Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe...

Okay, this is too hilarious/wrong/bizarre/sad/awesome not to post:

A man in the U.K. is wanted by authorities for repeated counts of aggravated butt-sniffing. The “butt bandit” (that’s my new name for him) stalks his victims in grocery store aisles and while they are comparing labels, he silently brings nose to ass for a sniff. Noooo! Watch him in action as he is caught committing multiple acts of butt-sniffery on this supermarket surveillance tape. The “butt bandit” is considered armed (with a nose) and dangerous to all unsuspecting butts no matter size, shape, gender, or smelliness.

News items like this make me feel better about myself. No matter how shitty things get, I can always look at people like this and think, "Yeah, my life might be sucky, but at least I'm not that guy." Imagine having an uncontrollable urge to (repeatedly) sniff the ass of a random stranger in public. And then getting caught on video. And then having that video end up on the internet, so that every asshole (heh) with a computer can watch endless clips of you nose-deep in some grocery store clerk's butt.

Now, don't you feel better?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Novelty, Schmovelty

I have been OD'ing on seventies schmalz lately thanks to John, who has loaded up a bunch of old Top of the Pops episodes on my hard drive. Top of the Pops was the UK equivalent of American Bandstand, with the top acts of each week lip syncing their songs for a rhythmically-challenged audience of teenagers. The interesting thing about these TOTP eps is the high number of bizarre novelty songs frequently appearing on the British charts. Below are clips of some of the weirdest.

Joy Sarney
Naughty Naughty Naughty

Joy Sarney appeared on Top of the Pops in 1977 singing this song, which was (shockingly) her only hit. It's a love song about Punch from the Punch and Judy puppet show. At one point you can plainly see the puppeteer's arm poking out through the cheap set. This song made it to #26 on the UK chart. I have to ask, was everyone high in the seventies?

S-S-S-Single Bed

This is s-s-s-serious crap. Watch this one at your own risk; the sheer ugliness of the singer's outfit (hot pants, tank top, white cape) made my eyes burn and her migraine-inducing voice sounds like Britney Spears on helium. And the guy in the Kansas City jersey? Is so high it's not even funny.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Egyptian Reggae

Jonathan Richman is a respected musician and (supposedly) a trail-blazer in the seventies punk movement. He is probably now best known for his role as the guitar-strumming Greek chorus in There's Something About Mary. It's a bit hard to swallow his alleged punk status--especially considering this song--an instrumental number that sounds neither Egyptian nor vaguely reggae-ish (and certainly not punk). That said, I do have a peculiar fondness for this video. I can watch it over and over and never get sick of it. I think it's the dancing camel. I am obsessed with the dancing camel.


Take a close look at the bloke on the mike, if you can make out his features behind all the groovy seventies hair. Look familiar? That's Paul Young, of Everytime You Go Away, Oh Girl, Come Back and Stay, Do They Know It's Christmas, and a bunch of other shite that only I remember because back in the day I owned No Parlez, The Secret of Association, and his Greatest Hits. Recorded with his first group, Streetband, Toast is a far cry from all the earnest blue-eyed soul stuff Young would become famous for in the later years. Looking at this video--I have to ask yet again--was everyone high in the seventies?

The Wombles

The Wombles was a kids' show in the UK, and (if their Wikipedia page is to be believed), the most successful band of 1974, with albums in the UK charts for more weeks than any other act. The freaky thing about this, uh, "band," is that they weren't one hit wonders, like most novelty acts. They appeared on Top of the Pops numerous times, continued to sell records throughout the seventies, and even had a hit as late as 1998 with the dance mix Remember You're A Womble, which peaked at #13 on the UK charts.

I'll leave you with that little bizarre bit of trivia, and the Wombles themselves with their hit Wombling Merry Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A review of stuff I hate vs. stuff I love...

The Suck It List

Stella’s Fish Café
I can’t get past the name. I don’t know who Stella is, but I know that the words “Fish” and “Café” don’t belong together. It brings to mind fish-flavored coffee, which, ew. Plus, it’s not even a café, just another restaurant/bar, like a pretentious Old Chicago. With fish.

Chino Latino
I refuse to be swayed by the cheeky billboard ads and the glittery sign. Too loud, too yuppified, and the food is crap.

Paisano’s Pizzaria (St. Paul)
This place is utter crap. Mediocre food, messy dining room, excruciatingly horrible service. You’re better off staying home, heating up a frozen grocery store pizza and eating in front of the teevee.

Two words: food poisoning. Five more: dine at your own risk.

The Salon For You
I used to live above this place when I lived in St. Paul. I decided to check it out, and left with a fabulous haircut that I was extremely happy with, along with some funky reddish/pink highlights. Two months later I went back looking for the same stylist. She no longer worked there, they told me, but the owner of the salon was available to do my hair. I felt like I was in good hands—after all, if she’s the owner, she has to know what she’s doing, right? Wrong. She refused to do highlights because some weeks before I had experimented with a temporary color rinse and she said she wouldn’t color over that “as a matter of principle.” (?) Then, she proceeded to give me the worst haircut I’ve ever had in my life, and that’s saying something (I came up in the eighties, remember?) She just took the scissors, gave me a blunt cut straight across the ends, and she was done. It looked so horrible that I had to scrape together some more money and go find somewhere to get it fixed. Happily, I ended up with Mackenzie at Hair Police (see below). Her take on my botched ‘do? “Holy crap, this looks like it was done by someone who’s never cut hair before!” Thank God for Hair Police.

American Apparel
I understand that they’re famous for making their clothes in the USA by non-sweatshop labor, so good for them. But do their all-American, non-sweatshop workers have to make such fugly clothing? I mean, I don’t want my clothes made in Laos by a barefoot 9-year-old, but I do want clothes that are attractive and wearable. (Seriously, who buys this crap?)

Skintight shiny spandex? Really?

There was a time when nearly every scrap of my wardrobe came from Ragstock. Their clothing and accessories were quirky, functional, and reasonably-priced. Unfortunately, they have since gone straight down the crapper. I think they changed clothing suppliers or something, because they’re stuff has taken a sharp nosedive quality-wise; cheap-looking clothes that are more expensive than the lines they used to carry. And most of the clothing doesn’t even come in larger sizes—if you’re above a size 8, you’re shit out of luck. Also? Rude, unhelpful staff. (Oh Ragstock, why hast thou forsaken me?)

Luvs It

Live bluegrass every Saturday night, plus damn good pizza. You can’t go wrong. Bring a date here and they’ll think you’re offbeat and original for discovering it. You’re welcome.

Nina’s Coffee Café (St. Paul)
My original St. Paul hangout, located directly across the street from my first Twin Cities apartment. Great coffee, great atmosphere, and a fabulous place to hunker down and get some writing done. I’ve seen Garrison Keillor there twice! (He owns the bookstore down below Nina’s—Common Good Books.)

Buffalo Exchange
Since Ragstock has fallen out of favor, Buffalo Exchange has picked up the slack. I love this store. Fantastic clothes, shoes, and accessories, all reasonably priced. It’s all thrift/resale, but the staff are fairly picky about what they buy and they always have a good selection of clothes that tend towards the “gently-used” rather than simply “used.”

Eye of Horus
Yeah, I’m a bit of a hippie—you got a problem with that? Didn’t think so. Even for a non-hippie, this is a cool store. It has a wide selection of candles, essential oils, and incense—stuff anyone could use, right?—along with tarot cards, crystals, runes, and mojo bags, for those of us with more esoteric needs. All this, plus a friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Nicollett Village Video
Who needs a Netflix subscription? I’d rather support independently-owned video stores like this one. Village Video has nearly every movie category imaginable, including a wide range of foreign and cult films you can’t find anywhere else. They also have a huge “Brit Vid” section, featuring shows like Spaced, The Tomorrow People (remember that one, fellow Gen-Xers?) and Not the Nine-o’Clock News. It rocks. Hard.

Hair Police
As long as I live in the Twin Cities, I will never go anywhere else to have my hair done.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I'm a bit pressed for time (and internet access) tonight, so I can't do the proper post I was planning on. Instead, here are some of my favorite clips from some of my favorite obscure Brit-coms; sort of a "Greatest Hits" list.

The first batch is from the show Pulling. It's a brilliant show that--as much as I love it--hits a bit too close to home for me sometimes.

Donna (the main character) tries to impress an old school friend with her fabulous new digs and her sophisticated flatmates...

Karen (the slutty one--and my favorite) gets confused...

Karen is also a nursery school teacher....

From Big Train, a fantastically bizarre BBC comedy from the late nineties that featured a young Simon Pegg....

And more...

By the way, remember when Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol? Damn, the nineties were weird.

This rocks so hard....

And last but not least, the amazing Steve Coogan in "Alan Partridge and the sex people" (great band name, by the way):

Stay tuned, will do a proper post soon.