Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Really Don’t Think This Is What Genghis Kahn Had In Mind, Part 2

  So there we are at the Dallas Cowboys outlet store, wherein my sister Roni is doing some very serious shopping. Of course, because of the stroke, Roni’s actual participation in the physical aspects of shopping is somewhat limited. Instead, she functions mainly as the brains of the operation, while the rest of us are mere minions in her servitude, gamboling about and snatching up things at her insistent direction.

  Now, there is definitely an art in attending to Roni’s whims and desires. In addition to her limited mobility, her vocal skills are not very cooperative, thus requiring that she communicate via interesting noises and dramatic flourishing of her good arm. (Sometimes it’s VERY dramatic flourishing. Do NOT park Roni near crystal figurines when she has something to share. Or when the Cowboys aren’t winning.)

  So we must carefully review what Roni is expressing, lest there be an unsavory misinterpretation on our part leading to dissatisfaction and civil unrest. As with many languages, Roni-ese is full of subtle variations. For instance, a low growl combined with a nod of the head and two flicked fingers can mean “I must immediately pee,” whereas a low growl combined with a nod of the head and THREE flicked fingers can mean “I’d like a cheeseburger, hold the pickle, a diet soda, onion rings with that nice Persian ketchup that we found that one time at the international market in Tucson, and the TV channel needs to be changed to a station currently playing a ‘MacGyver’ rerun.”

  (To be fair, Mom is much better at the role of interpreter than I am. Mom can just glance at Roni and then immediately scurry off to begin remodeling the house in the exact manner that has just been suggested. I can stare at Roni for a full five minutes and then come to the simple but brilliant conclusion of “I think she needs something”. We all have our ceilings.)

  Anyway, back to the Dallas Cowboys outlet. Mom is busily wheeling Roni about, with the two of them conversing in the special language, resulting in a growing pile of Cowboys couture and accessories in Roni’s lap. As they are thusly occupied, I wander off into another section of the store, one where they have racks of ladies apparel that supports both the Cowboys AND breast cancer awareness, meaning most of the items are imbued with a lovely pink shade. And, surprisingly, these things are really cute.

  My sister Dawn is a fan of pink and cute, so I give her a call. “We’re at the Cowboys outlet and-”

  That’s all Dawn needs to know. “I don’t want anything.”

  I sigh. “But they have some really cute pink shirts that I KNOW you’ll like.”

  “I don’t like the Cowboys.”


  “Why don’t you call us when you’re leaving the store and we’ll decide what to do next. Gotta jet.” Just before she fully disconnects the phone, I believe I hear niece Tristany squeal something triumphant and then hurl a watermelon through a plate-glass window. I’m not certain of this, of course, but I’m sure I’ll get all the details later, probably over a glass or two of strong vodka.

  I shove my phone back in my pocket and rejoin Roni and the personal shopper who also happened to give birth to her. (36 hours of labor, if I recall. We knew right then she was going to be a handful.) It appeared that everything in the store had been properly fingered and considered, and the two of them were ready for the part where financial assets were redistributed as we did our part to revive the economy.

  There was enough Cowboys attire on the checkout counter that one could easily build a sizeable tent city. A place I might have to go live once I paid for all this mess. Shirts and hoodies, fresh duplicates of the little stuffed bear that started this whole thing, even a Cowboys nutcracker for Christmas. I gulped, awaiting the possibly life-changing moment when a final total was announced.

  Three minutes later we were headed out the door, with me having paid a mere fifty bucks. That’s it. The same price you could easily pay for ONE jersey in the regular Cowboys stores. Everyone was justly pleased and celebrations were planned. (Moral of the story: If you, or someone you wish to bestow gifts upon, love you some Cowboys, do NOT pay full retail for memorabilia. Get your butt to Irving and find that outlet. Sure, it might be last year’s stuff, but really, how many ways can you display a silver star on a blue background?)

  But the joyous mood quickly dampened.

  We pile in the car, and Mom has this to express: “Little parched, here. Let’s stop and grab something to drink..”

  Okay, sounds innocent enough, can’t be too much pain involved with that. So we make our way out of the oddly-unpopulated business park where the Cowboys outlet is located, and within mere minutes I spy a convenience store. I pull into a parking spot and Mom hops out. She’s just going to dash in there and snatch up some beverages real quick, no need for all of us to go through the Big-Ass Wheelchair Production Number with the cast of thousands that it normally takes to get Roni in full-transport mode.

  It turns out that Mom and I have a different definition for the word “dash”.

  I should have known that we were in trouble before she even walked away from the vehicle. When she softly queried what I might desire to moisten my vocal cords, I simply replied “Gatorade. Any flavor.” This proved to be a badly-flawed decision on my part.

  See, here’s my reasoning. Every convenience store carries Gatorade in some form. It’s just a thing that happens, possibly the result of an underhanded, cruel monopoly of some kind, but that’s unimportant to this story. And I like every flavor of this substance basically the same. Because they taste the same, relatively speaking. It doesn’t matter if the flavor is Mountain Breeze or Dewberry Deluge or Super Yak Extreme. In the end, it’s all just chemically-treated water that hydrates me. And that’s all I want.

  So when I decree “any flavor,” I mean just that. March your butt up to the cooler and grab the first thing that says Gatorade. No need for analysis, no need for research, no need to elicit constructive commentary from strangers standing nearby and waiting for their bucket of fake nachos with the plastic cheese and the resultant intestinal discomfort. Just grab and go.

  Mom sauntered into the store. Roni and I sat in the car and waited.

  And waited.

  And we waited some more. Two years later, there’s still no sign of her.

  I sighed, leaned forward to get a better angle, and began to peruse what I could of the activities within the store. This was probably going to prove a fruitless effort, because Mom is so short. Seriously short. Like two foot three, or something like that. Tiny. Mom climbing into an SUV is like other people scaling Mt. Everest. She has to run and jump a lot just to get places, like the next step in a staircase.

  So I’m scanning the interior, watching people waltz about in that slightly manic, unfocused way that folks have in unfamiliar convenience stores. Nobody knows where anything is, nobody is sure what they really want, there’s the whole contemplation of whether or not you should use the facilities, just in case, and everything is topped off with the apparent convenience-store regulation that there be at least one incredibly smelly person wandering around that you need to avoid, causing you to abruptly veer off course and start you whole decision-making process all over again.

  And did I mention that Mom’s short? And that she can scamper like a gazelle when the mood strikes her? Trying to find Mom in a crowd of people is like looking for a cotton ball in a forest of Redwoods. I couldn’t tell where the hell she was. Except for the checkout counter. I could see that area clearly, and there were no cotton balls in line.

  I sighed and looked at Roni. She sighed and looked at me. Then she made a small, abrupt noise and shoved four fingers into the air. This translates as: “I am tired of waiting on this woman. Here’s the plan. I want you to put the car in gear, floor it, and crash through the front of the store. While you drive up and down the aisles, I’ll hang out the window over here, and I’ll grab her if I see her. If we don’t find her in thirty seconds, then screw it. We’ll leave her ass here and go get something to eat.”

  We both thought that was really funny, and chuckled accordingly. Then we both almost screamed when somebody threw open one of the passenger doors. It was Mom, crinkly plastic bag in hand, apologizing for taking so long but there were just so MANY different kinds of Gatorade that she wasn’t sure what to do. Then she spent another five minutes trying to get enough clearance to actually get into the car.

  Roni caught my eye again. Then she made a small, abrupt noise and shoved three fingers into the air. This meant: “Same plan that we just discussed. Crash into the store, yadda yadda. Only this time I throw her out the window along with important papers she might need, including a signed document that we have no idea who she is. And then we drive off. Got it?”

  I gunned the engine…

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull - “On The Floor”

  We start off in what looks like an alley, with a fancy car driving along (It’s a BMW, in case you didn’t notice the prominent product placement as the camera lingers lovingly on the hood emblem) while steam billows and music softly plays. We see Jennifer (or at least her body double) getting out of this car, wearing a black hoodie and her hair perfectly fabulous despite the billowing steam that would destroy lesser women who aren’t millionaires. There’s also a guy in the car, but he doesn’t get out, so we’ll have to assume that he’s not important.

  Jennifer saunters over to another location in the alley, where the odd purple light makes her look even prettier, and she opens a small gift box from “Swarovski”. (That means some serious bling, people.) Jenn pulls out something that might be an earring or some belly-piercing d├ęcor or a fancy IUD. It doesn’t matter what it is, somebody spent some cash. You have to respect gifts from a store where people with low credit levels would be shot on sight.

  I guess it’s an earring, since Jennifer shoves this thing through her earlobe. (Or maybe she just doesn’t understand what an IUD is. She’s a very busy girl and doesn’t have time for research.) Then we cut to… I don’t know what this place is. Presumably it’s somewhere nearby, since we get a quick glimpse of Jennifer, even though she’s wearing a different outfit and sitting in a pose that speaks of royalty and not having to pay taxes.

  Suddenly, in another part of this place that seems to have an overabundance of chandeliers, we see Pitbull giving a shout-out to J-Lo while minions fawn around him. Back to Jennifer in yet another outfit, one that requires her to look effortlessly beautiful while fans blow her hair about. Quick shot of an unnamed mime, with some background detail letting us know that this is either a nightclub or the Paris Opera.

  Jennifer again, first doing something standing near a wall with an odd ballet bar, then another taste of her in that regal outfit which now requires her to sprawl on a fancy French couch. Brief shot of Pit, then more Jennifer, with her fiddling with what might be a hair-based cupcake on her head. And then, BAM, we’re off and running with the jump-cutting. I’ll just have to report what I can catch as things whiz by.

  For starters, Pitbull still hasn’t figured out that he’s not as attractive as he firmly believes that he is. He’s still doing that trademark snarl thing where he sings out of the side of his mouth, not understanding that he looks like a Chihuahua with development issues. We also have some dude/chick/thing running around with face glitter, and Jennifer doing something that requires her to grasp her head and dance in front of that wall in a glittery outfit so tight that we can see pelvic bone. (Honey, EAT something.)

  Pitbull raps something about backing it up “like a Tonka truck” (he’s so considerate), and then Jennifer does just that, booty-waving with a frenzy at the ballet bar while wearing sparkly high heels. We also get shots of Queen Jennifer and her cupcake on the fancy couch, and then we’re back to Ballet Jennifer and her hair, gyrating and twirling like she is personally responsible for creating enough energy to supply all of North America.

  More jump-cutting, where we realize that Queen Jennifer is possibly being eaten alive by a gold metallic plant, and shots of the dance floor (where did THAT come from) with people so moved by the participation of Jennifer and Bull that they have to do a Line Dance of Worship. Ballet Jennifer does something with her finger and Queen Jennifer does something with her arm. (I believe the entire script of the video is encapsulated in the previous sentence. Just guessing.)

  This goes on for a while, with more of the same quick shots of Jennifer and Pitbull, people achieving orgasm on the dance floor, and nobody ugly permitted on the set. We do have a few new developments, like Queen Jennifer finding a cane under her throne and waving it about, and Pitbull finally coming up with a new signature gesture, this one involving him doing something vaguely Italian with his hand.

  The music suddenly slows down for a bit, but all this really means is that the jump-cutting slows down as well, so that we get to really study the fine artistic subtleties of drunken people losing their inhibitions on the dance floor while a new Jennifer makes an appearance on that same floor, with her carloads of hair and mystifying lack of clothing inciting the extras to shimmy and shake with renewed fervor and disregard for personal responsibility.

  The Newest Jennifer apparently has an incredible ability to get everyone in the club involved in her personal need to express an enjoyment of life via exuberant hand gestures that just might raise The Dead. On the flip side, Queenly Jennifer and Kingly Pitbull gaze disparagingly on Aerobics Jennifer with a certain amount of disdain mixed with slight jealousy that a common citizen who came through the front door of this club has actually gotten the party started.

  More shots of chandeliers. Not sure what’s up with that, but I’m assuming that proper lighting is very important to these people.

  And we continue with more of the same. Common People Jennifer has the crowd going wild, while Queen Jenn and King Pit continue to wrinkle their noses, while simultaneously harboring deep desires to be loved by one and all without having to sweat or pay the salaries of people who shouldn’t be voting anyway.

  Seriously, this theme goes on for a VERY long time. Fly Girl Jennifer gets the street cred, while the Club Royalty finally realizes that maybe they ain’t all that and should start doing the right thing. (A concept that never occurs to the Republican Party. Imagine that.) We do get a brief interlude where Ballet Jennifer (whose party affiliation is not clear) does some nice slo-mo movements while fireflies or nuclear particles drift about around her.

  But really, this is all about The People’s Jennifer, especially when she does a segment where she twirls energetically without actually revealing anything like Miss Jackson If You’re Nasty did. For whatever stupid reason, the producers let Pitbull rap some more, but really, I think we all understand at this point that Pitbull is just in it for the skanky ho’s and the continued disillusionment that he actually has anything to contribute.

  We still jump-cut around for a bit, but it’s no longer important. Dance Floor Jennifer is going to win this thing, hands down, and it’s only a matter of time (seconds?) before the commoners revolt and rip the silly cupcake off Queen Jennifer’s head. As for Pitbull, well, it really wouldn’t be polite of me to bring up his fate in mixed company….

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube….

Saturday, March 26, 2011

10 Things I Noticed While Driving to Odessa, TX

1. The shocking incident involving phallic violence.

  So we pull into Whataburger, because we’re pigs and we like grease. While Terry dashes inside, I spy one of those little cylindrical stands where you can drop off your cigarette butt before purchasing cholesterol-affecting consumables. And I see that some fool has tried shoving a  BANANA into the tiny hole on top, and the operation has failed.

  Really? First, who the hell would even have a banana at this place? It’s certainly not on the menu, which means that somebody actually brought the damn thing with them. Second, right next to the cigarette thing is an actual trash can. Yet the Banana Bandit chose to use the smaller vessel, knowing it wouldn’t fit, and then walked off and left the fleshy fruit dangling for the world to see. What kind of person would do that?

  I quietly locked the car doors, just in case.

2. The further west you get, the examples of probable inbreeding increase.

  Is there only ONE woman in this half of the state that can get pregnant? Geez.

3. Cows are fun to watch.

  I don’t know why they amuse me so, but they do. Maybe it has something to do with driving past so many thousands of them that I had to either love them or hate them. I chose joy. Besides, there’s just something very appealing about the word “cud”.

4. These people love them some Jesus.

  Every other billboard invites passersby to come fellowship at yet another entry in a very long line of houses of worship. Which is fine and dandy. Then we hurtle past the latest example, like TreeFrogVille Baptist Church, the Lutheran Lodge, or Bubba’s Christian Bait and Tackle Shop (“Get hooked on the Lord!”), only to find that the years have not been kind to many of these places

  Maybe at some point the faithful flocked here in droves to attend a Praise Palace that was splendid and inspiring and people couldn‘t wait to throw money into the gilded offering plates, but now all I’m seeing is a rundown shack with nary a parishioner in sight and a rusted, wheel-less pickup truck the only thing now bearing witness. Sad, really. But don’t worry. Stick around fifteen minutes and another church will open up next door.

5. Apparently the crime rate is very low in these little towns.

  Because all of the police cars are lined up along Interstate 20, just waiting for you to do something stupid so they can turn on their sirens, rather than cruising around the neighborhoods and protecting the citizens. We just passed five squad cars in a 10-mile span. Like THAT’S not overkill. I’m thinking maybe these little towns can spend their payroll budget on better things. Like schools. And birth control.

6. They sure have a lot of queens in West Texas.

  Dairy Queens, that is. For the uninitiated, Dairy Queens are food joints that specialize in deep-fried and gravy-drenched offerings. There’s not a single healthy thing on the menu, and there never will be, that’s the whole point. You don’t really see these all that much in urban areas in any more, but you get out here, and there are almost as many Dairy Queens as there are churches. 

  But unlike the churches, the Dairy Queens in this part of the state rarely go out of business. Devotion to the Savior can ebb and flow, depending on how local sports teams are doing in a given year, but the need for onion rings is a constant. Besides, a Dairy Queen burger basket has a heft similar to an offering plate, so it’s quite easy to combine the sensation of worship with dipping chicken strips in a little plastic cup of bubbling gravy. Praise the Lord and pass the salt.

7. “The Flying J”

  This is a fascinating complex just outside of Abilene, a combination of convenience store, restaurant and truck stop. I could get an entire blog out of the fascinating things to be encountered within, but for now I’ll tantalize you with just one thing. It’s not uncommon to hear something like this come over the intercom while you are perusing beef jerky and fishing lures: “Shower customer 64, your shower is now ready. Please proceed to shower number 3.”

  Totally not making that up.

8, Okay, I lied, one more thing about The Flying J.

  The pre-made chicken salad sandwich they have available for purchase? Don’t ever get it. I just sampled such, and it completely hit the failblog. Blech. I should have known something was up when I noticed that the expiration date someone scribbled on the package was still nearly three weeks away. For something that theoretically contains chicken and mayo. Post-consumption, I still can’t confirm that either of those ingredients were actually in that mess.

9. Why are the barns so much bigger than the houses?

  Sure feels like a violation of the laws of nature in some way. Then again, the same could be said of the set of teeth I just got a gander of in a passing truck.

10. This part of Interstate 20 will suck the joy out of your life.

  We have been driving in a straight line for what feels like 3 days. A straight line. As in no curves, no hills, no scenery, no validation that my life is worthwhile in any way whatsoever. I am quietly going crazy. Someone please help me by sending an amusing text or a naughty picture. Anything to break the monotony. Oh wait, scratch that. We still have to drive another hour to be anywhere near a cell tower so I can even get a signal. We are on the desolate backside of utter hell.

  Anyone interested in half a chicken salad sandwich?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

10 Comments for the “American Idol” Judges after Last Night’s Show

1. Dear Steven

  It’s sweet that you think everything that anybody ever does is “beautiful”. You seem like a really nice guy. But you know what? Every once in a while, one of the contestants is not all THAT. In fact, they can be downright blah. And it’s okay to point that out. Really. So let’s learn some new adjectives, shall we? Thanks.

2. Dear Randy

  I know you’ve gotten my previous memos on this, so I’m not quite certain why you insist on perpetuating the behavior, but I’ll try again. By now, we all fully understand that you were in a band back in the day. And that you’ve produced, played with or slept with a vast chunk of the music industry. Good for you. Now, can we NOT mention that again? Ever? I’d appreciate it.

3. Dear Jennifer

  Love you big time. Seriously. But I’m very concerned. What the hell was up with your eye-shadow last night Was there an explosion in your dressing room? Were you trying to help planes land? Was this a PR move to help promote your next single, “Waiting for the Neon Raccoons Tonight”? Please explain.

4. Dear Steven

  Is Stevie Nicks aware that you’ve been in her clothes closet?

5. Dear Randy

  Thank you for finally not using the word “pitchy” in an episode. I like this trend. Please see the attached list of 437 other constantly-repeated words of yours that would benefit from an early retirement. It’s the right thing to do.

6. Dear Jennifer

  By now we understand that when you start your review with “you look SO pretty tonight”, you really didn’t care for the actual singing. Remember that Paula Abdul girl? She used to do the same thing. Some fool contestant would screech and howl their way through an obvious crash-and-burn performance, and Paula’s first comment would be “Honey, that is the CUTEST bustier I’ve EVER seen!” Perhaps this “soften the blow” approach is just a characteristic of female singer-dancers with fabulous hair.

7. Dear Steven

  Just curious. Do you have any other children out there that you forgot about for a while and then suddenly remembered years later that you had procreated? Because things eventually worked out pretty well with that Liv business. She’s cute. So maybe you should check your old diary entries for fuzzy moments when you might have gotten people pregnant and then left town.

8. Dear Randy

  Why do your eyes always look like you just sat on a cucumber?

9. Dear Jennifer

  I completely agree with you that a song should tell a story, sage advice that you are always giving the contestants. But it did make me wonder about YOUR latest single, “On The Floor”. What story are you trying to tell with THAT? Because the only thing I learned from the song and the video is that Pitbull is still bald. Maybe you could help me out here?

10. All Three of You

  By working diligently, I have managed to avoid the “Twilight” books and movies, mainly because of not wanting to indirectly support the Mormon church, but also because I found that “choosing teams” mess to be a bit silly. But after his performance last night (and really, almost all of his performances) I’m ready to declare my allegiance to Team Jacob. Even if there aren’t any vampires on “American Idol”. Well, not the kind with actual fangs. (And P.S.: You’d best use that “save” if Jacob is ever in trouble. Sayin.)

  And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming…

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Josh Kelley - “Georgia Clay”

  We start off with Josh strolling through one of those half-moon-shaped buildings that look sort of industrial but mostly cheap and style-devoid. We can see rigs and tractors of various kinds lining the sides of the building, but we seem to have an awful lot of wasted space in the middle. Oh wait, now I get it. The cleared area has been created so that Josh can mosey in wearing his cowboy boots and we have plenty of clearance to confirm that, yep, Josh be wearin’ some boots.

  He’s also wearing a fairly tight t-shirt, which I’m sure is critical to the story. Josh wanders over to something under a dusty tarp, and he yanks this tarp off in slo-mo so that the most common denominator in the country world is slowly revealed: a pickup truck. This experience is so moving that it causes Josh to grab a guitar from who knows where and start crooning and stroking. We get some artistic jump-shots of Josh still wearing the t-shirt and the truck still being revealed. (Dang, that’s one big-ass truck. Hoo boy.)

  Flash back to Josh supposedly driving that truck when he was 17, tooling along some country road that is actually pavement, so I’m not sure where all the dust is coming from. (Close-up of Current Josh’s boots. Thank you for that. I was worried that he might have somehow lost them during the epic struggle with the tarp, which is still going on and we’re starting to get a little bit annoyed with that.)

  Another shot of Josh (or maybe some stand-in) kicking one of the tires of the truck. I have never understood this thing with the tire-kicking. What are we supposed to learn when doing such a thing? Are you checking to make sure the tires can stand up to the pressure? I would think the mere fact that said tires are holding up a two-ton pickup is all the evidence you need. If the tires are still doing their duty with all THAT weight, your lame-ass big toe isn’t going to change things much.

  Anyway, back to current Josh banging on his guitar and vocalizing. (Come to think of it, we never actually saw 17-year-old Josh. Just who the hell was driving that truck? Is this something we need to report to Adam Walsh?) I guess current Josh heard me, because we then see him climbing into the truck and diddling with the rearview mirror, intent on proving that he did SO drive this truck back in the day. There’s a necklace hanging from this mirror, which is apparently the same one (courtesy of another flashback) that was worn by unseen 17-Josh’s girlfriend during a time when he couldn’t legally drink alcohol.

  Okay, current Josh also heard my quip about alcohol, because he launches into the part of the song where one of his high school buddy’s having a fake ID made Josh a celebrity. Really? Josh was famous for this? Why wasn’t the buddy famous? It was his ID. High school kids are SO unfocused. Especially when dust and pickup trucks are involved.

  To confirm the questionable mentality of youngsters with too much time on their hands, we have several shots of teenagers running across a parking lot with what appears to be a keg of beer. See what I mean? They don’t understand anything. You do NOT shake up a keg like that. Somebody could lose an eye when they finally tap it.

  Back to Current Josh in the UFO hangar where somebody has decided to store tractors, fertilizer and access to sound recording equipment. Josh likes this place, because he’s really smiling a lot and kicking at the ground with his cowboy boots in a burst of enthusiasm. Cut over to another flashback, where 17-Josh and his little friends are all jumping into a muddy river, because that’s a totally safe thing to do in a southern state where many politicians believe that “toxic pollution of the environment” is something Obama dreamed up while attending grade school in that Muslim military camp where everyone is pretending to be Hawaiian.

  Oh, look at that. 17-Josh’s girlfriend decides that it’s really important that she wave her questionable high heels in the air before plunging her recent puberty-achieving body into that muddy water. Poor thing is going to learn some hard lessons later in life. Like don’t ever wear those ugly shoes again.

  Okay, now Current Josh is in a field somewhere, so I guess the aliens came back to town, reclaiming their storage facility and throwing Josh out the back door. He doesn’t mind the new location, once again kicking at the dusty clay and wearing faded jeans that favorably package his nether region. (I’m not quite as supportive of that shirt he’s wearing, but we’ll let it go.)

  And now we have somebody driving that dang truck down a real country road, where there’s actual dirt and muddy bits and everything. The person at the wheel has been instructed to drive really slow, so that the mud and water splatters almost look pretty in the sunshine. Almost. It’s still mostly a crappy road that probably goes nowhere.

  Now it’s nighttime, and Current Josh is still wearing that shirt I don’t care for, but some production assistant has helpfully lit a campfire, and we all know that things look better by firelight, especially if Jack Daniels has been introduced at some point. Josh is really invested in playing his guitar during this bit, but I’m more invested in noticing that some fool has parked the signature pickup about two inches from the suddenly-raging campfire and that things could blow at any second.

  Josh doesn’t care, because he’s cool that way, and he continues to energetically strum while we get some more flashbacks of country folk enjoying the finer things in life like floating in dirty rivers and the potential for unsupervised teenage sex.

  Another shot of whoever it is driving in slo-mo down that muddy road, followed by a shot of Lindsay Lohan hanging her head out of a pickup window. Okay, maybe it’s not Lindsay, because she’s not holding a beer bottle, waving a prescription for controlled substances, or spinning the wheel on her sexuality. Whoever this girl is, she doesn’t mind driving through a shower of mud. Or Georgia.

  And we wind the song down with more flashbacks, with most everyone very pleased with their lot in life, even if mud gets in crevices it shouldn’t. Final image is of Current Josh finishing out the song on his guitar, and then, you guessed it, kicking at that famous Georgia clay so that dust billows about and probably acts as an incinerate for the out-of-control, sparks-flying campfire that is greedily working its way toward the pickup and its tasty gas tank. If I’m not mistaken, one of the leading flames reaches out and kicks at the tires…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Justin Bieber featuring Rascal Flatts - “That Should Be Me”

  Note: Justin Bieber and Rascal Flatts? Are we serious with this?

  We start off with Rascal Flatts pulling up outside what we’ll have to assume is a recording studio. Personal assistants are dashing about to make sure things don’t happen to make their bosses pissy, and we have a few quick scenes of The Flatts being summoned into the inner chamber where Justin is pretending to play a keyboard even though you know he really isn’t.

  I’m feel compelled to report that Justin’s hairdo is even more lesbian-affirming than ever. Really not understanding the statement he’s trying to make here.

  Anyway, Justin and The Flatts all high-five one another and bro-hug, acting like they are the best of friends and would easily take a grenade for one another. Then somebody hands Justin a guitar, and he starts pawing at the instrument and warbling in that nymphet way that he has. The Flatts get seated around him, pulling out their own instruments as people hop on stools. The Flatts lead singer (with his made-up name of Gary LeVox) looks especially uncomfortable being seated next to jail bait, especially bait of the same sex.

  But everyone’s a trooper, because there are bills to be paid, and they laugh it up while they… I don’t know what they are doing. Clearly the song has already been written, because we’re making the video at this point, but folks are acting like they are making the song up on the spot. Fine. Do what you must.

  Justin strums for a bit, then we get to the part where Rascal Flatts was apparently hired to provide input, but this basically consists of the gang harping “That should be ME!” at the same time that Justin does. Hmm. Could Justin really not sing this part with enough conviction by himself?

  Oh, wait, I lied a little bit. Gary Le Fake Name suddenly starts doing some improv. He’s still singing the same lines as Justin, but he does so just a bit after Justin does. This totally changes the song, right?

  One of the Personal Assistants comes wandering in, and gets all the guys to stop diddling around and follow her to another part of the studio. I guess it’s a really long journey, so they have Gary do some sidebar scenes with him singing all by himself and doing some hand movements that won’t disturb his gel-slicked hairdo. This lasts roughly 15 seconds before Justin barges in to wherever Gary is doing the extra material, and Justin jumps in on the warbling to remind us that this is HIS song. (His hair doesn’t move either, so I’m finally understanding what these two people might have in common.)

  Cut back to a scene with more Personal Assistants (how many PA’s do these people need?) grooming the guys for something important that must be coming up. (A meeting with the IRS?) Then, bam, we have Justin and The Flatts trying to look swellegant while standing around a piano and bellowing the song. I’m not really sure why they had to move to another location in the building to do this, but I’m not a music producer, which explains why the people on “American Idol” haven’t called me yet, even though they should. If Paula Abdul can do it for 8 seasons…

  Anyway, the guys keep doing whatever in front of the camera, with Gary upstaging Justin but I’m not sure that anyone realizes this. Oh wait, maybe somebody did, because we soon switch to Justin by himself in this new room with annoying spotlights lining the back wall. This lasts for only a few seconds, probably because someone other than me also noticed that Justin is wearing dog-tags. Like HE’S served in the military. We quickly cut back to the big group where we at least have people old enough to join the army.

  The main group warbles for a while, with some accent work being done by the piano player who is apparently passing a kidney stone during all of this. Then Gary hits a really high note while twirling like a windmill. I’m going to guess this is the climax of the song, but I’m often incredibly wrong when trying to determine the value of musically-unrelated people performing duets together.

  We now watch several jump cuts of everybody feeling the music in them after Gary held that dog-whistle high-note for such a long time. (Justin actually drops to his knees in another solo shot, but he might just be excited about getting to talk to Ryan Seacrest later that afternoon.)

  Then, for no explainable reason, we have everybody back in that other room where everybody first got together and pretended that they had something in common. Then we’re back in the big room with the cameras, then we have Justin by himself, then we have… I’m thinking none of this is really important at this point. I’ll just wait for something new to develop.

  But it doesn’t. We’re still jump-cutting around, with everybody more happy to be here than they should be, and Justin constantly on the verge of receiving a toaster oven from Melissa Etheridge. (Notice the way he walks. Would a straight woman do that?)

  At one point, Justin rips off his jacket and throws it on the floor in a moment of overwhelming emotional something or other. This changes nothing.

  Justin also does something involving hand puppets toward the very end of the song. I’m not even going to go there.

  Finally, things wind down with more shots of everybody pretending to have the best time of their lives, complete with dentist-assisted bright smiles, back-slapping and an astounding lack of conviction on anyone’s part. Then Justin exits stage right, leaving behind the jacket that he now apparently hates because it smells like shame…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Maroon 5 - “Won’t Go Home Without You”

  We start out with lead singer Adam and presumably his date having a nice time sitting in a restaurant, despite the fact that everything is in black and white and you can’t hear what they might be saying since the soundtrack hasn’t started yet. (Did somebody forget to do something?) By the way, so you won’t waste time trying to figure out why the girl looks familiar, she played Alex on “Lost”, the daughter of Crazy Ben who went sort of crazy herself, but then redeemed herself just before getting killed. (Which, come to think of it, happened to a lot of people on that show. Do NOT book a flight on Oceanic Airlines.)

  Anyway, we flip through some scenes, and it seems that Adam and Alex eventually have something of a tiff, and he stomps off, leaving Alex and her overly-large necklace to deal with the check. Cut to Adam with the rest of the band, performing the song in one of those nondescript rooms with ugly carpeting, a setting that lots of bands tend to enjoy for unknown reasons. While his mates moved about freely, Adam seems obsessed with sitting in a wooden chair and gripping it very tightly so we can see his arm veins.

  Nothing really major happens for a bit here, as the camera jumps around the room so we can see what folks are up to. The drummer drums, the guitar players guitar, and we keep getting very tight close-ups of Adam’s face so that we can make a detailed analysis of his facial-pore situation and recommend a few astringents. (Say, is that Gregg Allman playing one of the guitars? He’s looking really good for his age.)

  Um, this goes on for a while. They try some interesting camera angles and such, but really, it’s just a band making music. (And really, the one guy banging out that same note on the piano? Why do we need to see him doing that so many times? I get it. It’s the same note. Thank you.) The director also provides us with more snippets of Adam and Alex and their black-and-white domestic meltdown, but again, nothing new other than confirmation that Alex has amazing cheekbones.)

  Oh wait, something’s up as Adam finally gets out of that chair, dashes out of the room, and suddenly appears… in an alley walking by a dumpster. Okay, not a destination I would choose, but at least we have movement. Adam struts along for a bit, warbling, and eventually encounters a group of boys riding skateboards and squirting water at one another. I really don’t get the appeal of this activity, but they seem to be having a nice time and Adam doesn’t make them stop, even when they get him wet.

  A bit later, Adam is walking in a parking lot where some obvious hookers are trying to ply their trade. One enthusiastic and chesty member of the Third Wives’ Club tries to get Adam’s attention by yanking on him, but he’s busy with another chorus of the song and he leaves Jezebel behind so she can learn some hard lessons about rejection and bad wardrobe choices. Adam turns a corner, and this is where we go off the rails.

  Adam trips over some break-dancer and his cardboard, causing the small but entranced audience to shove Adam around like a pinball. This leads to Adam being forced to pose for photos with tourists and Professor Dumbledore and possibly Marilyn Monroe. Then some chippie in a ballroom gown throws herself at Adam and they spin around a bit, causing a rabid and aggressive clown to shove his face at the camera. We end this madness with a Chinese Dragon trying to swallow Adam’s head.


  Cut to Adam, having escaped the traveling circus, taking a break in front of a store window display where a male deer is offended by a pile of plastic bags containing blue gel. (There’s also some scrawny trees. I don’t think they were part of whatever crime might have happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie Brown and Linus showed up with some Christmas decorations.) Adam sings for a while, perched in front of the display, so we’ll assume that he feels comfortable around disgruntled wildlife.

  Then Adam gets a second wind, and off he goes, running back to the restaurant where Alex should be if she hasn’t time-skipped her way to another part of the island. Adam throws open some really nice Art Deco doors, and starts rudely marching past the restaurant staff, cruelly knocking aside some waitress and her stock of dinner rolls.

  Well, there are certain ways one should act in public, and this isn’t one of them, so some burly guys grab Adam and start dragging him away. (Wait. Burly guys on the wait staff? This clearly can’t be New York City. Maybe Idaho?) The tough dudes throw Adam into the alley. He promptly doubles back and runs in another door, one that is apparently unguarded by bitter bouncers who failed entrance into the Police Academy.

  Adam sashays through the restaurant until he makes it back to the table where Alex should still be seated, and she is, only with a new companion who hasn’t shaved but obviously has Alex’s lust-o-meter hitting the higher numbers, both of them gazing at one another with a passion that no one understands but will probably make a nice Top 40 hit. Dejected, Adam turns and wanders off to see if the restaurant does carry-out.

  Dude. You battled a Chinese Dragon and insistent hookers, but you’re going to let a little cologne model stop you from claiming Ben’s daughter? Weak.

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: INXS - “Need You Tonight”

  We start with somebody standing off camera and flicking their hand in front of the lens and making some sort of odd signal, but I’m paying more attention to the 400 bracelets this person is wearing. (Does the weight make their arms longer?) Then the name of the album rolls by, and this kicks off a long series of other things scrolling past on the screen, like band members and fruit. It becomes clear very quickly that we’re not dealing with a story here, just film editors sitting around and going “Hey, let’s have Michael Hutchence flip his hair right here!”

  Speaking of Michael, he shows up to whisper the classic “come inside”, and then he starts dancing in the background while various band members appear and disappear. Oh, and there’s a white mouse crawling up the sleeve of Michael’s jacket during this bit. Maybe the image of a rodent on your bicep is more important to Australians than other people. We also get glimpses of some sad woman who keeps turning her head to one side and looking despondent. (Is she the one that lost the mouse?)

  We finally get a full shot of the whole band, but almost immediately Michael starts hopping around and wiggling his hips, making it hard to see anybody else, so he was probably one of those Diva people who are high-maintenance. To get back at him, two of the band members shove their heads in from the sides of the screen. It’s a rather startling move, so prepare yourself. You don’t want to be in the midst of chugging a beverage when this happens or there could be issues.

  Then we go back to more random images floating around. (Um, somebody might want to tell that drummer that he’s missing his drum. On second thought, he seems to be very happy playing nothing and wearing his Oompa Loompa shirt, so maybe we should just let him be.) Another band member shoots in from the side and sticks out his tongue. I’m starting to not care for these abrupt drive-bys. They’re a little unnerving. And there goes another one. Oh wait, he’s kind of cute. He can come back. Make the others do something else.

  Now there’s a sequence where Michael might be behind prison bars, and the rest of the band is lined up behind him wearing what might be mime outfits. The band is trying to do some type of intricate hand movements to the song, but you can tell they didn’t practice very hard and aren’t taking it seriously. This might explain why we get another image of Michael, this one looking sad and disappointed.

  The mimes slide away and we get the band playing again. (Why is that one guitar player doing that thing with his leg?) Two more of the band members do the creepy “burst in from the side” thing, and then they’re just as quickly gone. And another scene with that overly-happy drummer. I want some of whatever medication he’s taking. Please.

  Now we’ve got people flashing peace signs, which is hip and cool although a bit dated, and then Michael is doing a part of the song which requires him to point at us a lot and make his hair bounce. (Okay, the happy drummer just slid into the creepy category with some weird laughing. He really needs to settle down.) And the mimes are back, still not having really learned their choreography. Focus, people.

  Another shot of the sad girl, then Alicia Silverstone, I mean Michael Hutchence, is back for the final bit of the song. He flops his hair around seductively, then holds his arms out so we can see his belly button under his jacket. To make sure we see it, he closes in on the camera while doing one of those dances from the 80’s that could easily be mistaken for a medical condition. Then he leans in and whispers the infamous last line “you’re one of my kind”…

  Behind him, we can see that the happy/creepy drummer has finally found his drum set. But now his sticks are missing. Guy just can’t catch a break…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

10 Signs This Morning That I Shouldn’t Have Gotten Into The Absinthe Last Night

  Background details: Yes, absinthe. Not the original version that made Nicole Kidman and all her little friends have visions and then sing about it in that one movie, but the modern version without the supposed hallucinatory properties. A certain resident of Denton, TX, felt compelled to introduce this substance into our otherwise chaste social gathering, resulting in questionable activity and conversations devoid of merit or logic. I submit to the court the following evidence…

1. My uvula is swollen.

  After many years of field research and careful analysis, I have discovered that the hangy thing in my mouth only achieves an engorged state when two activities take place at the same time in an evil convergence. One, I have consumed something other than beer, my usual choice for a recreational beverage, and two, I have been compelled to vocalize endlessly on subject matters that no one cares about. This means that I was schnockered and bellowing at some point in the evening. Probably several points. I’m so proud of myself right now.

  Minimally-related side note: Isn’t “uvula” one of the most annoying words in the known universe? Seriously, I don’t want something with that designation residing in my mouth. It just doesn’t feel right.

2. There’s a small bruise on my right shoulder.

  A very specific, perfectly-circular bruise, as if someone didn’t care for my behavior during a game of pool, and viciously stabbed me with a cue stick. But we don’t have a pool table, so I’m going to assume that something else happened.

  Maybe I got shot at some point during the evening? Entirely possible. We live in a very excitable neighborhood, with drive-bys and such, and folks around here have a tendency to celebrate significant milestones, like the receipt of food stamps or the clock striking midnight, with rounds of gunfire. It’s not unheard of to be felled by whizzing, anonymous  bullets during the simple act of reaching for the remote control.

3. The toilet paper dispenser in the guest bathroom has been refreshed incorrectly.

  There is only one proper way to load this thing, people. One way. This would never have been allowed to happen if I hadn’t been distracted by distilled spirits.

4. There is a fine layer of sea salt coating the top of the refrigerator.

  Really? Was there a wedding and we didn’t have any rice?

5. The chairs on the patio have been arranged in an odd manner.

  Okay, then. What do we suppose happened out here? Based on the configuration layout, I can only think of two things: an impromptu meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Avocado-Colored Appliances, or a ritual sacrifice. Both of these things alarm me equally.

6. The cat might have been shaved.

  Still working out the details on this one. It’s difficult to make a full assessment when said cat refuses to come out from under the bed, alternately popping sedatives and speaking in hushed tones with his lawyer. I’ll keep you posted.

7. There’s a “Sonny & Cher” CD in the stereo.

  Pray that there are survivors.

8. The pantry door is locked.

  Prior to last night, we didn’t have a lock on that door. I can’t even begin to imagine what this means.

9. New people appear to be dwelling in my house.

  I can hear them now, muttering in the guest room, and probably making further plans for world domination. The voices sound like the people who won the crowd over last night with the stuffed mushrooms and the bacon-wrapped jalapenos. Granted, those items were extraordinary and I had multiple orgasms throughout the night, but the bestowal of new living quarters as a reward seems a bit excessive.

  Initially I just thought they were in there sleeping things off before hitting the road, which is fine, and an option that I highly recommend. However, I just discovered that there are additional names on the mailbox, and the china pattern in the hutch is not one that I would personally choose. It seems that we’ll be having a difficult conversation here in a bit.

10. Some of my furniture is missing.

  Granted, I vaguely recall a boastful round of dialogue wherein I might have uttered something along the lines of “I can TOO sing all the songs from the original cast recording of ‘Cabaret’, betcha five bucks I can!”, and then things may have gotten a little out of control. But it was all in good fun, and no bartering exchanges should have actually taken place. 

  So, to whom it may concern, please bring my couches back. Thank you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Sinead O’Connor - “Nothing Compares 2 U”

  Note: Later controversy aside, this song was huge back in the day. And it was written by Prince (note the “2 U” business, a signature way of expressing himself that Prince used to let us know that he was NOT grammar’s bitch), setting up a very interesting smash-up of wildly-different talent. Let’s revisit. And in a tribute to Sinead’s political activism, let’s just say that I get a wee bit harsh with the religious symbolism…

  We start off on some wooded country lane, with a long-shot of some priest scurrying to hide questionable material that he might have hidden under the cot in his monastery cell. We get a few brief shots of some nice architectural details, accented by water and birds and the absence of filthy humans mucking things up, then Sinead makes her physical debut.

  And what an entrance. We weren’t sure what to make of the severe look, with the tightly-shorn hair, the pale face set off by the all-black outfit, and those eyes, challenging in their emotion, but we were captivated. You couldn’t help but listen to what she had to say, if only to find out why she shaved her head.

  She croons for a bit, accented by images fading in and out. We see some statues, the older kind with actual people and not the modern kind where you are left to puzzle about the significance of a giant frying pan painted blue. Then we’re back to Sinead, with her elfish anger and fondness for looking away from the camera.

  She sings for a while.

  We get a break from the intensity of Sinead’s emotion with a brief shot of a barren forest, probably symbolic of the lack of hit singles that Sinead would have after this moment. There’s also something to do with dead leaves falling to the ground, probably symbolic of people not buying her album after the infamous “Saturday Night Live” appearance where she ripped up the photo of the Pope.

  She sings for another while.

  A long while.

  (Why is she so angry? Is her turtleneck too tight?)

  Okay, more imagery, with battered leaves lying on the cold ground. Would this be a shout-out to the untold numbers of children molested by priests who should have been reassigned, or convicted, but were allowed to keep practicing because the Catholic Church has a thing for denial and suppression? Just wondering. We also have a shot with another priest trudging along, probably racing to a confessional booth where he can learn new and interesting things for those lonely Saturday nights.
  More statues of folks who actually have genitalia. I know, I know, such things get certain people up in arms, making them want to cut arts funding and pretend that half of the population doesn’t have a penis. But really, if that’s the most abominable thing in the world to you, you must not get out much.

  Brief shot of the priest walking down a very wide flight of stone stairs. You know damn well he wanted to do a number from “Auntie Mame”, but had to refrain from doing so since somebody might spy how easily his legs could go over his head.

  Back to Sinead, with her intensity. She’s still emoting quite fiercely, to the point of actual tears streaming down her cheeks. Somebody did this girl WAY wrong. (Or maybe there was some Mountain Cedar that blew in with the latest weather change.) Still and all, you don’t get that kind of musical conviction out of the current crop of female rappers whose talent is mostly silicon-based.

  Another statue, this one of a woman holding her head and looking dissatisfied. Perhaps this was a harbinger of Sinead’s eventual decision to become a priest herself. Okay, not a priest, but an official religious person of some kind that had some type of clerical authority. Of course, this happened in Scotland or some such, so who knows what it really meant.

  And another shot of the priest, still trying to hide things, like reality and personal responsibility.

  To close things out, we have a shot of Sinead looking off to one side, all angelic with shining eyes. We hold this pose for a very long time, letting us remember what it was like before she opened her mouth and actually spoke her mind. Thou shalt not buck the system, or the hypocrites will smite you, pointing fingers whilst locking their own closet doors.

  But I’m not bitter…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: The Mary Jane Girls - “In My House”

We start out with a very dramatic set piece that somebody spent a whole 5 seconds designing. The four Mary Jane’s have been placed on various balcony levels at some beach house, and they are slow-shakin’ their groove thang while a camera pans over their heads. I feel kinda sorry for the one girl on the lowest level because you can barely see her, but all four of them are shimmying like the offering plate is going around at church while the choir works itself into a frenzy.

We get another angle on this business from outside the house, with the MJ’s doing a really dramatic pose at the same time to the beat. (You know they worked for hours on this move.) Then we cut to all the girls together doing a line dance, then to the lead singer with her Bo-Derek-on-Acid hairdo. She warbles while the other three stand off to the side and do a routine that requires them to touch their heads a lot.

(There may have been more to the choreography, but we are still getting our first gander at the outfits these ladies are wearing, and it’s very hard to focus on anything else, especially the blond chick who apparently walked into a bicycle store and bellowed “Give me all the chains you’ve got!”)

Back to the lead singer doing her thing, and some more shots of the girls on that multi-tiered balcony, where one misplaced platform-wedgie could cause things to take a tragic turn. Luckily, all of them have so much hair product going on that it should cushion things if somebody’s ass goes over the railing. Then the girls split up and we start to learn the intimate stories of the individual ladies, all of whom want nothing more than for us to come up and see them some time. And bring pizza.

We have the one girl in the white combination bustier and wedding dress. She seems to be the stiffest of the backup dancers, jerkily waving her arms like somebody broke one of Pinocchio’s strings. It’s not really clear what her special interests might be, but the fact that she has an irritating flower sewn into her midsection makes me not care at all if her needs are met or not.

One of the other girls is more specific, plopped in the middle of bed and straddling a silken pillow with the tenacity of a bulldog. But she also has a distraction of her own, namely the hideous late-80’s neon-tube sculpture above the bed. Of course, you have to make it past this girl’s amazing amount of ratty hair before you can actually see the thing, but trust me, it’s there.

Brief interlude of more shots from across the street, so we can see all four girls perched on the balconies again, humping the air like there’s a prize if you break a hip, then the girls are lined up on another balcony inside the house, a setting which apparently inspires them to recreate the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Then we head back to the mini-stories.

The girl on the bed is suddenly motivated to do a series of high-kicks while lying on her back and wearing sunglasses, then she flops over so we can see that she’s not wearing panties under her very-tight outfit. The snug material is so sparkly that light is reflecting off her butt and interfering with radio reception in the area.

Cut to the token white girl astride a motorcycle. Why this cycle is inside the house, we don’t know, but it doesn’t stop Biker Chick from waving her arms over her head and banging her hoo-hoo against the seat so hard that the gas tank cracks. Then we are treated to the lead singer taking a bubble bath for no apparent reason. (How the hell does she manage to stay above water with all that metal crap in her hair?) Lead Girl is pawing at the window blinds, as if disappointed that she hasn’t spotted a Peeping Tom yet.

Eventually we make our way back outside to the tri-level balcony that we are learning to hate, especially the poor girls who have to crane their necks toward the sky cam so we can see their faces and understand the deep lust that they have for us. Back to Lead Girl in her bubbly hot tub with the strange jar of Easter eggs off to the side. One of her hands suddenly shoots out of the water in a diva gesture, and I’m stunned at the length of her index finger. How does she ever find gloves big enough?

More line dancing in the boring room with the ugly tile.

Then we’ve got… I don’t know, one of the girls, sitting at what might be a rooftop table and drinking champagne. The camera lingers on her for a while, as if she’s about to do something stunning and extraordinary, but she never does. What in the hell is that all about? I was almost HAPPY when they finally cut back to the tramp on the bed with her glittery crotch and waving fanny. Almost.

And there’s the token white girl again, still on the motorcycle and scrubbing the hide off the leather seat with her industrial-strength squeeze box. Whilst astraddle, this girl actually performs the most stunningly inept aspect of the whole video, when she tries to pose dramatically to the music, but can’t even do so ON BEAT. Her momma is SO not proud right now.

Another visit with the Lead Girl in her hot tub, where she’s blowing bubbles at us as if it’s the sexiest thing anyone has ever done in the history of hot water in a giant wooden box. There’s some slight amusement with the fact that no one noticed one of the water jets is bubbling right over her cooter. Or maybe they did. I don’t think these people care.

And that’s about it. The four girls do everything but actually get pregnant on screen while the song drones on and gets annoyingly repetitive. More line dancing, more balcony shots, more of the one girl in the modified wedding dress that seems unable to do anything worthwhile, more of the frozen girl still not remembering her lines while drinking champagne, and more of the white chick with Harley Davidson issues, all of this in a swirl as the song finally ends and nothing is accomplished.

Except for the motorcycle. That seat has been rubbed so hard that the leather has the best buff-shine in a three-state area…


Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

10 Alternate Things To Do With That Low-Fat Frozen Meal That You Don’t Really Want

1. Pay it forward.

  Stand innocently just inside the front door until you hear the mailman walking up the steps. Dramatically fling the door open, throw the flat brick at the guy, then slam the door. Reopen the door, throw a plastic fork on the ground, then slam the door shut again.

2. Punish people who shouldn’t be eating ice cream in the first place, especially since YOU can’t have any.

  Take several of the frosty bricks, stack them in the freezer for optimal landslide tumbling, and wedge the trigger brick behind the carton of Sven and Mary’s Triple Chocolate Orgasm. Be sure to front-load the avalanche so that the heaviest items will rain down before Cousin Bettina has enough reactionary time to get out of the way. Things like meatless lasagna and tofu enchiladas usually have enough heft for optimal shock and awe.

3. Reinforce the foundation of your house.

  Shove some of those suckers in the right cracks and crevices, and your house will be solidly stable for years to come. Or at least until the Spring thaw. All construction work involves risk.

4. Terrorize neighborhood children.

  Find a decent-sized broken tree branch in the backyard, then go wait at one of the front windows. Eventually, a pack of neighborhood children will arrive in the near vicinity and begin playing one of those pointless games that will not benefit them at all in later life. Wait for an intense moment when all the youngsters are focused on red rovering, oxen-freeing or whispering excitedly about sexual terminology that they don’t yet understand. At that moment, hurl a frozen brick of pretend Salisbury steak through the window glass with considerable exuberance.

  If done with the proper style and effort, the sound of the smashing glass will cause the little urchins to turn your way as one, their faces slack as they begin assessing this new development and instinctively making plans to dissociated themselves from whatever is going on. (“Where can I run? Who can I blame? What’s a believable alternate location where I can claim to have been?”) 

  Once you have a quorum of attention, step up to the shattered window, shove the stick through the newly-installed air duct and begin waving it around. (It’s okay if you slice your arm open, since you have plenty of frozen entrees that you can use to staunch the bleeding, so don’t worry about it.) Bellow: “I saw you throw this! I’m going to tell your MOTHER!”

  They will instantly vanish, in that nimble-footed way that children have because they haven’t already depleted all the Vitamin C in their bodies like us old people. You won’t see them again for hours, maybe days, thus allowing you to indulge in your whimsical hobby of vacuuming the front room in the nude, without a pesky squad car pulling up to the curb.

5. Gain revenge on those idiot drivers who insist on barreling through your neighborhood like they’ve got the crabs again.

  Build your own speed bump! Line up stacks of the frozen bricks across the road, and then sit back and watch as clueless people realize that something is not quite right and actually slow down for a change. Eventually you will have nothing left but liquid and flattened cardboard, but you should get an hour or two of laughs out of it.

6. If feeling frisky, arrange for a nice round of guilt-sex from your partner.

  March dramatically into whatever room your partner is occupying at the moment, and slam down a crystallized box of nonfat, unsalted, meatless, cheese-less burritos, and proclaim “This is our RELATIONSHIP right now! We haven’t had sex since those last two states joined the country.” Pretend to cry while still managing to show some skin and lick your lips with aggression and dewiness.

  If things work out, you will soon be bumping around with abandon. In fact, if you have played the guilt card correctly, you might even finally get to bring up doing that thing with the velvet glove, without your normal concern that your partner might publish some adverse commentary on Facebook.

7. Advertise on Craig’s List.

  Somebody out there will come by and eat that stuff FOR you.

8. Unplug the refrigerator.

  Sure, there might be some collateral damage with food that actually has a taste, but can you really put a price on not having to eat another freakin’ “hamburger” made out of rice and vegetable protein? I think not. Be sure to conduct this bit of mischief with careful planning, so there will be plenty of time for spoilage before some fool plugs the damn thing back in again.

9. Show folks your eccentric side.

  Stomp into your local supermarket and up to the Customer Service desk. Plunk down a frozen rectangle of fishless fish sticks and announce “I believe this is the winning lottery ticket.” (Be prepared for disbelief and gum-smacking.) If people attempt to not take you seriously, edging toward the break room, knock something over and take one of the bagboys hostage, threatening everybody with a jagged plastic water bottle.

  Just as things reach the critical point where military personnel might need to be involved, release the bagboy and laugh hysterically, claiming that this was just an April Fool’s idea that you had and you wanted to make a test run. Then turn and waltz out of the store. (Be prepared for subsequent activities such as having to run very fast and/or dive into a dumpster as a diversionary tactic.)

10. Take the easiest way out.

  Throw all those damn dinners in the trash and eat what you want. Screw the world. Then lie to your doctor. He doesn’t need to know EVERYTHING, or he might cut off your supply of happy pills, and this country already has enough problems right now without you going off your meds.

  Peace in.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: R.E.M. - “Losing My Religion”

Editor’s Note: I can remember watching this video when it came out 20 (OMG!) years ago, and being completely mesmerized by the stunning imagery. It still remains one of my favorites, despite having watched roughly 4 billion videos for this blog. I was a little leery about messing with this icon and making fun, but I quickly got over it. (Mea culpa, Michael Stipe.) Because of the structure and lack of story, we’ll be doing the time-stamp thing this time around…

0:02 Michael and Mike are very poor and have no furniture.

0:09 Mike is already bored and walks away.

0:13 Bill and Peter are very concerned about the sudden appearance of Godzilla.

0:18 Some bitch done spilled the milk.

0:20 The band is confused about how to sit for a family portrait.

0:22 Peter deals with someone having run his guitar through the dryer. Bill has been placed in timeout under the window. I hope someone has warned him about falling milk.

0:24 Michael does not appear impressed with having suddenly grown wings. Somewhere, in the distance, Bette Midler is revising one of her songs to include the lyrics “Look, if you don’t want to be my wind, then just leave. I got my own money.”

0:28 Mike has decided to sit on a booster seat to avoid any further surges of milk.

0:32 Bill is massaging Michael’s shoulders in the hopes that his arms will untwist.

0:37 Bill welcomes the crowd to the Annual Beaver Falls Revival.

0:43 Michael has a pebble in his shoe.

0:52 Michael doesn’t have any friends and must play leapfrog by himself.

0:55 Who taped that thing on the wall? Helen Keller?

1:04 Dennis Rodman, minus the basketball or Madonna.

1:09 Calvin Klein’s new hatwear line based on swarthy men who fondle cargo.

1:10 First appearance of creepy boy-girl with bondage issues.

1:20 Is anybody ever going to clean up that milk?

1:23 Flamboyant drag queens startled by police raid.

1:27 Michael is despondent over non-working antique fan.

1:37 Shirtless man wins gold medal for best use of pearls in a sexual way.

1:40 Michael demonstrates the improper way to do the breaststroke.

1:42 Sad girl is dismayed by inappropriately-placed flower.

1:48 Servant folk don’t notice that someone is running away with their last chicken.

1:51 Questionable usage of livestock and a pair of tights.

1:53 Dennis Rodman again, sad that his hair has now been every known color, and there’s really no use for him any more.

1:57 Michael demonstrates the best way to slice zucchini. (Milk still not cleaned up.)

2:01 First appearance of Stumpy, the Wonder Log.

2:04 Unsettling instance of looking for love in all the wrong places.

2:12 Mail’s here!

2:17 Disembodied hand reaches for Rip Van Winkle and Liberace.

2:29 Due to Republican healthcare budget cuts, all appendectomies must now be performed without surgical implements by sadistic men wearing turbans.

2:31 Hawaiian princess has secret lust for Stumpy.

2:35 Michael is shot by Valerie Solanas, who is still pissed about that Andy Warhol thing.

2:38 Michael introduces new dance craze, The Flailing Amish Boy.

2:41 Mike is not necessarily impressed.

2:44 Betsy Ross sees the face of Jesus in a dusty damask drape, while the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse debate wardrobe options.

2:48 Another Andy Warhol reference.

3:00 Peter is trying to impart the sad news that Orange Crush is no longer being sold in Athens, but Michael is too busy dancing to listen.

3:04 Welder is working on a chastity belt for Paris Hilton.

3:13 Statue of Liberty makes a cameo.

3:18 Another appearance by Creepy Boy-Girl, this one involving amber waves of grain and really bad posture.

3:29 Apparently somebody didn’t pay the light bill at the Welder’s Union. But the work must go on. If Paris Hilton reproduces, the end is nigh.

3:37 Otherwise attractive woman makes fatal mistake of matching color of eye-shadow to Easter Bonnet.

3:42 Focus issue, or proof that Michael Stipe is a celestial being here to save the planet? You decide.

3:56 What’s up with that eyebrow job?

4:05 Creepy Boy-Girl really needs to give it a rest.

4:24 Publicity still for the latest Bollywood Movie, “Rampage of the Karaoke Trannies”.

4:29 Communist propaganda entitled “You Are the Workers Beneath My Wings”.

4:32 Poster for the new BBC Series “I Told You Pilgrims You Shouldn’t Have Gotten on the Boat. See What Happened?”

4:40 Michael is asked to leave the band after an unfortunate dairy reaction in a public setting.

4:46 Fin.

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Britney Spears - “Hold It Against Me”

Wow. This is one messed up video.

We start off somewhere in outer space, where a rude little meteor or flaming spacecraft of some kind has decided to attack the planet, or at least make a quick stop at the local Starbucks. Then we start seeing scenes of people prepping a really intense soundstage of some kind. People are racing about setting things up, while the camera is jumping around all over the place and low-paid staffers are making sure that Britney has the exact amount of contractually-defined jelly beans in her makeup room.

The flaming thing finally crash-lands, which first triggers the power grid to make everyone’s lights all pastel and pretty, then triggers Britney to walk out on that soundstage wearing a very industrial bra. This is followed by more jump-cutting, with close-ups of video equipment and ghostly people wearing underwear. (This might be something that happens all the time in L.A., but you’d get a shotgun pulled on you in Texas if your panties can glow in the dark.)

Oh wait, now Britney is singing, even though it’s clear that her backup dancers are still putting their pants on and not quite ready to thrust their crotches to the beat. (Britney must be in a hurry. There might be another family member that she needs to sue in order to regain control of her own life.) While the dancers try to hurry up and dress, Britney does a lot of things that involve showing us her armpits.

Look at that, Ms Britney If You’re Nasty is wearing a string of bullets as a useless but shiny belt. That’s nice, Brit. Let’s promote bullets in a world where so many people already don’t understand that those things can actually kill people. Then she tops this off by waving around a bottle of her own cologne, which is really important. I often watch music videos just so I can understand how I should smell.

The backup dancers are still trying to put clothing on, which is a little amazing, since these guys are clearly past the point of puberty, judging by the light-enhanced bulges in their skivvies. You’d think they’d know how to dress themselves by now. In a tragic moment of realism, we see that one of the dancers has apparently had his hair colored by former set designers on Fraggle Rock. Poor thing.

Next we have Britney waving her arms in a frenzy like Paul Revere just rode by on his horse, bellowing that we might have some uninvited dinner guests. Hearing this, Britney changes into an enormous dress where all of the non-hypocritical Republicans in America can hide under her skirt. (On second thought, it’s probably pretty lonely in there, so scratch that.) Then we have a montage of Britney in this all-white getup, touching her head and letting fans blow her hair about while her breasts fight to stay covered.

Oh look, there’s some type of hydraulic system in her panties, because Britney is now airborne. This prompts Brit to show us her fancy gloves and overdone eyeliner. (I’m just going to ignore the IV tubes she suddenly starts waving about, because neither she nor I have any valid explanation for THAT.) This leads to a montage of overly-caffeinated chorus boys hopping about and playing squat tag with the camera.

Britney decides to look something up online about the best places to find fish bait in America. Not really sure why this is critical, but it does allow her to prominently feature a “Sony” computer. I’m going to guess that they are sponsoring her in some way. Or maybe Brit thinks SONY stands for Sluts of Negligent Yearning and she really wants to be a part of that.

Very brief scene with Britney’s lips paying homage to the start of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Something tells me this part had to be explained to her.

Weird scene with Britney having a small meltdown whilst surrounded by hundreds of microphones. Was it really wise to go there, Miss Impromptu Haircut?

Okay, good, now we have some dancing, which is something basic that we can all understand. I’m a little confused by the baby bibs that the dancers have hanging out of their pants, but at least they finally got those pants ON. Whatever the case, now that they are properly dressed, those dancers are able to pivot and flip all over the stage like they just spotted the image of Jesus in a tortilla.

And we’re back to Britney in the inflatable, skyscraper dress. She does some more hand movements and mascara close-ups, which leads to the dancers wearing outfits that make me think of monks who really like to be in an antiseptic environment. This doesn’t stop them from dancing, of course, because once you have the music in you, or a crabs infestation, you can’t help but wave your arms when you wear a white hoodie.

Now we have some mess with Britney appearing on video screens and speaking in a slightly-British accent. I’m not even going to go there. Then Britney squirts paint out of her fingers (not making this up) which triggers a sequence with two Britney wannabees having a fistfight as if Tina Turner cloned herself in “Mad Max: Beyond Thunder Dome”. These two wail away at each other while Giant-Dress Britney keeps squirting paint all over hell. I’m thinking we’ve lost control.

I should probably mention that the odd kung-fu and paint-spillage goes on for far longer that one would expect, accented by shots of additional strange people reenacting scenes from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Except without any actual skilled actors. Or a plot. Or… any sense of societal worth. (Just like the Republican National Convention!)

Did I mention this goes on too long? Seriously, can we stop with the “Kill Bill, Part 3: Revenge of Girls and Martial Arts Gone Wild”?

Well, now at least they’re doing things in slo-mo, which adds a slightly artistic quality to the goings on, but it’s still basically the same thing. Thelma and Louise are now fed up with each other, and insist on trying to kill one another while wearing stilettos and mini-skirts. Britney is able to create a Pride Rainbow pattern just by waving her arms around. And the dancers are unable to remain still because their outfits are chafing in all the wrong places.

Oh, wait. I think Thelma and Louise just died. And Britney tripped and fell down in the middle of her self-imposed color wheel. This is a very sad video. Are they going to kill Bambi’s momma next? I’m not sure if I can take that.

Whoops, we’re not done. All the dead (or at least very tired) people are coming back to life, which inspires Britney and the Underwear Corps to do a final line dance. They’ve all changed to black outfits, probably to match the real color of Britney’s pubic hair, because the truth had to be told at SOME time, and the shimmying continues. To make sure we understand that this is the finale, somebody starts releasing dry ice vapors from the stage floor, and Britney wears a pretty necklace that makes her fondle her thighs.

We close out with confetti falling from the ceiling (“Despite my weirdness, all I really want is to party and make you happy. And for you to buy my perfume. You get a free pair of my panties for every fifty dollars spent!”) and the dancers thrusting their crotches with such vehemence that life-long virgins who watch this video will instantly be with child….

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Colbie Caillat - “Bubbly”

We start off with a nice shot of the ocean, then a pleasant little shack-home nearby, and finally some shots of Colbie and her man snoozing inside the rustic dwelling. (They’re wearing matching torn jeans, so you know they’re in love.) Quick glimpses of various things about the house, like a drippy faucet, surfboards and an immodest statue with discernible genitalia. Oh my.

Whoops, it’s time to get up. The guy (who looks like his name should be Huck or something guttural like that) hops out of bed and runs off to do something, inspiring Colbie to start singing about him while wandering through the house. She’s very happy and aglow about Huck, especially when he sits in that one chair and shoves his crotch at the camera.

Colbie sings for a while, and even summons up the energy to stroke her guitar while sitting in an undefined area of the house that has odd-shaped windows. Oh wait, she’s dragged her guitar out on the front porch, so we can survey the colorful potted flowers while she sits on a homemade bench and wears flip-flops. (Side shots of Colbie and Huck giggling and dashing about on the beach during a rainstorm, proving that they are adventurous and don’t mind sudden wetness at unexpected moments.)

Now Colbie throws her guitar in a jeep and heads out. We don’t know where she’s going, but she’s still singing, so it must be a happy place of some kind. She gets to wherever, and then proceeds to start marching through a field of wheat or something. Then she gets tired and decides to plop down in the middle of the waving grains for a quick rest. While rejuvenating, Colbie has flashbacks of her and Huck apparently wandering around this same field, with Colbie sporting a startling handkerchief on her head and channeling 1973.

Colbie finally gets moving again, and decides to walk along a cliff next to the seashore, which is exactly what you want to do when wearing flip-flops and not paying attention to where you’re going because you’re too busy singing and grinning about what Huck can do to your toes. We have more flashbacks, with Huck showing that he can do other things to Colbie that make her want to write lyrics and eat granola.

Then Colbie is back in the jeep, driving and recalling additional Huck moments, like the time they both smiled at something a cow did while they drove past. They pull up to the beach, and since the sun is lowering in the sky, it’s obviously time to head out on that beach where all their happy friends are gathered around a campfire. But before we can find out what’s for dinner, we see Colbie back in her house and in the back of her jeep, banging on that guitar. (Seriously, were they unable to find a single camera angle where the sun didn’t light up Colbie’s golden tresses like she’s Madonna With Guitar?)

Anyway, we head back to the campfire gang, where Colbie and Huck are kind of hogging the spotlight with their cuteness, but I guess that’s okay since this is Colbie’s song and all. And that pretty much wraps it up. We get a few more images of sun-dappled Colbie in acoustic settings, Colbie wandering around her quaint love shack in search of other reminders of how Huck makes her effervescent, and finally the two of them hop back into the jeep and drive off to make pretty babies named Bean Sprout and Tofu…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

10 Things I Should Have Done Today And Why I Didn’t

1. Eat a healthy breakfast.

I struggled long and hard with this one, avoiding the kitchen so that I wouldn’t suddenly shove a Ding Dong in my mouth while guzzling a 2-liter of Coke. I purposely stayed in the home office and worked on my website, ignoring the beck and call of the dancing Pop Tarts and singing Girl Scout cookies coming from the pantry. I even turned off the radio because every third commercial involved deep-fried something or other at a nearby drive-thru. I was diligent and remained true to the cause.

But after five soul-killing minutes, I had had enough.

I yelled for Terry to throw his ass in the shower, and fifteen minutes later we were barreling down the road to Luby’s with the intensity of that creepy blond-haired guy with the cigarette in “Fargo”. We squealed into the parking lot and raced inside, easily passing several senior citizens piling off a church bus and trying to figure out where they were.

Once inside, I marched past the doctor-recommended veggie egg-white omelet, and firmly planted myself in front of the meat-lover’s omelet station, peeing on the floor to mark my territory and barking at the startled server that she better pile that plate HIGH. We then raced to a table, throwing some cash in the general direction of the cashier and already yelling at the waitress what we wanted for the second round. My plate had a layer of grease so thick that the omelet was skittering around like a hovercraft and trying to get the fork into it was like spear-fishing. Pure bliss.

2. Mow the lawn.

I haven’t done this so far this year, so why screw with tradition? Besides, there’s still a two-foot layer of dead leaves on the ground from last fall that I haven’t raked up. Ain’t no grass growin’ THERE.

3. Wash my car.

Pointless. It’s just going to rain again eventually. And we all know that dirt and rust is all that’s keeping that car together anyway.

4. Work on my taxes.

After searching the entire house for at least three seconds, I was unable to find a working black or blue ink pen. I took this as a sign from Jesus that he did not want me to do anything financially responsible today. I shoved the W-2’s into a desk drawer, where they will probably remain until 11:59p on April 14th. I chose not to acknowledge the two pens that were rolling about in that same drawer, because one should stick to a plan once they have it.

5. Clean out the guest bedroom closet.

This one has caused me considerable mental agitation. I hate that closet. I have tried to tidy it up on many occasions, even going so far as to buy some cute mini-shelving for better organization. But every attempt goes the same way. I drag everything out until the guest bed is loaded down with what looks like the “after” photo of a tornado incident, I finally decide that I can part with one single item, the rest of the stuff remains on the bed for a week, and then I shove everything, minus the one, back into the closet. I basically accomplish nothing.

It’s just too much to deal with. Today I slid the door open, grimaced, and then slammed it shut. End of effort. I chose to ignore the gleaming package of ballpoint pens perched on top of an afghan made out of corn stalks and horse hair, a gift from a poor but creative relative that I don’t really know. If I part with THAT, there will be heated discussions at future family reunions.

6. Fix the counter-weight pulley on the attic door.

This has been broken for a while, and I really need to do something about it, because sooner or later somebody is going to be killed in the main hallway, and I really don’t have time for that. See, these pulley things balance the weight of the door and folded-up stairs so the whole thing gently descends when you grasp the trap door handle whilst wearing something cute and intending to place a box of Christmas ornaments into high-altitude storage.

When one of the pulleys is broken, the trap door becomes a death trap. It opens deceptively easily at first, lowering cooperatively while birds sing and virgins remain pure. Then we reach a tipping point, and suddenly folded wood the weight of a Buick is smashing your skull into the floor. Not good.

But have you ever tried to climb attic stairs when your belly is full of meat-lovers omelets? It just can’t be done. So instead, I just flipped off the attic door as I walked down the hallway and continued not doing my taxes.

7. NOT play any Facebook games.

This didn’t happen.

8. Finish up all those blog posts where I ended with “To Be Continued” but then never posted the next installment.


9. Start using the treadmill again.

I actually made minimal effort with this one. I marched into the room where we have shoved the treadmill and studied it carefully. Then I noticed a thick layer of dust on that rolling belt where you walk, and that our cat, Scotch, had apparently been using the belt to do a line dance, and that his cute little paw prints had somehow recreated the “Mona Lisa” in exquisite detail. Well, I certainly couldn’t live with myself if I denied anyone the chance to view great works of art. So I turned off the light and left the room.

10. Write a fresh blog post.

Hey, I actually got one done. I think I deserve a treat. Or maybe a nap. Or both. After all, tomorrow is another day, filled with responsibilities to avoid, and I need the carbs and rest….