Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (5/26/2009)

I generally relate better to intellectuals and artists than to workers, but I've never understood the way some of my peers look down on manual workers. I can't understand looking down on someone who has a skill, especially one that you lack yourself and have to pay someone to use on your behalf. Anyway, here's a thought-provoking look at manual labor: The case for working with your hands.

Noah deals with escaping marsupials and other post-flood difficulties in Noah's Lament.

Resolved question: Is it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school?

Photographs of African kings

Monday, May 25, 2009

'80s Monday: Bow Wow Wow

My three biggest celebrity crushes of the '80s were actress Phoebe Cates, Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's, and Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow. Annabella had the world's most beautiful Mohawk, and an awesome English accent -- one video and I was in love. But Bow Wow Wow suddenly broke up in 1983, and that was pretty much the last anyone heard of her in the USA for many years, except when MTV happened to play a Bow Wow Wow video. (Remember, there were no interwebs in the '80s, kids.)

There was always an aura of hype and artificiality about Bow Wow Wow. They were put together by Malcolm McLaren, who previously managed the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols. He somehow got all the entire band from Adam and the Ants to defect en masse and join Bow Wow Wow instead. He was one of those guys for whom any publicity was good publicity, and his strategy for hyping the band was to exploit Annabella's underaged sex appeal. She was 14 when the band formed, and around 16 during their heyday. (And, BTW, I'm only four years older than she is, so there was nothing creepy about me crushing on her back in the day.)

Many of Bow Wow Wow's songs were about sex, with titles like "Mile High Club" and "Aphrodisiac." Their most over-the-top song was "Sexy Eiffel Towers," which is so exaggerated that it's funny (probably unintentionally) rather than sexy. (It may not be safe for work, but it's a lot of fun to play at parties.)

She was 14 when she recorded that, BTW.

But McLaren's most notorious act was producing this album cover. That's 15-year-old Annabella naked in the photo. It's an artistic pose -- a homage to Manet's The Luncheon on the Grass -- and all Annabella's naughty bits are strategically covered, but still, she was only 15 years old. Understandably, Annabella's mom went ballistic, and she even managed to get a police investigation going, but that was all just good publicity as far as McLaren was concerned.

Anyway, as I was watching these videos, I realized that Bow Wow Wow was actually a lot better than I remembered. It'd been years since I heard anything but their "I Want Candy" cover, which is a catchy tune but not their best. They weren't just hype after all, but in fact were actually a pretty tight band. The guys were good musicians, and Annabella could sing just fine. And damn, she was pretty. (And still is actually. She's still quite good-looking in her 40s.)

On to the videos:

"I Want Candy" (1982)

"Do You Wanna Hold Me?" (1983)

"Aphrodisiac" (c. 1983)

Here's a little bonus. Annabella's on some music show hosted by a guy named B. A. Robertson, who apparently was some kind of English pop star himself back in the day. He gives a very patronizing intro, and the thoroughly pissed-off Annabella goes off on him before storming off the stage. Sure, she took herself a little too seriously, but hey, that's what's being young is for (see Dylan, Bob). She was fierce as well as beautiful. And poor dorky Robertson was probably having flashbacks to high school, when all the pretty girls used to make fun of him. Served him right for dissing her though. (Guess you can tell whose side I'm on. ;) )

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good Reads/random Cool Sites (5/23/2009)

It was just another bad t-shirt, until some guy wrote a hilarious review at Amazon.com. Now people are competing to outdo one another in the hilarity of their reviews, and the Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt is the number-one selling item in apparel at Amazon. I'm going to buy one and wear it ironically. To Wal-Mart. And buy pork rinds. (What are pork rinds, anyway?)
(H/t: murketing)

How your favorite sneakers got their names. Did you know that Chuck Taylor was on salary the whole time he worked for Converse and never got royalties for letting them use his name? Me neither.

Ordinary "supermax" prisons are obviously not secure enough for TERRORISTS, so Hunter has designed the world's first Super Extreme Maximum Security Prison.

Finally, small penises are a problem in India. One in five condoms falls off or tears during use, because "about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimeters shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture." I guess they should start importing them from Japan. (Condoms, not penises.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good Reads/random Cool Sites (5/22/2009)

Being poor is expensive. "The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace."

The BA-K-47 is America's No. 1 bacon-based assault rifle

Man, Donald Sterling is a jerk. Seriously.

Finally, speaking of the LA Clippers, they have a "create a caption" contest for this picture. I submitted this:
"Where's your God NOW, Blake Griffin?!"
Oddly enough, they didn't post it on the site.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Random thoughts while riding the bus

This morning I was riding the bus, when a woman got on who seemed vaguely familiar. I was sure I'd seen her somewhere before, but I couldn't place her. Then it hit me: she looked just like Arnold Schwarzenegger's malfunctioning disguise in Total Recall.
Of course, her facial expression was a little different, and she didn't have a massive freakout and her head didn't open in segments and then explode, but except for that she was a dead ringer.

While I was looking at her and trying to figure out why she seemed so familiar, I noticed she was reading a book called From Fatigued to Fabulous. She was reading the book and yawning copiously. I don't think the book is working.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fun with ALL CAPS

I like it when somebody posts a long blog comment with many words in all caps, because you know what's really fun? Taking out all the other words and just reading just the words in ALL CAPS:


My sentiments exactly.

But seriously folks, when somebody posts something with that many words in all caps, that's how my brain processes it. I skip the little words and just read the BIG WORDS. Use all caps in moderation (if at all), please. Thank you.

Update: The capness continues...


Monday, May 04, 2009

'80s Monday: Madness

Madness was little different from a lot of bands I listened to during the '80s in that they weren't "deep" at all. A lot of their songs were nonsensical, just an excuse to have fun and dance and jump around like a fool. They called themselves the "nutty boys" and their music the "nutty sound."

Their first album, "One Step Beyond," was my favorite during the early '80s. I wore out the cassette listening to it over and over. I didn't like their subsequent albums nearly as much. They started to move a little bit away from the ska sound that I liked so much, and my taste probably evolved a little too. "Our House" was their big American hit, and it's an accessible, nostalgic song that most people can relate to, but as far as I was concerned it wasn't a true Madness song. I liked it, but it wasn't "nutty" at all.

"One Step Beyond" (1979)

"Night Boat to Cairo" (1979)

"Baggy Trousers" (1980) was my favorite song off their second album.

"Our House" (1982), since everybody remembers it. Like I said, I like the song, it's just not what I wanted from Madness.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Who would Jesus torture?

Suspected terrorists, of course.

A new Pew Forum survey found that the more Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support torture. The less they attend church, the less likely they are to support torture. More than half of white evangelical Christians and of people who attend church weekly support torture.

Question wording: Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?

Happy May Day!

"The Internationale," performed by Alistair Hulett and Jimmy Gregory

Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
Arise, ye prisoners of want.
For reason in revolt now thunders,
and at last ends the age of cant!
Away with all your superstitions,
Servile masses, arise, arise!
We'll change henceforth the old tradition,
And spurn the dust to win the prize!
So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale,
Unites the human race.
So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale,
Unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction,
On tyrants only we'll make war!
The soldiers too will take strike action,
They'll break ranks and fight no more!
And if those cannibals keep trying,
To sacrifice us to their pride,
They soon shall hear the bullets flying,
We'll shoot the generals on our own side.

No saviour from on high delivers,
No faith have we in prince or peer.
Our own right hand the chains must shiver,
Chains of hatred, greed and fear.
E'er the thieves will out with their booty,
And to all give a happier lot.
Each at his forge must do their duty,
And we'll strike the iron while it's hot.

Car Chase Friday: The Master Touch

As a general rule, I post car chases from movies I've actually seen, but I had to make an exception for this one from The Master Touch (1972), which I've only seen on YouTube. This was apparently one of those low-budget, multinational European productions featuring a fading but still big-name American star (Kirk Douglas in this case).

Douglas doesn't appear in the car chase, but it's great anyway. It's one of the most innovative I've seen -- the sequences with the stairs and with the upside-down third car (you'll see what I mean) are inspired. They bash the hell out of their cars. It's also very low-budget. The car being chased changes from a two-door to a four-door and then back to a two-door again. Seriously. They probably blew their budget on Kirk Douglas, so they couldn't afford two identical cars.

It doesn't matter though; it's still a great chase. Enjoy.