Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm a bus person now

My car is currently on the disabled list with a problem that could be as minor as spark plugs ($) or as major as a fuel pump ($$$). And since I don't have the re$ource$ right now to have it taken to some place where a guy in coveralls with his name embroidered on the breast can throw it on a hydraulic lift and plug it into a diagnostic machine, I am sans auto.
That means for the time being, it looks like sometimes I'm going to have to ride the bus.
To some people, either those who live in relatively rural areas where there is no city transit or in a foreign country, where public transportation is so clean, efficient and ultra-modern that it simply doesn't make sense to own a car, that isn't going to seem like a big deal. Everybody else's skin is crawling right now. That's because there's a stigma to riding the bus. There shouldn't be; it's a public utility, meant to be used by taxpayers like myself. And I don't have any qualms about using city water or other amenities. But there's something about riding the bus that people find off-putting. If this applies to you, let me just assure you that many of your fears and trepidations are completely unfounded. Others, however, are spot on.
My first extended trip out and about on the bus system was Saturday, when I needed to fetch some dry cleaning. That's right, my first Saturday since July and a large chunk of it was devoted to retrieving clothes I need for work. I'm not sure if that's ironic or just shitty.

Oh, by all that is holy, just shut up.
Anyway, my shirts were ready after 5:00 but the cleaners (about four and a half miles away) close at 6:00 on Saturday and and all day on Sunday. This was a very narrow window and I had no other options; I had to use the bus.

THE SCHEDULE - Trying to decipher a public transportation system is like learning a new language. When you begin, there's a bunch of numbers and symbols that don't seem to mean anything and even if you think you have it somewhat figured out on paper, there's no telling for sure until you put it to practical use. For instance, upon my first glance at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) schedule, it might as well have been a handicapping form for ostrich racing.

Can somebody just tell me what time I'm gonna get home, please?
The good news there is, like learning a foreign language, once you start using it and you see for yourself how things work, it starts to make sense. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to make the transfers from line to line (three each way; 36 to 34 to 1) so I got to my nearby bus stop around 3:30 to be safe. That was way too early. I know better now and won't make that mistake again. 

THE PEOPLE - You may not want to admit it aloud but probably the biggest thing that skeeves you out about riding the bus is the other people on the bus. It's okay, it doesn't make you a bad person, but you don't have to say it if you don't want to. Let me just state that it was, in fact, not like going to prison. I didn't have to challenge the toughest guy on the bus to a fight or befriend a gang to prove myself. Nobody tried to shank me and I didn't have to hide anything in my butt. I will say that I saw more people who look like real, live pirates on the bus in one day than anybody has seen on every float featured in the Gasparilla parade ever. Particularly the gentleman sitting across from me at one point who was missing a hand, had an earring, a bandanna, and if not full-blown scurvy, at least a wee touch o' the emphysema.

These bead-tossing poofs would soil their silken pantaloons if they ever had to ride the bus

Also, while sitting at a stop waiting to make one of the transfers, I overheard a couple of panhandlers (they were just sitting at the stop and didn't get on the bus) discussing the attributes and inherent perils of certain nearby intersections;
"You can not work that corner drunk because the median is too steep. You will fall off and you will be run over by a car. Hell, you run the risk of rolling an ankle stone-cold sober."
"Oscar did it drunk. He was wasted."
"Yeah, well, Oscar is always wasted."
It was not unlike listening to surfers discuss beaches in Hawaii.

THE RIDE - One of the things HART likes to play up in their attempts to market their services to potential riders is the lack of stress and it's true. There is no Road Rage when you're riding the bus. More like Road Sullen Resignation. Everybody just sits there and stares out their window with a look on their face that tells you they'd almost certainly rather be going somewhere other than where they're going to wind up. I guess circumstances beyond one's control is the #1 cause of how riders find themselves on buses. But the seats were comfortable, it was clean and the air conditioning worked like a champion. Plus there's an unusual, sweet-smell aroma that's unique to buses that I kind of like. I can't describe it beyond that and I know that sounds weird. I don't know if it's a deodorizing agent designed specifically for buses or the slow leak of potentially toxic exhaust fumes. Probably the second one.
No smoking, no food or beverages and no Etch-A-Sketches
PRACTICALITY - It took a while to get past my self-consciousness, which was most difficult while waiting for transfers. It's hard not to feel like the hundreds of cars speeding past are looking at you as you sit there like some knob on a bench and that somebody you know is sure to see you. I found myself muttering "whaddayoulookinat?" under my breath a lot. It also didn't help when I got off at one stop and found the reproachful gaze of these two waiting to greet me...
"Not so funny now is it, comedy boy?"
Once I got (mostly) over that, I found myself not hating it. For starters, the price is right; $3.50 for an all day pass (pennies more than a gallon of gas right now), which includes unlimited transfers for anywhere you want to go. And as I mentioned, the ride was comfortable. I even found myself contemplating the pros and cons of junking my stupid car and becoming a full-time bus person. Unfortunately, there were too many cons and not enough pros:
  • Weather would be a major concern, as many of the bus stops are not covered and there's considerable walking distance between most stops and actual destinations.
  • It's definitely not the fastest mode of transportation; I left my apartment at 3:30PM and returned with my dry cleaning, approximately a nine mile round trip, after 6. Granted, I admittedly left earlier than I needed to, but still.
  • It's not a very effective for running errands. I had thought about stopping at the grocery store after the cleaners but just dragging the shirts around was a pain (in spite of the respect I'm sure I got from the other passengers after getting on with them; "oh look at him, he's employed in a field that requires the wearing of a shirt!"). I couldn't even visualize lugging my dry cleaning around a grocery store with me, let alone climbing back on the bus with it plus a couple of bags of food so I scrapped that plan. And yes, that means aside from one bagel and a half can of spray cheese, I have zero food in my apartment right now. 
  • The schedule is not nocturnal-friendly and that's the big one for me. The last buses on Saturdays and Sundays stop running around 10:30PM and I typically get off from work after 10. Even if I caught one of the last buses leaving downtown, there's no way I'd make all my connections and I would end up stranded somewhere in West Tampa. And if I had any semblance of a social life (which, aside from the approximately three to four days a month I interact with human beings outside of work, I do not) it would result in an almost desperate need to hook up every time out:
"So just to be clear; you DO have a car, right?"

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oprah's out to get me and I don't like it

This is not news, but Oprah Winfrey has launched a campaign against texting-while-driving. And this is certainly not good news for me. Because while I generally don't care for text messaging, I happen to be damn good at it. "Even while driving a car?", you ask. "ESPECIALLY when driving a car!", I reply. That is true! I don't know why but I make fewer typos and more coherent phrasing while driving than when I'm not. I don't know why this is the case but it is. Just one of God's wonders, I guess. And that blows. Because let me tell you something, not much sucks more than to be a person who has alarmingly few talents, skills or worthwhile traits of any kind whatsoever and have Oprah launch a campaign against one of them. Do you know what happens when Oprah publicly declares she does or doesn't like something? People, lots and lots of 'em, begin acting out of character. They stop eating hamburgers. They exercise and diet. They start reading books. Reading! Books!!
What manner of madness is this?
I feel like I'm being picked on. After all, we still have rodeos, which are held to preserve and honor the tradition of celebrating certain specialized skills that were once necessary and thus, a very important part of our history and heritage. So why should my outdated, pointless and dangerous behavior be outlawed while others are commemorated with enormous belt buckles?
"Uh, Hank, I should probably call you back later..."
Because Oprah says so, that's why. That, and it's kind of being the ultimate dick of all time to believe that my next Tweet (or whatever) is going to be so jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring that the world shouldn't have to wait until innocent people (including myself, pedestrians, other motorists or jaywalking baby ducks) aren't being needlessly put in danger to receive it. Plus, on the Great Regret Scale, I have to believe "If only I hadn't been text messaging" is really very high (or low, depending on how you read your scale) in the "Totally Unnecessary" column.
But mostly because of Oprah.
You do NOT want to be on the wrong end of this

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Son, The "Lawyer"

The Florida Bar Exam is taking place in Tampa this week and people from all over the country are in town to take it. Many of them are taking it for the second, third, fourth or more times. Apparently, and this is VERY hard to believe, Florida's Bar exam is considerably tougher than most other states. Considering the nonsense that takes place in our courts, I would have thought trial lawyer certification here was only slightly more difficult to attain than level 50 in FarmVille.
At any rate, having come across so many people who have tried multiple times to pass the Florida Bar has given me an idea for a new sitcom.
Check it out...

(Cue bouncy, upbeat theme music)

 TONY enters to AUDIENCE applause from stage left:

(singing) "What a beautiful day, everything's going my way, hey hey hey, I feel okay and I'm glad I'm not gay!"
"Mmm, good morning! So...are you going to work on my case today?"
"Why not? I studied your briefs thoroughly last night!"
POP enters from stage right... 
"What the hell is going on in here?"

"Pop?!? What are you doing here? You're supposed to be at the Super Bowl! I got you tickets!"

"Paid for on MY credit card! What, you thought I wouldn't figure that out?"

"Uh-oh. Did the bill come in already?"
"I don't need to see a bill to know that a clerk at Blockbuster can't afford tickets to the Super Bowl!"

"Pop, please! Ixnay on the ockblusteray, huh? I got a big case, I'm working on over here!"

"Um, like, what's going on here or something?"

"Oh hello. You must be Big Case. I'm the hotshot lawyer's father...except he ain't no hotshot lawyer because HE'S NEVER PASSED THE BAR EXAM!"

"So lied to me?"

"Um, I object...?"
"AUGH! I am so out of here!"
She storms out angrily

"Pop, whaddaya doin'? Ya killin' me! I've passed the Bar in every state except one!"

"Killing you? I'd plead not-guilty to that charge, but with you as my lawyer there's no telling what would happen. But I guess since you're not a lawyer, at least in the state IN WHICH YOU LIVE, I don't have to worry about it!"

"Jesus, Pop..."

"And stop being Italian! We're Jewish!!"

"Jewish? Maybe I should be a doctor too!"

"You're neither! You're A PUTZ!"
DOTTY enters stage right

"Hey everybody, who wants flapjacks? And who was that whore?"
AUDIENCE explodes in applause and laughter ("Who wants flapjacks?" and "Who was that whore?" are Dotty's catchphrases)

Seriously, I don't see how this can possibly fail.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A portrait in deserved hatred

This picture was taken at the intersection of Himes and Hillsborough avenues in Tampa. This car is in the left turn lane waiting for the traffic light to turn green so they can proceed eastbound on Hillsborough Avenue. You can't see them in this photo but there are several cars behind this one, waiting for the same thing.
They're going to be there a while.
Do you see the large gap between the car and the white line in front of the crosswalk? It's about the length of one car. In that space is a weight-sensitive sensor that tells the light whether anyone is waiting for it to turn green or not. If not, it never does. Ever. As things stand right now, no car in this lane will ever move again. Either their engines will overheat and seize up or burn all the fuel in their gas tanks. Many of the drivers, now stranded, will pool their remaining resources, adapt and work together to create a new civilization there in the left turn lane. Weaker ones will undoubtedly die off in the process. Over time, a community of sorts will form there with a social structure, some sort of commerce-based economy and a form of government. The now-adult children who were never picked up from daycare that afternoon long ago will drive by, hoping to catch a glimpse of the woman they once knew as their mother, yet knowing that she's long gone. "She's intersection folk now", they'll say ruefully, as they drive past on their way to Sonic for a delicious cream slush. 
That's one possible, albeit unlikely, scenario.
What probably did happen is all the other lights at the intersection cycled through from green to yellow to red at least once before something flickered faintly deep within the festering brain-like mass of goo crammed between the ears of the driver of this car, alerting them that something isn't right and through some sort of primitive internal reasoning, or trial and error, they moved their car up enough to register their presence with the traffic light's sensor. This may have been aided by horn-honking or yelling from one or more of the drivers stuck behind in an ever-lengthening line of cars, all of whom presumably began the day under the mistaken assumption that at no point would they need to be responsible for operating more than one motor vehicle at a time. 
Why did the driver stop where they did? Why wouldn't they just pull all the way up to the front? It's hard to say. Questioning the reasoning of the terminally oblivious is never a good idea. Either way, the person driving this car, regardless of gender, race, religion or any other personal characteristic of any kind whatsoever, is a portrait in deserved hatred.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Special side effects

At this point, everyone is familiar with all the designer medications out there that are supposed to treat everything from critical problems like depression to vanity ailments like male pattern baldness. Medications that carry with them a litany of bizarre, often horrendous, side effects that may or may not affect what the pharmaceutical industry considers a small percentage of users. The other day, I got to see some of these side effects for myself.

(NOTE: The following story, while 100% true and factual is intentionally vague and ambiguous because my friends don't need to worry about me putting their business out there...because I don't)

The other day, I was with a friend who is taking medication for a serious condition. Through a series of mishaps and circumstances, their prescription had expired and they were off the medication for about three days before resuming the day we got together. I didn't realize that suddenly stopping and then suddenly resuming taking medication was such a big deal until this happened.
There was a newspaper on the counter while we were talking and my friend said this:
"I was at a meeting with Steve today and he said this situation in Egypt is a real mess."

I don't remember what I said in response. It wasn't anything profound. It might have been "Oh" or "Yeah, no kidding" or "Huh". I didn't know Steve knew anything or cared about foreign affairs and it was sort of a 'well, duh' understatement of an announcement. My friend replied, "what was I saying before that?". I tried to remember; it might have been something about sports or movies... "No, about what Steve said at the meeting". That's when I realized that the sentence about Steve and the thing about Egypt were two entirely, unrelated topics of conversation. Like this:
"I was at a meeting with Steve today and he said (unfinished thought) / (new observation culled from nearby newspaper) This situation in Egypt is a real mess."

It should have looked (sounded) something like this:
"I was at a meeting with Steve today and he, this situation in Egypt is a real mess."

That's right. My friend had lost their train of thought (something that happens to all of us from time to time) in the middle of a sentence...and didn't so much as pause in the middle of that sentence. That there is some super-serious, industrial strength, steroid-enhanced ADHD, folks.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Seek and ye shall find

This was on the wall in the laundry room of my apartment complex:
The laundry room is not where I would go to look for a babysitter but apparently that's where you find them. Yet more proof that I am woefully unqualified to raise children.
This post would be longer but I have to go to the library and get some fabric softener.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My apology to Lady Gaga

I've used this forum to say some mean things about pop music/media sensation Lady Gaga. Like here and here and especially here.
However, after watching an interview that Anderson Cooper did with her on 60 Minutes last night, I now have a better understanding of what she's doing. I can't go so far as to say that I'm a fan (I'm probably a tad too heterosexual to ever develop an appreciation for dance pop music, in spite of what my use of words like "tad" might indicate) but I do have a newfound measure of respect for her as an artist now. So, you know...
Sorry about that.


Spaghetti sauce is delicious.
It's spicy, full of zest. What do you have going on in there? Tomatoes, some bell peppers, onions, maybe a few mushrooms. You may or may not have sausage and/or meatballs. There's no telling. There are a million ways to make spaghetti sauce and regardless of what it's made of and what goes into preparing it, it almost always turns out rich, hearty and exciting.
But that's not enough for some people.
They don't appreciate how good spaghetti sauce is by itself. "That's not a meal", they say, noses upturned. "It's incomplete", they say. So they insist on pairing the sauce up with something else, another component. Often it's something insipid, , starchy, limp and colorless that just lies there and soaks up all the good stuff spaghetti sauce brings to the relationship. Then and only then will those people recognize how delicious the sauce is.
Happy Valentines Day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Don't get mad, get...well, yeah, go ahead and get mad

Tampa teenager Carlie Slack died yesterday after fighting leukemia for over two and a half tears. She was 19 years old.
That news will undoubtedly make you sad but it should also piss you off, a young life full of so much potential (she was an honor student at Plant High) snuffed out like that for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. What a waste.
I know it makes me mad. The problem with cancer and cancer related illnessess is that they don't respond to threats of violence or insults or curses or any other means through which we traditionally express our anger. To rant and rave is wasted energy. So we have to channel that anger and use it to motivate us to take action and make our statements in other, more productive ways. If you're even an occasional reader of this blog, you know I participate in Relay For Life and am on a constant mission to raise funds. If you want to contribute to that effort, you can do so here. If you don't have money to spend, that's fine; this isn't really about making yet another fundraising plea (although, there will be more of that kind of thing coming very soon), it's a call to action that's bigger than that. Get mad at this disease that has taken so much from so many and continues to do so. And more than that, do something about it. Start or join your own Relay team. Get involved as a volunteer. Drop off some old books at a local hospital. Cripes, just quit smoking and eat some blueberries (they're loaded with antioxidants; cancer hates antioxidants). Whatever it takes. This crap has got to stop. Right now, get good and pissed off and make it happen.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Hey, I really enjoyed the Super Bowl halftime show!

Because it gave the whole world a chance to see first-hand just how unrelentingly godawful and irredeemably worthless the Black Eyed Peas truly are.
(NOTE: I have not forsaken my resolution to "not be excessively and unnecessarily vitriolic in my criticism of popular things that I don't enjoy, because we all have our own preferences and as long as it's not truly harmful to others, it's only fair to just live and let live". However, I am attaching a one-time exemption to this resolution in regards to the Black Eyed Peas in that they will serve as sort of a designated safety valve that I can turn to when frustration builds up over not criticizing other things, such as the new season of "American Idol" {which I've been very good about so far, I must say} and because they really are just that terrible).
Between the Green Bay Packers, who invented the Super Bowl, and the Pittsburgh Steelers who have played in and won more of them than any other team, Super Bowl XLV was the Super Bowliest of them all. What a shame it had to occur the same year that the NFL scrapped a tradition of halftime shows featuring truly legendary artists (some faring better than others) by turning to the excessively autotuned sub-hackery of the Black Eyed Peas (or BEPs). As I mentioned, I didn't see the game but thanks to the magic of the internet, I have been able to see the halftime show so I feel that I can comment fairly. And boy oh boy, it fairly stunk. Even before I actually watched it for myself, I knew it was terrible because literally the entire country said so. Generally, people expect the halftime show to be a disappointment and looking forward to complaining about it has become as much a part of the Super Bowl celebration as the game, the commercials and overeating. But this mess was so bad that the fact that Christina Aguillera botched The Star Spangled Banner is practically an afterthought by comparison...and that's the kind of thing people usually fret about for decades (just ask Roseanne Barr).
"Uh...wait, don't tell me...something about rockets, right?"
If you missed that train wreck, you can see it here on YouTube or click here to see Maya Rudolph's dead-on parody of it on Saturday Night Live...four years ago.
But this isn't about Xtina or anybody else making an empty-headed and misguided attempt to perform their own "unique" interpretation of the national anthem; it's about the pop music plague that is known as the BEPs, about whom absolutely nothing good can be said. Wait...I shouldn't draw that conclusion; I suppose it's possible that they pay their taxes on time and are good to dogs but I don't know that for a fact. All the evidence that is available to me suggests that all four of them (, Fergie, Marlon and Tito) should be hunted down as war criminals, placed adrift in a small boat in the Pacific where the U.S. Navy should conduct target practice on them with missiles made of exploding poison. Evidence culled entirely from their "songs". For example, makes a case that "I Gotta Feeling" is The Worst Song Ever and their points are valid, although I disagree. When I was little and I thought all music made all people happy, my teenaged cousin said that the song "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone actually made him angry to the point that he wanted to damage property. As I got older and more mature, I realized that some people prefer certain types of music over others but still didn't understand what my cousin had been talking about. Then, one day I heard the song "My Humps" on the radio and the concept was crystal clear to me.
Of course, it's difficult to criticize any song by the BEPs as a BEPs song, since almost every one of their songs (certainly all of their hits) were somebody else's songs first. This is why, as a writer, I'd rate BEP frontman several notches below Weird Al Yankovic, somewhere between Allan Sherman and the anonymous 3rd grader who originally penned "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells".

Behold the canon of the BEPs...
  • "That's Right" sampled from "Pass The Peas" by The J.B.s, "You're Getting a Little Too Smart" by Detroit Emeralds and "Montara" by Bobby Hutcherson
  • "A8" sampled from "O Homem Da Gravata Florida" by Jorge Ben
  • "Be Free" sampled from "White Horse" by Laid Back
  • "Clap Your Hands" sampled from "Handclapping Song" by The Meters and "Tenement Yard" by Jacob Miller
  • "Fallin' Up" sampled from "Comanche" by Jorge Ben
  • "Joints & Jam" sampled from "Grease" by Frankie Valli and "Love Till the End of Time" by Paulinho Da Costa
  • "Karma" sampled from "El Raton" by Cheo Feliciano and The Joe Cuba Sextet and "One Way or Another" by Blondie
  • "Positivity" sampled from "Cinco Minutos" by Jorge Ben
  • "Say Goodbye" sampled from "Heaven and Hell Is on Earth" by 20th Century Steel Band
  • "The Way U Make Me Feel" sampled from "Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)" by Run-DMC and "Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel)" by Stephanie Mills
  • "What It Is" sampled from "Funkin' for Jamaica (N.Y.)" by Tom Browne
  • "Fallin' Up (Remix)" sampled from "Standing in the Shadows of Love" by Barry White
  • “BEP Empire” sampled from “Billy Jack” by Curtis Mayfield
  • “Bridging the Gaps” sampled from “Hello Like Before” by Bill Withers
  • "Cali to New York” sampled from “Canto De Ossanha” by Baden Powell
  • “Get Original” sampled from “Heads High” by Mr. Vegas (oh, now that's just funny!)
  • “Go Go” sampled from “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force
  • “Request + Line” sampled from “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” by Indeep
  • “Weekends” sampled from “Family Affair” by Sly & the Family Stone, “ Lord of the Golden Baboon” by Mandrill, “Superappin'” by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, “Looking for the Perfect Beat” by Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force, “Lookout Weekend” by Debbie Deb and “ Jimbrowski” by Jungle Brothers
  • “Apl Song” sampled from “Balita” by Asin
  • “Hands Up” sampled from “Bo Mambo” by Yma Sumac
  • “Labor Day (It's a Holiday)” sampled from “The Grunt” by The J.B.'s
  • “Sexy” sampled from “Insensatez” by Antonio Carlos Jobim
  • “Shut Up” sampled from “Is That All There Is?” by Peggy Lee and “Tough” by Kurtis Blow
  • “The Boogie That Be” sampled from “Top Billin'” by Audio Two
  • “Third Eye” sampled from “De Materialize” by Scientist
  • “Let's Get It Started” sampled from “Bass Is Loaded” by Leaders of the New School and “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys
  • “Like That” sampled from “Who Can I Turn to (When Nobody Needs Me)” by Astrud Gilberto, “Funky President” by James Brown, “Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest and “The Infamous Date Rape” by A Tribe Called Quest
  • “Bend Your Back” sampled from “I Know You Got Soul” by Bobby Byrd and “Hip-Hop vs. Rap” by KRS-One
  • “Audio Delite at Low Fidelity” sampled from “Funky President” by James Brown and “All Night Long” by Mary Jane Girls
  • “Ba Bump” sampled from “Candy” by Cameo
  • “Don't Lie” sampled from “La Di Da Di” by Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick
  • “Don't Phunk With My Heart” sampled from “Aye Naujawan Hai Sab Kuchch Yahan” by Asha Bhosle, “Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder, “Yeh Mera Dil Pyar Ka Diwana” by Asha Bhosle, “I Wonder if I Take You Home” by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam and Full Force, “Sally (That Girl)” by Gucci Crew II and “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
  • “Dum Diddly” sampled from “Pass the Dutchie” by Musical Youth
  • “Feel It” sampled from “Brazilian Rhyme (Beijo)” by Earth, Wind & Fire
  • “Gone Going” sampled from “Gone” by Jack Johnson
  • “My Humps” sampled from “Kisi Ki Jaan Lete Hain” by Asha Bhosle, “I Need a Freak” by Sexual Harrassment and “Wild Thing” by Tone Loc
  • “My Style” sampled from “Señorita” by Justin Timberlake
  • “Pump It” sampled from “Misirlou” by Dick Dale
  • “They Don't Want Music” sampled from “Mind Power” by James Brown
  • “Union” sampled from “Englishman in New York” by Sting
  • “Mas Que Nada (2006 Version)” sampled from “Mas Que Nada” by Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66 and “Hey Mama” by Black Eyed Peas feat. Tippa Irie (that’s right, they sampled themselves!)
  • “Boom Boom Wow (DJ Megamix)” sampled from “Music Sounds Better With You” by Stardust
  • “Meet Me Halfway” sampled from “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper and “Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • “Party All the Time” sampled from “Mancry” by Adam Freeland
  • “Boom Boom Pow” sampled from “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk
  • “Electric City” sampled from “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow
  • “I Gotta Feeling” sampled from “Take a Dive” by Bryan Pringle
  • “Imma Be” sampled from “Ride or Die” by The Budos Band
  • “Mare” sampled from “Hai Rama” by A. R. Rahman
  • “Ring-a-Ling” sampled from “The Def Fresh Crew” by Roxanne Shanté and Biz Markie
  • “Rockin' to the Beat” sampled from “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
  • “Rock That Body” sampled from “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock
  • “Shut the Phunk Up” sampled from “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Funkadelic
  • “Pump It Harder” sampled from “Misirlou” by Dick Dale, “Think (About It)” by Lyn Collins (1972) and “Pump It Up” by Black & White Brothers
  • “Fashion Beats” sampled from “My Forbidden Lover” by Chic
  • “Light Up the Night” sampled from “Children's Story” by Slick Rick
  • “Love You Long Time” sampled from “Give It Up” by KC & the Sunshine Band
  • “The Coming” sampled from “Here I Come” by Barrington Levy
  • “The Time (Dirty Bit)” sampled from “(I've Had) the Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
(Don't take my word for it; see and hear for yourself here)

The original Black Eyed Pea (or OBEP)

"Okay, but why?", you might ask. "Why the obsessive and borderline psychotic hatred for an ultimately harmless pop music group?". Well, I do it because, A) it's fun and B) on behalf of all the genuinely talented artists from all genres of music who will never, ever get within sniffing distance of a Super Bowl halftime show who are too classy to say anything themselves.
Of course, some people will disagree. Some people will even say that not only are they fans of the BEPs but that they enjoyed that show, and they'll mean it too. One of those people is a woman upon whom I have a severe unrequited crush (and I think she knows that and uses that knowledge to her advantage sometimes). Do I think less of those people, her included? Well, yes. Yes, I do. It's enough to deter me from my plan of abducting her, leaving the country and making her my wifeslave for ever and ever and ever.
In other words, this is for the common good.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Kind of a weird birthday

Yesterday was my birthday and I had to work (I know, right? What kind of job makes somebody work on their birthday...especially when it falls on a Sunday! Don't get me started...) so I was kind of out of touch with the part of my life that occurs on-line. When I got home and jumped on the computer, I had several Happy Birthday wishes waiting for me on Facebook. I sat down to the task of replying to each of them individually, even if it was just "Thanks (insert name here)!", which was the case a lot of times...but I made sure to spell all the names correctly. You see a lot of people on Facebook who respond to their well wishes by putting out some kind of blanket statement...
"I just want to thank everyone for all the kind birthday wishes! Thank you so much! I love you all!"

Blah blah blabbity blah blah blah
Oh, screw you, jerk. What kind of crap is that? Are you some kind of rock star who has so many fawning admirers that the task of actually replying personally to all of them is simply too overwhelming of a chore for you to undertake? What a crock of shit. Stop smelling your own farts and get over yourselves, you phonies. Or don't, for that matter. I could care less. But as for me, if somebody takes time out of their day to pass along their best wishes for my health, wealth and happiness, the least I can do is take time out of mine to acknowledge it. In other words, once again, be more like me.

Anyway, around the time I was replying to the four or five hundredth reply(honestly, I have so many fawning admirers, I can't possibly be expected to remember how many there are), the notion that I am actually older now than my dad was when he died really sunk in. Not in any kind of morbid, impending mortality way...just that the idea of being older than one of your parents the last time you saw them is just such a weird, bizarre concept. Due in large part, I think, to my maturity level, or rather, lack thereof. My dad was more sensible, pragmatic, no-nonsense and serious in his 20s (at least it seemed that way to me as a kid) than I am now. He was a cop and his tolerance for bullshit was virtually non-existent. Two quick stories to illustrate this point:
  • One summer on vacation, we went to an amusement park in Tennessee. It was mom, dad, me, my sister and my grandmother (his mother-in-law). We drove quite a ways to get to this place, parked, went through the line to get in, paid our admission fee and immediately upon passing through the gate, my grandmother said, "I feel like I would just slow you all down and be a burden so I'm just going to sit here by myself on this bench. Don't worry, I'll be fine all alone. You go and have fun." Dad's response? "Fine. See ya when we see ya", and off we went. If she had whispered to me in the car what her plan was I could have warned her it wouldn't work.
  • Because when I was much younger, the family piled into the car one night for a nice dinner out. I asked from the back seat, "where we goin'?" and dad replied, "Mr. Steak". For whatever reason (I don't recall what it was), I was feeling the need to be a belligerent little prick (that's probably all it was). "I don't wanna go to Mr. Steak", I muttered. ERRRRRRRK! "Fine. Get out. You can go back in the house and eat whatever you find. But we're going to Mr. Steak", he said in a way that clearly indicated that as close as he was going to come to considering my opinion on the matter was to stop the car before making me get out of it.
In short, my dad didn't play those games.
This might indicate that my dad was dour and humorless, but that isn't the case. He loved to laugh and would do so really loudly when something amused him. It's just that when it was time to take care of business, he took care of business. The fact that I, um, mostly don't, and never really have, preferring instead to laugh loudly (and make as many others do so in the process) even (especially!) when that might not be the appropriate response has always been highly indicative that I'm probably not likely to grow up to be just like him. Now that I've reached this particular birthday, it's official.
That probably shouldn't be a shock, since we always were so very different, for the most part. I loved my dad and admired him but we always came from drastically disparate angles when it came to general demeanor and also likes and dislikes. He tried desperately to get me to love golf as much as he did but that just didn't take. He also tried to get me to wear my hair like his. Nope, not happening. I was fond of a virtually maintenance-free, early-Beatles-like mop that hung straight down all over my head and stuck out funny when wearing a baseball cap while he tried to get me to use a, what was it? A comb? I think that's what he called it. We couldn't even have a conversation about music. Not because we'd argue but because we spoke entirely different foreign languages. I didn't need to know from Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Barry to appreciate Prince and Talking Heads and other favorites he dismissed as "weirdoes". And while he had a sense of humor, he certainly didn't laugh at a lot of the things I did/do. That's standard growing up stuff though. Everybody goes through that. But I wonder if he were around and we were of the same age, would we even want to hang out together? I'd like to think so but I don't know that we would. Not out of any kind of enmity but just because I didn't grow up to be a carbon copy of him. Then again, maybe that means we'd get along even better. I miss him and still dream about him all the time. Vivid dreams where we do hang out together, talking and getting along just fine. And in those dreams, he's the age he was when he died and I'm as old as I am in real life (so, basically the same right now), even though I feel/act like a juvenile delinquent next to him. But I feel/act like a juvenile delinquent when I'm awake, so who knows? Nobody, I guess. Certainly not me.
Just kind of a weird thing to think about on my birthday.


Friday, February 04, 2011

Foreign Art Cinema Appreciation Corner Part Deux

When I think of fighting robots and world leaders in fighting  robot technology, I used to think of the good ol' USA first followed by Japan. I don't know, maybe there's some Dolph Lundgren lookin' cyborgs clanking around an abandoned warehouse near Chernobyl. I certainly never gave any thought to India (or Canada, for that matter). Well, guess what? India has gotten hold of an Awesome Dial and apparently that sucker goes all the way to 11. Check it out...
This is from a film called "Endhiran" and it's the story of a robot who gets struck by lightning, which is wont to happen, and goes berserk, which is also wont to happen. The clip opens with a guy in a suit insering some item that more sensible people obviously warned him about as evidenced by the "Oh no he didn't!" looks exchanged by the dweebie techies behind him.  But guys in suits don't get to be in charge of robot factories by listening to the namby-pamby advice of pussies concerned about potential property damage and loss of life, so up yours, hippie. Cut to the robot involved in the kind of mayhem that would make Megatron soil himself, highlighted by the looks on the faces of the police or the army or whoever they are when they realize they now know what doom looks like,
By the time the robot (named Ghitti) multiplies into a few hundred versions of itself and turns into a giant, car-eating snake, it's apparent that it's just showing off. And do you know why? Because it can. There's probably more to the plot and since it is an Indian film, there are probably at least a couple of musical song-and-dance numbers. But who cares? There could be a 20 minute medley of Cole Porter songs interpreted by synchronized swimmers and this would still be the best fighting robot movie since T2.
Seriously, India; this is Bad Ass! Well done!