I hate current pop music.  This isn’t exactly a unique or groundbreaking sentiment; I’m sure many people agree with me.  It’s just that when you operate under the belief that quality popular music (with some exceptions) died in 1980, you don’t exactly keep up with what’s hip.  I tend to stick with stuff on my iPod and tune to NPR whenever I’m around a radio.  My girlfriend on the other hand likes current pop music and owns a clock radio.  So every time I sleep over, I’m blasted awake by obnoxious morning DJ’s and the latest hit songs.  Usually I just brush off these the chance encounters with the current music scene and go about my day.  But recently my brain has become infected with a particularly nauseating bit of modern musical horror that I’ve heard every time I sleep over and when I looked up the lyrics I found that they were bizarrely and comically nonsensical. So I decided to use my two English degrees to analyze it.

Before I begin, I want to be clear that just because a song is catchy (which this definitely is) doesn’t mean that it’s good (which it most surely is not).  The two are not mutually exclusive (something a lot of current songwriters seem to not be aware of); “Hotel California” by the Eagles, for example, is a good song that’s catchy, while Pearl Jam’s “Yellow Ledbetter”  is not catchy yet still a great song.

The tune in question, “Tik Tok”, sucks.  The, um, “artist” is “Ke$ha”.  How you do pronounce that? Key-dollar-sign-ah?  Is that Dutch? As soon as I saw this young lady’s title spelling and grammar, I knew things did not bode well.  Though, oddly enough, while I was trying to clear my head of this song’s insipidness, sites like Gawker and The Awl pronounced her the new pop princess and “Tik Tok” to be her inaugural hit.  If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the song, consider yourself lucky.  But if you want to know what I’m talking about, here:

Ke$ha’s autotune-tastic song is a first person rhyming dictionary heavy narrative of her day.  I’ve gone ahead and mixed my comments in with her lyrics.  Mostly they’re just notes on how I was feeling while listening to it.  Let’s begin.

Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy
[P Diddy speaking] Hey, what up girl?

Wait….is P. Diddy there? Is she waking up with him?  And what does it mean to say that you feel like him? You feel like a media whoring past his prime music producer who rode the coattails of his talented friend that was murdered?  I’m confused.

Grab my glasses, I’m out the door, I’m gonna hit this city
Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
‘Cause when I leave for the night, I ain’t coming back

What? Leaving for the night?  She just said she was waking up in morning.  And shouldn’t the line about brushing her teeth come BEFORE the one about heading out the door?  Also, I’m pretty sure most dentists don’t recommend using Jack Daniels as tooth paste…bourbon has too much sugar.  Use Vodka, it’s the breakfast booze.

I’m talking pedicure on our toes, toes
Trying on all our clothes, clothes
Boys blowing up our phones, phones
Drop-topping, playing our favorite CDs
Pulling up to the parties
Trying to get a little bit tipsy

Whew, I love it when musicians blatantly explain what they’re “talking” about.  It saves me the trouble of having to try and understand the subtleties of suggestion or symbolism.  From this passage, we learn that Ke$ha (God, I think my IQ dropped just typing that name) is singing yet another party girl anthem (I’m sure that’s just what humanity needs right now), in which the priorities are partying, music, boys, drinking, and getting pedicures “on our toes” (as apposed to pedicures anywhere else?).  Thankfully we’re now onto the chorus.

Don’t stop, make it pop
DJ, blow my speakers up
Tonight, I’mma fight
‘Til we see the sunlight
Tick tock on the clock
But the party don’t stop, no [Yodel]

When did music digress to just singing orders?  Here’s she’s telling everyone to keep partying, the DJ to keep playing music, and proclaims that she’ll continue the struggle of whatever the hell her idea of partying is.  Did she take the room hostage? Is she holding a gun on everyone?  I’m sorry but this doesn’t make me want to have a good time.  Jesus, this chick makes getting drunk and dancing seem like working on a chain gang.  A sense that’s doubled by the fact that she immediately repeats the chorus.

Ain’t got a care in world, but got plenty of beer
Ain’t got no money in my pocket, but I’m already here
And now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger
But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger

Wouldn’t having plenty of beer be the reason you don’t have a care in the world? Also guys don’t line up because they hear a girl has swagger (lets be honest, that’s a weird word choice), usually it’s because she’s easy and won’t reject them for not looking like Mick Jagger (which I’m going to assume means when Jagger was in his prime in the 1960’s and not now…that would be an old man.)

I’m talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk
Boys tryin’ to touch my junk, junk
Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk

The only type of person I’ve heard use the phrase “junk” are frat guys talking about their genitals.  It sounds like she’s admitting to being what the Internet is claiming about Lady Gaga.

Now, now, we go until they kick us out, out
Or the police shut us down, down
Police shut us down, down
Po-po shut us…

Goddamnit.  Now I’m just confused.  I thought we were going until dawn, now it’s until the cops shut us down.  What kind of party is this?  A meth party?

[Chorus] x2

DJ, you build me up
You break me down
My heart, it pounds
Yeah, you got me

Why the fuck….


With my hands up
You got me now
You got that sound
Yeah, you got me

Am I listening…

DJ, you build me up
You break me down
My heart, it pounds
Yeah, you got me

To this song?

With my hands up
Put your hands up
Put your hands up

Now, the party doesn’t start ’til I walk in

Oh, shut up!

[Chorus] x2

Thankfully, the end.

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Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile, but I’ve been busy dealing with some horrible life-changing news.  That’s what this post is about.   It’s hard to write these words, so here it goes: I’m loosing my hair.

Now to be fair, I’ve know this was coming for sometime, my mother’s father is bald (he’s also who I blame for this…damn genetics) and my front hairline has been making a strategic retreat since college.  But things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.  I awoke one morning just after Christmas; it was fairly early and the apartment was dimly lit and almost deathly silent.  I stumbled into the bathroom and flipped on the light switch and, blinded by the fluorescent lights, felt my way to the toilet to pee.  On my way back, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  It was not good.  My tussled “bed head “ revealed the two paths of flesh cutting their way from my forehead to my scalp were closer than I was aware and… there in the very back of the crown of my head was a thin spot—a definite bald patch in its early infancy.  “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” I screamed as I fell to my knees.  Followed by a “Not yet!” and “I’m too young!”

When I told my girlfriend about it in an urgent harsh whisper—as if I were telling her about some deep secret (like “I was the driver of an unsolved hit and run” or “I own a DVD of the romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama starring Reese Witherspoon.”)—She was not surprised.  “Yeah,” she said, “It’s always worse right when you get up in the mornings.” Wait… she knew about this? She knew how badly unaware I was of just how thinning my hair was getting?  “Baby,” she cooed to comfort me, “I don’t care.” Don’t care? THAT’S NOT THE PROPER RESPONSE!  She was supposed to tell me that it didn’t look that bad.  “But then what will I say to you when it gets worse?” She asked.   IT’S GOING TO GET WORSE??!!

I quickly went through the five stage of grief.  First, denying that it was that thin at all.   The bright bathroom lights in my apartment made the thin spots seem thinner than they actually were (Yeah, that logic makes sense).  Which was quickly followed by anger at how unfair it was that I was loosing my hair at 26 and raging at just how many bald men I see EVERYWHERE I GO.  Then there was bargaining. I searched for a “cure” like I was the parent of a child dying from some rare disease.  I bought Rogaine and practiced new ways to comb the part of my haircut to hide the growing thin spot.  I even visited the Hair Club for Men’s web site.  This was swiftly followed by a bought of depression in which I wore my bathrobe for days on end and caught up on the entire last season of “Lost”.  I found myself identifying most with the character John Locke, who (if you don’t watch the show) looks like this:

And finally, just now, I’ve accepted it.  I figure I’ve got at least one or two more years with my beautiful hair.  Then, it’s time to shave it down to a low buzz cut (I should also be in fantastic physical shape by then, because there is no way I’m going to be fat AND bald). In the words of a friend going through something similar, “You’ve got to own it.”

Pics via and via.

Last Weekend:

The reports came across the airwave like the warning of an encroaching invading army.  Snow was coming (more specifically, a blizzard).   It is moving surely without haste– an armada of clouds sailing across thousands of Doppler screens to cover the entire Eastern seaboard in their flakes of cold white death. It…is…coming .

“It’s going to be a big one,” the weathermen said, his large bright teeth gleamed an unnatural whiteness on the television screen, foreshadowing the coming snowfall.  I sprung up from my perch on the couch, legs evenly apart, arms held up to block or strike a blow—I was in the “ready” position I learned from my six months of Judo when I was a kid.  A glance over to my girlfriend confirmed that she too had jumped into the posture from the other end of the sofa. The “women’s interests” magazine she’d been perusing tossed into the corner.   “I’ll get previsions, you secure and ready the perimeter,” she said in a flat even tone that had a tint of hurry to it.  “Copy,” I responded.

While she headed out to the grocery store, I made sure the windows were locked with no draft making it past the weather stripping, mad sure the gas heaters were working, dug out the electric space heater in case the building boiler crapping out, and a hatchet to break apart furniture for firewood if the electricity went out.   I then gathered as many weapons to defend my home for when society crumbed under the cold weight of snow.  A hammer, extra sharp steak knives, and a crossbow (yeah, I own a crossbow).  Just as I was finishing filling up as many spare containers I could find with water for when the pipes froze, my girlfriend burst in with bags of groceries, mainly canned and dried food so it wouldn’t go bad.  We then settled in, ready for the coming winter dystopia to come.

And you know what? NOTHING HAPPENED!  It snowed a lot, stopped, I did my laundry and then went to work the next day.   Despite all the warnings and everyone’s fear, it was not bid deal.   It never is. The few times that I’ve experienced being snowed it, it went something like this: I looked out and said, “It’s really coming down out there.”   Then I watched TV and about an hour later looked back outside and discovered that the roads had been rendered impassable and my family’s car was buried.  “Oh, I guess, we’re snowed in,” I said turning back to the TV. THAT’S IT!  Unless you live in some desolate rural area of America, being snowed just means you don’t go out until it stops snowing.

This is modern America damnit!  It’s not the mid 19th century on the prairies. The majority of our population has regulated itself to the suburbs, areas with paved street and governing bureaucracies, and thus have snowplows!  Seriously, it’s not that big a deal people.   So next time a big snowstorm is coming, please remain calm…or I’ll be forced to use my crossbow.

Pic via

[Okay, I admit it: I’m copping out with a cheap “listicle” for this post. Give me a break, it’s Monday and I had a rough weekend. So, enjoy…]

I’m a man of many talents. I can pontificate on the symbolism found in 80’s action movies, hold my own in drinking a surprising large amount of whiskey in one sitting, and make a fairly decent omelet. But alas, there are some skills which I simply do not possess though wish I did. With the New Year coming up soon, it could be my chance to finally pick these seemingly effortless abilities. Unfortunately, I suspect they will remain gaping holes in my repertoire. Without further ado:

  • Carrying an umbrella
    I don’t know what the hell I’m doing wrong here, but I can’t properly carry an umbrella. I’m either getting soaked down my back or its getting caught in the wind and turning inside out. Then, I’m sure to pass to some suave impeccably dressed ass holding his umbrella perfectly balanced over his well entrenched area of dry space. And he’s always sure to give me a pitying look. Motherfucker.
  • Closing roller window shades
    I recently got a new apartment. And the windows to my new bedroom feature those rather inexpensive vinyl shades, I immediately wanted to move again. Here’s how these things work: you pull them down to cover the window and block out light (or hide your hideously pale nude body from your neighbors when changing) then have to tug them to activate some apparatus that rolls the shades back up. For some reason, I can’t do this and it takes more than a dozen attempts to get the thing to retract EVERY SINGLE TIME. But there’s the rub, those who can get the damn thing to pull up in one try cannot comprehend not being able to use such a simple mechanism and thus are unable to describe how to do it. It’s like one of those test that kung fu monks give children they suspect of being the reincarnated soul of their master—they either intuitively know how to do it or they don’t.
  • Remember to brush my teeth
    This one isn’t entirely my fault. I think my parents should share part of the blame. For some reason, they used to let me slide on going to bed without brushing my teeth and then totally left to my own devices in regards to my oral hygiene. So I never got into the habit of doing it twice a day, everyday. But I’m sure as hell going to make my kids do it. And when I’m pointing a shotgun at them from the bathroom doorway and they’re shaking with fear as they squeeze Crest onto their toothbrushes, I’ll say, “You’ll thank me when you’re in your twenties.”
  • Fly a kite It’s ironic that in describing the first skill on my list I admitted that whenever I’m holding an umbrella it gets caught in the wind, because I can’t do that with a kite.  Flying a kite looks like one of the most satisfying and fulfilling experiences one can have in this world. But when I try, it simply crashes to the ground and lays there… much like my soul.

Let me begin by explaining how I “sort of” have a dog.  He’s not technically my dog, but rather my girlfriend’s. You see, Kate (my girlfriend) adopted Marshall a bichon/poodle/maltese mix (that’s him in the picture to the left), the same month that we started dating and he’s been a heavy presence throughout our relationship.  Whenever we make plans, we have to consider how it will fit in with giving the dog his evening walk.  When I come over, the dog flips out and demands attention from me as soon as I walk in the door.  During naps on the couch, he’ll wiggle his way between my legs and fall asleep.  So for all intents and purposes, I consider Marshall my dog too.

So when I found this picture of a little dog wearing a miniature scuba suit (see below), I know there was only one thing to do: get one for Marshall.  First off, let’s step back and think about this for a second. A dog in a scuba suit. Two things that you’d think would never combine in anyway, but do—like some sort of mythical beast.  I don’t know why that pairing works so well together, just like I don’t know why chocolate and peanut butter taste better mixed than separate—I just know that it’s awesome.   And as soon as I saw that picture, I knew what I was going to do it.   “I’m going to get this for my dog,” I said out loud to myself.

Now, here’s where I think I should explain a little bit about Marshall.  The dog had a rough life before Kate got him.  He was abused for years.  He’s missing several teeth and a chunk of his tongue (I suspect from being kicked repeatedly).  He also walks with a limp due to a broken leg that didn’t heal properly.  And despite an annoyance with other dogs that try to sniff him (especially bigger breeds), he’s very young at heart for his age of about nine (closer to ten) human years, which makes him a cantankerous fifty-something in dog years.  He’s a badass for a dog and I have the best way to explain his personality to people is to analogize him to Sean Connery.

I can already see him walking along by my side with his goggles pushed to the top of his head and his flippers smacking against the pavement, maybe a tiny speargun or diving knife holstered to his front paw.  Thus, I’m adding it to my list of life goals (AKA “a Bucket List”).  Right there, below “publish a novel,” “learn to surf,” and “solve a murder,” is “walk down the street with my dog while he’s dressed in a scuba suit.”  It’s going to be awesome.

(Ho, Ho, Ho.  Tons of Movie Spoilers ahead.)

It’s the holidays.  And to help me get in the yuletide spirit I popped my favorite Christmas movie into the DVD player, Die Hard.  Released in 1988 and best known for launching Bruce Willis’s film career, Die Hard is an integral part of the wave of action movies set during the holiday season that began with 1982’s First Blood and runs on into Lethal Weapon, Batman Returns, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Reindeer Games (there’s also a similar subgenre of horror films).  Now, while many may think that titles like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street are quintessential holiday movies, I’ll make the argument that in fact Die Hard is the perfect cinematic embodiment of Christmas.

What makes a good Christmas movie?  Watch enough movies about the holidays and you begin to pick up on what a film about the most revered and commercialized celebration on the planet needs to succeed (they’ll also annoy you into becoming a cynical alcoholic).  The first key is pretty obvious: setting.  It needs to take place during the Christmas season.  Even Elf , a film in which the title referencing character is a year-round embodiment of the holiday,  wouldn’t work if Will Ferrell, who plays a human raised by Santa’s little helpers, came down from the North Pole to New York looking for his biological father, James Caan, in the middle of July.  The film’s plot also needs to force at least one of its characters to reexamine his or her life in a moment of self-reflection.  In It’s a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart realizes just how valuable his life is by seeing what the world be like if he’d never been born (though such an epiphany is generally meant for the main character, it can also apply to a supporting cast member like the previously mentioned Jimmy Caan in Elf).  This usually results in the troubled characters redeeming themselves through some act that ends up reaffirming the concept of family and togetherness.  In Home Alone, Macaulay Culkin’s exuberance at being alone is replaced with wishing for his family back and then “earning” their return by defending the family home from burglars Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, maturing himself in the process (Catherine O’Hara, who play his mother, does the same for Culkin by enduring travel hell, including sharing a ride in the back of a U-Haul with John Candy.).

So how does Die Hard do when stacked up along side these rules for Christmas movies? Well, as we’ve already mentioned it’s set during the holidays.  At an office Christmas party no less (seriously who hasn’t wanted to shoot one of those  up?).  Willis plays a New York City cop who flies out to L.A. to see his wife and kids for the holidays.  You see, the Mrs., played by Bonnie Bedelia, has a successful corporate gig and was promoted to the Los Angeles office (taking the children with her) and can’t decide to go by or her maiden name (Gennaro) or her husband’s last name (McClane). Willis is driven from the airport straight to his estranged wife’s office building, where, while in the midst arguing with her and changing for the party in her suite like office, terrorists burst in and take over the place. Willis slips out during the mayhem and spends the rest of the movie fighting the bad guys in nothing more than black slacks and a tank top (barefoot, too) throughout the building.

It’s interesting that the terrorists (lead by Alan Rickman) aren’t actually terrorists, but rather posing as such so they can steal $600 million in untraceable bonds in the company’s safe.  Greed and avarice are constantly vilified in Christmas stories and the motivation behind the most archetypal holiday seasonal tale villain, Scrooge. It’s also a driving force for Bedelia, whose character has clearly chosen her career over her family.  In essence, she, like many modern women, has two different lives, but her’s are each distinctly named for us.  There’s the Holly McClain, wife and mother of two children and there’s Holly Gennaro, successful corporate executive.  Her internal struggle is between the Gennaro and McClain personas.  At the start of the film, Holly Gennaro is in charge.  She places the family portrait with Bruce Willis and the kids face down in her office, calls the Hispanic maid whom she’s shirked her maternal responsibilities on to (“What would I do without you? She proclaims to her surrogate over the phone), and is rewarded with an expensive watch for all she’s done for the Nakatomi  corporation (“It’s a Rolex,” her coked out coworker brags to Willis).  But at the end of the move, we know the Holly McClaine role has won out.  In the climax, after dispatching all the other villains, Willis shoots Rickman, who stumbles out a shattered window and grabs Bedelia’s wrist (the one with that watch) on the way, thus dangling precariously out the building and about to take her with him.  Willis then saves Bedelia by unhooking the Rolex’s clasp and plunging Rickman to his death. In essence, Willis’s character is forcibly destroying his wife’s professional persona (the Gennaro role) and hoisting her back into the traditional wife and mother function—something she confirms when Willis introduces her afterwards as Holly Gennaro and she corrects him by saying: “McClane. Holly McClane.” Thusly reaffirming the traditional (and completely sexist) family roles.

But Bedelia’s character isn’t the only one who “redeems” herself.  Willis (besides mimicking the bloody image of a Christ like sacrifice by the end of the movie) also his own culpability to the state of his family.  In one scene, he makes a rather odd speech over the radio to his one ally, Reginald VelJohnson as  an LAPD Sergeant with whom he spends the majority of the movie talking to for moral support, and instructs him to find Bedelia and apologize to her on his behalf for the vague infraction of “being a jerk.” VelJohnson, with whom Willis hugs after the ordeal—projecting the theme of togetherness—experiences his own redemption in regaining the ability to use his service weapon (he explains in one radio hear-to-heart with Willis that after accidentally shooting a kid with a toy gun he could never pull his gun on anyone again and was regulated to desk duty) and shoots the last terrorist (he’s thought to be dead, but isn’t).

So you see how Die Hard meets all the requirements of a Christmas movie, but let me explain why it’s the perfect Christmas movie.  The genius of this film is that carries the same message of Miracle on 34th Street and accomplishes the goal of It’s a Wonderful Life under a completely different genre.  It’s still an action movie with a healthy serving of gratuitous violence (is there any other kind) and explosions (so many explosions), things that one would imagine might offend Christian morals.   It’s just been co-opted by Christmas, a holiday early Christians adopted from pagans.

By simply taking place during the holiday season, having characters redeem themselves after self-reflection, and affirm traditional family values and roles, the movie allows itself to be drafted into the Christmas movie category and as such parallels the actual history behind the holiday.  Thus Die Hard is the perfect Christmas movie.

[Pic via]

Dear Main Stream Media,

I don’t care about Tiger Woods cheating on his wife.  Now, will everyone shut up about it?  Usually, in situations like this involving something utterly pointless about a celebrity, I can just avoid the whole thing by ignoring it.  But sometimes, I just can’t escape it.  Atop the constant barrage of headlines and news coverage in this 24-hour news cycle digital world, there’s always someone (usually at work) who will inevitably bring it up.  “Did you hear about Tiger Woods?” a moronic co-worker will ask.  No, I’ve been on the moon all week…with my head buried in the ground…and my eyes and ears sown shut.

Look, no one, least of all me, is surprised that Tiger Woods was sleeping with women other than his wife. The man is rich and famous, so this shouldn’t shock anyone.  There have been multiple seasons of Rock of Love, a TV show in which women compete to hook up with Bret Michaels, the lead singer of Poison.  So if the ass clown who sings this song can get legions of women to want to be with me, what do you think the man who many agree will hold the title of “greatest golfer who ever lived” when he finally retires gets?  I bet that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of women who have stalked Tiger Woods and tried to have sex with him (and probably knew he was married).  Personally, I don’t understand the psychology of so called “star fuckers”.  I’m pretty sure fame, or wealth, is not sexually transmitted.  And before anyone accuses me: I’m not excusing Woods’s actions. I’m of the mindset that you don’t want to sleep with one person for the rest of your life than you shouldn’t get married (or tell your wife that you want an open relationship).

Some may argue that since Tiger Woods is the highest paid professional athlete in the world (estimates are that next year he will be worth a billion dollars) along with his inevitable seat on the thrown of the sport and high visibility, he’s fair game for coverage.  I’d like to point out that he’s also the most boring famous person in the world.  It’s the key to his greatness.  Seriously.  Have you ever played golf? It’s the dullest sport known in the history of humanity.  Tiger Woods has literally spent the better part of his life practicing swinging a rod with a piece of metal attached to the end.  Hours upon hours, every day, week after week, month after month, for years.  Interesting people who have profound insights don’t do that, only someone who has nothing better to do would practice hitting a five iron for three hours straight. And thus, inevitably, his scandal is equally boring. Did he sexually assault these women? Pay to have sex with them? Take steroids in front of them? No, he just had consensual sex with them and kept it from his wife.  I don’t care.  So please move onto to something else…or I’ll kill a celebrity to get you to.

Sincerely,

The Word Ninja

[Pic via Cracked.com]