Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quiz, Toys, Culture

This quiz seems to be all the rage. I read that the average score for most Americans was 49% and that the average score for elected officials was 33%. I scored 84%. Nyaah nyaah.


The first show of Great Uncle Helmer participating in the Toys For Tots drive is THIS SATURDAY! You will want to go and bring $10 or a new toy (no gift wrap) and get the new CD, which I just listened to and which is quite good, maybe the best in the four years this program has been going on. Go! GO! GOOOO!


I remember back before I was married and had children. I was talking to my parents and was asking them about culture in the 1970s. I happen to think that 1964-1973 was the single greatest ten year period in music history. (Joni, Marvin, Beatles, Zeppelin, Elton, Big Star, on and on) I remember them saying they were just married, had two small children, and did not necessarily follow closely what was going on in the culture. They have about 50 LPs from roughly that period of time, but don't have any real concrete memories of what the public perception of, say, Elvis was at that time. This seemed strange to me once. (Of course I've read about it in books. Duh. I just wondered what it was like to be there.)

Now I have the young children and I realize the same thing is happening to me. I stay a little more connected, perhaps, but mostly through new releases by people I already liked when I was younger and/or single. For example, I listened to Joni Mitchell's brilliant Shine three times today. The thing that really drove home my disassociation from popular culture is that I don't have time for Twilight.

Normally I would probably at least read the first book. But I heard that the author is maybe now refusing to release the seventh book because some of it leaked or something. And the stars of the movie are blah to me. I saw a picture of the girl with a serious, pouty look on her face, with the caption "Sometimes I think about being with you forever." That seemed like an extremely unappealing future.

An allegedly sexy pop culture phenomenon about vampires and I am just going to completely give it a miss? Yep. Sorry Twilight, you'll have to limp along without me. Now I'm going to go read my Angel: After The Fall and Buffy: Season Eight comic books.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reading This Will Add Hours To Your Life

I am going to free up several hours for you right here. Want to write that novel? Always wanted to play the guitar? Here is your opportunity. Ready?

Complete summary of DVD commentary and bonus featurettes (all films):

Everybody who worked on this project was so great. I was so lucky to get this opportunity. From the crew to the cast to the director everyone was really fantastic and it was magical and we are all so super fantastic we can hardly stand it. On some films it's just work but this cast and crew really bonded and became a family. Oh, and our special effects were revolutionary and yet you don't even notice them, since they're not special effects for their own sake. They're just part of the vision for the story, which was written, directed, acted, filmed, and edited by geniuses working very hard out of love for the work.

There! Now you never again need torture yourself with what is, essentially, a side effect of the technological advancement allowing studios to put a whole bunch of extra stuff with a movie when people watch it at home. Like Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Malcolm Something said so dramatically in Jurassic Park, "they only thought about whether they could and didn't stop to think about whether they should." These documentaries never existed when video stores walked the Earth, you don't see them in the theater, and now they needn't burden us any further at home. You're welcome. (I have to admit, though, that I like deleted scenes.)


Also, of course, you can let your tv go dead next February. What will YOU do with the extra 2 hours a day, Average American?


On a different topic, my birthday is coming up and I have just seen the terrific movie Across The Universe. (Oh, wait, that's not totally unrelated is it?) Anyway, long story short there was only one version of the soundtrack released that actually had all the songs from the movie. I thought it was a Best Buy exclusive and so went to Best Buy, whose clueless clerks knew less about it than I. But eBay had it. But it's like $45 including shipping. But my birthday is coming up.

If you are a person who was considering getting me a birthday present yet have not already done so, this would be the crowning achievement of your history as a birthday present giver. Beware the 29 track edition! And don't worry. If I get two I will just sell one on eBay for even more than $45.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Did No One Tell Us?

I recently had the opportunity to look deep in to the past and watch a decidedly blurry video of Urban Rust, my old band, playing at the Fine Line Music Cafe in January of 1999. It was okay. Here's the thing, though:

We played every song too fast. Every song. Too fast. And every song speeded up as it went along. I don't remember anyone ever mentioning this to us.

Also, maybe it's just the blurry video, but I appear to have some kind of small animal gnawing on the back of my head.

Now I understand that maybe we were sort of an aloof, cool rock band and maybe people put us up on a pedestal. (None of that is true.) Maybe people thought we were doing these things on purpose - speeding up already too-fast songs, wearing glorious, fluffy ponytails on our bassists, etc.

I understand that criticizing people's appearance can be a very dicey proposition, so the ponytail thing is fine. It's by far not the worst hair mistake I ever made. But someone (anyone!) could have at least confronted us gently on the runaway tempos issue.

Oh, well. I forgive you. Thanks for coming to the shows anyway. The crowd was very enthusiastic and those were some fun times.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Toys For Tots 2008, Sad Yet Intriguing Story

This blog serves as an announcer of New Stuff at and all the information you need to see a free show and get a free CD is here.


This was very sad, if captivating.

Sad Stealer Of Yard Signs

He was a college professor and he threw it away to steal McCain yard signs, changing no one's minds, in a state that was absolutely not in danger of going "red" anyway. Doesn't being a college professor give you some influence over people?

There's something else wrong here. People don't just do such stupid self-destructive things without some other incentive. There's more to this story. Therapy is a really good thing and could help him find out what it was that really made him do this. Was something wrong at St. Olaf? If I were his therapist I would say, "What was the benefit of stealing those yard signs, writing about it on your blog, and getting caught?" That would be a good start.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Viagra, I Do Not Need You

Remember how I don't have tv? Well, I'm watching The Office online and it has automatic ads between acts. It seems to be sponsored entirely by viagra, which is maybe not reaching its target audience sponsoring The Office unless I am the youngest person watching and I'm not. So anyway, my question is this:

Hey Viagra, motorcycle and train sounds? Really? Isn't that laying it on a little thick?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Follow Up To Something Else

I mentioned that I was playing the McDonald's Monopoly game. Well, I won. The total haul:

a free medium order of fries

a free breakfast value meal (any)

25 my coke rewards points (redeemable for actual cocaine at some locations)

1 hour of free wi-fi at participating McDonald's

Not exactly the cold hard cash I'd been hoping for, but not bad. And, since I was paying attention, now I know how many calories are in a big mac - 450 (may vary according to individual preparation) - which means about 40 minutes in fat burn mode on the elliptical machine. No sweat. Okay, a little bit of sweat. But it was worth it. Now it's over. See you next year, McDonald's!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another Fun Exercise

Here's something you can do with your friend. Or more than one friend if you are so lucky. (Between this and the "singing O" exercise from Thursday I am really helping people explore themselves and their relationships. Must be my psychology degree.)

Who are you and your friend in these duos? Why? Answer separately, then compare.

10. Jay & Silent Bob
9. The Smothers Brothers
8. Lennon-McCartney
7. Simon & Garfunkel
6. Sonny & Cher
5. Batman & Robin
4. Thelma and Louise
3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
2. David Letterman and Paul Schaefer
1. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Follow Up, etc.

I heard from Rob Van Vliet and am now listening to him and his old bandmate Jason Hussa play their excellent, early '90s, largely acoustic version of the Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows. A 16 song sampler, including that cover song, is available free here:

Straw Dogs
Straw Dogs sampler 1991-1993

I recommend it.


Here's a fun exercise. Clear your mind. Sing the vowel "O" and then whatever song that brings to your mind, sing that song. It can be indicative of your mental state. Examples at the end of this entry. It may take a while the first few times you do it, so let that O draw out as much as you want.


Our third story comes to us tonight from the United States, where a new president has been elected. I am so happy.


Lately I've been singing Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" when I do the above exercise. "Oh I...don't wanna fall in love." Other times it ends up being "O Tannenbam". I should write a song that starts with a big O.