Sunday, May 31, 2009

Staring at The Swim Team Gets You Killed By A Gang Of Dancing Ninja Men Who Know How To Twirl

Some literal videos are funnier than others. It helps when the source material is so completely bizarre and the production values for the parody are so high. Oh, Bonnie Tyler, that someone could do this with your video almost makes me forgive you for the whole David Copperfield Grand Canyon thing (wherein I believe you wore the same dress that you wear in this video. Babe, you should have made the record company spring for a few more looks. Not that it didn't work for you; no one could rock a white nightgown in 1984 like you, Bonnie Tyler. I'm just saying you come dangerously close to looking like the crazy lady who is always roaming her yard in a bathrobe and slippers).

Of course, now I have the original version of this song stuck in my head. That is painful.

The more I consider these lyrics, the more I feel they have an "Our love was good, but now it's gone sour, but we can be happy forever in the afterlife" vibe about them. Not unlike Sinead O'Connor's Troy (a song I hold near and dear to my heart). I know, everyone says this is a love song and it is so romantic, but as I have noted before, people have a tendency to confuse professions of stalker tendencies with love when it is done in musical form. Turn around if you must, but as far as I am concerned, "forever's gonna start tonight" may top the list of things I don't ever want to hear someone singing to me, especially if, by their own admission, they are not in control of their actions because they are experiencing a total eclipse of the heart.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Serpent Headed Gorgons From The Past

Alright, I know I talk about 80s music to a degree which would make you think I don't listen to music that is less than 20 years old. Which is untrue (anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing me go on about the Franz Ferdinand concert will attest to this). I know. And I could just blame the fact that I went grocery shopping today, because Stanley's seems to only play 80s music, but then I would have to write about 99 Luft Ballons and/or OMD as that was what was playing when I bought pineapple and carrots today. Also, Stanley's was the first store I hit today, so the experience of the brand new Whole Foods should have wiped my mind clean of anything I experienced previously (there's a wine bar in the middle of the new Whole Foods. And a macrobiotic section. And quail eggs for sale). So anyway, I was watching videos on YouTube and stumbled across this one and was reminded of how I saw Blancmange in concert freshman year with Cece and how Cece convinced her mom to let her go to a concert, unchaperoned, in the city by telling her that Blancmange was a French band, so really it was practically necessary for her to see them in concert, for the sake of her foreign language skills and broadening her horizons. By my Freshman year of high school, my mom allowed me to see shows at Metro, unchaperoned, which makes absolutely no sense as she wouldn't let me go to Medusa's at that time.

Alright, I clearly have drunk too much wine tonight because I have no idea where I wanted to go with this post. Mentioning Medusa's has completely derailed me because now I just want to tell all the odd Medusa's stories that I remember, except none of them are really about Medusa's.

For example, there was one Saturday afternoon, probably sophomore year, when Tara called me up in a panic because Cece wanted to go to Medusa's that night and Tara had led Cece to believe she went regularly and she was worried she wouldn't look the part (is it strange that Cece should appear twice in this post when she has never before made an appearance on this blog? If this blog were a television show, she would be listed as a guest star in the opening credits, but she still may only appear in this one episode). So I went over to her house (luckily we were in walking distance of one another. I probably would have learned to drive earlier if I hadn't grown up in Lincoln Park) with appropriate raiment (is it strange that even then I had enough black to clothe a small army?) and after teasing her hair and applying lots of black eyeliner, Tara was gothed out (though we didn't use the term goth back then. Back then, I would have said she was punked out, but who were we kidding? Tara was so not punk rock). She called me the following morning to say that boys she went to grammar school with didn't even recognize her.

I remember someone telling me how she kissed her best friend's boyfriend at Medusa's and her friend found out because she had been wearing lipstick which glowed under blacklight. I remember thinking that proper planning is necessary if one is to engage in adulterous behavior (although, of course, I did not think the word "adulterous" because I didn't use words like that when I was younger, and it probably would have been inaccurate if I had).

More than one person has told me a story about having sex at Medusa's. Obviously, I'm a prude because my internal reaction is always, "Where was there enough privacy to have sex? Was it in a bathroom stall? That sounds really uncomfortable and, yuck!" Of course, I never have said this out loud.

But those are stories about other people, what about me? Considering how desperately I wanted to go and how long (in teenage terms) it took my mom to agree to let me go, I have surprisingly few memories of the place. I remember what I wore (black leggings, black eyeliner, black shoes, an over-sized shirt). I remember who I went with on various occasions. I remember dancing. That is all. No drama (by which I mean zero drama. I am not trying to suggest that traditional Japanese theatre was taking place in the nightclub, but how cool would it have been if it had?).

There is probably an important lesson in there about things not living up to one's expectations, about how in getting what you want you realize that what you wanted wasn't what you thought it was. Except that isn't true. There have been many things I wanted which I have gotten which have met, if not exceeded, my expectations (finishing my thesis, being front row center for a number of concerts and getting kissed on the cheek by Roddy Frame are just a few things which come to mind). So maybe, as I am a mother now, I should assume the lesson I am supposed to be taking away from this is related to motherhood, something about trusting one's self and the job one has done raising one's children and giving them space because they will make the right choices. I mean, my mom was so worried about me going to Medusa's and then, when I did go, it was totally harmless as far as I was concerned. Stuff was going on all around me, but I was oblivious to it all because I was more interested in dancing.

Of course, it is always possible that my experiences at Medusa's were filled with tears and I have repressed those memories. If that is the case, I would recommend we leave things as they are (and here we find the limits of YouTube and the interwebs because I cannot find a video or even lyrics to Blancmange's song Why Don't They Leave Things Alone? which sucks because that is what would have tied this whole post together. I was already patting myself on the back, but I have been foiled. You will just have to trust me that this whole thing would have made a lot more sense if only some extant footage of Blancmange playing this song somewhere had been uploaded).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

For Those Of You Who Miss The Knitting Blog

Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren is available for purchase. The patterns in this book are fabulous. The degree of difficulty ranges from perfect for the new knitter easy to kick your ass unless you are super experienced hard. If you knit, know a knitter, or have dreams of someday knitting, you should buy this book.

Full disclosure: I was a test knitter for this book. I knit the sweater at right along with a sailor sweater and stuffed lion.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dressed In Black, Again

Someone asked me after reading the Spandau Ballet post if I subscribed to some special 80s musical artists news feed because, according to this person, I am remarkably well informed on the activities of bands about whom many people my age haven't thought in over twenty years. No, sadly, these stories just seem to find me and, for better or worse, I have this ridiculous memory which could never remember how to determine the length of the hypotenuse but can probably still sing along to every song on Black Celebration and Some Great Reward*. Clearly, I am being stalked by the 80s, kindof like a much less extreme version of the fate afflicting Alex on Ashes to Ashes (well, except that I am not forced to wear Flashdance shirts and can leave whenever I want). How else to explain the following headline on Yahoo when I went to check my email?

Reports: Depeche Mode frontman rushed to hospital in Athens

Really, Yahoo, this is what you believe should be in the top headlines? Was it really such a slow news day? Isn't there a war or two you could be reporting on?

So I have to assume that, for reasons which we can only guess, the universe wanted me to know that Dave Gahan was hospitalized today.

Maybe the universe wants me (and by extension you) to be thinking about Depeche Mode. Alright, we can do that for a bit.

I'm afraid I don't have anything terribly profound to say about them.

I never saw them in concert. A friend of mine went to one of shows on the Black Celebration tour and complained to me about all the overtly homoerotic imagery he felt they employed (he singled out Martin Gore in particular). I know, sounds completely ridiculous now, but this was 1986 and he was fourteen (though I recall finding it silly of him back then, too). So having never seen them in all these years and watching all these YouTube uploads of live shows, I want to go to their concert. After all, they are on tour right now. Unfortunately, a quick look at their website shows that while they have called this tour The Tour of the Universe, they won't actually be performing in Chicago.** So what universe are they touring where Chicago is flyover country, but Salt Lake City, Utah is not? I know, I am making assumptions here, but I have difficulty imagining the Salt Lake City population being down with homoerotic imagery.

Maybe the universe wanted me to notice how amazingly good Dave Gahan looks considering he just turned 47.

He looks exactly the same as he did in 1986, does this man age? (Yes, I know, he was only 46 in the picture, but he still isn't doing much to dispel the myth that heroin addiction makes one glamorous, provided one gets the hell out in time).

Or maybe the universe just wanted to give me the opportunity to post the following song here. It isn't one of their best, but given the title of this blog and my usual choice in clothing, it's surprising it has never occurred to me to do so before now. What is very odd about this is that I wasn't even wearing a black today.

That universe, what a trickster.

*A friend of mine sent an email correcting me on this (he would have left a comment, but he didn't want me to lose face). He said, " I think the album is Some Great Reward" and I thought, "Uh, yeah, I know that." But then I came back and checked what I had written. I totally thought I had typed Some Great Reward, I edited this a number of times before publication and read Some Great Reward, but now I come back and find that it said Some Strange Reward. So either this is a Freudian slip on my part or someone has hacked into my google account.

**Another email I received (this from a stranger who is not interested in helping me save face) informed me that Depeche Mode will be headlining Lollapalooza this summer. She also said that the reason Dave doesn't age is because he is, in fact, undead. This led me to wish Celebrity Death Match still existed because I would pay good money to see claymation versions of Peter Murphy and Dave Gahan fight it out.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

All We Know Is...

As I was parking the car in our garage tonight, this is the sight I saw across the alley

So, fellow Top Gear fans, has something happened to The Stig and are my neighbors in any way involved?

Untethered Hoof

So I was in a store the other day the other day when I overheard something on the radio about a Footloose remake.

Really Hollywood? Are things that bad in the world of ideas that this is considered a good one? Really? I mean, I know that there is a long and dreary history of remaking and refashioning hits from the past and abroad. I know that while we may quibble as to the exact number of basic plots out there, the number is finite and everything has already been done. I know that really what matters is the execution of the story and many a remake has exceeded the original in quality and entertainment value. I know. But still, I can't help but think they could have found a better way to tell the basic outlines of this particular story:
Sophisticated, yet lonely Outsider enters a small, insular community. He is greeted with mistrust by the bulk of the community, because he is different and brings new ideas, ideas which are perceived to be threatening to the delicate social balance of the community as a whole. However, there are a few who welcome the diversity, and they befriend the Outsider. Gradually, more people begin to see the diversity as a good thing, a thing which only strengthens the community. Soon, the only people who oppose the Outsider and his ideas are a few people in positions of power and the community comes to see that they rigidly adhere to the insular ways as a means of retaining power and they are toppled, usually after a big revelatory showdown. Everybody lives happily ever after.
Not only is this the plot of Footloose, it is the plot for Pleasantville, The Karate Kid, and Dodge City, among many others. Note, I am not advocating anyone go and remake those movies either, I'm just that pointing out that there are ways to tell this story without resorting to remaking a film which wasn't very good in the first place. Because let's be honest here, the movie, for all the talent of the cast, was egregious. Yes, John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest are in it, Kevin Bacon did a ton of work to prepare for the role (I heard that Fresh Air interview a few years back), the film is saying something meaningful about oppression of the individual and the fear of the other, and it is 90% better than most of the films of the decade. I will grant that I am probably being far too hard on this film as I haven't actually seen Footloose since I first loathed it a quarter century ago, and it is possible I would be pleasantly surprised by the quality of it if I were to see it now. However, the film should still not be remade and can never be forgiven for one thing:

It was the vector for that awful song.

That song is, quite possibly, one of the worst things to come out of the decade of my adolescence (and the 80s have a lot to answer for, so that is saying something). The song was a bland, non-threatening example of what happens when a song is designed to appeal to people's parents, to show them "look Rock & Roll music isn't scary. Rock & Roll music is your friend. It's good clean fun. There is nothing sexual about Rock & Roll. There is nothing rough or rebellious about Rock & Roll. Only a moron with no taste would be afraid of Rock & Roll" which, admittedly, was the point of the film, but I would also add that only a moron with no taste would like this particular song, so you would think the town establishment would have been loving it from day one, right? I mean, the film expects us to believe Kevin Bacon's character was cool when this was the music he listened to when he wanted to "rock out"? Is this a joke?

However, in spite of all this, there is a good reason to remake Footloose: it is topical.

Friday, May 08, 2009

George Bailey Wasn't Joking About How Money Multiplies

I thought this was incredibly clever and well done.

Warning: Boing Boing said this bank ad is NSFW and not to be seen by children. While I agree that it is inappropriate for younger viewers*, if you can watch videos at work, this one doesn't seem all that outre. Sure, it shows how you really never know where your money has been or who it has been with, so it's a good idea to wash your hands after handling the stuff, but in this age of swine flu, isn't it good to reinforce that?

*unless you really want to be asked, "What is Abraham Lincoln doing to the nice queen? Is he hurting her?"

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Banned In Britain

I remember going to record stores in the early 80s and the phrase "Banned in Britain" across a record was a selling point. It marked the record as anti-establishment, cool, punk rock. Of course, being so young and so naive, I didn't always understand why a song was banned. I mean, I wasn't confused by the Sex Pistols being banned because I understood politics, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to understand why Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax was banned and then when I did, I was already so jaded by Prince and Madonna that I still couldn't quite understand. Of course, reviewing a list of songs banned by the BBC (thank you Wikipedia) I really have some doubts as to the punk rock cred of such a distinction (Phil Collins) and suspicion is only strengthened by the list of people banned from entering the UK. I could say that this is a sign I am getting old, that I can no longer support the anti-establishment anarchists, but the truth is than even back when I was a disaffected teenager, I only supported the people who impressed me (I didn't have to agree with them, but they couldn't be batshit crazy). So nothing has really changed.

Sometimes, I Am Extremely Immature and Insensitive

The other day, I was hanging out with Dean and he said he felt oppressed by his driver's license photo, which led to him talking about the extremely hot woman who was working at the DMV on the day he got his license. He said she seemed incongruous, like she had been plucked from someplace else and placed within the DMV. I suggested she was a model hired to spruce the place up, that someone may have considered a pretty woman as a cheaper alternative to art. Dean said that it created a lot of confusion with regards to who was next in line as all the guys were letting people go ahead of them in the hopes that they could be seen by the DMV Sexy Lady. I said DMV Sexy Lady sounded like a good name for a band, or at least a song. Dean said DMV Sexbomb sounded better. I said, no, DMV Sexbomb just sounds like a mistake and I proceeded to elaborate:

The terrorists began to spend more time thinking about the afterlife they were promised should their plan be successful and not enough time thinking about the attack itself. The suicide bombers entered the DMV and detonated their bombs, but things went horribly wrong. From the terrorists' point of view, that is. From the people affected by the blast (one hesitates to call them victims) things went horribly right. Jihad never felt so good.