Wednesday, September 8, 2010



Hannah Montana. The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam.

As if the Disney Channel needed another method to send sentient adults running for the remote, there is now Disney Blam! You should know just from that title whether or not this is the program for you.

Imagine someone screaming the word "BLAM!" directly in your face. Now imagine that this person has one of the most grating, unpleasant, obnoxious voices you've ever heard. Now repeat that word over and over for one minute and thirty seconds. "Blam! blam! blam! blam! blam! blam! blam!" Do you feel like you're being shot in the face with a machine gun? I do! I tried to think of a word more abrasive than "BLAM!" and was unsuccessful, so kudos, Disney, on an appropriately irksome title.

Think I'm exaggerating? Watch the following clip at your own - BLAM! - peril:

Believe it or not, that clip is only a minute and a half long, even though I feel I could've caught an entire season of Mad Men in that agonizing span. I now know what Hell is like - it feels like being tortured for an eternity!

Is this really what it takes to hook the ADD generation? Back in my day - not so terribly long ago - Disney was still a sacred, untouchable entity, producing such classics as Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. I imagine there were some purists who balked at Timon and Pumbaa's flatulence humor, moaning, "How has Disney sunk down to this level?" To these purists, I have just one thing to say:


The Lion King is looking pretty old-fashioned now, isn't it?

Once upon a time, Disney was about simple cartoons featuring silly characters getting themselves in absurd predicaments. And that's about it. I'm pretty sure some of them involved a mouse, but who can remember such details anymore? Then there were full-length animated features, then there was a theme park. Then there was merchandise. I suppose it was all downhill from there. Soon celebrities like Robin Williams were doing their shtick in Disney films, and wiseass postmodern comic relief like Timon and Pumbaa were inserted to appease the kiddies. At least those movies still retained the winning Disney formula with strong themes, imaginative stories, and memorable characters.

But what could kids possibly be getting out of Disney Blam!? Aside from an excuse to refill their Ritalin prescription?

Once upon a time, Disney's characters were a staple of growing up. Mufasa might as well have been Jesus Christ for how well he was known and worshiped. Do kids even know who these characters are anymore? It's no coincidence the Anonymous Blammer refers to Goofy and Donald each as "that guy." I bet he's never heard of them, either. I can only imagine some tyke running up to Mickey Mouse at Disneyland and saying, "Look Mom! Look Dad! It's that guy from Blam!" And then giving "that guy" a swift kick to the groin with a snicker, a stale pun, and - what else? - a "Blam!"

Not that I'm surprised. The Disney Channel has been violently offensive to adult sensibilities for quite some time now - I dare you to visit the Disney Channel website. It is borderline terrifying. Those trademark mouse ears can still be located, but beyond that, there's nary a familiar face from my childhood. Certainly no Goofy, Minnie, or Donald Duck. Not even an Ariel, Simba, or Genie. You would think Disney would use this outlet to, say, air Disney films and cartoons featuring cherished Disney characters. Alas, no. Primarily the Disney channel features shows about teenagers doing assorted trickery (sometimes magical, and sometimes just fooling people into thinking they are/aren't a famous country diva) and pretending they're not sexually active. Quite a lot of this involves singing - Disney would rather have their tween viewers believe that your average American adolescent is more likely to burst spontaneously into song than get to third base with his girlfriend, and in this respect, I suppose things haven't changed that much. Family values are still in tact, they're just a lot harder to buy these days when the focus is on high school students rather than far-off princesses.

Where are the mice in suspenders? The irate, pantsless ducks? The miserly uncle with three boisterous rhyming nephews? I suppose Disney Blam! was some genius executive's way of keeping these characters alive in the minds of today's youth. I suppose they think this is a way of honoring dear old Uncle Walt and his beloved early creations.

In reality, this is the Disney Channel desecrating the name of Walt Disney and everything he once stood for, spitting on all that is holy in the world, and poisoning the futures and well-beings of our nation's children. Blam! Blam blam blam! Now let's hit rewind on the Blam Cam and watch it again, shall we?

I just don't see the point. As I recall, Disney cartoons were already brief and rather violent. Sure, the violence was more harmless even than, say, Looney Tunes or Tom & Jerry, but cartoon creatures were constantly hit with objects that would mostly likely kill a normal human being. This was done for our amusement. When I was a kid, I still found these cartoons reasonably entertaining without any added "blam!" They did not need pesky voiceover spouting ESPN-esque quips to "explain" what was going on. I don't recall ever watching a Disney cartoon and thinking, "Man, I just don't get what's going on here! Can't someone spell it out for me?" Not even as a very young child. I certainly never thought the cartoons needed more sound effects. When the image of an animated dog getting a pie in the face is accompanied by a "smoosh" sound effect, that generally works. Why a spoken "blam!"? Why, why, why? How the hell did Steamboat Willy become Jackass for 4 year-olds?

Is this just the first step in Disney's forceful world takeover, dumbing down all that is sacred until it can be dumbed down no more? You know that graphic with Tinkerbell flitting about, waving her wind, and then illuminating the Disney castle? It wouldn't surprise me if that flick of her wrist was soon accompanied by a "BLAM!" Lady and the Tramp's spaghetti kiss might also be punctuated with a "BLAM!" and then rewound for an "Instant Replay." They could probably cut Cinderella out of Cinderella altogether for a story about mice and birds making a dress, "BLAM!"-ing with every stitch. And hey, on second thought - why can't it be a spoonful of "BLAM!" that helps the medicine go down?

The following is ostensibly a parody, but almost indiscernible from the jaw-dropping horror of the real thing:


Did you hear that?

I'm pretty sure that was Walt Disney shooting himself in the face.

Wham! Blam! No thanks, man,


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Everything Blows, Anything Gospel

This past weekend, the boyfriend, our best friend (his first, mine as of recently), and myself took an exhausting road trip from Long Island to Ocean City, NJ to see yet ANOTHER friend in a production of Anything Goes. He was great. His cast was spectacular. The direction and orchestra were phenomenal. And yet, despite all this, I wanted to dive off of the Music Pier and into the roaring sea below.

Why? Because Anything Goes, I quickly remembered, is a fine and one-of-a-kind example of a shitty show that is unfortunately tied tightly to some of the best music in the musical theater. It's sort of like meeting a really hot and sweet guy at a bar, but finding out when you go home with him that he was hiding a Siamese twin who belches a lot and never shuts up.

What's funny is that you probably know a ton of music from this show... you just don't know where it came from. And that's probably a good idea. Anything Goes, the show part at least, is abysmal. It tries to be funny, though often is not. It tries to stay on track, but derails into oblivion and absurdity rather regularly. And it's so patently ridiculous that your eyes roll backwards in your head 360 degrees, resulting in the pain of your eyes rolling back, and the further torment of still having to see the show.

But then there's the MUSIC. And, my God, these are some of Cole Porter's very best tunes including:

Blow, Gabriel, Blow

You're The Top


And, of course, the show's namesake, Anything Goes

All my life I heard these songs, not knowing their origins, and loved them a ton. It's probably better that way. The actual show, Anything Goes, makes no sense, and sort of just fills the air with spoken words in order to kill time between songs. I noticed this time around while watching the show that the songs, themselves, don't even advance the plot much. This is often a criticism heaped on composers like Frank Wildhorn: that the show comes to a screeching halt when characters start singing, which is not supposed to be the point. Songs in musicals, they claim, should continue advancing development and action, just in heightened ways.

But what happens, like in Anything Goes, when the show was never really going anywhere to begin with? Well, you basically find yourself trying to occupy yourself while unimportant characters yammer about nothing of importance, waiting with baited breath for the next amazing song and dance number.

Our friend Erin had mentioned something intriguing about the show, however, which makes a lot of sense. Apparently, Cole Porter had been paid to write songs after the show was made, and he just went into a bag full of music and came out with the score. If this is indeed the case, that would make Anything Goes nothing more than the first Jukebox Musical in history!

Of course, I Googled the show after hearing Erin's info, and found out a lot about it. First off, the show was originally called "Crazy Week" (because it's fuckin CRAZY!) followed by "Hard to Get" (I'd recommend too easy to not get, but anyway...) and then FINALLY "Anything Goes". Even funnier, apparently the show was to end with the boat sinking and all of the unnecessary people dying very necessary deaths. But that was changed when the SS Morro Castle, a passenger ship, caught fire and resulted in the death of 137 passengers and crew. So they basically threw together the ending of the show in a few days. And it shows.

Also interesting is a chart of side-by-side comparisons of the 3 productions of Anything Goes. What's interesting is that this show is basically rebuilt every time it is revived. Which is probably not that hard. Cole Porter's wonderful songs have so little to do with anything in the plot you can basically remove them from where they stand and place them anywhere else with the show hardly being affected.

See how songs are moved like puzzle pieces right here.

I don't like Anything Goes. Its plot, characters, Asian racism, and directionless ambling makes me want to go head-first off of a cliff. But its music? Oh man, some of the best Broadway that ever came from Broadway. And so I will continue listening to my cast recordings when I have the time, and, next chance I have to see the show, I will bring along the recording so that I can listen to it between the live musical numbers. All of the good parts of Goes, without the crap. Thank you very much.

To close this post out, allow me to share with you an exciting video: it's one of my favorite Broadway folks, Raul Esparza, performing a song written by one of my favorite composers, Alan Menken, from an upcoming Broadway show based on a movie I never cared to see, Leap of Faith. This is another example of the separation of mumbling and music in theater. I will see Leap of Faith. I don't care how good or bad the show shell around it is. The combination of Raul and Alan promises to give me everything that I want, regardless of how it is framed and driven.

What does this video teach us about Leap of Faith? Not much! It's just Raul leading a chorus of gospel singers in a positive, preachy gospel number. Nothing new about that. But frankly, I don't give a damn.

Anything Went,
- J

In The Rough.


Me: "I'm going to a concert tonight."

Friend: "Oh, who?"

Me: "Marina & the Diamonds."

Friend: (blank stare)

And so it goes. If I thought it was hard trying to find people who'd heard of Robyn when I attended last month's show, I found even fewer who had discovered Marina & the Diamonds. This is despite the fact that Marina burst onto the music scene seemingly out of nowhere last May, having already hit it pretty big overseas in her native United Kingdom (she hails from Wales). It was an indie-sized explosion.

But you need to make a pretty big splash nowadays to get the mainstream wet, so Marina is still far from a household name. Who is she? She's Lilly Allen after some anger management classes, Florence + the Machine without the dagger in her heart, Bjork from a planet a little closer to Earth - ie, she might wear that swan costume, but she'd be a little more in on the joke.

"TV taught me how to feel, now real life has no appeal."
Her lyrics point to feeling lonely and disaffected in modern times, but without any accompanying melancholy - her tunes are poppy and upbeat. When she sings, "Girls, they never befriend me / 'cause I fall asleep when they speak / of all the calories they eat" in "Girls," it perfectly encapsulates her outsider status amidst today's more traditional pop artists, but Marina isn't feeling sorry for herself. Marina's songs celebrate being smarter, sassier, and more unique than the masses, which is why her relative obscurity works so well. Could the mainstream ever truly embrace her, when she spends most of her time making fun of them?

More fun facts: according to Marina (whose last name is Diamandis), "the Diamonds" are not the band that backs her up, but rather us - her adoring fans, who indeed believe they have found something sparkly and special amidst today's pop music rough.

And, if you take everything on Wikipedia at face value, she also "has a synesthetic condition that involves seeing musical notes and days of the week in different colours." What? That's crazy!

Given her unusual persona, playful lyrics, and a style of singing that, while sonorous, always suggests that she's "doing a voice" to make us laugh, I was quite curious to see what Ms. Diamandis would sound like live and what her persona would be. I could envision her being somber and a little spacey, like Bjork, or making bold, ambitious political statements, like Sinead O'Connor, or being laid-back and too humble to take on any persona at all, like she belonged at Lilith Fair. Thankfully, Marina did not assume any of these roles.

Let's just say I was not disappointed.

Unlike at Robyn's show, where I feared for the future of humanity because the crowd was so gay, the typical Marina & the Diamonds fan is not as gay as you might think. This, perhaps, can be attributed partially to her indie darling cred in the music scene, and mostly to how damn hot she is in her "Hollywood" video.

But at her New York City Webster Hall appearance, Marina was not going for "sexy," per se. Or if she was, well, girl's got a screw loose. Marina emerged in a full-body black velvet dress looking like some combination of a 19th century vampire straight out of Transylvania, a cast member from Dynasty, and an escaped mental patient. Which is to say, she looked awesome. Throughout the show she sported an assortment of nutty eyewear, including sunglasses with peace signs and sunglasses with dollar signs. The sense of humor so prevalent in her music remains intact on stage - I was relieved that Marina's primary interest seems to be in having fun and making sure her fans do, too. She comes off a lot like her music - unusual, breezy, easy to like, and meaningful only if you're really paying attention.

She sang "I Am Not A Robot" bathed in blue lights that made her look, if not like a robot, rather like one of the Na'vi in James Cameron's Avatar, wielding glow-in-the-dark pink hearts that matched her glow-in-the-dark hot pick lipstick. She serenaded two oversized hamburgers in "Hollywood," in which she tells us, "I'm obsessed with the mess that's America." Indeed, many of her songs seem to poke fun at our culture and Western culture in general, and Marina repeated that sentiment many times throughout the night: "I'm obsessed with you!" She claimed London isn't her home - New York is.

Marina got a little more soulful playing keyboard on "Numb" and then "Obsessions," then went back to bringing down the house, dancing to my personal fave, "Oh No!" When she said goodnight, quite a few people made their way toward the exits despite the fact that the lights hadn't even come up in a faux-closing. Moments later, prompted by her Diamonds' effervescent enthusiasm, Marina returned - much to the surprise of those who had already left their spots near the front of the stage, stopping right in front of me instead. "She's singing again!" one hissed. Have they never been to a concert before? Despite this distraction, I soon became lost in the music again as Marina serenaded us with a downbeat interpretation of 3OH!3's "Starstrukk," totally transforming the frat-boy prankishness of the original's "L-O-V-E's just another word I never learned to pronounce" into something stirring and beautiful.

Marina never forgets to have fun, though - her biggest applause was for the wisdom: "Drink to forget, but never forget to drink!"

So if you haven't yet, do yourself a favor and catch up with everyone else who's on top of it. I have included some videos so you can do just that.

Not a robot,


Friday, September 3, 2010

Itch, Scratch... I Was Taking a Nap

Every Friday is Improv Friday at Said Panties. On Facebook, X and J take a poll of their friends for a topic (any topic) to write on. The most popular, ridiculous, or random is selected, and both X. and J must write about it. This week's topic, bedbugs, comes from Jonathan Kuhn.

We New York City folk have a lot to deal with on a daily basis. Every day we get showered (assuming we have water), eat breakfast (assuming the rats or roaches or asshole roommates didn't eat all of our Kashi first), brush our teeth (assuming our teeth weren't stolen by New York's roving tooth bandits), get dressed and try to catch the subway (assuming it's running, and not on fire) or a cab (assuming they haven't been knifed by Islamophobes) to get to work (assuming we still have a job, in this economy). And that's just the beginning. Subway manhole covers explode in fiery blazes into the sky. Terrorists plot to blow up our garbage cans, office buildings, cars, and major tourist traps. Muggers abound, waiting to take our cash at the blade of a knife. This isn't even covering the wandering crazy people, the piles of uncleaned dog poop, or the other thousands of things that stand between us and existing comfortably. We don't need any more challenges every day.

But we just got a new one, anyway, and it's invisible to the naked eye. No, I'm not talking about The Invisible Man or poisonous gas (although I'm sure we have those as well.) I'm talking about bedbugs. They're the newest citizens of New York City, and they're sick and tired of us ignoring their presence - so they're stepping up their parasite game.

As a youngster, my parents often kissed me goodnight and said that tried and true salutation: "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite." I always thought it was simply a cute thing they were saying. I assumed that there was no such things as bedbugs - that they were made up creatures who came to put me to sleep and give me pleasant dreams. Little did I know they were actually fuck-ugly crab/spider creatures that really DO exist. In hindsight, I feel that any parent that says this to their child should lose their offspring to child services, as they are no doubt acknowledging that they don't care for their child's welfare, and that they are living in such a highly concentrated level of filth.

But I digress (don't I always?) Bedbugs in New York! They're like tourists, except they don't carry cameras and ask you for directions to Central Park down in Battery Park City, they just invade your clothing and furniture and bite and feed on you until you are covered in unsightly welts. I (knock on digital wood) have never had to deal with these beasts. But we New Yorkers are very paranoid about that double-B word. If you DO have bedbugs, you make sure not to ever admit to it in public, lest people near you regard you as they would plague victims with open, seeping sores. Apparently getting bedbugs sucks big time. You can never know when you're actually rid of them, and the process of ridding them involves basically incinerating all of your worldly possessions and shaving off every follicle of hair on your body.

Once upon a time, bedbugs were a nightmare story you heard every now and again. But it's as though the bugs hired a PR firm in an effort to increase their visibility. And they are going places. Literally. Hollister's flagship store in SoHo, Abercrombie's 5th avenue flagship, a Victoria's Secret, the AMC Super-Plex on 42nd street. Not a week seems to go by that I don't read about another business shutting down to set fire to all of their merchandise. And then I'm that MUCH more paranoid. As it stands, anyone who's seen a movie in the past few weeks, any woman with a push-up bra, or any guy dressed like a douchebag with a polo with popped collar is potentially infested with these vermin.

Bedbugs? More like Every-Fucking-Where bugs. And, of course, every itch I get, my mind explodes in fear and worry. Did I finally get bedbugs? Is my apartment suddenly swarming with them? It's been a few weeks since I heard of another bed bug attack, and so I am waiting, one eye forever open. Where will they strike next? Jennifer Convertibles? Some meatpacking district restaurant with beds instead of chairs? The Pleasure Chest?

Luckily nowhere I go has been affected by the intrepid critters. But the day I hear that bedbugs have lain itchy waste to a Gamestop, gay club, or Dunkin Donuts, will be the worst day of my life. Imagine! No, don't imagine. Be terrified.

What no one ever says about bedbugs is that they are a more politically correct form of crabs. They are classy crabs that you can get in totally innocent situations. What sucks is that you can now pick up something itchy and contagious by just going home with someone and making out with them in their bed. Are you horrified yet? I am. All my future hookups will take place on cement slabs in vacuum sealed safes, just to be completely certain.

The other thing about bedbugs is that they are not THAT horrifying. It's not like they'll kill you. And they don't skitter around your apartment, catching your eye, like rats, roaches, waterbugs, or CIA wiretappers. When they get to you, all they do is nibble. And so you itch, and scratch. It's no worse than chicken pocks or sunburn, really. It's just the realization that there are thousands of gross things crawling all over you like you're a shish kabob dropped into an anthill.

Okay. Maybe they are horrifying after all.

Wait. I spoke to soon. The latest attack has happened, probably as I began writing this post. Google's New York office has been infested. No doubt by an employee wearing a super-cleavage bra, or a programmer who just HAD to wear that faded and distressed visor he bought a few weeks ago at Abercrombie. And now that the bedbugs have arrived, they'll probably start fucking around with the search giant's algorithm, forcing thousands of Internet workers like myself to completely re-code and re-tag their websites to regain top search result positions against sites the bedbugs decided were more important.

I'll tell you the best thing about bedbugs, though: free days off from work! These stores often have to shut down for days while people dressed up like the Ghostbusters show up with indescribable tools and doodads to rid the space of the invisible marauders. You can imagine that the employees of all of these overtaken businesses and offices were laughing their way to be deloused and have all of their belongings forever destroyed.

Did you start itching while reading this post? I know I did.

Itchy and Scratchy: it's not just a cartoon any more.


Sleep Tight.

Every Friday is Improv Friday at Said Panties. On Facebook, X and J take a poll of their friends for a topic (any topic) to write on. The most popular, ridiculous, or random is selected, and both X. and J must write about it. This week's topic, bedbugs, comes from Jonathan Kuhn.

I was warned of many things when I moved to New York City: the crime, the cost, the cynicism. It seems like everyone I talked to had at least one caveat about a newcomer in the big city.

One thing I wasn't warned about is bedbugs.

Well, I suppose that's not true. I've actually been warned about bed bugs ever since I can remember. "Sleep tight! Don't let the bedbugs bite!" And up until last fall, I actually believed it was just a saying. In my mind, bedbugs were sort of goofy-looking and cute, a friendly neon green in color, and they wore shoes. I don't know why, I was four. Remember that game "Cooties"? I figured the Bedbugs might be their wacky distant cousins, who get a little feisty when they drink.

Somehow I went on believing this, all throughout my formative years. Even when I moved to Los Angeles, I never heard any cases of bedbugs being real. For all I knew "bedbugs" were right up there with the boogeyman and monsters in the closet - fictional creatures meant to terrify children into behaving. Little did I know bedbugs are living, breathing mini-monsters, and repopulating New York City faster than Pinkberry knockoffs. Spoo-fuckin'-ooky.

I have looked up bedbugs on Wikipedia before, back when I first heard about them, so I could be sure what I was up against. I'm not going to look them up again, because if there's one thing I hate, it's bruschetta, and if there's another thing I hate, it's the image of a tiny creature that intends to crawl all over me and suck my blood while I sleep.

I don't intend to subject my readers to pictures of bedbugs or their nighttime handiwork on the flesh of unsuspecting victims. But imagine my surprise while I was riding the subway one day last October, and I saw an advertisement for how to get rid of them. "Call now for professional help!"

"What?" I wondered aloud, as if I'd spotted an ad for a device that allows you to capture the Tooth Fairy or kick Sasquatch out of your bed. "Those things are real?"

Oh, they're real, all right. And in the months since I've moved here, they've popped up in a number of disturbing locations, such as AMC theaters and Victoria's Secret. (I guess we know your secret, now, Vicky. Yes, your bedbug infestation is probably something you should keep on the DL.) Reportedly bedbugs have also hit Abercrombie & Fitch, but I don't know. If you ask me, those bites could really have come from anything, given all the time those people spend rolling around naked in the woods. Not so sexy now, is it?

Nevertheless, bedbugs are a force to be reckoned with, and it's only getting worse. As if the muggings, high cost of living, and bitchy NY attitude are not bad enough, now I have bedbugs to contend with! Suddenly this article is looking truer and truer by the minute.

I am petrified. Properly getting rid of bedbugs can take weeks and weeks and thousands of dollars. Some people find it easier to just burn everything they own and move. I was in that AMC theater just one week before it was closed for bedbugs! And now I am never going back, because you just never know when they'll pop back up. Did you know bedbugs can survive up to 18 months without eating? They're like supermodels! But unlike that much more attractive brand of parasite, when a bedbug feeds off you and then skitters off in the morning, you actually do wish you'd kicked them out of bed.

Yes, bedbugs have been deemed the single most formidable pest in America, meaning they're harder to get rid of than your pseudo-stalker ex-boyfriend, and just as resilient when sprayed with pesticides. They hide under rugs, in clothing, under the couch, waiting for you to fall asleep - just like your average slasher in a bad 80's movie - and, just when you think you've finally killed them, they're bound to pop up for one final scare and a sequel. They lay their terrifying eggs all over the place and don't even have the decency to die for over a year! My research tells me travel is the easiest way to pick up bedbugs, which is the first time I've been happy to be too poor to go anywhere. Bedbugs also enjoy hitching a ride on our bodies, which is how they're getting into our favorite stores, offices, and places of leisure. I don't know about you, but I never wanted to be a bus driver. So I certainly don't want to be shuttling around bedbugs. Not unless they each pay me $89 a month for unlimited rides, at least.

It's been quite some time since I shopped at Abercrombie & Fitch, and I suppose there was a time in my life when I would have been mildly pleased to know that blood-sucking parasites had invaded the place. (Hint: high school.) But that time is long past. Outbreaks at Abercrombie, Hollister, and Victoria's Secret mean these critters could soon find their way to stores I actually like. And don't even get me started on the movie theaters! I cannot bring myself to return to the AMC in Times Square, but can I feel safe in any theater, ever again? If I ever needed another reason to avoid the multiplexes and only see arthouse cinema, now's the time.

And today, we learn that Google's Chelsea offices have been infested with bedbugs, which is ironic because to research this post I typed "bedbugs" into Google. Am I responsible for this?

I'm convinced that we haven't seen the last of bedbugs. This is just the beginning as they take over the world, like in that movie Mimic where Mira Sorvino creates cockroaches that haunt the subways looking like child molesters in big coats and hats. They're already seeing Inception, trying on panties, and checking out that shirtless A&F model at the front of the store, thinking, "Boy, doesn't he look yummy." Just like the rest of us. They're Googling, for Christ's sake! What's next? Will they be texting? "Just bit this fat bitch LOL!" Will I have to compete with them for taxis and seats on the subway? Will they demand marriage equality? I am already approached by a number of human beings who want to suck on me while I slumber, must I stave off bedbugs? Sleeping tight won't cut it anymore - do we need to see movies and shop tight, too? This makes me want to die.

Who's to blame? Well, here's a twist: how about M. Night Shyamalan? I think he saw this coming, and in the laughable trailer for his new movie - ostensibly about the devil, but that seems like a stretch - he tried to warn us. Someone in this elevator has bedbugs!! Am I right?

"Everything happens for a reason," they say. But I can think of no use on this Earth for bedbugs, except to creep me the fuck out.

Sleeping regrettably loose,


Thursday, September 2, 2010

One Less Moaning Groan

The other day, I received an invitation to my 10-year high school reunion on Facebook, which felt to me like the equivalent of a group of Eskimos approaching me with rope, preparing to lash me to an ice floe and send me out to sea. I ultimately accepted the invite, but the damage had been done. Since that day, I have been aggressively looking back to figure out just what happened.

When did I get so old? It seems like only yesterday that I was in college. Or high school. Or even junior high school. And now I'm more than 4 years out of college and 10 years out of high school. Holy Jesus. By the time I finish this post, I'll probably be fifty years old (longest blog post EVAR!) that's how fast time seems to be going these days.

Through all of this inner reflection, I have been able to recall instances of being younger, and looking at my parents (and older folk in general) as they let loose that standard moan: "what's become of music these days? Remember (name I didn't know)? And what about (name that I may have heard once, somewhere)? Whatever happened to them!? Kids just listen to crap these days." This often happened whenever I'd have command over the family radio or CD player and would pop in the latest boy band or whatever to dance in-the-closet-ly along to.

And I would roll my eyes at these adults. Thinking: what do they know? Now That's What I Call Music volume 8 is the shit! Long live Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Korn and everyone else! (I had a very, very eclectic taste in music, mind you. No one else had mix tapes (yes, tapes. STFU). That would jump from N*Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" to Type-O Negative's "Too Deep: Frozen." Then again, no one else was regularly sent to the school counselor either, but I digress.)

And then I began to get older. But, as I aged, I found my musical taste expanding along with what was on the radio, or at the clubs. I was aware of new musical upstarts auto-tuning themselves onto the scene. And I began to think: will I ever become like those old folks from my childhood? Could I possible be proof that you can ALWAYS be with it? I mean, I was in it! I knew Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears and Katy Perry and all of them! And I was able to get down to their tunes as much as I was able to boogie with Back Street Boys, 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men, Another Bad Creation and all the other pop crap I grew up devouring.

But then something must have happened. Or maybe it was happening all along. Because today I find myself in the exact same place of my former elders. I only first heard of Miley Cyrus when Party in the USA was released. I didn't know that The Jonas Brothers came out of the same Disney musical pop star factory, or that they had started with their own show.

Disney Lab Unveils Its Latest Line Of Genetically Engineered Child Stars

But you know what? It's fine. It's okay that I'm not "with" these latest pop sensations. They leave me alone, and I leave them alone. We are co-existing peacefully and will let bygones be bygones. Except for one. One single tween star has been coming on my radar over and over, despite my efforts to ignore him every single day.

And that girl is Justin Bieber.

You probably know more about Justin than I do. My one experience seeing him performing would be from New Year's Eve this past year, where he performed in a cast out in LA in the later hour of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. I don't know why he had a cast, and I didn't really care for him all that much. I also was too busy (thankfully) attending to my boyfriend's skyrocketing fever and mysterious flu-like illness that overtook him. I am actually jealous, as I imagine the hallucinations that stemmed as a result of the fire in his brain were probably more on key, and less elvish in appearance.

To be honest, I think I know more about Justin Bieber's fans (known as "Beliebers") than I know about the superstar himself. From what I think I understand, he got his start on YouTube. He is canadian. People think he looks like a lesbian. He got pegged in the head with a water bottle a few weeks ago. He is already working on a biopic and a biography (I, unlike others, will not fault him, as I have written two "biographies" already and I've been alive twice as long as he.) And that is it! Is there more to him? Maybe!

Now, what do I know about the Beliebers? Oh, plenty. For one, they can't spell. At all. For two, they are VICIOUS, PROFANE, and MURDEROUS. I'm serious. Just pop his name into a Twitter search bar. The results are gorier than a Friday the 13th movie festival. They have invaded Twitter like a swarm of locusts, and tweet and re-tweet each other every other minute, imploring the Biebster to follow them. Why? What will him following do for you, exactly? He's still not going to sleep with you. Or talk to you. He's too busy cutting singles with Usher and other misguided stars who are trying to lash their dying corpses to his poprocket.

These Beliebers are also on the warpath against the Jonas Brothers, who have their own set of frothing fangirls. Epic battles between Beliebers and Jonas Buckeroos (I made that nickname up, not sure if Jonas fans have a convenient pseudonym for their crew) occur every single day. And it is because of these Beliebers, and the penning of the term "Bieber Fever" that I am faced down with this sprite that shares my name every single god damn day.

Justin, meet me at camera two: I know we have the same name. I know you're a big shit superstar. I'm sure your music is just wonderful to girls with not-yet-fully-formed ears. I am sure that you work hard, and ride your segway hard. But please, please, PLEASE go hide out somewhere for a while. I can't stand these fanatics. And I can't stand hearing about you every day.

A few weeks ago, Pink put herself in a slingshot at a concert outside of the US and an accident occurred, flinging her off the stage and into a barricade. If I had not been staring at Twitter THAT moment, I never would have known she had almost died. Meanwhile, I think the dog that is leashed outside of my office was telling a stop sign about that water bottle that slammed into your noggin. That's just plain wrong.

I am beginning to think that there is only one cure for Bieber fever, and it is the same as used for killing vampires: stake the girls through the heart, cleave off their head and stuff it with garlic cloves. And you know what? If that works, then I am all for this alternative (and classic!) treatment.

Justin Bieber has crossed the line from talentless jerkoff to talentless jerkoff whose every single jerk off is reported by every media outlet, every day. He dominates the Twitter trending topics, replacing  VALUABLE trending topics like this blog of photos of owls that look like they are hung over. And it doesn't look like it's going to be improving any. Lord knows if the Beliebers don't get me, their pedophile mothers will. For christ sakes, Justin just sold out Madison Square Garden yesterday. And if I am to believe the review I read in the Times, Justin is just starting to grasp what sex on his penis might feel like, and so he will be flirting with girls and driving them all the wilder.

Justin Bieber makes me pine for Jonas Brothers with their chastity rings, and Miley Cyrus with her penchant for turning into a superstar country idol when she is sleeping. It makes me wish for Boyz II Men and Bel Biv Davoe and Another Bad Creation when they all came together to perform "Motown Philly". (And don't even think about reminding me that Boyz II Men actually came out and performed with Bieber last night. That hurts more than anything.)

And then I wonder: when did music get so bad? What are these crazy kids getting themselves into? And then I feel old, just like my parents probably did. And that makes me hate Justin even more.

It's either that Justin, or this Justin. But, seeing how pop stars usually age, I imagine that if I bide my time and sit silently, Justin will be doing coke and coming out of limos in skirts with no panties in no time. And then this generation will be able to feel the same shame and embarrassment that mine does when we see Joey Fatone hosting soon-to-be-canceled singing competitions.

And that will be the sweetest revenge of all.

J: The Other White Justin

Shake Me 'Til You Wake Me From This Bad Dream.


Oh, Justin. I knew I'd meet you in my blogs eventually. I just never expected it to be quite like this...

So Justin Bieber sold out Madison Square Garden. He could probably sell out the state of Texas, if there was a sound system large enough. Tweens are frightening, frightening versions of actual people, and they have terrible taste. This has been true since the dawn of time. It wouldn't surprise me if Jesus Christ was the original Justin Bieber, and the only reason we still know who he is is because BC 16 year olds were, like, so majorly crushing on him. Jesus Fever! At least back then they didn't know how to Tweet.

Twilight, The Jonas Brothers, Harry Potter...all things that become huge because every adolescent and their mother loved it. (And I do quite literally mean "and their mother." What is with Moms jumping on these bandwagons? Are they trying to stay hip? I'm pretty sure there's nothing "hip" about a middle-aged woman wearing a T-shirt depicting a shirtless werewolf-boy that could be her son, and who, if he was her son, would definitely call CPS and have her incarcerated.) Elvis, The Beatles, David Cassidy, New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, and now Justin Bieber. These artists vary in quality, but they all got their start as teenage dreamboats - and some of them had the good sense to go away soon after.

I fully expected to see Bieber Fever strike the headlines of The New York Times someday, but more in a world-ending, pandemic, Bubonic plague sort of way. I'm surprised by the very serious tone of this article. "Instead his songs crackle with the first blush of seduction and power...?" Really? You heard a crackle? I heard a gunshot, just before journalistic integrity made it's final farewell to this earth. "Those are also among Mr. Bieber’s slower songs, which leave his sometimes thin voice unprotected. He fared better on rowdier numbers like 'Bigger,' 'Baby' and 'One Time'..." Um, excuse me, just who is this article for? Eight year old girls don't read the New York Times! You want to reach that audience, you Tweet "OMG! OMG! I HEART JUSTIN BIEBER! I JUST PEED!" That's about the only "review" of this show you need. I suppose it's possible he was trying to reach the mothers, in which case all he could have Tweeted: "OMG! OMG! I HEART JUSTIN BIEBER! MENOPAUSE IS HERE!"

I was also surprised to see the author of this article was male, but no judgment.

Yes, Justin Bieber is ridiculous. He's about as awkward and goofy as I was as a teenager, except way more popular with the ladies and friends with at least one famous rapper who has probably shot somebody. I can't exactly dig his helmet of hair and chipmunk cheeks - if you ask me, it might as well be Alvin, Simon, Theodore, and Justin Bieber. "Juuuuuustiiiiin!!!" I can't take him seriously. And while it is certainly true that he does indeed look like a lesbian, that's only because so many lesbians dress like 15 year old boys. You can't blame Justin Bieber for that.

However, I have a defense mechanism for dealing with the Justin Biebers of this world. When I sense someone getting popular, I automatically withdraw any and all attention I have ever paid to them and hide inside a shell that protects me from superstardom. (It's not unlike the cloak that shields me from reality TV, which I discussed yesterday.) I have a surprising gift for tuning out what I don't want to hear, and it isn't merely a product of getting older. It's good taste! I was born with it. (Okay, that's a lie - Transformers, Care Bears...I didn't discriminate.) But by the time I was a teenager, anyway, I had pretty much sussed out whose side I was on in the epic battle between good and evil over our souls and ears.

It's true. When I was in junior high and high school, I was pretty disinterested in the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync, and had only a passing interested in Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. I watched TRL sometimes, mostly because my sister's love for one Nick Carter knew no bounds, but mainly I listened to 107.7 "The End." I know this means nothing to most readers, but for grunge and rock in the late 90's you really could do know better than this Seattle radio station.

This was about when the genre "alternative" was founded, back when it really seemed like there were only two choices: the teen pop phenoms or the likes of Korn, Smashing Pumpkins, and Marilyn Manson.

None of those artists were precisely my jam. I spent my formative years with Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, and Nirvana, plus a few more obscure bands such as Zebrahead and Dynamite Hack. And, okay, I also really liked Madonna's Ray of Light. But that was pretty dark too...for Madonna.

It wasn't until college that I even really became aware of most current pop music, so immersed was I in my beloved alternative. And even then, I'm ashamed to admit that I enjoyed pop song remixes much more than I enjoyed the original tunes. For the uninitiated, a pop remix is basically when they take the already-repetitive lyrics of the chorus and repeat them even more, for longer. Granted, the remixes I liked best were the more artistic ones that fully re-imagined the song and often made it much darker and more meaningful, often by only using a line or two from the original song. I've tried looking for similar remixes in the years since, but it seems every remix I come across these days is of that first variety - if they haven't "evacuated the dance floor" after hearing that line approximately 70 times on a ten minute loop, Mr. DJ, then they're probably never going to.

Now my relationship with pop music is fleeting. I pick and choose what I want to hear, and generally am not subjected to what I don't. This means I'll check out what Katy Perry, Kanye West, and Rhianna are up to, while I ignore anything by Taylor Swift, The Jonas Brothers, or Miley Cyrus. I have a very powerful filter circling around my head at all times; only the most radioactive of singles ("You Belong to Me," "Party in the USA") make it through to my ears uninvited. Thankfully, we live in a world that allows those of us who'd rather listen to pop from Robyn, Annie, Sia, La Roux, Marina and the Diamonds, and Little Boots to do so while the rest of the world has their Justin Bieber.

There are always alternatives. Every generation has had them. Maybe the pop icons will always be more ubiquitous. Maybe they'll even be so in our faces we want to push them in front of a train. That's fine. I bet there are some people who wanted to push Paul and Ringo in front of a train, too. It's called diversity. If we all liked the same music, we'd be no better than robots, and no one would ever be pushed in front of a train. How boring would that be? What kind of a world?

As for me, I have enjoyed Bieber's "Baby" more times than I care to tell. Something about those lyrics, "Baby baby baby oh, baby baby baby no," really speaks to a profound part of me, I don't know. Plus I think it's funny to hear Ludacris try to rap without saying "pussy." A few months ago, I also discovered an even younger teenage pop star. From Australia - jackpot! What's my prize??

And while I realize that this is my second post in a week that will flag me as a pedophile, I am taking that chance by sharing Cody Simpson with you. Mr. Simpson may not be at the heights of Bieber stardom quite yet, but he was born the year Titanic came out, so there's plenty of time for him to get there.

In a disturbing trend, I'm pretty sure the teen idols are just getting younger. It used to be that the men were quite a few years older than their girly fans. Now it's the case of the Incredible Shrinking Superstar. What will they think of next? When can we expect a boy band made up of zygotes singing about the bitch who broke their hearts? Womb heard it here first. Preteen girls and their moms can have their Justin Bieber, but for my money, I will take an even younger Australian with a human's haircut.

And if anyone hits him with a water bottle, you will know my wrath.

Now, excuse me, I'm off to go hide in my pop culture shell.