please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Sunday, October 18, 2009


One may learn a great deal from album covers. I spend way, wayyy too much of my time looking at them, since I spend wayyy too much of my time shopping for used vinyl. This has led to the place where the ones you always see have a ritualized sort of joke vocabulary to them.

But also, returning like long-lost friends, I see the ones I saw as a kid, and could not make heads or tails of. I see now that there was good reason for this.

The duo of Hall and Oates have a spaceship. Maybe you'd like to take a ride in what we around here like to call the Halloatesamaship.

Along the way, we'll have some good times, maybe write a song or two, enjoy the upholstery on these couches, and be forever thankful that we stocked up on the proper supplies.

And what would those be? Oh, I don't know...Would you like a RITZ (tm) Brand Cracker? If you are going to be exploring in the Halloatesamaship, you're going to need nutrition, and there's no way to get as much nutrition as the nutrition in a RITZ (tm) Brand Cracker!

I now see that the Halloatesamaship actually is tiny. It's exploring a mixing console, or a series of them. Tiny Hall, Tiny Oates, and the tiniest box of RITZ (tm) Brand Crackers I've ever seen in my life.

You know, it never once occurred to me as a child that possibly this duo's name could have come from their last names. I looked at this record, and it seemed pretty clear to me that they were describing the harmonious blend of two very different types of people who could, under certain circumstances, get together and make music.

Because the guy on the left is very clearly trying to pantomime being a seal, right? And that means therefore that the guy on the right is a 'croft', right?

And what -just going on what little information I have here- do crofts do? They rock out, that's what. That guy is totally fucking rocking out.

Seals, on the other hand, are religious, or something.

Gordon Lightfoot's albums all have a big picture of Gordon Lightfoot on them. This is comforting, lest one were to suddenly forget whether or not one was listening to an album by Gordon Lightfoot.

It being the '70's and all, I became pretty fluent in the vocabulary of Gordon Lightfoot album cover art. Summertime Dream has a dreamy, blurry picture-that-is-made-to-look-like-a-drawing on it, of Gord, looking pensive; smoking. It looks like the logo on a bottle of Lightfoot: The Cologne. Sundown's picture features a somewhat surprised-looking Gord, seated casually on the floor of a barn.

But here, image and word fit perfectly side by side. Well, I mean, just look at him: he is gold, isn't he? Good God, it's Gold Gord!

This one always bothered me. Still does.

Is Billy thinking, man, where'd that stranger go? Is he thinking and how come strangers always leave masks? too? And beds. And boxing gloves.

Or is Billy the stranger? Is he strange because he sleeps with a mask? He looks like he's talking to it, and perhaps he is: "Hey what's happening, mask? Are you a stranger?"

Along with the rest of these ruminations, it occurred to my young mind that maybe Billy Joel had a very boring life, and seemed to have a nightlife about as exciting as my own.

If this was what being an adult was all about, I wanted no part of it.

In keeping with the singer-songwriter thing here, let us consider the case of Kenny. Man, does that guy love livin'!

He is completely ecstatic to be doin' what he's doin', ala all blind artists, who must be consistently photographed with beatific smiles on their faces, since it's so much fun being blind. But on the other hand, this is casual Kenny, just kinda, y'know, what the hell? Let's go put on a multimillion dollar road tour, what with the fireworks, and me looming impossibly tall over my fans! I'll bring my guitar penis!

This photo is possibly inaccurate in how willing or likely your average concert goer is in wanting to touch Kenny. Possibly that is a file photo taken at some other concert.

(By the way, that image of Kenny was found at, which is a weird little site about what certainly seems to be a Ween-esque joke band. They suggest that perhaps they will attend a symposium on how to pose for an album cover hosted by Kenny!)

There have been more embarrassing pictures taken of Rod Stewart than pretty much any other person on earth, I think. Not just on his album covers, but pretty much every time I've seen his image captured on film.

And it doesn't help his case at all that these are pictures of Rod Stewart, if you follow me. It's just not much of a jump to go from "he just looks like he got caught doing something disgusting" to "Rod just got caught doing something disgusting again." His reputation has always preceded him.

If it were anyone else, you'd be like, 'hm. He looks odd. Probably just an awkward time for him.' But this isn't anyone else. This is Rod, and the whole thing just feels wrong.

Ah, mysticism and symbolic imagery. It says so little but means so much, you know? And when you're a little kid walking around Bi-Mart, and you encounter such deep symbolism that you'll never really truly ever figure it out, the first thing your mind goes to is that little kid is gonna poop.

Yup, him and all the rest of those naked children are crawling up those cold rocks, and god knows why, it probably means something about angels or something, and...I'm sorry, but that little pink kid is gonna take a shit!

Well, you try being a big shot designer some time. It's really hard, man...You want people to be happy, but not too happy, you know? You kind of want them to walk away going, "what the fuck was that?" a little bit, secretly, to themselves. And then feeling bad that they didn't get it.

And here, I think, is the very first album cover I ever came to truly know and love. Paul Simon tries out the first of many ways of calling attention away from his male pattern baldness, while caressing a shiny knob. Art Garfunkel's baldness, which was much, much more excruciating based on how his hair is/was, has not yet begun.

Even better though, is the fact that they were encouraged to smile on this cover, which they pretty much never did otherwise. Here, they trotted out those blazers that they owned but could never wear because kids would have thought them "uncool".

Here, we see how rock n' roll is for grown-ups and kids alike! These aren't gritty folk-rockers, these are the two nicest boys in debate club! The finest our school has to offer! Won't you please buy?

And of course, I took this picture one hundred per cent literally. How the hell'd they do that? How the hell didn't everybody die?

I was also obsessed with the name of this band, and thought it the most badass thing ever, leading me to attempt to form a street gang: The Daredevils. We were...In second grade, I believe, and had no idea what sort of things street gangs did. Mayhem, I guess.

We got in some trouble, though, for smashing a bunch of berries onto the across-the-street neighbor's bright, white garage door. We disbanded shortly thereafter.

About the cover, though? Well, it strongly resembles both Lynyrd Skynyrd's Street Survivors and Chicago's Greatest Hits. I like too, how you cannot mistake the goofiness. The goofy just won't let you go, and it's entirely because of the over-the-top mugging. As if to say, We're Joking! Ha! Ha Ha! Look at us Joke!

There's about twelve thousand more of these, of course. I just can't think of them all right now. Get back to this after my next visit to a record store.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rotten, Rotten People

Another winner from Donna Barstow. I really must ask: who the hell is she blowing?
I mean, this fails the Humorousness test by failing to be funny...It fails the Topicality test by not actually saying anything, though strangely including some up-to-date cultural buzz themes, which seem to make it be about something.

But even if we are to continue with the pretense of this being in some way a humorous observation about Life In These Here United States, what even would the observation be?

A) Gay men have iPhones and Houses? Lots of people do, in L.A. and elsewhere.
B) 'Gay' and 'Republican' are mutually contradictory? Well, I think so too, but what's with the rest of the padding in the 'joke'?
C) People in Los Angeles are a strange lot, and what they find important is alien to the rest of us. Although most people would be pretty strongly impacted by losing their house. And how did he 'lose' it? In a gay fire? Gay foreclosure?
D) Someone, somewhere pointed out to Donna that jokes take place in bars. Hence; in a bar=joke. This is the closest thing to an answer that I have.

But to return to the original question, whose polska kielbasa is she snacking on? I mean, to be this unfunny, surreally adrift in a world where there are familiar catchphrases and not much else...Artistically under-talented to boot, means that you must be at least very-close-friends with someone at the Syndicate.

On the other hand, here is her picture.

Is this, or is this not a picture of someone who has just noticed that look in the eyes of her friends at the barbecue? Oblivious to the idea that not only are her jokes tanking, but she's actually crossed over into something specifically unfunny, she has noticed that nobody's actually laughing anymore, not even courteously.

So this is the shot where she's saying, "C'MON, you guyyys! Doncha get it?" Because clearly they just don't understand you.

Meanwhile, fresh from his recent triumph over Chicago, Rush Limbaugh has encountered an Unfair Obstacle to his Completely Reasonable Wishes.

Let's step back a bit. You may recall that Rush was sort of disproportionately pleased in public recently when a city in the United States failed to get the nod to host the next Summer Olympics. This was because the main proponent of this idea was a person who Rush holds as an enemy of all good folks everywhere, the President of the United States.
So he -as well as a good many other childish morons- celebrated this games-not-getting. His personal political vision was demonstrated to be more important than his (you'd think) enthusiasm for a chance for some place in the United States to do something right.

Flash forward to yesterday, though, when he was told more or less to fuck off by the NFL. Rush had felt that the next best step was to purchase a football team. (Interestingly, the un-named protagonist of the Pink Floyd song "Money" had a similar thought process. They're actually ideological buddies, he and Rush.) The NFL, upon hearing this, said that they felt they could get along just fine without any of that. The right wing bullshit engine, of course, saw this for what it is.

"Tonight Rush became the metaphor for all of us… every man woman and child in this great nation of ours.

The enemy of this great nation, the enemy of you and me, Rush’s enemy… those on the left, inside and outside of this nation abhor success… and when faced with it will destroy it… by any and all means possible.

We all have our dreams in life… such as they might be. Rush dreamed of being an owner in the NFL.

Tonight the left proved that they will stop at nothing to end our dreams. Our dreams of success and happiness devastate their need to dominate and control you and me… and well everything and everyone."

What can I say? I love showbiz! This sounds like the beginning of a very bad documentary. Or the prelude to a pogrom. I like the unnecessary ellipsis before 'such as they might be'. Whose voice is reading that? Ah. Yes. Tom Selleck.

So...Yeah, when one of the first commenters asked the obvious question -are you joking?- the response he got was;

"You bailout whore, death panel loving, racist jerk. I would also like to point out that you have been accused of child molestation, and we would like to get your response to that before you post further."

Let the record show, your honor, that the right winger here was the one to begin with the name-calling. "What are you talking about?" gets met with "I'LL SKULL-FUCK YOUR DAUGHTER, YOU DONKEY-PUNCHING PORTUGUESE!"
And too, this is in response to some presumed joy on the left at Rush Limbaugh failing to purchase St. Looie's team, as opposed to the actual, well-recorded mass joy at an entire city failing to get the rights to an international sporting event.

Also, it is later suggested that those football team owners are a bunch of effete, left-wing pansies, which is just fantastic. This is strangely echoed in the thoughts of a bunch of -as far as I know- unpaid weirdoes who trumpet bullshit.
J'go over there and read it yet? Well, I'd only do it a great injustice by trying to encapsulate it, but I have to ask again: where exactly did all this childlike love for corporations come about in the more tender-minded communities in our polity? I mean, ideology can certainly cause a person to utterly disappear up their own ass, god knows, but this is what remains of the Populist movement we're talking about here. Just because you've been told to hate government does not mean that you love corporations.

Yet again, this is going on a bit long. Who else? Ah. Good. Mitch Albom.

Not just content to be that place you go to read the work of clearly fictional people like Marilyn vos Savant, Dotson Rader and Lyric Wallwork Winik, this thing-that-falls-out-of-your-Sunday-paper increasingly plays home to America's Favorite Guy Who Says Vaguely Comforting Things!

To be your generation's own Edgar Guest. Who ever said that wasn't something to aspire to?

Whenever I see that cute little plucky face with its determined chin and sardonic Grin n' Bear It! grin, I try to think of accurate ways to parody the guy. His writing style is so treacly, his conclusions so nauseatingly neutral-good, you could really just sit there all day going, things really are what they are, these days, you know? and probably nail it pretty good.

But here, Mitch takes on a Big Topic: hey guys, I know that maybe all of us formerly young types might sort of need a little something to turn to when things get tough. And they sure do get tough, don't they? Heh! I KNOW, right? Well, there's this God thing I just heard about, and...

Thing is, Mitch doesn't fit here because he isn't a rotten person (probably). He's just that fatuous bore at the party that we all know and tolerate, generally because they're a relative of ours. He will go on all day about how it's the little things, you know...that make life worthwhile, and we let him at least partially because this is actually true. It just sort of cheapens and diminutizes it to constantly be reminded of this mind-blowing fact by some feeb who can't just let it go.

One of my favorite objects around the house is this little red vase I got at a garage sale. It is small enough that space for one rather small flower is pretty much it in terms of its capacity. It is clearly homemade, and has a highly abstracted painting of a flower on it.
I like it because it's a nice example of the many small ways people go about prettying-up their little corner of the world. It's a nice, mute example, though it also sort of reminds me of country music.

Now, see Mitch, he would have turned that whole thing into a book that later is made into a Lifetime Television For Women movie. That is why he is awful.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Things I Have Said on the Internet

"Oh Ed Helms, what won't you do a cameo in? He's well on his way to being the Ava Gardner of his time."

"Since we're so deep into inexplicable love of terrible bands, could someone try to explain why anybody at all likes Kings of Leon? They're so terrible they've almost wrapped around into Ironic Appreciation Land. Not yet, though."

"I mean hell, Anita Bryant's most productive years were the mid 70's, when we were all on quaaludes and cocaine while having swinging key parties."

"I'm still shopping around my own script titled, 'Unpleasantly Detained'. Try hearing the late Ed La Fontaine saying that one in your head."
(Ed LaFontaine who did every movie trailer voice-over for the last twenty years, it seems.)

"Five Dollar Footlong: Hounded out of his boy's wrestling coach job, Ray is forced to seek employment with a national fast food sandwich chain. Some mayonnaise slathering ensues (cc)."
(Each year, many hours are spent on the Internet, making up fake names for porn. In this case, a vehicle for Ray Romano.)

"I hold it as entirely feasible that my lack of appreciation in this area only confirms my lack of education on the subject. Wait, what the fuck are we talking about?"
(I'm gonna have to go back and actually see what we were talking about. Ah. Larry the Cable Guy. Of course.)

"Yeah...So true. How's the rest of your weekend going? Or am I looking at it?"
(This was in response to some asshole who took me to task at great length for not knowing the proper name of an Ethiopian dish.)

"Considering the mood of America at the time, it's amazing that a show about a trucker and his pet chimp was not universally embraced, and still on the air to this day."
(Clearly discussing NBC's 'B.J. and The Bear'.)

"Just like many non-comedic cinematic ventures could very well be improved by a stark black and white card that reads, "It was very sad, and they all died."
(Y'got me.)

"'America- it's where all my stuff is' certainly outshines the only slogan I've got for our landmass here, which is 'One nation. Inexcusable.'"

"I often refer to Idaho as 'The Albania of the Americas' for their similar love of killing tourists."

"Sure, but the thing about dreams and expectations is...Ah hell; go watch some old 'Twilight Zone' episodes. You'll get it."
(Responding to some young n' idealistic type, clearly.)

"Wouldn't 'her take' be staring at you crosseyed and bearing her two front teeth, as is her reaction to pretty much anything?"
(Referring to Anna Paquin, and her acting "abilities".)

"'Raise your game, clownshoe,' is something I'm going to start saying now. Thank you."
(Oddly, this comes from a discussion thread about the latest Dave Matthews Band release.)

"And just think: all this is happening in a world where Kings of Leon actually command respect. I think we all should die."

"(ahem) Would you describe self preservation as being the basis of existentialism? Or; what do you think of those damn kids?"
(A press conference with the Head Janitor?)

"When you were 'young with a great hook'? Songs of that 'error'?"
(Typoes, again, are comedy gold.)

"Well, both seem to be corpse-fucking of the worst sort, but what do I know?"
(Probably referring to remakes of something near and dear to us all.)

"I always kinda thought "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" was an okay euphemism for shitting."

"Shana, that sound you heard a few minutes ago was the collective tumescing of the members of each n' every tortured geek in this here room."

"I would so totally watch a movie called 'Crimes and BURNING TO DEATH'."

"The point here isn't semantic; it's literal. You have rather stunningly missed the point now several times, and maybe someone else would like to take a crack at it."
(From a discussion about how 'not guilty' is not the same thing as being innocent.)

"Dick Cheney still walks the earth as well. And you know what? People will overstate his achievements and downplay his egregious missteps when he dies, too."
(This was from that firestorm couple of weeks in which lots of celebrities, for manifold reasons, suddenly died.)

"Good lord. Sorry I offended you. I keep forgetting how tender some of you are."
(So was that. I had been inadequately reverent in the passing of Farrah Fawcett.)

"Hey everybody come down here! Scrotum Jones is suddenly making sense!"
(He came, stayed briefly on the 'AV Club' blog, and left as suddenly as he'd come.)

"I'm trying to bring back use of the word 'scintilla', and the usage of the word 'queer' to denote 'odd'."

"Oh, and of course; being upper middle class in no way means you're not an ignorant, vapid piece of shit. Wealth ain't taste, folks."

"I heartily applaud the arrival of 'so I'm cautiously' as our new thing to say around here."
(People's inability to type is the source of many a cheap laugh.)

"Yeah, but it's pretty amazing that we live in a world where Ashton Kutcher is considered to be worth a shit, too."
(One may apply this line to so many discussions.)

"Yeah hell; I haven't done anything in earnest since 1992."
(In response to the usual cry of 'oh you hipsters are too cynical to actually care about anything...' that one tends to hear from tortured geeks.)

"But hey- we keep straying from the main point: this movie sounds really boring."
(Referring to the movie 'Humpday', which was filmed in Portland.)

"But not a one of you defends the magic that is Mexican Pepsi. In a glass bottle, cane-sugared...Also a fictional sexual position."
(I'm always amazed when someone actually starts up the old Coke v. Pepsi discussion.)

"Well yeah; the only thing more sad than sitting here all day discussing your opinions about movies and shit is cultivating this weirdly misplaced rage against those who do so. I mean really, sister; why all the sand in yer oyster?"
(In any truly long discussion thread, some brave soul will eventually wander in and do the whole 'WHYYY ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT THIIIS?' number, in which it is pointed out that there's so many more important things we could be discussing, like topics the brave soul cares about, for instance. They achieve this important end by trolling discussion boards on entertainment websites.)

"'Golden Corral' as a metaphor for 'death'?"
(Popular steakhouse, as well as uncomfortable imagery-producer.)

"Or for that matter, when did the standards for ass-busting get so damn low?"
(Internet trolls are also very likely to view themselves in a strangely heroic light for doing things like interrupting discussions about some damn movie or something. They just gotta bust asses; cocking snooks at We, The Establishment, i.e. people who sit around all day talking on the Internet about relatively pointless things.)

"Fowler's Modern English Usage: Full Tilt Boogie"
("What you would title the sequel to various things that will never have sequels.")

"In a better world, there would have been Pointlessly Vindictive Spice."
(Spice Girls jokes never really go out of style.)

"As is the case with lots of arena rock, the music's pretty damn good, and the lyrics are the product of an abject moron."
(Journey, I believe, we were discussing?)

"Back when I was a young 'un who admitted to enjoying -say- The Jefferson Airplane or something, and some wanna-be clever Boomer would say, 'Bit before your time, isn't it?', my stock reply was, 'You like Mozart at all?'"

"No no; a schooner is the little glass that looks kinda like the cooling tower at a nuclear power plant. Beer comes in it."

"Oh, being raised in Texas makes you not exactly American as far as I'm concerned..."
(For some reason, that one really pissed people off. I'm not sure why. God knows, if you talk to your average Texan long enough, they'll bring up the whole 'We could secede at any time!' thing, so I always say, 'Let 'em!')

"The protective demon of cosmetology!"
(The word verification word someone had had to enter was 'noslipra'.)

"Oh, they're thinking of children all right..."
(Joke about the FCC being a bunch of pedophiles.)

"Mad Magazine always held that the proper sound effect for a boob slipping out was, 'poit'."

"Better still, naming yourself 'Yusuf Islam' is more or less literally naming yourself 'Joe Surrender'."
(Cat Stevens under discussion here.)

"Somebody get this man to a Chinese restaurant!"
(A callback to an old Woody Allen line about where old Jewish people go when they die.)

"A lot of musical artists whose work I love are indeed crap human beings, as far as I've noticed."
(Someone else talking about Cat Stevens.)

"You fucking misspelled 'typo'."
(After a lengthy screed about how all of the rest of us are such grammar/spelling nazis, and we should all just relax.)

"Commonly Used Phrase: The Movie"
(Or, 'Adjective Noun' movie titles, as I often refer to them.)

"Shit Fucker IV: Double Pits to Chesty"
(Someone had noted that the crew on the video-game movie 'Street Fighter' referred to the film as 'Shit Fucker', and we were coming up with awful sequel names. I chose the most gratingly awful [and I think purposely awful] phrase used in recent advertising, which comes from an ad for an awful product: Axe Body Spray.)

"This convention sucks!"
(Someone had referred to our discussion thread as 'Cynics Con '09'.)

"Well, redneck fashion and gay fashion overlap at many points. They both tuck in their shirts, wear pleated shorts and feel that Tommy Hilfiger isn't embarrassing. So there y'go."
(Both redneck and gay: please excuse the gross generalization.)

"Well, at least you still have your poetry career to fall back on."
(Responding to a poster whose screen name was 'Rilke'.)

"Triumph is the even-more-Canadian Rush!"

"I always held that The Buzzcocks were what The Beatles would have sounded like had they made it to the late '70's."
(I actually believe this.)

"Well, Garth (Brooks) fits here because like it or not, there's a lot more of his type of country than the other kind, and this has always been true. Much as you may enjoy all those old country songs about drinking, fighting and fucking, murder and so on, the majority of them always were heavy on God, The Flag, the importance of Family, the Work of Your Days. Garth is the rule, Jerry Jeff Walker (say) is the exception."

"I don't think I'm being unfair when I say that there's no surer way to doom yourself to looking like a douchebag for the rest of your life than getting your fucking face tattooed.
For extra douchebag points, make sure to complain about the discrimination you receive for your tattooed face. Eeersh."

"Excuse me, but was the fictional band in that movie named 'Low Shoulder'?
If so, clever! That is all."
(In re: the movie 'Jennifer's Body'.)

"Oh dear NonServiam: way to be completely irrelevant to the central discussion and occupy the easiest space of unearned moral high ground simultaneously. You sound like a Reed student trying to get laid."
(In which sanctimonious douchebag gets all superior to Portland, which as we all know is racist. Then, content with themselves, offer no solid ideas as to solving said problem.)

"The dirty little secret of lots of hipsters is that they spent their early twenties/late teens following some jam band. I have endless anecdotal evidence for this.

Thing is, I've often been annoyed by the central argument here that entire genres just plain old cannot be enjoyed, when actually a true music nerd likes a little of everything.

So really the dichotomy isn't hippie music vs. cool music, it's simple vs. elaborate, ripping off The Clash vs. ripping off Frank Zappa."
(In response to Carrie Brownstein's 'Phish Project'.)

"I'm pleased to note that if you Google the phrase "Lars Larson is a cheap little punk", the only thing you'll find is a blog post of mine."
(Remember that one?)

"I believe I shall start a blog called 'Your Blog on the Internet'. It will be about Everything."
(In response to some asshole who wrote Wonkette about how 'ignorant your blog on the internet' was.)