. Like a Pleasant Fungus

All day long, I have been humming the theme from Peter and the Wolf. And I have no idea why. At every single moment of my life, there is a song playing in my head. Sometimes it’s the focus of my thoughts, other times it’s way in the background. But at all times, my life has some kind theme music that only I hear.

When I was a freshman in high school, my friends confronted me regarding an annoying habit of mine. It was an intervention. Apparently, I was vocally recreating Led Zeppelin solos all day long and it needed to stop. "bow wow now wa na now, na na na now wow ba na now." That was Heartbreaker. If you hate Led Zeppelin, that would be irritating. If you love Led Zeppelin, that would be infuriating. So I tried my best to cut it out.

This all could be ADD. It could be evidence that I will soon snap into a drooling, babbling, pants crapping insanity. I like to think it’s because my creative genius is unfulfilled. But gun to my head, I would probably go with the pants crapping explanation.

There is usually a good reason for which song I happen to be singing. The last song I heard in the car on the way to work. Some annoying radio jingle. But this morning, I ran into a conundrum. For no reason that I can imagine, I found myself humming the theme to Peter and the Wolf. I haven’t heard that tune in years. In fact I’m pretty sure that I have never actually seen the Disney Film. But apparently there is an archive in my brain whose soul purpose is to remember and randomly play that pleasant little ditty. I’m not complaining. Like I said, the tune is pleasant. I’m just confused.

When there is a moment when I don’t have a specific song stuck in my head, than I usually fall back on the same two standards. I never once summon them. They just start playing. These songs are the hold music of my life.

The first is the bass line to Radioheads “National Anthem”. I make no apologies for this. It’s a badass hook. Good for walking around in a crowd in slow motion like a badass.

The second is the theme to Sanford and Son “Bom Bom Wha Num”. Again. No apologies. Quincy Jones knows how to compose.

Somehow when you have a song stuck in your head, it helps to pass it along to someone else. So with any luck you will now be humming Peter and the Wolf all day. If you’re like me, you will have a skip in your step and may find yourself prancing. Just a little bit.

And now, a clip of a mustached, beatboxing flutist playing Peter and the Wolf. Jethro Tull was a pussy.

And here is Turk and JD singing the Sandford and Son theme song.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Since you don't have any collateral, I'm gonna have to break your legs in advance.

There is a sad, little strip mall right by my house on 33rd South in Salt Lake City. This strip mall includes a Big Lots, two dollar stores (which is to say two separate dollar stores, not a $2 store), a thrift store and a smoke shop. That's it. Now they just need to add a Methadone clinic, a no cover strip club and place to sell your plasma to really up the status of the neighborhood.

Actually, last summer they sunk lower than any of those options. They opened a "you were stupid enough to get into crazy debt in the first place now take out a high interest loan against your car title and lose more money you don't have or we will break your thumbs" Check Cashing store. Is it a store? They offer no product and the only service they offer is borderline criminal. So "store" doesn't seem to fit.

The best part about these kind of places is the insultingly stupid commercials they have. They are asking you to make a serious financial commitment and selling it to you like it's Tickle Me Elmo. Stupid cartoons with an asinine jingle and three paragraphs of fine print that's displayed for two seconds.

Let's look quickly at my friend and Payson, Utah resident Gary Coleman. It's a tragically hilarious commercial. Note the legal fine print.

I actually respect the fact that he did this ad. He knows he's a punchline and he embraces it.

This reminded me of PSA's my high school's TV network (ah HTVS, good times) would run during the morning announcements. They would run commercials for the Selective Service that were circa 1984. Now this was in like 1995, before the 80's had any sort of nostalgic quality. At that time the whole decade was just fodder for our edgy sarcasm. Man we had it all figured out with our Doc Martins and flannels tied around our wastes. (By the way, i just derided sarcasm with more sarcasm. That's like crapping on a big pile of crap.)

Just so you know, this PSA is telling you to register for the draft. This makes me feel special because the selective service wants my name. After all, I don't want to break nobody's law (no, no, no). This sure is quick, easy and apparently it's the law. What fun!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wearing Your Badge and Your Trojan White

I witnessed a pretty despicable display yesterday. A couple of co workers and myself went to Leger's for lunch in Sandy. They make a mean sammich. I had the pastrami. The only have room to eat on the sidewalk. It was a chilly day and the sidewalk outside their establishment was in the shade. So we crossed the street to eat our lunch on some benches in front of the Sandy City Building. We ate and chatted and enjoyed the last few days of warm sunshine for the year. Four motorcycle cops pulled into the parking lot and struck up a conversation with a black guy who was walking down the sidewalk.

We all made Rodney King cracks, saying the Sandy Po Po is shaking down the only black guy in the state (not a lot of brothas living in Utah). But we then immediately defended the police. Too often, cops get a bad rap. Often, they are underpaid, unappreciated and unfairly resented. The key word in that last statement was “often”. It was as if they heard our conversation and then went out of their way to betray our confidence.

They made arrangements with this random guy (I assume they paid him) to cross the street, over and over. The four motorcycle cops then hid behind a tree and flagged down motorists who didn’t properly yield to the rat, I mean pedestrian. We sat there for maybe fifteen minutes and they pulled over at least five cars. Not one of those cars came close to hitting the guy. Even though he never made eye contact with any driver and stepped right out in front of traffic, he never had to break his stride. No car came close to hitting him. But enough cars apparently violated the law enough so each of the different Ponches could take turns peeling out of the parking lot, lights and sirens a blaring like they were taking down Bonnie and Clyde.

Now let me tell you something; motorcycle cops have one purpose on this earth and that is to write tickets. They don’t recover stolen property. They don’t confiscate drugs. They don’t arrest the bad guys. Where are they gonna put them? “Hold on to my waist as I drive you to the police station.” They don’t protect, they don’t serve. All the do is shine their boots, wax their mustache and pull over carpooling minivans and jam them up. They treat them like criminals and they steal their money. They do not increase public safety. They generate revenue for the city. That is all.

I've ripped on cops before. I don't want to make this a theme. I am not anti cop. I’m not pulling some ACLU bullshit here. They perform a dangerous, unappreciated service. Like I said cops are the good guys. But how the hell can anyone defend this? Whatever minimal money they generate does not compensate for the resentment they create among their constituency with this dishonest, lazy scam.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wear the Eye Patch, Brett. Wear the Funky, Funky Eye Patch: 5 Bowie Songs

Oh, David Bowie. You androgynous space man freak. For a long time I was reluctant to embrace Bowie’s music. When I was in the fourth grade, I stayed home from school sick. During that day I sat in my basement and watched The Labyrinth while eating a slice of lemon morang pie that I found in the fridge. Now, this wasn’t a Ferris Buehler sick day. I was miserable. And I remember sitting in the dark, watching the Goblin King and his huge bulge. Remember his bulge? I then looked down at a half eaten piece of pie and had to choke back the vomit. I remember thinking, “I hate this moment. I hate this pie, I hate this movie and I hate that spiky haired guy with the bulge.” As a result, I hated lemon morang pie and I refused to listen to Bowie until about five years ago.

Foolish. Completely foolish. The man has made some great Rock and Roll. Don’t get distracted by the gay, sparkly glam crap. And man, it sure can be gay. But, just listen to the music. I really only like his early stuff (his first 8 albums up to Diamond Dogs). He lost his way in the 80's. Most great artists from the 60's and 70's did (Paul, what the hell?). By the way, I have also changed my mind of lemon morang pie. Delicious.

The title of this entry is taken from a line from Flight of the Conchords. If you haven’t seen it, then reform your ways and do it now. The show is about two musicians from New Zealand that are trying to make it in New York. In this clip, Bret (the weedy shy guy) has a dream in which his band mate Jermaine (the ogre looking one) appears to him as David Bowie to give him advice about the music business. Enjoy.
Space Oddity Space Oddity 1969

Bowie always fuses his music with Science Fiction imagery. Here we have story about an astronaut hero that dies by flying too high. It’s a pretty clear reference to drug using rock stars.
Star ManThe Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – 1972

I place this album very high on the list of the great records of all time. I have no idea where exactly. But it’s up there. Star Man is one of its definitive songs.
Song For Bob DylanHunky Dorey – 1971

I love the lead guitar in this song. It sounds like happy crying. One of the first songs Dylan recorded was entitled “Song for Woody Guthrie”. This is a second generation of such a tribute. “A strange young man named Dylan, with a voice like sand and glue.” "You sat behind a million eyes and told them what they saw." Perfect.
All the Young Dudes - All the Young Dudes 1972

Alright, so this one is cheating. This song is by Mott the Hoople. But it was written and produced by Bowie. Mott the Hoople was just his ventriloquist dummy. According to the song credits on Wikipedia, Ian Hunter sang lead vocals on this recording. I say that’s a lie. This has to be David Bowie singing this. At the very least it’s a convincing impression of Bowie. Either way I give him total credit for this song.
Life on Mars Hunky Dory 1971

David Bowie was a busy man in 1971 and 72. Not only did he release the best work of his career, he also produced Lou Reed’s album Transformer. Transformer could very well be my single favorite record of the 1970’s. And there was no shortage of all time great records from that decade. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Life on Mars illustrates Bowie theatrical tenancies in his music and lyrics. This is an apocalyptic science fiction tales of human destruction disguised as a show tune. It has such a bright and happy piano that is accented by that same weeping guitar we heard in Song For Dylan and All the Young Dudes. Damn it, I love the sound of that guitar.

One More – Here is a video from the aforementioned episode of Flight of Conchords. Bowie/Jermaine appears to Bret again to offer more career advice. It then turns into an affectionate satire of Bowie’s song writing and imagery. “Does the space cold make your nipples go pointy?” I don’t know why, but it makes me laugh every time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Quick Thought Regarding Bullriding

So I'm flipping through the channels the other day and I caught a few minutes of Bull Riding. I think rodeo is pretty cool. I have been to a few and have always enjoyed myself. And I have a total respect for the guys that climb on the back of a 8,000 pound bull and ride the thing.

But doesn't it look a little weird to see bull riders wearing a helmet? Don't get me wrong. It's a smart thing to do. There's no way I would climb on the back of an animal that wants to kill me, without one. But I'm just saying it looks funny. A guy riding a bull needs to wear a cowboy hat. It's the rules.

I have worked with cows a little bit on my uncle's farm, growing up. Branding, dehorning, cutting their balls off. That's a tough day for those cows. I imagine if animals that were smaller and weaker than me, say a bunch of cute Pomeranians, pulled that crap with people I knew, I wouldn't like it. And then if one of those same Pomeranians jump on my back and tried to ride me for the amusement of other Pomeranians, I would feel justified in bucking it off and stomping it to death. So the Pomeranian would be wise to protect them self. (That, my friends, is one convoluted metaphor. My apologies)

For the record, I'm all for bull riding. Don't misinterpret that last paragraph. But if the bull riders do get bucked off and trampled, they kind of have it coming. So I'm all for helmets too. But they need to design a helmet / cowboy hat combo. Like a regular helmet whose hard plastic is molded in the shape of a cowboy hat. That or they should wear one of those giant foam cowboy hats over their helmet. That way it could fly off when they swing their arm around. That always looks cool.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Greatest Sport You've Never Seen

It looks like the Real Salt Lake Stadium isn’t a complete waste of tax payer money. November 8th, USA Rugby will host a doubleheader at the newly opened Rio Tinto Stadium (the Real Salt Lake Stadium in Sandy). A USA select XV will play a curtain raiser against New Zealand Heartland. The main event will feature USA’s National team vs. Uruguay’s National Team. If you have ever been interested in seeing rugby played at a high level, I highly recommend purchasing tickets.

Most of the people that read this blog know me pretty well. Those fortunate souls are quite aware of my love of the game of rugby. In fact, you’re all probably pretty tired of hearing about it from me. But I have had 54 entries in this blog and have yet to mention the sport. For this, I am ashamed.

I played rugby for two years in high school and 5 years in college. Up until about a month ago, I helped coach BYU’s rugby team. Rugby has been a dominant element of my life over the last 15 years or so.

I wish I could effectively communicate why I love this sport as much as I do. But I lack the poetic ability to articulate such things, so I won’t try too hard to do so. It is a game that combines the elegant spontaneity of an NBA fast break, the brutality of the NFL and the endurance and strategy of Soccer without the fake injuries and overall douchiness. (I plan on doing a "why soccer sucks" blog in the near future.) No other sport demands more of each individual member of the team than rugby. Man, I wish America would catch on to this.

Now, my tribute to rugby is in no way a jab at football. By football, I mean football. Not friggin soccer. Damn it, if you are an American don't ever call soccer football. Nothing could be more insulting. But the rugby v football thing is a common argument. Which is the tougher game. I think that conversation is a waste of time. There’s plenty of room for both, my friends.

It’s hard to enjoy a sport that you don’t understand. Here is a link to a brief overview of the game. As you watch the following clips, you may be a little confused but don't worry about that. Just sit back and enjoy.

I watched quite a bit of rugby clips on Youtube, trying to find a good one. Most of them were on par with a high school football highlight video complete with stupid titles like "A real man's sport" or "Are you tough enough?" as they show illegal hits and cheap shots all to the "music" of Limp Bizkut (seriously, play that clip on mute). Man, I hate Limp Biscutt. They are the musical equivilant of huffing gasoline.

For the record, it is illegal to hit a player while they are in the air. Also, you cannot tackle above the shoulders and you must make an attempt to rap up. A violation of these rules usually leads to time in the penalty box or ejection from the game. So a lot of the hits in that link are total cheap shots. It's like have a football highlight film of facemasks and blocks in the back.

Although a lot of these montages have some sweet hits, they miss the full beauty of the sport. In fact, this sort of depiction disrespects and misrepresents the sport. Unfortunately, rugby has been dominated in America by unskilled, drunken assholes that just want to fight. If you see a jacked up Jeep with a bumper sticker that says "give blood, play rugby" you can pretty much bet that a. they are a member of the aforementioned group and b. they suck at rugby.

Here is a really good clip from a game played between England and Ireland last year. It features some great hits, but it also has some fantastic loose play, rolling mauls, vicious rucks and perfect kicks. Also, I am impressed with the camera work.

Here's another clip that shows the game in regular speed.