Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What happens in Vegas stays on a memory card until you get home and finally get the pictures off your camera and take the time to upload them

I've always said the best things in life often end up being those things you don't plan. Or at least don't expect. This past weekend was no exception. After holding it down nights-and-weekends style for something like three weeks straight here at the ol' jobby job, I miraculously found myself with the weekend off. I only found this out like Friday afternoon.

That being the case, I was able to quickly buy a ticket and make it to the Vegoose Festival out in Vegas with Whitney and her friend Alison who'd been talking it up for weeks. Excited isn't really a big enough word. Ecstatic is more like it. I mean, Daft Punk was playing! Daft Punk! And the pyramid!

First of all, I'd never made the drive between LA and Vegas so I was pumped Saturday morning when we rolled out even though everyone assured me it was a deathtrap full of coked-out speeders and the roadside would be lined with flaming cars. Pfff, whatev.
Anyway, to me the drive was simply a beautiful drive through insanely beautiful desert. And if course filled with stellar tunes. It's the kind of thing you only get out west. So to me it was a blast.

Especially when you know there are like 8 hours of dope-ass music waiting for you on the other side.

So we got in at like 3 in the afternoon and our hotel room wasn't ready for us. What to do, you say? Why change in the bathroom, of course. Which one? The bathroom in the lobby. Which of course is in the casino. The casino bathroom. That one right there.

Folks let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've walked into a casino bathroom wearing jeans and a t-shirt and carrying your suitcase and then proceeded to take over the handicapped stall where you spend like 15 minutes shimmying into a pair of copper-lamé pants, cowboy boots and a western shirt before walking out like some kind of Vegas show for all to behold. And stare. And comment. Like they'd never seen a man in the most awesome pair of pants ever made.

Well shit people, this is Vegas! I thought ya'll came to get your freak on. To let what happens here, stay here. Don't let them pants scare you now!

I think it might have had more to with my having to stand alone for like 10 minutes waiting for my country singer counterparts who had far more work to do to get in character. And in fairness, we were at the Wynn hotel which isn't exactly the Hard Rock so I'm sure some of the guys returning from golf were a little freaked out. Oh well.

Let's get on with the show. Behold the majesty that was our costumes.

Whitney and I warmed up on the bus ride out to the show.

Then Alison and I did a little number.

Then we posed for one last picture before the microphones were deemed "weapons" and taken away. Boo.

I styled the pants while waiting for a beer.

Whitney and Allison took in the scene.

Here was the scene as the sun began to set.

And then it set some more.

Whitney and Allison enjoyed themselves some Cypress Hill.

Whitney befriended a girl from Dublin.

And then befriended the whole Dublin crew.

There was a ferris wheel. I don't do a ferris wheel, btw. Accident waiting to happen if you ask me.

Whitney befriended a guy in a bear suit.

A girl in a pot costume.

M.I.A. invited like 200 people on stage with her. It didn't collapse. That was good.

We took a picture of our boots.

Then Daft Punk came on and blew our minds.

And then blew them a little more.

And that was Saturday. We then woke up to a beautiful Sunday at the hotel.


And headed back out for some more.

There was a guy in a bath towel.

We caught some Ghostface Killah. It was hot as blazes.

I wanted to visit the "House of Axe" which promised scary yet scantily clad women. But there was a line. Next year,

We caught some Robert Randolph.

We took a picture of the huge pumpkin head.

We posed for one last picture.

And then hit the road for the drive home. It was a blast.


Not pictured was the frikkin'"fall of Saigon" that was the shuttle bus situation on Saturday night like midnight. Long story short, I guess we missed the first wave of bus departures and so by the time we got out to the lot there were thousands upon thousands of people and like three buses. As all of the buses were heading back to the strip we just figured we'd get on any bus we could and then sort out a cab back to our hotel once we were back on the strip and out of the desert. Of course, everyone else had the same idea.

So as two buses pulled in Whitney said "we're getting on that bus" and began positioning herself by the door as it came to a stop. A frikkin' surge of people came in behind us. The three of us risked being crushed as we somehow elbowed our way on. Then we ended up at the Hard Rock Hotel where we snagged a cab and made it home. It was, in a word, terrifying when I look back on it. I had visions of broken ribs and tipped over buses and rioting. I don't even want to know what happened to those thousands of other people left behind.

Needless to say we just drove out there Sunday.

As far as a quick recap of the bands we saw, here you go.

Saturday:

Cyrpess Hill - cool to see them again and reminisce about my college days when I was a big fan.

Public Enemy - Only caught them for a second but Chuck D and Co. were holdin' it down. And Flava Flav, of course.

The Shins - Yawner. A good studio band but a boring live act. Always have been.

M.I.A. - Dope. Really dope.

Queens of the Stone Age - The kings of desert rock do what they do best: rock your pants off.

Thievery Corporation - Really cool and bass-y. A good prelude to the headliner.

Daft Punk - Mind blowing. Absolutely mind blowing. One of the most amazing shows I've ever seen in my life. And I've seen a lot of shows. But this one was exceptional in every way. I'm not the same for having seen it.

Sunday:

Ghostface Killah - Cool but it was so hot it was hard to get too into it. And it was like 2 o'clock.

Robert Randolph - Rockin' as ever although we only stayed for a bit because, again, it was hot and we had the drive back to LA in front of us.


So there you have it,Vegoose 2007.

Rock.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What planet is this?

As soon as I figure out whether or not what I saw Saturday night in Vegas was in fact real, I’ll post more about our crazy weekend at the Vegoose Festival. Complete with gobs of pictures that are on my camera that’s unfortunately in another bag. But for now, behold the mothership that is Daft Punk when they landed in the desert Saturday night. And two guys in space robot helmets sitting atop a pyramid blew the minds of everyone there. And those who will hear about it.

I’m already building my own pyramid in my backyard so I can be ready when Daft Punk says it’s time. I’m waiting. Just give me a sign.

I wasn't the only one who saw it.



Thursday, October 25, 2007

The idiot’s guide to ethics

The holding company that I ultimately work for finally forced me this morning into taking an online ethics course. My old holding company never required such a thing. I guess it was just understood that as professionals and not idiots, things like telling outsiders and the media what we’re up to was frowned upon. I guess I always just figured it’s a good way to thin the herd. If you’re stupid enough to talk to the press or the competition then how sharp could you really be? I mean, would you really want someone that needs to take an ethics test on your squad? I don’t.

So we creatives have all been dragging our feet for months about taking this thing but they weren’t taking no for an answer. So I took it. Most of us have. And I gotta say it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever been asked to do (don’t worry, I’d gladly tell them this too). It was like the "usage" section of the old ITBS tests where you had to determine if "me go to the store" was proper English. Only this was easier. And the whole thing was filled with hypotheticals about missing hard drives and overheard conversations and file transfers.

What are we, the CIA? I mean, I know there’s a lot of money involved but this ain’t exactly Michael Clayton here. I’m a writer, not a double agent. Like I want anyone inside the company to get their thieving hands on my ideas, let alone someone outside.

But to me, it’s more about the implications.

First off, ain’t no one gonna out ethics me. With a conscience like mine, you don’t have the luxury of busting the rules. I feel guilty taking a penny out of the take-a-penny tray.

Second, I just hate big corporate bullshit like this. There’s a reason I work in advertising and it’s because it allows me to creatively solve “business” problems but (ideally) without all the business bullshit. I also just feel like I shouldn’t have to swear my allegiance to any company. I like to think the check that drops into my account every two weeks is our little understanding: I like getting paid and you don’t like getting sold out. So we’re good.

And lastly, (on a personal rather than ethical note) as a purveyor of fucking awesome ideas, what in god’s name would drive me to ever share those with someone who isn’t paying me? Ethics or not, that’s just stupid. At the end of the day, we don’t make anything except ideas. So if you want one, bring your checkbook. Better yet, bring your wife’s too. ‘Cause you’re prolly gonna need both of them.

In other more exciting news, everyone's favorite coolest band in the world, the Raveonettes, have an album coming out soon that sounds goddamn incredible.

It's not out for a couple more weeks but you can listen to it on the MySpace of course.
Raveonettes

And our man Ryan Adams dropped yet another EP Tuesday including a much cooler stripped down cover of “This is it” from the “Rock N Roll” album and a nasty little cover of Alice in Chain’s “Down in a Hole.” Not too shabby.

And is anyone else a fan of the Clientele? Wait, before you answer listen to “My own face inside the trees." Or "Bookshop Cassanova." Or "Losing Heringey."

Then let me know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The hills are filled with fire


As I’m sure you’ve all no doubt heard or read, pretty much everything around LA is on fire. Malibu, the San Bernardino mountains, the area around San Diego. It’s not good. Until today it hadn’t been that bad here in the city but today is smoky. Real smoky. My eyes are burning and it feels like everyone is sneezing a lot. We're keeping the windows closed.

But on the bright side (you know, where I live), I will say the light is beautiful. It’s this kind of soft golden color, filtered by the smoke, that makes everything look really beautiful. So there’s that.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but I’ve been here a shade over 6 months now and as far as measurable rainfall goes, it has rained once in that time. And I think the cumulative total for last year was something like 3”. So I suppose it was inevitable that it was all gonna go at some point. The Santa Ana winds that kicked up last weekend just pulled the trigger.

But here’s hoping it ends soon. God bless the fine people fighting those fires ‘cause lord knows they don’t get enough praise.

And all apologies for not posting more stuff but it's been a little crazy here in pitchland and I haven’t had a day off in something like three weeks. Kinda worn out. You understand. I'll make it up to you soon. I promise.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Killer

If you’re like me and thought the last Killers album was a little too wind and highways and rivers and choral numbers and Vegas-style "we hope you enjoyed your stay"-song-a-longs and “we wanna be Springsteen" song titles, you're not alone. We all know what they should have been doing. And that's loading up on the mascara and skinny pants and pointy boots and synthesizers and basically living at the Ministry of Sound, glamming it up all the while.

Well fret not, friends. All's not lost. Hope arrived this week in the form of a Joy Division cover.

Dig “Shadowplay.”



Pony up the $.99 and treat yourself to a night on the town courtesy of the Killers. And check out how forward the drums are in the mix. You'll like it.

Rock.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shh, shh, go back to sleep. It's probably nothing.

Say you're asleep and you hear a little something in your house. You're pretty sure it's not your wife or your kids but really, who knows. Could just be someone gettin' a snack. But then again it could be a psycho killer in a clown mask. Or that deformed guy from Goonies. Wearing a clown mask. And who among us wants to get out of bed and get their shotgun only to find out it was just someone gettin' a bowl of cereal. Who's not wearing a clown mask.

Not me.

That's why I recently bought some peace of mind with this little gem:

Perfect for the times we live in. And I think I speak for all of us when I say "clown mask or not, I don't wanna get out of my nice warm bed only to shoot your ass."

And here's a tagline I came up with (free of charge) that I feel would make the product that much more awesome:

The Back Up. Because somebody's lying.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What kind of Facebook user are you?

As a service to you and, frankly, the world, your friends at Fascination Streak present:

“The Five Levels of Facebook Users Divided up Using, Naturally, Homeland Security’s Crazy-Mad-Easy-to-Follow Color Coded Terror Alert System.”

So let’s do this, bitches!

Severe

Your page is tricked out to be damned. You’re getting zero work done because you’re so armpit deep in apps all you’re really doing is playing Scrabulous, biting vampire chumps, taking movie quizzes, dedicating songs, sending drinks that can’t be drunk, loading up sexy Halloween costume apps, playing Risk, joining every network from your school alumni group to “bowhunters of southern Alabama" and basically doing a host of other shiznit that’ll soon make you sit back and be like “why does my page look like the front seat of a Sikh’s cab at the end of a shift and smell just as bad?” ‘Cause you overdid it, pal. You didn’t know how to say "no." That’s why.

You probably also have a “pimped” MySpace page you split time with. It’s probably got some crude image of like the Joker or Dale, Jr., or unicorns or something and it’s got every picture you ever took scrolling in like 25 different slideshows. It’s almost kind of cool if it didn’t take 4 hours to load. No seriously. No one’s making fun of you or forwarding your link to all of their friends and saying things like “check out this douchebags’s page” or “look at how fractaled-up this guy’s page is". If we do, we only do it every once in a while.

You're probably all up in Second Life and Tribe.net too.

And you’ve probably got like 900 Facebook friends. And of course you still talk to each and every one of them. No filler there. No strangers coming out of the woodwork. Not a cyber friend in the bunch. Best buds, all 900 of you.


High

Oh, you’re no stranger to the apps yourself. You got more apps than TGI Fridays and your page looks like someone dropped a box of logos on it. You’ve probably given a useless gift you’ve actually paid for and done some super poking. You’ve probably got the vampires and zombies apps going and are probably reading this while toggling back and forth between tagging photos and playing a little Pimp Game.

And you’re probably somewhere in the 300-500 range in terms of friends. You’re right, it is a contest. It's a popularity contest. And there will be prizes for "most friends" soon. An then everyoe gets Gap painter's pants and Microsoft gves $5 to kid's cancer research for everytime this email gets forwarded!

Come to think of it, remember that woman Donna who worked in accounts payable? I wonder what she’s up to nowadays. You should totally make her your friend. I mean, since you were such good friends back then and all. Come on, poke her already. Friends don’t just make themselves.


Elevated

You got suckered in. You accepted a few old friends. You thought it might be fun to poke that cute girl that’s your friend’s friend. Then you superpoked her. Now you’re up to your function keys in aquariums and friend wheels and superwalls. You’re working weekends because your days are spent maintaining flimsy online relationships and adding apps. This is not what you bargained for but now that you got 150 friends you’ve got some obligations. Oh, look. There’s a superpoke now. I’ll let you get that. Just remember this….

The first one’s free, friend. The first one’s always free.


Guarded

You’ve got a page. You keep up with your friends from college or grad school and a few friends you know now. Maybe you even added a couple apps before you realized you’re not 13. You agree it beats the bejesus out of MySpace but just like MySpace you’re still not really sure what all the fuss is about. It’s all well and good but now old girlfriends are finding you and so are all those friends that were never really your friend but now that you’re on the cybernet apparently you saved each other’s lives in the war. Yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and deny you, Leonard.


Low

Face who? I’m still on Friendster. It's the best! And hey, you should totally join my LinkedIn network! Come on! How else are you gonna meet the middle management of the world? Join my network, it’ll be fun! I’m an assistant brand manager at P&G! I work in Cincinnati! I went to Kellogg! I went to Kellogg! Did you? Did you? I’m lonely. I live in Cincinnati.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Now you know what happens when too much killer music comes out all at once

Not that this happened all this past week but it certainly didn't help.

Dig the scotch tape job and the foam cold-bustin' out all ova da place.

They still sound great though. Don't ask me how.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Band of awesomeness


I recently read in Rolling Stone that Ben Bridwell who heads Band of Horses had up and moved from Charleston, SC, to Seattle back in 1997 with little in the way of a plan. By his own admission, he was into some rough stuff at the time. And for much of his time he spent there he was essentially homeless and sleeping in the back of unlocked rental trucks and working at the Crocodile Cafe where he stuffed his tips in a hole in a speaker so he wouldn't spend them.

And then in 2000 he helped sing backup on someone's record and thought "this is fun." So he taught himself to play guitar, bass and lap steel. And then cobbled together some guys and formed a band called Band of Horses. And recorded an album called "Everything all the Time" which in my (and a load of others') opinion was one of the best records of 2006. Incredible.

That record was anchored with two of the best songs I've heard in some time: "The Funeral" and "The Great Salt Lake." The album sounded as big, as limitless, as windy, as wild and as daunting as the wide-open West. Or how we imagine it as it was. I even remember having my own pretty transcendental moment in New Mexico last spring listening to "The Great Salt Lake" and its final "oh-oh-oh-oh's."

Ok great. So then what?

Move home to Charleston (Mt. Pleasant, technically) and record an album around the theme of coming home. An album about small towns and changes and the Atlantic and neighbors and who we are now. And who we were then. Once again they recorded ten of the best songs I've heard in recent years.

To my ear, it's kind of got it all, really. The haunting and huge opener "Is there a ghost", the beautiful "No one's gonna love you", the sweetly sad (but awesomely titled) "Detlef Schrempf." The awesome country stomp of "The General Specific" (with the incredible line "been running the blender in a lightning storm that disguises a blessing, I'm sure") and the rocking swing of "Islands on the Coast." The bluesy "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands" and of course, the shimmering cappers "Ode to LRC" and "Window Blues." They're the kind of songs you want to live with for a while and get their whole story.

Best of all, I feel like when he sings "the world is such a wonderful place" complete with those "la-di-da-das" on "Ode to LRC", I can't see any way to possibly disagree with him. Not with a story like that. Not with songs like those.

Not with music like theirs.

Color me fascinated.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I’m in the middle of your picture


I’m wicked busy but a couple of quick notes on the new Radiohead album.

In short, it’s stellar. If these pages gave out star ratings I’d have to go four-and-a-half, maybe even five. It’s that good. Perhaps not as conceptual as OK Computer but good in so, so many ways. It’s the sound of a group of guys who know exactly what they want and what they want to sound like.

There are two songs that jump right out as being not only great but kind of new territory for the boys.

The first is the beautiful little synth/piano-driven tune called “All I Need.” Easily their best “love” song since “True Love Waits.” And very Radiohead lyrics with images of dogs in parked cars, moths and lights, and insects at night. Worth the cost right there, that one. And a nifty little beat to get her along too.

The second is the positively incredible “House of Cards” that I can’t even compare to anything else of theirs—it even has a little R&B influence. I’ll even come right out and say it might be one of the most beautiful songs they’ve ever written and up there with Fake Plastic Trees in terms of Thom’s finest vocal moments.

That being said, “Reckoner”, “Jigsaw Falling into Place” and “Weird Fishes/Apreggi” are great tunes as well. Most of the album seems to have a much more mid-tempo vibe. Which is quite nice. It’s a lot like Kid A in that way.

The biggest change to me seems to be a much more musical and melodic focus as opposed to a political (see “2+2=5”) or noise (see “Hunting Bears”) or fuzzed-out (see “Myxomitosis”) sound. It could just be the boys are mellowing a bit and, perhaps like me, not letting the state of the world influence everything they do.

And for the love of Pete, the last words of the album during “Videotape” are “today has been the most perfect day I’ve ever seen.” What could be more un-Radiohead than that?

Also worth noting and meriting its own review soon is the new Band of Horses’ “Cease to Begin” which is amazing itself. Just listen to “Is there a ghost” and you’ll see what I mean.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Karma Police


Many of you have probably heard that Radiohead’s new album came out last night and they distributed it a little differently. First of all, they announced it like a week before. And second, they’re selling it directly from their website (no label backing at all). Even more revolutionary, they’re letting you pay what you feel like paying for it. Their reasoning is nothing more than trying something different and, just like their music, pushing boundaries. It’s really quite genius. An experiment of sorts.

I had a discussion recently about the demise of record labels and this, friends, may be the beginning. The fact that almost anyone with a couple of instruments, a laptop and a couple thousand dollars worth of software and microphones can record an album has changed things. No longer do you need expensive studio time and a label to help you print cd’s, liner notes, packaging, marketing, etc. As this blog no doubt shows, anyone can have a website and can post up music to it and using any number of check-out/delivery devices can distribute it.

And I gotta say, I’m not that sad about it. For years the majors have refused to accept a new business model and in turn made people like me who simply love music fall out of love with them. Why should I support them? They routinely made it harder for me to not only hear new music but to share it and to champion their bands, free of charge of course, to people who might buy it. Incription, ridiculous lawsuits, etc. All that did was make people against them. So now, I don't feel sorry for them. I was on their side. For a while anyway.

Truth is, the cassette tape didn’t kill music. The cd burner didn’t kill music. The internet hasn’t killed music. Record labels simply killed themselves.

Because they loved money more than music.

The only thing that will continue to be cost-prohibitive for artists is touring. Stages, lighting, roadies, catering, amps, venue fees, transportation, buses, trucks, merchandise, drugs, alcohol, etc., will still need to be financed by someone and if recent trends continue that will continue to be a source of income for years to come. Moreso than record sales. So that’s something. But probably not enough to save the majors.

I think moving forward, the most important thing in the music business will be tastemakers—the people who can be trusted to sort it out and tell us what’s good or what’s deserving of a listen and not just a guy and his friends in Encino who hammered out an EP of songs. Perhaps people like me, even. Whoever. Friend to friend. Word of mouth. It doesn’t matter.

I suppose it will be kind of like what radio used to do before they just started repeatedly telling us every five minutes that “no one plays more hits than [insert station name here].” Yeah? Well stop saying you do and do it. They’re next to go if they don’t take a page from the KGSR’s, KBCO’s and Indie 103’s of the world and start playing music that matters and building musical communities.

To quote Jeff Tweedy:

“And if the whole world’s singing your songs
And all of your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours is everyone’s from now on

And that’s not wrong or right
But you can struggle with it all you like
You'll only get uptight

Because there’s a light (what light)
Inside of you.”

This high horse is really starting to chafe me so I’m gonna go ahead and get down now.

And for the record, I paid £6.45 for the album, roughly $13.12 US. After hearing it, I think I should have paid twice that. It's that good. Yowzers.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Advanced Movie Making 4678-II

I saw the fantastic Darjeeling Limited on Friday night and I think I figured out Wes Anderson's trick for setting the vibe of his films. And this is it:

The Kinks.

I'll explain.

It's a credit to both their genius really. One made great, largely undiscovered, and now vintage music while the other just has a good ear for it and matching it to good picture.

I mean, the Kinks wrote such wonderful tunes and I think most would agree they were way underrated and had such a unique sound and were, well, such dedicated followers of fashion. Not to mention they're a huge influence on everyone from the Jam to Blur to Oasis to Franz Ferdinand. I think their problem was they had to compete with a couple other bands named the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Tough one, that one.

But the genius of Wes and soundracks is that he digs deep. He digs in and he finds those lost gems. The ones way past "Lola" and "You Really Got Me." And then he builds around them. The Darjeeling Limited magically used both the sad leaving song "This time tomorrow", the quirkily sweet "Strangers", and the nifty little rocker "Powerman." The rest is mainly Indian sitar music (some quite good) and obscure ballads (see the lovely "Where do you go to my lovely?". But he digs well. In fact, the guy dug so deep he managed to part me with a cool $12 to buy the whole soundtrack 'cause those Kinks songs don't really show up anywhere else. Except record stores, of course. Too bad they're not open.

I think alot of making films like his—ones that are so intertwined with music it really becomes as important to the story as the actors (and it should always be that way, me thinks)— is sort of like when you make a playlist. After you get the first few tracks in place you start to set a tone, a vibe for the mix or the playlist or the party or whatever. That's when you start genre-hopping and pull out obscure French songs and Brazilian guys who do Bowie covers in Portugese and Eliot Smith songs and, of course, those beautiful, between the buttons Rolling Stones songs like "I am waiting" in Rushmore and "She Smiled Sweetly" and "Ruby Tuesday" in The Royal Tenenbaums tent scene. And in this movie he built an incredible scene (using one of his wicked good set change/dolly pieces, of course) to the Stone's "Play with fire." It was crazy good.

One of my other favorite Wes Anderson stories is how he and Owen Wilson were either driving to or from LA from Austin during the making of Bottle Rocket and listened to old cassette tapes and cobbled together what is really a great soundtrack for a small independent.

But it really comes down to the Kinks. At least this time.

Now that I think about it though, you can't tell me that HP "Pictures" spot wouldn't have been half of what it was without that Kinks song.

You gotta admit, they've got a vibe.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Night Lights

Almost forgot, the best show on TV returns tonight.

I read a story about when Peter Berg created the movie (and later the series) he had dropped out of acting and so he moved to Austin and lived with families of high school football players and slept on couches and just observed.

It worked.

Because I’ve never seen a more accurate depiction of not only Texas football but the human and family condition in America. It's tragic, yet it's beautiful, it's real, and it's sure as hell not perfect. But that's what makes it worthwhile. Same thing that makes life worth living.

Besides, there's enough laugh-track driven shows about perfect people with perfect lives on tv already.

Naegleria, the dreaded brain worm


I first heard about Naegleria, the dreaded brain worm, in Ms. Spiser's 7th grade journalism class. And for years I was convinced my next swim woukd be the one that would let the dreaded brain worm gain access to my nose and consequently make his way up into my brainspace where he would then go to town on it. And chow it down like a State Fair corny dog. And then I would die at the ripe age of 13, brainless and at the tentacles of a microscopic worm. I was certain of it. It's actually a tiny amoeba but "worm" sounds so so much awesomer.

That was 1987. I mean, the truth was something was gonna get you. It was either that or nuclear attack, Lebanese/Iraqi invasion, freak weather event or something ozone-layer related. Clearly we've made significant strides in the past 20 years 'cause none of that stuff ever crosses my mind now.

I stayed obsessed with "the nog" for years. So much so that during our annual Egg Nog party at the old SAE house in college I would use the occasion to try to warn my friends of the danger lurking in the water. It was my own personal lupus crusade. But mostly we'd just get hammered drunk on egg nog so I'm not really sure my message got through.

Now this little guy is all over the news again and people are dropping like, well, they're dropping like nog victims.

We're screwed. That's all I'm sayin'.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A letter from my publisher on why my self-help book “Hello, My Name Is” is tanking at retail


Dear Howard,

Listen, it’s occurred to me and the staff here that perhaps this wasn’t the best subject matter for someone like you to take on. After all, you’re not the best at remembering people’s names. Faces, yes. Names, not so much.

I know we’ve talked about your getting flustered during introductions and, despite having had the exact same name for 33 years, you still seem so overly focused on delivering your name clearly that the other person's name slips right past leaving you to ask everyone else “what was his name again?” It’s for that reason I believe your book is taking it on the chin at the few retailers who were kind enough to try to sell it. And frankly, we here at your publisher feel it might have been a mistake to let someone with essentially no expertise in the area of name retention write a book on how to be better at it. You understand.

Certain events have come to light that helped us come to this conclusion. There was the time in New York where during a pretty nasty hangover you ran into that guy Jason from college only to call him “James” no less than like four times. Yes, I know you still feel terrible about bungling it and are terrified of repeating it, but it’s embarrassing when these stories end up on Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room. And Hard Copy. It hurts your credibility.

There are also the times, almost daily, when rather than address people by name you simply sidestep it with a “yo” or a “what’s up?” or “how’s it going?” I know you feel it’s weird to address people you just saw not ten minutes ago by name but the truth is, people like it. It’s endearing.

Then there are the times when you approach a group of people and realize that since you don’t know one of them rather than introduce yourself you simply pretend to know everyone, and throw out a “hey, dudes” in an effort to cover it up. It’s not becoming. And worse, it almost always leads to those awkward conversations three months later where people are forced to say, “I don’t think we’ve officially met.” Yeah, see how this a problem?

I do recall from our conversation Tuesday that you’re trying to be better at it. In fact, you’ve even made it your new resolution that you will begin addressing everyone you come into contact with by name. Even service personnel wearing nametags. That’s a start. But is it enough to stop the nosedive your sales are currently in? Only time will tell.

Truth is, many retailers have already begun placing large yellow stickers on the cover of your book advertising “75% off” and placing it on card tables outside the actual establishment in the hope that some poor soul will accidentally be swayed into purchasing it at a deep, deep dicount. Not exactly what we intended when we ponied up that handsome advance, mind you.

Perhaps soon we can also talk about why you’re follow up self-help book, “Managing Your Career”, might not be where we want to go next for much the same reasons. Let’s do lunch soon.

Sincerely,

Gary

Monday, October 01, 2007

K-Fed talks to the kids


Yo, yo, yo, what’s up? Now ya’ll may want to get a seat for this. Here, Sean, sit on this milk crate. And here, Preston, you can pimp this beanbag chair. I’ll take this cinder block.

Listen, here’s the deal. You guys are gonna be living with me from now on.

[Whimpering, the tears begin flowing]

Turns out yo mommy’s what we call in the biz, “a little whack.” Actually, she’s a lot whack. Like mad whack, yo. Check out my hand sign—that’s a “W” for “wiggity-whack!” You know she ain’t even gots a driver’s license? I’m fo realz, yo. She be straight trippin’!

But did that stop her from putting yo asses on her lap and driving you around all unprotected and shit? Hell no, it didn’t. That’s why daddy gonna be taking care of you shorties from now on. Here. In my joint. In my crib. In my one-bedroom, bottom floor apartment.

Word, right?! This is gonna be off the hizzy! Ain't no visitations or joint custody or none of that. Just me and my boyzzzzz.

[Lots and lots of crying. Explosive crying. Extremely loud. And screaming. Totally understandable, of course, but loud.]

Ah come on, my shorties. It ain’t gonna be that different here, B's.

Sure it’s a little smaller. And yeah, it ain’t got no pool or staff or multiple bedrooms or none of that. But on the plus side, that Criss Angel dude ain’t gonna be stoppin’ by and trying to pull any of his whack-ass magic tricks on you, neither. And I don’t even owns no car so ya’ll ain’t gots to worry about that. We gonna be pimpin’ the bus, yo!

At least until daddy new record drops! Ah-yeah! Straight up! Can I get a “what-what”!

[Crying, the likes of which you’ve never heard. Again, totally understandable. I mean, they’re now living with K-Fed. And they know there’s gonna be a new record!]

Now come on, get some chicken wings. And don’t be forgettin’ to get yo ass some of them celery sticks ‘cause my shorties need to be eatin’ yo greens!