Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I know that the 2013 Academy Awards are old news by now, but I'd still like to add my .02 and say that SETH MCFARLANE SUCKED BALLS as an Oscar host. Yes. He did. Big time. 

I remember reading several months ago that McFarlane was going to host the Academy Awards, and I thought it was an odd choice. I know he's emceed a few of the Comedy Central celebrity roasts, and I know his shows (Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show) are insanely popular, but still....Seth McFarlane? Hosting the Oscars? Um....why?

He seems just as bewildered by the choice as I was.

Then I thought, "Well, okay, I guess he could be one of those wild cards that will either be totally brilliant or completely miserable."  At the very least, I hoped he would be entertaining. But a few minutes into MacFarlane's opening monologue--around the time William Shatner showed up--I had a sinking feeling that the whole thing was headed straight down the crapper.     

William Shatner telling Seth McFarlane how much he sucks. How meta.

It wasn't to do with William Shatner. I think William Shatner is quite funny, and he's generally pretty good at poking fun at himself. It was the fact that the show's writers were already trotting out that tired "let's interrupt the opening monologue for some lame banter" thing that Saturday Night Live has been doing since the nineties, and it makes me nuts. (Here is one of many examples, if you're curious.) Seriously, I can't stand that shit. It is such a cop out: the writers are basically saying "We couldn't come up with enough decent material for an opening monologue, so we're going to distract you with a bunch of contrived bullshit in the hopes that you won't notice." Dicks. 

And speaking of body parts, there was the infamous "We Saw Your Boobs" song which was--like MacFarland's other "jokes," that night--sexist, uncomfortable, and way too long. 

In the words of the great Parker Posey: "Lick me! All of you!"

It also brings up another pet peeve of mine: there's something about grownups (especially men) saying the word "boobs" that totally skeeves me out. It's like an adult saying "pee wee" instead of "penis." Obviously I don't think we should be all technical and use medical terms when talking about naughty bits; it's just that the word "boobs" in and of itself is so juvenile. Seriously, no more boobs. If you have to be crass, say "tits."  But unless you're in seventh grade, please--for the love of all things holy--STOP using the word "boobs."

Thank you.

After that nonsense with the tit song and a spate of misogynistic jokes from the host, the rest of the telecast just seemed...off. It's like Seth MacFarlane and the weird, uncomfortable energy he brought threw everyone else out of whack. 

To be fair, it wasn't just MacFarlane that sucked. There were some truly cringe-inducing moments with the presenters. While I like Paul Rudd--I don't think he's that funny himself, but his movies usually are, and I like Melissa McCarthy--she killed it in Bridesmaids, anyway--their little skit introducing the Best Animated Short nominees was painful to watch.  
Can we not have any more of these lame sketches? Is that too much to ask?

Then, of course, there was the Ted bit with Marky Mark (okay fine, Mark Wahlberg) that was so stilted and embarrassing it made my teeth itch. 

Yes, it is too much to ask. Here's Dirk Diggler with a CGI teddy bear.
It was all so bizarre that when Jennifer Lawrence did a face plant on her way to the stage after winning Best Actress, it was kind of startling but somehow not surprising, just another weird moment in a very weird night. 

Fuck the haters, I'm glad she won.

But even after all the awards were given out, they weren't finished torturing us. No. That's when they had to trot out MacFarlane and Kristen Chenowith to sing a stupid song dedicated to the "losers." It's the kind of thing that Billy Crystal might have been able to pull off, but in the hands of Seth MacFarlane it was just the moldy, dried-up cherry topping off the shit sundae that was the 2013 Academy Awards. 

I think Jennifer Lawrence speaks for all of us....

Sit and spin, MacFarlane. Sit and spin.

For a more in-depth piece on Seth MacFarlane's ugly, sexist display at this year's Oscars, follow the link below to Lindy West's essay. She says it all better than I could.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Makes you wanna blow the stars from the sky...

I couldn't decide which of these songs to use for the latest installment of my Rescued From Obscurity series, so I've posted them both. I think I had trouble choosing between them because I've always gotten them mixed up in my mind, although I can't quite put my finger on why they remind me of one another.

The first, "Head On" by the Jesus and Mary Chain--released November 1989--is one that I've always thought should get more love than it does. Apparently The Pixies thought so too, since they covered the song just two years later. The Pixies version is okay but I much prefer the JAMC original, it's less scream-y and more melodic.

It's a great video (very 1989) and I am convinced that the same director must also be responsible for Love and Rockets' So Alive, released earlier the same year. I couldn't find directorial credits for either video, but the two clips are so similar that I'd be surprised if they weren't done by the same person.

We are, we are, we are but your children....

Love, love, love this song! I think it's interesting to note that it actually has two release dates: June 1983 as "Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)" in the UK and March 1984 as "Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)" in the US. Apparently Arista Records wanted to make changes to the song before it was released on this side of the pond. They seemed to think that Americans wouldn't be clever enough to track down the single if they didn't make "Whisper to a Scream" the non-parenthetical part of the title. Whatever.

The song was covered years later for the Scream soundtrack by the band SoHo. Their rendition is actually pretty good, but--again--I prefer the original.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

So you're telling me I need to stick a vacuum cleaner in my ear? 

I have a weird thing about my ears. I was traumatized at an early age by an especially gory lesson in second grade, along with a well-meaning student teacher who probably didn't realize how literally kids can take things. 

I don't remember the student teacher's name, but I can still picture her: a slightly plump woman of about twenty with fair skin and shoulder-length strawberry blond hair. She took over our Health and Safety class to teach the unit on ears, which basically boiled down to: "Don't stick anything smaller than your elbow into your ear." When she opened up the floor for discussion, she asked us if we knew what could happen to us if we didn't heed this advice. 

One boy raised his hand and said, "If you stick something up there you could pop your eardrum and bleed to death." 

"Yes," said Miss What's-Her-Name, nodding solemnly. "That's why you never stick anything into your ear."

Now, I've always been a bit squeamish, but I was a lot worse as a youngster. I remember not being able to hear the word "spinal cord" without getting all woozy. I went through a phase where I couldn't stand anyone squeezing my hand because I thought my veins would pop right through my skin. So after a week of looking at diagrams of the inner ear and learning about tympanums and ear infections and gross yellow ear wax and one kid sharing a story about his two-year-old brother getting a pea lodged in his ear (WTF?), it's safe to say I was thoroughly squicked out by all things ear-related.

Seriously, what's with that thing that looks like a snail?
Ears are gross.
I became extremely neurotic about my ears. In the bath at night, I would lightly dab at the area all around my ears, not wanting to get any soap or water in there, because now I knew that one wrong move and my eardrums would pop  like over-inflated balloons, and then I'd have to go to the hospital with blood dripping down the sides of my face and then I'd go deaf and then I'd have to wear hearing aids--scary-looking hunks of plastic that my parents would probably insist on me wearing all the time. 

Nope, I didn't need that. 

My mom soon noticed my strange aversion to cleaning out my ears, and she wasn't having it. No child of hers was going to go around with crusty ears, even if I screamed bloody murder every time she grabbed me out of the bath to give my ears a thorough scrubbing with witch hazel and cotton balls. That was nothing compared to the meltdown I had a few months later when she took me to the pediatrician for my yearly check-up and he broke out that horrible contraption (otoscope?), jammed it in my ear and pumped air into it like some sort of barbaric medieval prison torture. I really thought that bastard was trying to kill me. 

Happily, I grew out of my ear phobia eventually. When it comes to ear care and maintenance nowadays, I've actually gone in the opposite direction. In fact, it isn't uncommon for me to painstakingly swab out my ears with Q-Tips several times a day, even though the general consensus now is that doing so just pushes wax further into the ear, meaning that I'll probably be deaf by the time I'm like 45. I know this, but it's hard to stop. It's satisfying, like I'm scratching an itch that isn't really itchy, yet still feels good to scratch.

Even though it skeeves me out a bit, I do find the concept of the Wax Vac morbidly fascinating. I wonder if it would suck out all the wax that I've been pushing into my ear. I also wonder if--once my ears are vacuumed free of all that icky debris--I'll suddenly acquire superhuman hearing. John isn't impressed with this theory. He thinks the Wax Vac is a bad idea, saying it would be too easy to perforate the eardrums with an apparatus like that (i.e. explode them like a balloon--ouchy ouchy ouch!). At the very least, it could be like 99% of those As-Seen-On-TV products: a completely and utter rip-off.

Unsurprisingly, there is a shitload of other bizarre ear-cleaning gizmos out there. The weirdest (and most dangerous-looking) I've found online are ear scoops, which are apparently a big thing in Asian countries. There are even child-size ear scoops with LED lights, the better for anal retentive mothers to scrape out every last ear cootie molecule. 

I even found a cute little teddy bear ear scoop that comes complete with its own holder. 

On closer inspection, it looks to be some sort of cuddly angel-bear-mouse hybrid.
Come to think of it, maybe I will stick to my several-times-daily Q-Tip regimen. What's the worst that could happen? 

John Cusack's finest hour. Seriously, I love this movie.


Friday, February 08, 2013

I try not to borrow too many clips from Everything Is Terrible, even though I'm constantly fighting the urge to post about 90% of their videos on my blog and pretend like I found/made the clips myself (which, for the record, I haven't done yet. As far as you know). But this one was just too good. I knew I had to share, and I didn't care about being derivative.

Because all art is derivative.

These shots are very nineties-heavy. Dead giveaways include:

  • Plaid. Lots of it. 
  • Jeans pulled up to the armpits.
  • Floppy haircuts on the men and boys.
  • It was the only decade in which Ricki Lake, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, and Cuba Gooding Jr. were allowed to make movies. Well, movies that weren't direct-to-DVD. 
  • Oops, forgot that Ricki Lake was in Hairspray in 1988 (the ONLY worthwhile movie she's done.) Seriously, she should have stuck to John Waters films. I actually paid to see that abominable "Mrs. Winterbourne" with some girlfriends when it was in theaters. I'm still pissed about that one. 
  • I'm also still pissed about spending 9 bucks to see Eyes Wide Shit Shut in 1999. I also hated the stupid film critics who bent over backwards to praise that nut-filled turd of a movie. The worst offender was a reviewer in NUVO who wrote, "If you're the kind of person who loved Runaway Bride, you'll hate Eyes Wide Shut." Oh yeah, what if I hated both films, asshole? Do you not realize that there are more than two types of movies? 
  • Sorry, I didn't mean for this to be a rant on wasted money and dumb film critics.  
  • Back to the above clips, I totally didn't get that last one, the mom and kids shouting "CHIHUAHUAS!" I'm a cat person though. Maybe I'm not meant to get it.
  • Say what you will, the best part was Rob Lowe emoting at 1:34. He emotes hard. Go Rob go!
"There wasn't even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they
needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you're making up all of this.
We're all going through it. Hey, it's our time on the edge." 
Back with a new post soon. I promise to make it 100% all natural, original material.