Sammy the Seal

Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Siskel and Ebert are a couple of nuts

In funny ha ha on Monday, 30 June, 2008 at 5:00

Check out these outtakes from when they were filming for their 80s TV show. Watching these two rant and jaw at one another using R-rated language is not only a little surprising, it’s also just too wonderful for words. Guaranteed to brighten your day!

In a teen pop song? Seriously?

In music videos, vinyl on Wednesday, 25 June, 2008 at 3:47


Song: Don’t Say You Love Me
Artist: M2M
Album: Shades of Purple

I was walking to the grocery store a couple of days ago when something astounding came into my headphones: real-world truth in a bubblegum pop song. Back in 1999, Norwegian cuties M2M had a single “Don’t Say You Love Me”. Not only is it catchy as hell, but it effectively, and cheerfully, cuts through all the bullshit that people (men, mostly) say to their significant other in order to, um, get what they want, wink wink. (I think all women can attest to this.) A few lyrics are standard teen pop fare, but take a look at that chorus and tell me you knew teen bubblegum could be that mature, frank, and possessing of restraint, while still sassy (“it’s not like we’re gonna get married”– zing!). Note: the single version of the song has “you sitting there you said you love me, what’s that about?”

Got introduced to you by a friend
You were cute and all that, baby you set the trend
Yes, you did, oh
The next thing I know, we’re down at the cinema
You sitting there, you start kissing me

What’s that about?

You’re moving too fast, I don’t understand you
I’m not ready yet, baby, I can’t pretend
No, I can’t
The best I can do is tell you to talk to me
It’s possible, eventual
Love will find a way

Chorus:
Don’t say you love me, you don’t even know me
If you really want me, then give me some time
Don’t go there, baby, not before I’m ready
Don’t say your heart’s in a hurry
It’s not like we’re gonna get married

Give me, give me some time

Here’s how I play, here’s where you stand
Here’s what to prove to get any further than where it’s been
I’ll make it clear, not gonna tell you twice
Take it slow, keep pushing me

You’re pushing me away

(Chorus)

Oh hell, here’s an ultra-cute video circa 2000 backstage before a show. I don’t care what you think, there’s something about their innocence (i.e., they’re not precocious teenage sex symbols like most singers) and their pure joy of performance that I find irresistible and quite charming. Marit Larsen, my favorite, is the guitarist. The second video is her performing a solo countryfied version of it after the group split up. She’s one “famous” person I’d actually want to meet, and not just because she’s a babe. Sorry, I’ll gush about Ms. Marit some other time.

A few things about George Carlin

In words, words, words on Tuesday, 24 June, 2008 at 4:20

Yes, it’s my turn to euolgize him. I’m not a huge fan, I’ve probably only heard half his stuff, but I’ve been listening to him for almost ten years. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to admire his intelligence. That always scores points with me. There’s too much idiocy and mediocrity everywhere, not just in comedy, so someone like George is a beacon of light. Rather than go on, I’ll just make a list of things I loved about him and how smart he was.

1) His love of language. Whether in his less irate 70s comedy, or more recent diatribes, language, words, their use and meaning was a frequent topic of his. The humor could be observational and harmless, or later specials like Doin’ It Again, Jammin’ in New York, and You Are All Diseased, he went a bit deeper and showed us just how pervasive, influential, and powerful words really are.

2) His subversion. I have and will always believe that his renowned profanity was merely a way to get your attention, so maybe you’d listen a little longer. He always got a rap for swearing, but if you listen to his actual words (imagine that, patience, and not judging a book by its cover!), his intelligence is razor-sharp. I think he knew that most people are cretins and that’s the only way to get attention is to shock them. I always found it funny and ironic that a majority of the people in his crowds are the “ha ha, he said ‘fuck’ ha ha” while everything is going over their heads. I always feel bad when an intelligent comedian like him says something, then few people laugh, not because it’s not funny, but because he is by leaps and bounds the smartest one in the room. Then, in order to keep the cretins awake, he punctuates the joke or observation with a swear, or makes an easy, pandering joke. (I’m sure you’ve observed this phenomenon before.) I know this was intentional, this was his adaptation.

3) His anger and/or disdain. I’m aware that in his later years, he ranted a lot, and repeated a lot of the same stuff, but at least he gave a fuck. I’m sorry to sound curmudgeonly, but the things people laugh at, the films and shows that get patronized, youtube and “alternative comedy”, my lord. I don’t think it’s self-important to lament the absence of scathing, topical humor, given the shithole of a world we live in. You can do something about it, or stick your head in the sand. I know one can’t care about everything all the time, but I’ve talked to people who admit they just don’t follow or care about politics, world events, etc. Probably why I don’t have a lot of friends. I mean, I’m terrible at keeping up, but I try to stay relatively informed, or at least have an opinion. Suffice to say, Carlin’s is most definitely a dying breed (no pun intended, obviously). He may have been repeatedly political and social, but it’s a known fact how ignorant Americans are, so a nagging voice of reason is always necessary.

4) His honesty. Again, get past the dirty words and he is saying something honest. Ideally, it’s one of the duties (ideally) of a comedian to say the things we think but are too afraid to say or admit, and not only was his ability to do this immaculate, but he was conscious enough to be aware of this and remind us if that.

5) His balance. He could be mercilessly caustic, but he could be observational and innocuous. As I mentioned before, it gets exhausting being “important” all the time, which is the same for him. He started out in comedy as a goof, and carried it with him ever since, in his bits, and physicality, one of his underrated talents. (Look at his facial expressions in You Are All Diseased after he says “you want to know how you can help out your children? Leave them the fuck alone!” Love it.) Another example, look at the children’s entertainment he’s been a part of. He can be G-rated too. That’s multi-faceted.

6) And finally, his humanism. Despite his rants and his cynicism, he was an idealist at heart, which is what makes most of us cynics the way we are: seeing how things could be, then having to look at how they are.  He’s more introspective than you’d think. There are too many instances and bits to demonstrate this, but my favorite comes from the very end of his 1992 HBO special Jammin’ in New York. Not only is the last segment incredibly poetic and sobering, including his take on environmentalists— “Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves, we haven’t learned how to care for one another!”— but as he says good night, his last words are “take care of yourself, and take care of somebody else.” Given his other comedy, I think he’d agree that with all the shit going on around us, that’s all we can hope for.

I could have cited Jammin’ throughout this entire post as a perfect example of all these points, but I highly recommend you watch it. In fact, I’ve been watching it the last 40 minutes. Every time I watch it, it’s never old, it’s never irrelevant, always thought-provoking. Please watch it.

Quite exciting, this blender magic

In delicious on Monday, 23 June, 2008 at 22:55

And my blog continues to branch out. I’m no chef, but I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting in the last few months, so this might come up more. People probably don’t know this about me, since they don’t live with me, but I’m quite fond of cooking, baking especially, desserts especially. But every now and then I don’t feel like all that work and heat. So, about a week and a half ago, I got out of work close to midnight and bought a blender, just because I felt like making something. Then tonight, after talking a short walk and lying down on the stone wall outside my apartment in the night air, coming indoors reluctantly, I had success.

Simple, nothing to crow about, but delicious, refreshing, and very complementary to summer. It requires, and this is to serve just one person, 4-5 ice cubes, apple juice, and a small bag of frozen berries. Add in that order, using at most enough juice to reach the tops of the ice cubes (too much means the drink will be too thin, and not slushy). Then add a handful of berries, you don’t need too many. Blend away, using the ice breaker and smoothie settings if you have them. I used mixed berries, but whatever you feel like. Now that I’ve had this one, I think it will be even better with grape juice. I forgot I just bought lemon juice, I probably could have used that. The only thing that went wrong is that I didn’t have anyone to share with.

“I did this donkey show in Tijuana…”

In funny ha ha on Monday, 23 June, 2008 at 18:22

Okay, so this is all the Strangers With Candy I could find, it’s actually the entire series premiere, from some Hungarian website. The third and final season is rock solid, but I’m surprised at how good the first episode and season hold up. I love this show. Of course, I can’t watch half the first season because I lent the disc to someone and that butthead never gave it back. Too many good lines to quote. Every single ep, from the knee-slappers to the mildly entertaining, has at least a couple of classic lines and/or moments, so you always come away a winnner. Watch the entire series, it’s only 30 episodes, less than 12 hours in all. Better yet, purchase it. It’s completely worth it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Strangers With Candy Ep1 part 2“, posted with vodpod

Stuck between albums

In music videos, vinyl on Thursday, 19 June, 2008 at 3:41

Song: Stuck Between Stations
Artist: The Hold Steady
Album: Boys And Girls In America

That’s a dumb play on the song I’m writing about, and the fact that they have another album coming in July. Get it? So, that song shuffled through my ipod at work earlier tonight, and I must say I wasn’t expecting a reminder of fucking phenomenal a song this is. Even with a soon-to-be-released fourth album next month, I have to say this will always be their absolute best song. Odd, since it doesn’t usually work that way with a band, that the first thing you hear is the pinnacle— it’s usually the gateway. (It’s the opening track on their last album, Boys and Girls in America. Nominee for best opening track of all time, my lord, those opening staccatos…) EVERYTHING about this video is so nerdy it hurts (the conceit/premise, the fact that all the members are in their mid-30s or so, not to mention they look, well, nerdy), but if you don’t find this awesome, then we have a problem. How does this song not rock your socks off? When the hot piano solo comes, and he starts “we drink and we dry up and now we crumble into dust”, if you don’t get energetic goosebumps from feeling the rock ‘n’ roll, you must be sterile and lifeless, or you’re trying too hard to be cool. As he is a great writer and storyteller in general, lyrics are included below. As before, don’t forget to crank the volume.



(In case the video link ever goes dead.)

There are nights when I think that Sal Paradise was right
boys and girls in America, they have such a sad time together
sucking off each other at the demonstrations
making sure their make-up’s straight
crushing one another with colossal expectations
dependent, undisciplined, sleeping late

she was a really cool kisser and she wasn’t all that strict of a Christian
she was a damn good dancer, but she wasn’t all that great of a girlfriend
he likes the warm feeling but he’s tired of all the dehydration
most nights were crystal clear, but tonight it’s like it’s stuck between stations

on the radio

The Devil and John Berryman, they took a walk together
and they ended up on Washington talking to the river
he said “I surrounded myself with doctors and deep thinkers,
but big heads and soft bodies make for lousy lovers”
there was that night that we thought that John Berryman could fly
but he didn’t, so he died
she said, “you’re pretty good with words, but words won’t save your life”
and they didn’t, so he died

and he was drunk and exhausted but he was critically acclaimed and respected
he loved the Golden Gophers but he hated all the drawn-out winters
he likes the warm feeling but he’s tired of all the dehydration
most nights were kind of fuzzy but that last night he had total retention

and these twin city kisses
they sound like clicks and hisses
we all come down and drown in the Mississippi River

we drink and we dry up and now we crumble into dust
we get wet and we corrode and now we’re covered up in rust

Sarah is awesome

In Uncategorized on Sunday, 15 June, 2008 at 15:16

Yesterday was one of those depressive for no discernible reason days at work, it was not merely fatigue. Very melancholy, but I had no idea why, which only compounds the frustration and depression. (I’m so emotional!) I couldn’t even listen to music, I didn’t feel like it and it didn’t help, which is astounding. But, by the time I got home, it was almost the opposite, almost ooshy-gooshy– I gave my friend two hugs. This isn’t the first time (you all know who you are), but it’s very satisfying to have people who repeatedly lift you out of trouble or drama, rather than cause it. (As a cynic and observer of real life, I tend to believe the opposite for most people.) This person wasn’t at all obligated to do anything but head for the hills, but she  chose to associate with me anyway, which is saying something, because it’s only human nature to shield oneself from moody people. That’s so nice. I feel so good about it, I’m going to make two pies so we can get fat together.

Thank you

I guess I’m not ready to go back to “The Wire” yet

In celluloid, words, words, words on Friday, 13 June, 2008 at 5:55

Definitely need to watch something happy and trifling. I was going to re-watch the entire series of The Wire once the fifth season was released on home video, but maybe that’ll wait, regardless of how long it is (the series only ended three months ago). Because many of the same people were involved in it, I decided to rent the similarly-themed miniseries “The Corner”, perhaps to get my torturous reality fix. Well, the good news is, it’s not as harsh as The Wire, but it’s still an emotional drain. That’s probably why it took me about a week to watch it. I’m not saying these productions changed my life monumentally, but I think my point of view has been permanently been broadened, when it comes to how I view other people. Not that I’ll never know that reality, but to see one as it most likely is (since the stories are based on what real people witnessed), is incredibly jarring. Even stupid little stuff has made its way into my life, and don’t think I think I’m hood and all that, because I know I ain’t, but I’ve been listening to more hip-hop/rap, comparatively, since then, not including that hip-pop pop rap radio r&b— “rap and bullshit”, as De La and the RZA will tell you— designed to make non-black people feel all cute and hip-hop. It is possible to make music that bumps without making it brainless. You have no idea how shitty and inane that music is until you see it not danced to, but KAROAKED. I had the misfortune of witnessing it recently, the longest 15 minutes of my life. People doing karaoke with club tracks. It’s stupid, not to mention unbelievably crass. (To counterpoint, listen to the album Liquid Swords: an indisputable display of rap as art. Hmm, I should have devoted a post to it, instead of sneaking it in here.) That’s why bigoted middle-class (white) people make statements about all rap sounding the same and being so annoying, unfortunately (which is true for all genres of music, btw– most singer-songwriter or headbanging angsty aggro shit sounds the same, it’s just people talking about their feelings, albeit in diametrically opposed manners). Hell, if I had a mic, I’d make a song right now about shaking your ass, or about women wanting me, or wanting to get their clothes off, or anything stunted and sexual. (Don’t get me started about people dancing, either. Simulating sex is not dancing. I wish I knew some real moves myself, I’m just a goof instead.) But anyway, that pretentious rant aside, and I’ve been stealing bits of slang and lingo from the shows, pretending I was from Baltimore or something. Pathetic, most def (ha ha). That aside, if either of these shows don’t make you a more tolerant, thoughtful person, you must be insensitive or some kinda narrow-minded fool, yo!

Don’t think I’m a poseur or being something I’m not, like it’s my new identity, I certainly don’t identify or feel that. I am who I always have been, just looking at a different perspective. We all need one, now and again. Besides, all the hip youth culture and indie music gets tired after a while, doesn’t it? How to do it without being a downer though…

Maybe I’ll catch up on some superhero movies.

“As desirous of human companionship as anyone, but shackled by over-thinking and days spent staring at the ceiling”

In vinyl, words, words, words on Sunday, 8 June, 2008 at 16:10

See, when I read stuff like this, it makes me feel out of my league, wanting to write. Such succinctness, such pith. That line is the last bit of the itunes review for The Mr. T Experience album Yesterday Rules, the last album recorded before Dr. Frank became a novelist. I’ve been a fan for a long time, though quite by accident: I thought their album title Love is Dead was pretty nifty, so I bought it, and the rest is history. Granted, I don’t listen much to that album or much of their older stuff now (it’s pop-punk mostly), favoring now their sharper, more mature music.

That headline perfectly captures why I feel a kinship to Dr. Frank (the main creative force of the band) and his writing, including his book King Dork, named after another of my absolute favorite songs of theirs. In one of the Yesterday songs, “Institutionalized Misogyny”, Woody Allen appears, which now that I make the connection, makes perfect sense. These are two men who long for happiness and human connection, but are too often too talented and smart for their own good (see: Annie Hall, one of my top 2 or 3 films of all-time). To paraphrase from an Annie Hall review I read a long time ago, men who are constantly looking for the loopholes in perfection, and wishing they couldn’t. (It should be noted though, that Dr. Frank is now married, and happily, as far as I know.)

Fortunately, this isn’t quite me. I’m not as picky or demanding as when I was younger, especially regarding idiosyncrasies– I have them too, after all. Personal preference and idiosyncrasy are quite different from values and standards, as I’ve learned to see past the former. But all the same, the very smarty-pants, tet self-effacing self-awareness of Dr. Frank is still where it’s at. It’s been a blessing and a curse for me: it’s why I’m blogging, obviously. It’s also why “Fucked Up on Life” is my favorite song of his, along with “King Dork”– it’s a tie, too tough to call. I’ve always felt that he saved his best songs for his truest lyrics, and “Fucked Up” is the epitome. When that album came out in early ’04, I was immediately shaken at the unbelievably insecure, heart-on-the-sleeve subject matter. That’s probably why it’s one of my favorite songs ever. I just love it when people are themselves. Oh, and the music? Quietly astounding, layered, yet simple and melodious, with an utterly precious and heartbreaking one-and-a-half-minute outro. Like “I’ll Believe in Anything” (a great song period, though the Wolf Parade version is the culmination, I feel), a perfect artistic statement. (Someday, I’ll expound on the splendor of that other song, believe that.) The artist set out to convey something real and honest, and succeeded smashingly. To put it conceitedly, I genuinely feel I know exactly what the artist wanted to say. And that, in art or life, is rare.

I can only link to the song on myspace, I don’t have the time or desire to trick out my page to have my own player or whatever. “Fucked Up on Life” can be heard here and “King Dork” can be heard here (songs 2 and 3 on there are goodies too).