Saturday, August 28, 2010

What we learn from Bristol Palin

If you have sex when you're a teenager, you might get pregnant. [NOTE: Technically, there are many other situations where one might get pregnant, this is just about what we learn from Bristol, who remains an unmarried teen mom, and her kid a bastard.]

If you get pregnant as an unmarried teen, you will be forced to endure jobs as a spokesperson earning a mere $16,000 per engagement (sigh, and that's gross--you have to, like, totally pay people a percentage of that which is totally, like, sucky).

And forced to appear on cable shows.

Until... UNTIL, you are on Dancing with the Stars. Which makes you a star. Suck on that girls who DON'T have sex and/or use birth control. You're not stars.

But Bristol Palin is totally a fucking star!

Just like her mama, who was ALSO knocked up before marriage.

Congratulations all around.

Congratulations to MSI LiveSTRONG Hood-to-Coast

Ass kicking complete! For this year...

Mash-up of the day: "You've Got the Dirtee Love"

(h\t to Clinton)

Florence Welch of Florence + the Machines also has a birthday today. Holy shit, she's only 24. God I'm old.

Here she is showing off her remarkable voice with Mercury Prize nominee (and possible winner) Dizzee Rascal from the BRITs earlier this year. It sounds great, and I'm hoping the audio track is just not synced well with the video and they're not lip-syncing. Cause this rocks!

And happy birthday Florence! Rock on!

Happy Birthday David Fincher

Back before Oscar-nominated director David Fincher made Fight Club and turned into every 20-something male's favorite director (technically it started with Seven, but I think Fight Club was the cherry on that sundae), he established himself as a director of some of the top music videos of the late 80s and early 90s. In fact, he won a Grammy for his work with the Rolling Stones. Which is one Grammy more than Liza Minelli.

While The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a much better movie than reviews led me to expect, I'm just gonna play some of my favorite of his videos. I'm tired, you're not that interested in what I have to say, and this addresses both of our issues.

What should we look for? Lots of walking. Lots of saturated colors in darkened spaces which CUT TO B&W and then back. Lots of off-kilter angles. Dead leaves or trash blowing around. Stark or empty spaces save for something quasi-industrial in the space. And lots and lots of shadows. Just like in Seven where none of the overhead lights seem to ever be an option (fuck, "Janie's Got a Gun" pretty much IS Seven), you'll see flashlights, shadows, beams of light from the darkness, etc. Everybody uses these elements today, but Fincher gets credit for introducing this shit.

Fincher's first rock videos were for Rick Springfield, back in 1984. Holy crap, here's "Celebrate Youth"--I'm not saying Steven Spielberg took his "girl in the red coat" from Schindler's List directly from this video... (DOT DOT DOT) but you totally know he did.

Oh, and drop cloths. Don't forget the drop cloths. From 1987, Bourgeois Tagg.

Say what you will about Paula Abdul's musical talent or her dancing (CUE: CRICKETS), this is a fucking great video. I seem to recall it stole a bunch of MTV video music awards away from whomever that year's top nominee was (probably Madonna)--Fincher received 3 of the 5 nominations for Best Direction that year.

It WAS Madonna, and it was THIS video.

Here's Jody Watley from 1989--I'm pretty sure this was his third nomination that year.

Okay kids, almost done. First, George Michael refused to make music videos to support Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, but blames its lower sales (as compared to Faith) on the record label and its President, who went on to marry Mariah Carey (who made SHITLOADS of videos, and went anyplace that would have her). The label tried to make videos without him, and this one actually was hugely successful. And if you don't see this as George's official coming out song... um, hello.

And finally, the chronology's off by concluding with this one, but I think it is the culmination of Fincher's visual style that takes us into his motion picture work. And check out Leslie Ann Warren as the mom (as I watch this, I'm genuinely impressed with the work she's doing--I love her over-the-top, but here she tackles a dialog-free role with a nice range), and I always thought this was Christopher Guest as the dad. It's not, it's his brother Nicholas Guest. Also, Christopher Guest has a brother named Nicholas.

So there you have it, lots of flashlights in the dark. Oh, and if you haven't seen Benji Button, you totally should. It's remarkably good.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Bang Bang Bang"

Mark Ronson + a new Mark Ronson band (The Business International) + Amanda Warner from MNDR + Q-Tip = the first single from Record Collection. That's a lot to keep track of so stop, take a breath, and trust me--this is more running music, and that's all you need to know today.

A little HTC motivational music: "Run Run Run"

For my ass-kicking coworkers (and their proxies) who are running Hood to Coast. Here's Concrete Blonde.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The stigma against lazy, self-centered assholes

Finally being discussed openly. Thank you The Onion!

In The Know: Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give A Shit?

Happy Birthday Tim Burton and Paul Reubens

I missed Burton's birthday earlier in the week and had every intention of writing about Ed Wood (I think it's his best work overall), but Reuben's birthday today makes it easy to enthuse (yet again [here] [here]) about Pee-wee's Big Adventure. It's a fucking great movie!!!!!!


And I'm not being ironic. (Unless I totally am, because I'd never admit it. But I'm not.)

The movie has a lot of really great shit going on. It's part epic quest, part love story, part prisoner escape, part musical ("Tequila"), and part horror film.

25 years later I don't hear many people talking about Witness or Prizzi's Honor or The Color Purple (okay, but only because it became a musical, although as I type this I think Prizzi's Honor has the trappings of a great musical, get on that Marc Shaiman).

It is Tim Burton's first feature, Danny Elfman's second film score, Paul Reubens's first sceenplay, Phil Hartman's first screenplay (rest in peace dude), and, AND, it's got Jan Hooks.

Why isn't Jan Hooks a huge star?! That is just wrong.

Anyway, great movie. Great. Like "all-time great" great.

Belated happy birthday to Burton. Happy birthday to Reubens.

Rock on both of you!

Congratulations to Ken Mehlman, you big slut

Stupid war criminal (l) and evil whore (r).
He's a big slut because he fucked every gay man in America. (And the lesbians too.)

Wait, he got paid to fuck us... technically he's a whore. Ken Mehlman, you big whore.

He's  the youngest person ever to win both the Lee Atwater Lifetime Achievement Award and now the Roy Cohn Lifetime Achievement Award.

He receives bonus Irony Points based on his role as a trustee of the Holocaust Museum--perhaps what drew him to the position was the Nazi's persecution of homosexuals and what he could learn from that to assist the George W. Bush (war criminal) administration in its persecution of teh gayz. (Not that Karl Rove needs help from anyone; even Lee Atwater watches from Hell thinking "ooh, that's just evil.")

Next up? Hmmm, what's the auto-antisemitic equivalent?

Song of the Day: "Tiger"

A little running music for my coworkers participating in today's Hood to Coast Relay (details here). This is Maximum Balloon featuring Aku (I have no real details on the band, sorry). Good luck guys and gals.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Was it a millionaire who said 'imagine no possessions'"

I missed a couple of birthdays this week--Elvis Costello is one. Or should I say international jewel thief Declan MacManus?

I pale in the presence of his real fans, but I have an awful lot of respect for him. Which may seem like a hollow statement since this is the song I'm playing to honor him--"The Other Side of Summer"--it's not really considered among his best or most important.

But the cynicism of the lyrics and the optimism of the music are perfectly mated, and the highs here for the next week will be in the 70s, so as far as I'm concerned it's the other side of summer here in Portland OR.

Elvis Costello - the other side ...
Uploaded by bebepanda. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

I'm a little too tired to give him his due, but dude is a fucking genius and I'm just not up for 30+ years of music. Oh, and AND he's fucking prolific too.

I can't hang.

So happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Introducing Time Advanced

(h\t Glenn Greenwald at Salon)

Hysterical. And sadly kinda true.

TIME Announces New Version Of Magazine Aimed At Adults

Glenn Beck on Saturday

It's going to be so fucking awesome when he admits, in front of throngs of his devoted followers, that the last 2 years have been complete bullshit and that he's nothing but a performance artist who's created this dedicated group of followers by being a complete sham.



Song of the Day: "Come With Me"

It's credited to ceo (all lower case, no periods), but is actually the name of a solo project from Eric Berlund of the Tough Alliance. I don't know the Tough Alliance or Berlund, and "ceo" is a really vague search string by itself or when used with "(band)." But the 3 or 4 times I've heard this song it's made such an impression on me that I had 3 separate reminder emails that I sent myself to post this as a song of the day.

According to Pitchfork (here) this is the Balearic beat (aka "the sound of Ibiza" which I'd always thought  was the sound of Eurotrash snobs chain smoking while debating whether Prada or Fendi shoes are better, #ohsnap), and this song has future commercial music bed all over it. But in the best possible way. Seriously, just listen. The Honda Sales Days are ending soon. The new Holly Hunter/Liam Neeson romantic comedy starts March 8th. Norwegian Cruise Lines cruises are fun. And Kohl's opens at 8 a.m. for this special one-day sale.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The gracious way to deal with a coworker's absence

Is probably not to make them a custom greeting card at someecards claiming they're in rehab. (Click image to embiggen.)
But you should totally go there and vote for my... I mean that... card. The card creator doesn't actually win anything, except the joy of being rated! Which, if you think about it, is the whole premise of No Child Left Behind.

For your weekend entertainment

Artwork by Alex Fernandez
Previously on the Rebel Agenda (here) we discussed my love for Atomic Arts' Star Trek in the Park production of "Space Seed."

Their bonus performance is this Sunday at the Bagdad on SE Hawthorne. Doors at 7, show at 8, and followed by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I would totally go if it weren't competing with the Emmys that night--I have to root for Modern Family. And Colbert.

But if you missed it and you wished you hadn't, make the time on Sunday. You'll be glad you did.

The Atomic Arts website is here although there aren't any additional details.

Song of the Day: "Any Which Way"

From the new Scissor Sisters album Night Work. It's going to be one of "those" days.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Congrations to The Colbert Report writers

The Colbert Report is one of my most cherished shows, and its writing team won an Emmy at this past weekend's Creative Arts Emmys. It's great to see that white men are able to get work as writers (finally), even though Maria Sonia Sotomayor is on the Supreme Court (maybe they started before her quota system was implemented).

Congratulations all!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Wins an Emmy
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Why can't they be both?

The Daily Show asks the question "is FOX News evil or stupid?" Required viewing.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Parent Company Trap
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Song of the Day: "Home"

I suspect the Mercury Prize for Music will go to Mumford & Songs, Dizzee Rascal, The xx, or possibly Paul Weller. They're solid records, and all 4 of those artists had crossed my path before the short list was announced. The band that I discovered with the release of the short list that has impressed me most is Villagers. So I'm going to them for another SotD.

Here's an acoustic version of the same track:

Monday, August 23, 2010

"America is at the mall"

(h\t Bill in Exile)

One of Scott's readers sent him this photo and the sentiment is too perfect not to share.

"America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall."

Happy Birthday Queen Noor and Scott Caan

It was difficult for me to pick between these two important public figures for today's birthday. Queen Noor of Jordan has been an important advocate for humanitarian causes, and a broker of relations between the West and the Middle East.

While Scott Caan is a hot hot hot slab of beef who isn't afraid to take his shirt off on screen.

One of them is working to ban landmines. The other made Into the Blue and had his shirt on like only 30% of his time on screen (and, AND, Paul Walker didn't either).

They both got boosts to their careers from their fathers: Noor's father offered her the job that first took her to Jordan, while Caan's father is an actor who was popular in the 70s. But they have both proven themselves with their own accomplishments--even with their shirts on.

However, since Queen Noor of Jordan isn't a surfer, she hasn't given the world candid photos like this one. (Shoot me an email if you'd like the uncensored version.)

I think it's pretty clear that we have a winner.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on! (And rock out...)

And Queen Noor, you too may rock on!

The secret phrase: grandiose demagoguery

Rep. Ron Paul (R, TX) and my junior Senator, Jeff Merkley (D, OR) both made statements on Park 51, the YMCA for Muslims that is planned for the site of an abandoned retail store in lower Manhattan.

Merkley's OpEd piece for the Oregonian was rock solid, and deserves reading (it's here), but I'm not quoting it because he's too diplomatic (which is okay, I guess--just because I lack the ability not to say whatever the fuck pops into my head, however inappropriate, doesn't mean everyone should). He treats the opponents of the center as though they can be swayed by logic.

Paul's statement (at his website, which is overloaded, so find it here as well) is much stronger, which is why he'll get quoted:
"It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don't want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society--protecting liberty."
"We now have an epidemic of 'sunshine patriots' on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there's no controversy and nobody is offended.
"Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored."
In the Political Demagoguery parade, Newt Gingrich is at the front, with his whistle and baton, Sarah Palin's sitting on the boot of a convertible with her Ms. Half-Term Governor sash, and Rush Limbaugh is on the last float, the parade's grand finale. Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann are broadcasting the parade, looking for all kinds of hidden messages and interpreting some Bizarro Constitution.

RIP Micheal Been

Singer/guitarist for The Call, Been died from a heart attack last week, while working as a sound engineer at a concert of his son's band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. "Let the Day Begin" is their biggest hit, but I always think of this song when I think of the band (which, granted, isn't all that often).

Rest in peace dude.

Song of the Day: "I'm Back"

Remember how we all memorized the Preamble to the Constitution via Schoolhouse Rock? Knowing it verbatim was part of the Regents' Test to graduate from a Georgia college or university way back when (it might still be part of that test), which I'm sure predates Schoolhouse Rock, as my auditorium of test takers was filled with the sound of barely audible humming of that very tune--once people knew it before college, why test on it? Music is a good way to educate.

And thank god Alexander O'Neal figured that out. His new song "I'm Back" will teach you how to spell his name. Apparently it's a-l-e-x-a-n-d-e-r-o-n-e-a-l. Possibly he was tired of reading "Alexander O'Neil"... I can totally understand why. I love this song because it picks up where "Fake" left off ("your hair's still short").

Oh goodie, the next step in the dissolution of the middle class

It's "backdoor privatization" and that's not code for anal sex. (Yet.) Alyssa Battistoni at Salon (here) has an article titled "The Creeping Threat of Backdoor Privatization" that's starting my rage early this morning.

Parents are being asked to supply toilet paper for the kids at school this year.

Public transportation programs and other public services slashed or eliminated. Police and fire budgets cut, which means slower response for things like rape investigations. Financial aid for middle income families is starting to dry up, which is going to erode college enrollments (although this might bolster the community college system, which I've grown to really appreciate, but not because of NBC's "hit" comedy Community).

"Certainly, some budget cuts are necessary in difficult economic times. But when we decide it’s better to turn off street lights and shut down bus lines than to raise taxes on the rich, reduce charitable tax deductions, or create a value-added tax, we are deciding that the quality and availability of the public goods should be determined by the amount individuals can pay -- and not the amount a rich nation can afford. It’s a choice that undermines not only our claim that we value 'ordinary Americans' as equals but also our ability to produce the healthy, educated, productive population on which our future prosperity depends."

If you want to wind me up, tell me that we need to end the capital gains tax to spur job creation. It will go well, I assure you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hey, I went to college with that guy

I was in the room while Clark was getting caught up on True Blood episodes tonight, when one of the show's Post Mortem segments came on and there he was.

The actor playing Jerry McCafferty (sounds a lot like Gerry Rafferty, don't you think) is John Burke, and he's won 2 Daytime Emmys (for AMC's Behind the Screen with John Burke in one of the "special class" categories that I can't keep straight--it's the Daytime Emmys, I just don't have that kind of time).

He's also one of the nicest guys in the world. Or he was mumble mumble years ago when we were taking acting classes and working at the radio station together.

Meanwhile I make pretty pie charts for a living.

Anyway, there's one of my brushes with greatness. It's a sliding scale.

Happy Birthday Roland Orzabel

The first song I heard from Tears for Fears was "Change" which is sung by Curt Smith. I assumed that Smith was the driving force behind the band. I was wrong. Roland and Curt co-founded the band, but Orzabel became the primary lyricist and arranger of their sound.

Arguably The Seeds of Love is Tears for Fears' (and therefore Orzabel's) best album. It maintains the high quality of lyrics that the first 2 albums have, but musically it embraces a more ambitious sound. It's Beatlesque psychedelica, but it's more than that.

I'm not being snarky in saying that Oleta Adams is the Helen Terry of Tears for Fears. Her voice is integral to TSOL in the way that Terry's made Colour by Numbers so special.

Tears for Fears were woefully unappreciated by the Grammys, and this album's sole nomination was for Producer of the Year (credited to Tears for Fears and David Bascombe). I think Oleta Adams has fared better as a solo artist, in terms of Grammy nominations, because she's easier to compartmentalize ("put her in R&B").

Blah blah blah, here's the music.

"Could you be, could you be squeaky clean
And smash any hope of democracy?"
The first single was "Sowing the Seeds of Love"--it went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and its video picked up 2 Video Music Awards.

"Calls her man the 'Great White Hope'
Says she's fine, she'll always cope"
The second single was "Woman in Chains," another Top 40 single, and as the opening track of the album, the first time most of us heard Oleta Adams.

"While they play mothers and fathers
We play little boys and girls"
The third single "Advice for the Young at Heart" only reached #89 on the Billboard Hot 100, and this video was the last to include both Roland Orzabel and Curt Smith--Smith left the band in 1990, while Orzabel continued to record as Tears for Fears for a few releases, then tried a solo album. They reunited in 2005.

"All our love and all our of pain
Will be but a tune"
The band's record label (Fontana) decided to release a fourth single from the album, without getting the consent of the band. I guess they couldn't pass on the potential for prescience in selected "Famous Last Words" but it's really just a footnote for their discography.

So there you go, a piece of musical excellence from birthday boy Roland Orzabel.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

The genius of Savage Chickens

(h\t Boing Boing)

Lots of funny shit at their website (here). Here is just a small sample. (Click image to embiggen.)

Song of the Day: "Wishing He Was Dead"

The Like are from LA with and have been releasing music since 2005, but this is the first I've heard them (at least that I recall hearing them). There's been substantial line-up change, with only 2 founding members remaining (it's the white Destiny's Child)--the band is calling it The Like 2.0. Having not heard 1.0, I can't really compare them. But this one embraces a retro Brit pop sound that I like, even if it does have a slight aura of "gimmick" to it. Still, it's a good single.

Congratulations Emmy winners

The Colbert Report picked up the Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series (it won that category 2 years ago). Colbert might finally unseat The Daily Show in the Best Variety, Music or Comedy Series category based on his shows from Iraq.

Robot Chicken picked up the Short-Form Animated Program Emmy, which I think means Seth Green now has an Emmy.

Sadly H. Jon Benjamin did not win in the Voice Over Emmy category. Anne Hathaway won for The Simpsons which makes failing to award Harry Shearer for his work on the show even more egregious.

Modern Family won for series casting--I actually mentioned that specifically (here). That's got to be worth another gift basket.

And finally, in the Commercial category (yes, there is one), the easy to predict winner was this gem for Old Spice:

Congratulations all.

Congratulations Ann-Margret

Ann-Margret rounds out the quartet with her first ever Emmy win (her sixth nomination), for Law & Order: SVU. That's the fifth win in this category for SVU in the last 6 years (Amanda Plummer, Leslie Caron, Ellen Burstyn, and Cynthia Nixon also won). No clip is available, so this will stand in (with Tina Turner playing the Chris Meloni role).

Congratulations John Lithgow

Lithgow also picks up his fifth Emmy last night, for Guest Actor in a Drama, as the Trinity Killer on Dexter.

Congratulations Betty White

She picked up her fifth Emmy last night, for hosting Saturday Night Live (Guest Actress in a Comedy). It really is her year, isn't it.

Congratulations Neil Patrick Harris

Neil breaks his run of bad luck at the Emmys with 2 wins at the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony last night: Guest Actor in a Comedy (Glee), and Special Class Programming (his turn hosting the Tonys). It's not unusual for long-suffering nominees to break their bad luck with multiple wins, so I won't be surprised if he picks up another next weekend at the regular ceremony.