Friday, August 27, 2004

Sunday, August 22, 2004

All-time overrated songs

Being as I am a fan of retro music (I’m almost never in the moment these days), I find myself very often having to wade through the same…overplayed…songs…in order to get to one I really want to hear. You might know the feeling: you see a compilation CD you really want, because of the two or three tracks that just can’t be found anywhere else. But in order to buy those three songs, you also have to pay for the other 12 songs that you already own on six other compilations! It’s a crappy feeling, not unlike buying a new CD with one or two good songs and the rest filler. Man, illegal downloading looks better all the time!

Before we see the list, a disclaimer: the following is not (generally) what I think are the worst songs ever. This is simply a list of tunes that fall in one of three categories: 1) Their places in history have been unfairly inflated; 2) Their over-presence on play lists; or 3) That people, in general, get really excited when hearing them for reasons that are lost on me. Here are the ones that immediately come to my head:

Amazing Grace—John Newton
When I hear this mother-of-all-hymns, I think back to the death scene in “Silkwood,” because that’s where I first remember hearing it. The reason it’s on this list is not because I want to go to hell, but because to sing it, you have to admit that you’re a wretch. That’s not good for your self-esteem.

The Star-Spangled Banner—Francis Scott Key
A poem about bombs, explosions and pseudo-apocalyptic flag-flying, set to the unsingable rhythm of an old British drinking song. Doesn’t America deserve better than this?

Stairway to Heaven—Led Zeppelin and
The End—The Doors
The two songs that made it safe for self-indulgent rock stars to perform long and incoherent epics and win praise for their genius. “The End” was our eighth-grade class song, for reasons I will never understand.

Brown-Eyed Girl—Van Morrison
Probably the best song on this list, but it still drowns in hype.

I Will Survive—Gloria Gaynor
This disco ballad is apparently one of those “you had to be there” songs.

Space Cowboy—Steve Miller
Why do people go so crazy over this song? Drug use seems to be a common denominator.

Lady Marmalade--Patti Labelle
Would have been on this list even if Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil’ Kim hadn’t inflicted us with that torture of a remake. "Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?" Mais oui, si tu fermes la bouche!

Come On Eileen—Dexys Midnight Runners
Some songs do well because they’re easy and fun to sing along with while drunk. That’s no excuse for the stratospheric popularity of this goofy song.

The Safety Dance—Men Without Hats
What can be said about a song whose video was medieval yet still contained a clearly visible telephone pole? And who can deny that there actually was no Safety Dance to speak of? “Pop Goes the World” was so much better.

Walking on Sunshine—Katrina and the Waves
Another good song that nevertheless makes this list due to its presence on every single 80s compilation ever made.

Prince is talented. This song has a cool message (you don’t have to be rich to be my girl, etc.) It’s still horrible. Give me “Money Don’t Matter” over this any day.

Red Red Wine—UB40
UB40's 26th-best song.

Smells Like Teen Spirit—Nirvana
This 1991 song is credited with setting off an era. Except that they’ve been saying that SINCE 1991.

You Oughta Know—Alanis Morissette
This 1995 song is widely credited with beginning the rebirth of an old rock staple: the angry girl who sings even worse than Michael Bolton. Alanis followed this up with “Hand in My Pocket,” which may be the single worst song ever committed to record.

My Heart Will Go On—Celine Dion
Leo made it difficult for a lot of guys to get laid in 1997-98.

Drops of Jupiter—Train
Just plain overplayed.

What would you consider “worthy” for this list? Unworthy? Drop me a line.

Friday, August 13, 2004

An anachronism in Athens

The following is an absolutely unretouched graphic from the MSNBC/Newsweek site as of this posting. Can you spot what, in journalistic parlance, is known as "an atrociously dumbass typo?" Hint: it might take you a year to figure it out:

Also in this issue: Kerry's first 100 days! Posted by Hello

I knew that venue construction in Athens was going slowly...but damn...

UPDATE AT 5:08 P.M.! The graphic has been corrected! Over there, anyway... tee hee hee...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Don’t let things happen to you!

You are the first to see this brand-spanking-new column that I'm submitting for the first issue of The Vermilion for Fall 2004. It's more localized than I generally veer; still, I'm interested in what my friends in the blogosphere think of it...

Hello friends! In light of the times we live in, we all have to stay safe. Because let’s face it: something will happen to you this semester. It might be great and it might be terrible. It might happen in the Quad or in Griffin Hall. Or somewhere else. At any time of day or night. You could be in a bar, or perhaps in your car. It might happen at the Keg. Or on your leg. It might happen in a box. It might happen with a fox. It might happen in a chair. It might happen when no one’s there. So damn, Sam! Don’t eat the green eggs and ham!

How can I be so certain that something will happen to you? Because things like these have happened before. What should you do in anticipation of something happening? Well, don’t let it affect your activities in any way. Go on with your life! Just make sure to be fully alert at all times. And watch what you say.

Keeping in line with our government’s guidelines for fighting terrorism, I have prepared a primer for you on how to prevent things from happening:

1) Don’t say or do anything even remotely controversial. Because of the diversity of this great nation, you are bound to affect someone; so it’s probably best that you stay in bed and never leave your room. But even that might annoy your roommate and anyone relying on you to perform some kind of job or go to class.

2) Don’t give out any identifying information. This includes, but is not limited to, any handwritten documents such as schoolwork and personal checks, no matter how much instructors or clerks demand it of you. Even typed work, cash and debit cards will have traces of your DNA on them. Avoid doing any assignment of any kind or buying stuff, and by all means DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!

3) Avoid any and all personal contact. While college offers an incredible opportunity to meet people, it also provides for trouble. How do you know that the person to whom you’re talking isn’t a recruiter for a clandestine cult? If they’re upfront about it, avoid them. If they’re friendly, seem harmless and appear to belong to no organization of any kind, well, that’s even worse! This suspicion should extend beyond peers to include professors, UL staff, SGA, frat boys and the university police. Things happen around people.

4) Do not venture into uncertain territory. With such a multitude of prominent landmarks, Lafayette is rife with potential happenings. You’re better off in your designated living area, unless that happens to be in one of those prominent landmarks. Nightclubs are massive points for human convergence, as are local churches, Cajun Field, Dupre Library, the Student Union, the Cajundome, pedestrian crosswalks, Acadiana Mall and Borden’s. Avoid all of these areas at all costs. And don’t even consider the UL shuttle buses.

5) DO NOT HAVE FUN! Fun leads to the kind of things that can distract one from watching for something happening. These distractions include: drinking, partying, making friends, meeting a new lover, “going out” on “the weekends,” games, sports, movies, music, hobbies, the Internet, working out and reading. Such frivolous pursuits only allow for something to happen to you that might change the course of your life.

If you follow all of these tips, I guarantee you that you will have a safe experience during your college career. You will also minimize your risk of ever being the unwitting subject of something happening. Unless you picked up this paper, in which case you’ve already screwed up. Oops!

Let the Eagle soar

Nick Bouterie, The Conservative Cajun, and I have a semi-debate going over columns that each of us wrote. A quick bit of background: I have written the liberal column for the University of Louisiana Vermilion since June 2002. At one time (April-November 2003), Nick was the conservative columnist. The two columns run next to each other on the same page, tombstone style, with a political cartoon at the bottom illustrating one of our topics (usually mine, since the cartoonist aligns himself with me). This format would be perfect for a point-counterpoint; unfortunately, this proved to be really difficult when I tried it with Nick's predecessor.

In the October 15, 2003 issue, however, Nick and I coincidentally wrote on the hot-button issue of the time: Rush Limbaugh's racist remark and subsequent termination from ESPN. Both Nick and I are big football fans, so a lot of heart went into these columns.

Why am I bringing this up? Because of the debate mentioned above. Nick has posted his column on his page (scroll down to Aug. 7) and we're trading opinions on whose was better. Not that it matters to me, but he doesn't think I link to him enough ("-- Hey, Icon [my nickname], as much as I link you in my posts, how about returning the favor?? Jack-a**!!), so I'll humor him and publish my own column from that date. Again, you can read his take here.

McNabb's Rush Attack
By Ian McGibboney
Oct. 15, 2003

Many intellectuals are fond of trashing sports, arguing that they distract people from the real world. I don't understand this at all because sports and politics are so similar. Both are protecting your allies and fighting for justice.

I am fierce about loyalty when it comes to my teams. I liked Jake Delhomme as a Cajun and a Saint, but not as a Panther. I despise the Carolina Panthers--unless they're playing the tlanta Falcons, in which case Jake is my favorite player ever.

This also works in politics; right now, I am firmly behind Wesley Clark for the Democratic nomination; but, if Howard Dean or John Kerry were eventually nominated, I'd vote for them in a second against Bush.
[What foresight!]

Such is the case with Donovan McNabb. Although he has the coolest name in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has always seemed to me like just another opponent. That was before Rush went after him, calling McNabb the creation of a media desperate for a black quarterback to succeed. Rush should know; he uses the same tactic every time he overrates George W. Bush out of desperation for a Republican president to succeed.

For the record, this is exactly what Rush said on his segment of ESPNs pregame show [NFL Sunday Countdown]: "I think what we have had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous [sic] that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he did not deserve."

The world of sports criticism isn't exactly the world's most civilized front. Any sports-radio show will net at least a few yahoos whose comments make Limbaugh's look downright polite. Still, national sports commentary is a very touchy field. It devoured its best ever, Howard Cosell, for calling a black wide receiver a "monkey" in 1983. Cosell, definitely not a racist, was known to use the word "monkey" as an affectionate term for his grandson. Regardless, he was shunned from the airwaves forever [mainly by self-exile]. This was also the case with Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, whose comment that blacks had better athletic genes from their days in the jungle got him fired from CBS in 1988. [Actually, it was a comment about selective slave-breeding. But close.]

Rush should have known better than to broach the race topic. But ESPN knew exactly what to expect from its controversial new analyst. In fact, critics of ESPN's decision to hire him cited this as their number-one concern. Over the years, the broadcaster of disaster has talked endlessly about race on his radio show. And we're not talking about the playoff race. To wit:

"Have you ever noticed how all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

"Blacks are 12 percent of America. Who the hell cares what they think?"

McNabb is well-aware of Limbaugh's resonance with far too many people. "I'm sure he's not the only one who feels that way," he said. "But, it's shocking to actually hear that on national TV. An apology would do no good because he obviously thought about it before he said it."

Dead on, Donovan.

Rush has refused to apologize, saying that his comment has caused furor only because everyone knows he is right. By logical extension, Limbaugh must want us to think he resigned from ESPN on principle. But it's more likely that he resigned to cover his butt and spend more quality time with his OxyContin.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Aaron Brooks is basking in all of the adulation he is getting from the media for being a black quarterback.

Check out Nick's take on the Aug. 7 issue of his site.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Happy August 9!

August 9 seems to be a common denominator for shit hitting the fan!

On this day in:

1945--Because heavy cloudiness covered the military target of Kokura (and could have caused the bomb to stray off-course, thus killing the wrong set of innocent civilians), U.S. forces drop the 22-kiloton "Fat Boy" atomic bomb on Nagasaki instead. Just like that.

Incidentally, my grandfather was a Navy Seabee at this time, and he stumped on Nagasaki just after its destruction. He told of Japanese civilians wailing, burnt and dropping dead of radiation. He also marveled at the virtual eradication of most of the buildings in the area, while the roads and highways remained untouched. Shades of the Road Warrior. Still, he said was grateful for the bomb because "it shocked us back to reality." Whether it would have been the bomb or an invasion, he said, massive loss of life was inevitable. War is hell.

1960--Timothy Leary, the professor-turned psychedelic icon who coined the phrase "tune in, turn on, drop out," takes his first trip next to a swimming pool by eating five (!!) psilocybin mushrooms. At some point, it apparently occurred to Leary to note the date of this occurrence. Whoa, dude.

1969--Monkees-reject Charles Manson, pissed that Terry Melcher (the Simon Cowell of his day) would not let him on "American Idol," orders his cult to kill the inhabitants of one of Melcher's homes. Among the victims was the eight-months-pregnant actress Sharon Tate along with her friends (coffee heiress Abigail Folger, heiress gigolo Voytek Frykowski, hairstylist Jay Sebring and Steve Parent, some kid who just happened to be in the driveway).

Manson's rationale: he wanted to start a race war by hoping that white people would think that black people killed the white people. Nice try. It didn't help his cause that he chose the home of someone who had pissed him off personally, and that the killers had left words written all over the place that just screamed whitey, and that the Manson Family were constantly getting arrested and treated for the clap. Manson called his little planless plan "Helter Skelter," after the hit Beatles song that told him to do it. With lyrics such as, "Tell me, tell me the answer / May be a lover but you ain't no dancer," "Helter Skelter" is a very dangerous song indeed.

1974--President Richard Nixon, not a crook, resigns for being a crook. Okay, so shit hitting the fan isn't always bad.

1995--Head Deadhead Jerry Garcia dead from lack of heroin, causing fans everywhere to use even more drugs than usual to Get By.