Ten Awful Music Videos (So Badd That They Are Good)

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Remember, Gen Xers, when your dad tried to rip off the cable companies, attempting to upgrade your TV channel selections by hanging an extra modified coat hanger near the old boob tube antennae? If you can recall that, you too probably had a cheap ass dad (or mom?)…and missed out on a lot of classic MTV like I did.

“I’m not going to pay someone to see a man in makeup,” my dad would say about that devil channel. Never mind he loved watching them in Hollywood movies. But when the clouds seem to be just at the right angle over our house, I knew there was a God; I could sometimes tune in a grainy MTV Yo Raps show or one of Prince’s kinky videos.

Video killed the radio star and Snooky killed MTV. I can’t say I completely miss the old MTV. Music videos aren’t gone. They’re just a sticky click away thanks to the internet. Over the years, I came to think about some of the music videos I have seen, some soooo bad, they are just BAD (caca, not phat bad). Others are so bad, they are actually quite good. Here are just some of the videos I think are quite off the mark for some reason or another, yet seem to possess some sort of artistic merit. The ten are in NO particular rank or order. Note: Video Links Not Included due to my addiction to lethargy.

 

1. “This is Not a Love Song” by Public Image Ltd. Excess anyone? It’s 1983. John Lydon is milking it every way he can. No one listens to lyrics anymore. It’s money they hear. High rises, jets, limos, and expensive suits rule from the UK to Ronnie Reagan’s America. Priceless.

Johnny Rotten Rotting on...

Johnny Rotten Rotting on…

2. “Losing You” by Jan Terri. Speaking of high rises, who needs expensive sets when downtown some faux New York, skyscraping city can do it all for you. Jan comes in like a monster Muppet, yet cool as a sea slug. She makes sure she includes what every rock video should have: Limo…check. Jet airplane…check. Motorcycle…check. Black Leather Jacket…check. Hairy Mexican man that looks like my Tio Alfredo…check (huh?).  Is she mocking videos or just guilty of having poor taste? Doesn’t matter. Forget that she is a nobody. Miss Piggy, eat your heart out.

I'm Jan Terri. Who the hell are you?

I’m Jan Terri. Who the hell are you?

3. “Bat Dance” by Prince. Who else could get away with dancing in Cuban heels? Uh, James Brown, Bono, Rick James, ok, never mind. But who else could leap over a dancer’s crotch and not look like a weenie? Ok, so Prince looks like a dancing weenie. Still, who else would you want to compose the Batman theme? Bruce Springsteen and Meatloaf have left the room.

4. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke (ft. T.I. and Pharrell). Gaudy is god in this sleek piece. So gaudy, I think Donatella Versace is going to pout her way into the background in a cameo. Its squeaky clean…so clean, its unreal, and that is the point. The video inspires me so much, I shave my armpits after watching. Everything is sooo WAXY, kissing the screen would achieve lip gloss application. The song itself is stupid, and I am annoyed by the women wearing SaranWrap as fashion. Nevertheless, I like white paper, which is the real rising star hidden behind all the dancing monkeys.

My future tattoo.

My future tattoo.

5.” Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I’d like to think Ol’ Dirty is up there in some ghetto heaven, somewhere getting another gold tooth put in while dancing to some big fat mama beat. Hip Hop today has taken itself way too serious. Bastard knew how to walk the fine line between rough and loose. The whole song is so politically incorrect, Oprah would pay to have it not run if she could go back in time. I don’t care. It’s a clown’s reflection of the dark side of certain people’s reality. We jump from cheap ’70’s film clips to tacky clothes to whores with Afros to fake kung fu kicks. Funky, funny, rude, and tragic, just like a wino who has forgotten to zip his fly.

6. “The Day That Never Comes” by Metallica. Did you think you heavy metalers would get out of this post? HA! Let me just say, I love the song. Yet, some things make me uneasy with this video. The storyline itself isn’t the problem, but I question the ethics behind depicting “our troops”. Our? Whose? How did that slip in there? I know the intentions of the band: Write a song about the woes of war, especially contemporary wars (Women in chadors and men being shot for oil reserves). THink about our veterans and all their sacrifices. THink about their plight.  There are hundreds of songs that illustrate the many sides of war. No issue there. So what is the issue? In the first moments of the video, we see two American soldiers out in the desert on lookout watch. They wait and look and wait? Waiting for what? We watch, popcorn in hand. Apparently one soldier is shot (or hit with shrapnel?). The slow reactions and relative calm on the faces of the soldiers after one is wounded are what first bother me. It’s either bad acting or,worse, very good acting. Either way, it leaves me uncomfortable. How realistic is this? We watch as the wounded troop is dragged off like a dead deer being moved from blocking the middle of the road.  Next, there is more waiting. And waiting. It reminds me of the time I asked my Marine Corps. enlisted husband what it was like when deployed to Afghanistan. “A lot of sitting around,” he admitted. That was until the day the Taliban raided their base, killing a few of the fellow Marines he worked with back in 2012. The video cuts to long hair flying as the band plays on. Cut again. We then see a stalled car and a scruffy Islamic man with wife blocking the American soldiers roadway. We don’t know if these people are genuinely in need or suicide bombers. It is a tense moment. Death, deception, drama, and deliverance. Does this video salute our veterans or does it exploit them? Both.

Fat is the new black.

Fat is the new black.

7. “FAT” by “Weird Al” Yankovic. “Who’s fat?” That’s Weird Al. Though most of his videos could pass for crappy, this one wins in my race to the shitter. Why? Because its genius. At first glance, it seems obvious he is poking fun at lipids. VERY NOT NICE…VERY VERY NOT NICE. Again, Oprah cringes. But as the video progresses, something strange in my brain happens. I start to see it empower heavy-set people in a sick and twisted way. He dances…fat people dance too. He sings. Fat people do that. He likes to wear sexy rock star clothes. Fat people do that too. SO what…YOU ARE FAT. Who cares. In the end, it is tacky, and mean. But is there another way to see what phat is?

8. “I’ll Tumble For Ya” by Culture Club. “Mommy, do I have to tap dance next to this creepy man with eye shadow?” Why yes dear, don’t you know that’s Boy George? For years I tried so hard to have the fierce make up applying skills that Mr. Boy seems to pull off. To no avail, I suck at cosmetology. Somehow, this ULTRA metro sexual man (like saying Mt. Everest is a bit of a hill) keeps my eyes entertained. Maybe its the swinging dread locks that seem to put me in a daze in much the same way a hypnotist uses a dangling stop watch.  And what about that circus clown in the first moments of the video? Why isn’t Boy George’s makeup enough for one video? What next…dancing poodles? Instead, they film dancing virgins, literally…young girls who will soon learn how to apply lipstick on manly lips. Entertaining in a gay sort of way. This performance proves Culture Club is willing to tumble all over themselves as a pony show and its OK.

By George, is that Boy George or Demi Moore?

By George, is that Boy George or Demi Moore?

9. “Going Back to Cali” by LL Cool J. Staring LL’s lips! The video itself is just ok. But those lips…yikes. You could knock out my mama with those. It gives me goose bumps in a good and yucky way. LL himself is chill, youthful, fresh, and reserved. Everything is shot in bland, black and white film. Nothing much happens. No chains or whips . No twerking. No tongues being stuck out. No cage fights. LL Cool J glides through with ease, unlike some hip hoppers today who think that they all have to put their bodies into a manic seizure to entertain us. Yet, its sex appeal slips through. I guess a dancing girl’s crotch subtly being filmed from a low angle camera around the two-minute video mark helps. Naughty naughty, but relax. She is still wearing panties. Sharon Stone, where are you when we need you? Oh, at the plastic surgeon. She is going back to Cali. I, by the way, am already here.

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LL’s lips love fried chicken.

10. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. I know you are thinking…”What is she thinking? “Thriller” is classic. There’s nothing wrong with this video!” Lets stop and rewind. What makes a video awful? Bad acting? Corny characters? Overplay? Well, this video has all three of those ill elements. Every time I watch Michael act like he has a crush on the black girl at the beginning, I can picture Lisa Marie Presley snort with laughter. Not an Oscar-winning moment. And zombies? I have seen better costumes thrown together on Halloween by teens in East L.A. (Never mind their blood is real though). But what really bugged me was how often ( A LOT !)  this video ran for years on MTV (So long, I finally got to purchase my own cable as an adult). It’s only saving grace: Michael. The man can sing and dance and make the most of every corny video concept pushed upon him.  All others are wannabes and worse, Justin Biebers. For Michael’s ability to save this stinker, it is a classic.

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What happens when I watch a crappy video.

Wacky Line Graphs: A Copulation Between the Left and Right Brain

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Lets put it out there: I suck at science. Nevertheless, I thrive at elevating bullcrap to an art form. To me, graphs are picture shows put on by left brainers to convince the right brainers that left brainers still have right brain visual capabilities.  To God, graphs are the green boogers that are left over from his breathing divine destiny into the human experience: Useless after-blow!

Kurt Vonnegut’s line graphs depicting drama fluctuations in the literary story of Cinderella and Kafka’s typical plot. Helen Keller would kill to feel these graph’s up.

 

But once I saw Kurt Vonnegut’s line graph evaluating the good and bad fortune of the Grimm’s Fairytale character Cinderella, I knew I had to apply my own assessments to this particular “mind craft”. The following are ten line graphs of various states of being, situations, and people I wonder about (when I am not meditating on Cocoa Puffs or Vladimir Putin’s pout).

 

Miley Cyrus Graph

 

Bathroom GraphSteve Jobs Graph

Birth graphObama Graph

Death Graph

Pimple Graph

 

Rosanne Graph

Gore Vidal Graph

 

You Reading Graph

 

 

Exile on Abat Street: Tracking Edward Snowden

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       Hello N.S.A.!  At least someone is reading this other than my other self. Welcome readers to our “Age of Intrusion”. If you thought getting frisked at the airport was a personal violation, try getting stuck in a country for a year where Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups aren’t even sold within a couple hundred square miles simply because you provided proof in what everyone already suspected;  Tio Sam has dibs on your movements. A shortage of American candy is just one of the plights whistleblower Edward Snowden seems to be experiencing at the moment.

Edward Snowden in his Sega Genesis years.

Edward Snowden in his Sega Genesis years.

      Since his temporary asylum in Russia, many have speculated what “Eddy” might be up to besides media briefs and managing his goatee. For centuries, history has demonstrated that some people achieve their best work while in exile (Think Moses post-Egypt…also Dante, Marcel Duchamp, and the Dalai Lama).  We have yet to see what Mr. Snowden may be up to.

Could "Eddy" have relieved himself in this Russian toilet?

Could “Eddy” have relieved himself in this Russian toilet?

      The following is a list of activities I imagine the “Snow Man” would be doing besides hacking into Obama’s Flicker account to post pictures of Russian toilets Edward has relieved himself in.

1)    VODKA my friend! (Cliché’s are hiccups of the mind.)

2)    Donated his last U.S. silver quarter to the Kremlin’s famous cat circus.

3)    Slept through nightmares of Hillary Clinton raping him with a microphone and the US Government wire-tapping his Cocoa Puffs cereal.

4)    Attempted to send a letter to his mom and pop with his new alias Dr. Phree Menow.

5)    Vodka my friend! (Hiccup)

6)    Lives through his Second Life virtual world avatar character named Akdov (“vodka” spelled backwards), a Russian supermodel born without eyebrows or a bellybutton on her vision quest to raise money to save “ugly children” using plastic surgery.

7)    Wrote The Guardian newspaper to let them know he is still alive and is out of guacamole.

8)    Is attempting to find a book on Russia’s version of pig latin.

9)    Gave an interview to a Latvian news anchor in exchange for a she-male body guard to protect him when he orders a Big Mac with extra pickles at a Moscow McDonald’s.

10) Drew a Salvador Dali mustache on his American Passport photo.

Apps I Wish Existed

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. A trillion years later, some bored, Doritos munching, Jimmy Buffet worshiping techi created phone apps. Since I am still trying to figure out what all the buttons do on the elevator that takes me up to the 13th floor of my workplace, I am probably not the person a software engineer should go to in considering future innovations.

What ever happened to the days you could throw a dime in a pay phone and ask a real-live person to connect you to your grandma in Texas via collect call? Oh yeah…those days sucked. In the 21st century, you can get ahold of whomever you want, anywhere you want, almost instantly. Problem is, in my case, you still have to somehow convince that other person to actually answer their phone.

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The following are Apps that I wish existed:

1) KnewYOUThe New Identity App. Ever get sick of being yourself? Wish you could input just a few basic things about yourself, then let a computer generate a new “online” identity to include a new history? Even a new virtual house and occupation? Of course you do. Pick from a variety of categories to help you: SciFi, Hippiechic, Cartoony, Rednecker, BibleScholar, Mogul Man, RichBitch, BigPhatStar, NewAger, Yoga-guru, etc.

2) FaceBlockThe App for People Blocking. Wouldn’t you love to be able to program your phone to filter the faces and people you are tired of looking at and hearing about on the world-wide web? Maybe an old girlfriend, that annoying politician, and of course celebrities like Kim K. and Justin B., maybe even your mom? Then this is the app for you. Bodyguards need not apply.

3) ConFess…The App for Anonymous Confessions. Need counseling, but don’t have the income to pay a headshrinker? Wish you had someone to gripe to, but don’t want that other person to know who you are?  OR Are you someone that enjoys juicy information? Maybe giving advice to others? Sometimes the best secrets are better told than left to fade away unacknowledged. Now, one can tell one’s most outrageous confessions to a person online and both stay anonymous. Why should priests have all the fun?

4) BGone…The App for Stink Guard. Want an invisible shield between you and the smelly, wino guy who just sat next to you on public trans?  Need a temporary bubble to avoid that gas that just slipped out of grandma whom you are escorting at Wal-Mart? No worries. Unless, that is, its you that forgot to wear Right Guard today.

5) Q-zone…The App for Silence. Tired of traffic noise and the jerk next to you screaming into his cell phone? While other apps help guide you to the closest sushi place, this app guides you to the closest  and quietest public places in an instant. Maybe that hidden park on Washington Street? Or the café that sits empty with no one to bother you. In a world of noise, silence is a priceless commodity.

6) PimpMyHide…The App for Instant Makeovers. Ever wonder what other people would do to you if they had the chance to make you over completely? With this program assisted application, random strangers remake a virtual you. Pick from various styles of clothes, accessories, and hairstyles. Then you choose what you think you would want to aspire to look like. Personality not included.

7) CareBareThe App for Avoiding Family. Barely interested in what you wife is endlessly texting you over the phone? Bored with grandma’s conversation about her new hip? Wish your parents would stop checking up on you via text? Then this app is for you. Program it to automatically generate phrases and responses to keep family happy, and to keep you out of their loopy conversations.  Choose from several settings: Gossip mode, crisis sympathy, general update, etc. Be all that you can be…be smart, be daring…be BARELY THERE.

8) P-Track…The App for Tracking Pets. Wouldn’t you ever like to find out where Pumpkin and Mr. Whiskers wanders off to when you are away at work for hours? Want to find out where your pain in the *#@ dog goes when he keeps getting out of the back yard? Now with a simple tiny sticker you can place on a  pet collar and the assistance of an app, you can be you’re own pet stalker. Also available in Lying Teenager and Cheating Spouse versions.

9) Save-A DrunkThe App for Saving Alcohol and Alcoholics. Have you reached rock bottom and just can’t drink another drop of alcohol? Need to sober up? Want to donate your liquor collection to someone who will graciously take it off your hands? Then this app might just connect you to the right alcohol lover who will take that box of wine from you to start you on your way towards sobriety. Let someone “Sponsor” you into being booze-free. A.A. endorsed of course!

10) KillerAPP…The App to End Apps. Are you addicted to apps? Need to spend less time on your smart phone and more time, ahem…doing everything else? If you want to consider an app to break the app obsession, consider this one. Virtual guru-voice activated to wean you away from technology, this app can give you back your life. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight. WARNING: surgeon general has found that substances on this app may cause cancer, low birth weight, depression, and cerebral lethargy.

Books I Wish Existed

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“Write the book that you would want to read.” Everyone has heard this line…blah blah blah. Problem is, I was born with a genetic defect called Able Idle Syndrome (A.I.S). The symptoms cause one to savor sitting around and doing nothing (which is quite a wonderful feeling, I have to say). It’s within all those lazy moments, I get my “best” ideas. How else do you think the inventors of Chia Pet and the atomic bomb do it? So, as I will come up with ideas for books I would love to read, I will leave them to be written by some else not suffering from A.I.S.  The following are books I hope some other sucker will write:

Glad someone else wrote the book on the art of being me.

Glad someone else wrote the book on the art of being me.

****NOTE: For past lists of books I wish existed, search August 2012 posts or type “Rehab for Book Lovers (or Not?)” in search box.****

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1) ROUGH CUT: Extreme Plastic Surgeries Gone Wrong (Introduction by Joan Rivers.)

2) First Trippers: Stories of Peoples’ First Time on LSD (As the great sage Jimmy Hendrix says “Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.”)

3) If They Survived (Contemporary literary greats like Toni Morrison, Mary Karr etc. write about what they think past literary greats like Virginia Wolf , Sylvia Plath would write about if they hadn’t committed suicide. Hemingway, are u listening?)

4)  The Zen of Homelessness (Everything you need to know on how to live the life of a hobo…someone I hope to one day grow up to be if I just had the right guide.)

5) Martha Stewart’s Book of Bloopers (Crafts, cakes, and cultivations that made it into the reject box and her employees who survived to witness it.)

6) The History of Slurpee (Questions you always wanted to know, who invented it, where it started, why are we so addicted to them? Damn you, Slurpee!)

7) WTF? X-rays of Foreign Objects in Humans (World’s wildest objects such as diamonds, stuffed animals, cell phones etc. found in humans by X-ray technicians. Warning: Don’t swallow this book…)

8) HOOKED: Confessions of Washington D.C.’s No-So-Elite Call Girls (Now we can find out which politicians have the kinkiest fetishes and who can’t get it up. Politicians into pedophilia, aka Bush Sr. is a separate book all together. )

9) Steve Jobs  Secret Guide to Getting Ahead (Want to learn how to manipulate your boss? Earn a chair on a corporation’s board of directors? Cuss in the workplace and get away with it while bringing the best out of employees? This guide was recently discovered under the mattress of the late Apple founder. Yeh, right. Don’t we wish.)

10) Celebrity Fridge (Profiles and photos taken in secret of the inside of celebrity refrigerators revealing favorite snacks and dirty habits. From Ted Nugent’s dead squirrels to Madonna’s obsession with eating gold covered candy.)

Conspiracy Theories: Truths and Favored Fictions

polls_conspiracy_20theory_20rock_3002_476592_poll_xlarge[1]Conspiracy theories aren’t what they used to be. Thanks to WikiLeaks, hidden “truths” become just everyday news, lost and mixed in with what may be “fact” and what may be “fantasy”. What used to shock us about the powers that be, don’t seem to move us toward much change in our political system nowadays. Its as though we expect our government and the wealthy elite to behave in the worst possible ways, keeping us entertained like some cheap reality show.

I, myself, have grown so cynical and desensitized by media and television that it didn’t surprise me to hear what Edward Snowden “leaked” (Hello, Washington? Are you listening? Got Milk?).  I’ve grown so bored with most of the schemes that certain government agencies and powerful people have been up to, I decided to “enhance” some of these controversial “truths” connected to certain conspiracy theories. Basically, I decided to really “fictionalize” (labeled as my “Favored Fiction”) these truths in a way that would make us question…what is really “fact”…and what is really “fiction”? You decide.

Truth?: In relation to NASA’s “Project Blue Beam”, a 3D hologram of the Virgin Mary was projected in an African sky.

Favored Fiction:  In relation to NASA’s “Project Blue Beam”, a 3D hologram of Sarah Palin in a moose’s outfit was projected over Moscow’s sky to hypnotize Vladimir Putin.

Why couldn't they have used this viewer to find Osama bin Laden right after 9/11?

Why couldn’t they have used this viewer to find Osama bin Laden right after 9/11?

Truth?: The U.S. military used a secret unit of “controlled remote viewers” to help capture Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega.

Favored Fiction: The U. S. military used a secret unit of “controlled remote viewers” to locate the best place to grab sushi while in Afghanistan.

Who would have know your Microsoft Windows help pay for this global seed vault.

Who would have know your Microsoft Windows help pay for this global seed vault.

Truth?: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding Norway’s global seed vault to preserve various seeds in case of a possible global environmental apocalypse.

Favored Fiction: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding Norway’s global seed vault to preserve various cannabis seeds to turn future earthlings into Cheech and Chong zombies.

Apparently, Nazi's like Eichmann (hiding out in Argentina) liked wearing ponchos.

Apparently, Nazi’s like Eichmann (hiding out in Argentina) liked wearing ponchos.

Truth?: The Catholic Church hid certain Nazi officers post WWII.

Favored Fiction: The Catholic Church hid certain Nazi officers post WWII in order for kinky bishops to use them in bondage role-plays.

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Truth?: Bradley Manning leaked video of U.S. soldiers killing innocent Iraqi civilians and two war journalists.

Favored Fiction: Bradley Manning leaked video of Osama Bin Laden living in Thailand as a transvestite hairdresser.

The U.S. Government capable of erasing one's memory? No wonder I can't recall how many men I slept with.

The U.S. Government capable of erasing one’s memory? No wonder I can’t recall how many men I slept with.

Truth?: MK Ultra, a top-secret CIA experimental project in mind control used prisoners, mental patients, children, prostitutes, and lower-income minorities as guinea pigs.

Favored Fiction: MK Ultra, a top-secret CIA experimental project in mind control used politicians as guinea pigs, hypnotizing them into thinking they descended from a dying breed of anal-retentive aliens from the planet Uranus.

Project HAARP. Not your grandma's TV antenna.

Project HAARP. Not your grandma’s TV antenna.

Truth?: The HAARP Project, located in Alaska, is a U.S. funded scientific experiment which is capable of manipulating the weather.

Favored Fiction: The HAARP Project, located in Alaska, is a U.S. funded scientific experiment which is capable of creating a mini lightening storm that can directly hover over Dick Cheney’s head.

Is this drone capable of finding out if you are wearing underwear?

Is this drone capable of finding out if you are wearing underwear?

Truth?: U.S. drones fly over residential areas in Pakistan to “gather” intelligence information in counter-terrorism.

Favored Fiction: U.S. drones fly over residential areas in Pakistan to play “Where’s Waldo”, killing boredom.

True Nike fans. Heaven's Gate Cult Members.

True Nike fans. Heaven’s Gate Cult Members.

Truth?: Certain technically-savvy members of the Heaven’s Gate Cult helped developed one of the very first computer programs, called PROMIS, that had “spying” capabilities which was highly sought-after software.

Favored Fiction: Certain technically-savvy members of the Heaven’s Gate Cult helped develop one of the very first internet billionaires, called Mark Zuckerberg, a love child created and left behind prior to their mass suicide.

Predictions for the Year 3000

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I’d rather go to hell kissing a man than go to heaven thinking about it. That pretty much tells you what I will be doing in the far off future. As to what others might be doing, I decided to do a second installment of Predictions for the Year 3000 (For past installments, search blog archives October 2012). This is assuming existence, as we know it, is still truckin’ around. But by that time ( Unless you’re Michael Jackson whose gona be set on defrost in some future year) most likely you won’t be around to care. So here are my further Predictions for the Year 3000. Remember, you heard them here first.

1) The U.S. Pentagon will expand into the Octagon.

2) Fat will be extinct, but stupidity won’t.

3) Chewing gum will finally come in liquor flavors.

4) Your dreams at night will be televised as the new reality TV show.

5) Hours will be replaced with “warp speed” (known as “WSp”) in measuring all time, except when Congress is in session.

6) DNA will be sold in vending machines.

7) New York and San Francisco will be underwater playgrounds for ‘menmaids’ to frolic ( one of several new species branched off of the gay community).

8) Humans will evolve into four-fingered beings due to overuse of middle finger while flipping the bird.

9) Vegans will begin to eat themselves in order to save the planet.

10) Thanks to cloning technology, George Clooney will date himself.

Ten New Words to Add to the Urban Dictionary

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I’m a rotten blogger; I rarely read other people’s blogs. I guess you can call me the anti-blog blogger. If I have by chance read your blog, it’s because I was either attracted by the bright colors, you had something new to say and GOT TO THE POINT (unlike this post), or I was just interested in keeping my pupils fit by doing eyeball calisthenics. Ok, I admit, I may have also typed in keywords like “hot naked men” or “hot men who like stupid women” and hit on your blog.

Yes, I even recycled this sad cartoon off the internet.

Yes, I even recycled this sad cartoon off the internet.

But really, why do I avoid reading most blogs? I’m either annoyed that I haven’t written a brilliant post that someone else has already written first, OR I am tired of the fact that I constantly see the same words used in their same old context, in the same old boring ways. Even “cliché” is a cliché! Why can’t more people invent new words with new meanings like those that are added into the Urban Dictionary? Why not recycle those over-used, tired puppies lined up in our American Heritage Dictionary? YES, LETS RECYCLE!!! The following are ten new words or phrases along with their definitions I propose to add to the Urban Dictionary.

1) Chinese cheesy- something silly that doesn’t really exist.
Sample sentence: My god, did you see that UFO with the Bedazzled rims…thats Chinese cheesy!

2) hangman- an impotent male
Sample sentence: I am so sick of my husband being a hangman, I think I’ll have to get knocked up by the cable guy.

3) air conditioner- a cool talkin’ person
Sample sentence: Jay-Z is just an air conditioner, especially when he’s hanging with Obama.

4) flat-top- a level-headed person
Sample sentence: There are no flat-tops in the Kardashian family.

5) bacon- a well prepared cop
Sample sentence: Don’t speed down the Santa Monica Freeway  ‘cuz there’s bacon everywhere.

6) pencil pusher- a pushy person who tries to make you buy his/her point of view
Sample sentence: The whole Bush-Cheney Administration was made up of assholes and pencil pushers.

7) Virginia  slim- an east coast anorexic
Sample sentence: I ain’t no Virginia slim, I’m a meat and potato eatin’ Texan that blesses his stomach by keeping it full like the good Lord intended.

8) nursing nun- a non-practicing virgin
Sample sentence: So what if I’m a nursing nun, so was Mary, the mother of Jesus, at some point!

9) garlic mouthwash- a rotten kiss
Sample sentence: Don’t feel bad that you gave her a garlic mouthwash, she’s been cheating on you with your best buddy on the football team anyhow.

10) cocktail- a lady’s rear-end or a homosexual male
Sample sentence: Check out that big cocktail in the neon-pink tights; its blinding my eyes.

The Doors and their L.A. Haunts

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Why didn’t that tipsy Venice Beach fortune-teller predict that I would be pissing in the same restroom Jim Morrison had? And she sure didn’t foresee me shopping at the same record store Ray Manzarek frequented on Sunset Blvd. I should have known better in the City of Night. Welcome to my L.A. Woman Tour. In honor of Ray Manzarek (keyboardist and founding member of the Doors) who passed away this week in Germany at the age of 74, I’d like to share my personal odyssey with the Doors and their ghosts. Thankfully I got the opportunity to hear Ray play live when he toured with the Doors of the 21st Century with Robby Krieger.  Unlike other old rockers I have seen (UH, the Rolling somethings) Manzarek’s playing was never off pitch. He could still take you on that musical journey.

It all began with a weekend “getaway” in the summer of 2005. I drove up to Venice Beach from San Diego to stay at a beach hostel. I had often done this in the past with the intention to write and get “inspired”. Funny how this often requires hours of drinking and getting caught up trying to get rid of some pug-ugly guy who is hoping to get into my pants. Anyhow, the weekend was supposed to be just like all the others for me in Venice. But for some reason, this particular trip seemed to be one in which hidden hands were guiding me in directions that often included some connection to the Doors, especially Jim Morrison. At first, I passed it off as sheer coincidences. But by the end of my stay in Venice Beach, I began to feel a little freaked out, but mostly privileged to be the one to have been “guided” by some ghostly doors of perception.

Chateau Marmont where Jim took a nice fall.

Chateau Marmont where Jim took a nice fall.

Initially, I wanted to eat at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood to see where artists Wallace Berman and Ed Keinholtz got their grub (a little tip I got from my art history teacher in college…its an art snob thing). While there, I befriended the waitress who happened to be from San Diego herself who was a singer in a band called the Paper Dolls. The waitress shared about how Janis Joplin spent her last night at the restaurant. At that moment “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors played over the speakers. “Oh, and Jim Morrison used to drink here too,” she added. Cool, I thought, doesn’t surprise me. I mean the guy did drink everywhere from here to Amsterdam right?

Inside Barney's Beanery. Pictured is the waitress who also played in the Paper Dolls.

Inside Barney’s Beanery. Pictured is the waitress who also played in the Paper Dolls.

She suggested I walk down to see the Chateau Marmont where Morrison is said to have fallen from his balcony and broken ribs. I did so, more out of awe that the old, ridiculous structure was still standing there instead of a 7-Eleven store. Ok, so Marilyn Monroe probably screwed someone there, and John Belushi had his last puke there. Honestly, I’ve never been one to care what actors did in their free time. It just reminds me how uneventful my life is between picking at my face and writing crappy blogs. Since I was in the neighborhood, I figured I would take a stroll down Sunset Blvd to see the Viper Room and the Whisky A Go-Go.

The Whisky a Go Go still rockin out.

The Whisky a Go Go still rockin out.

Everyone knows the Whisky’s history as a mecca for rock history,(including the fact that the Doors played there in their early days) so I won’t bore u with it. But it was the Tower Records store just down the street that drew me in. I was going up to the cash register to pay for my Johnny Cash CD when the kid (probably some Euro-tourist) in front of me asked the cashier in broken-English, “So do you get famous people who shop here?”

The cashier who looked lively as taxidermy said quite unexcitedly, “Uh, yeh, Ray Manzarek from the Doors comes in here sometimes.”

Interesting I thought. I would have liked to have asked the cashier what Ray Manzarek purchased, but I didn’t. I was too afraid I would hear something stupid like..”Oh, he never actually buys anything. He just asks for change for the parking meters.” By now, my own car probably was getting ticketed.

What can I say? I'm the next Annie Leibovitz. The now nonexistant Tower Records. Who goes there?

What can I say? I’m the next Annie Leibovitz. The now nonexistant Tower Records. Who goes there?

Walking around West Hollywood, I grew tired and bored with myself. This happens quite often especially when I breathe, which is why I am often open to talking to street vagabonds.

“Hey, girl, where you goin’?” one of the gutter crows asked as I walked past. His name was Sonny. He was seated at a bus stop next to Emmanuel his side kick. Neither were waiting for the bus.

“I don’t know. I’m just looking for a new poem I guess,” I answered. Like the typical nerd I am, I really didn’t have any place in mind at the moment.

“OH, so you’re a poet eh? Why don’t u share a poem,” Sonny suggested.

“You say it like you don’t believe I am one. Here look, I’m carrying a notebook and a pen. All poets do,” I pointed out pulling out my goods.

“Relax girl, relax. I believe you. This town is full of poets. You’ve got Charles Bukowski…Jim Morrison, HEY, in fact I saw Morrison being carried out of Barney’s Beanery one night drunk as a skunk. You like the Doors?” Sonny continued.

These Doors coincidences were just starting to get a little strange.

“Yeh, right, you saw Morrison. AND?” I continued starting to feel annoyed that he would think I was as stupid as I looked, and starting to know he was probably right. Maybe Sonny did witness such an event, I mean it takes a wino to know a wino right?

His buddy who was previously just sitting and grinning finally spoke up saying, “Oh, girl, you don’t know old Sonny. He’s seen everything. That was his scene. My name’s Emmanuel by the way,” he said holding out his hand. I shook it reluctantly.

Crazy Cats: Old Sonny sitting shirtless while Emmanuel gives his cheshire grin.

Crazy Cats: Old Sonny sitting shirtless while Emmanuel gives his Cheshire grin.

“So what other places did you supposedly see Morrison?” I asked half mockingly.

“Well, I didn’t see him anywhere else, but I know he used to stay at the Alta Cienega Motel just up the way. Its owned by some Indian guy who still rents out the room Morrison lived in. People leave graffiti and writing on the wall in that room now. You should go check it out. It’s also close to the Benvenuto Cafe. The Doors recorded L.A. Woman in that building before it was a cafe. I wouldn’t eat there though. Its overpriced.”

“Hey, where are you staying?” Emmanuel asked.

“OH, I’m staying in Venice Beach. Why?” I inquired.

“Go to the Townhouse. It’s a bar Jim went to a lot. Its been there in Venice forever,” Emmanuel added grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Alta Cienega Motel. The room over the archway was Jim Morrison's room.

Alta Cienega Motel. The room over the archway was Jim Morrison’s room.

I thanked them both and headed down to check out both the Alta Cienega Motel and the Benevento Cafe to take pictures. After coming home from this odd weekend, I did a bit of research and found that what Sonny had told me about the motel and the cafe had been true. Morrison stayed in this particular motel due to being in close location to the Doors headquarters, the recording studio, his favorite bars, and his girlfriend Pamela’s residence.

The room inside the Cienega motel Jim stayed in. Photo courtesy some nutt off the internet.

The room inside the Cienega motel Jim stayed in. Photo courtesy some nut off the internet.

As far as the Cafe (now CLOSED), legend has it that the L.A. Woman album was recorded in the building years before it was a cheesy Italian restaurant. The L.A. Woman song itself was sung in a downstairs restroom for its acoustic sound quality. The Doors at the time would never imagine it would be their last album together before Morrison’s death in Paris, France. Nor would they think rigatoni would take the place of rock music in that little haunt.

The Italian restaurant where L.A. Woman was recorded before spaghetti was being dished out.

The Italian restaurant where L.A. Woman was recorded before spaghetti was being dished out.

Later that evening, since my crappy hostel happened to be located on the same street as the Townhouse Cocktails dive bar on Windward Avenue, I decided to check out the place Emmanuel had suggested. It was a dump… just the way I like my drinking establishments. It was busy, so packed, that I couldn’t get access to the woman’s restroom with a line long enough to rival the Great Wall of China. No one seemed to be going in or coming out of the mens restroom. After four beers and an impatient buzz, I dove into the men’s pisser caring less what or who I saw. My bladder was about to burst like a pinata at an orphanage. Shockingly, no one was inside. The toilets were old-fashion looking with pull chains. It was as though I was sitting on the same shitter Jim Morrison might have peed in. Quite fascinating until I heard the voice of a male entering the restroom. Oh well, this is L.A. He should know anything goes. But the stranger was too busy making friends with a urinal to notice my ridiculous exit. This called for a drink. I made my way closer to the bartender.

The Townhouse Bar. Beware of women who walk into men's restrooms here.

The Townhouse Bar. Beware of women who walk into men’s restrooms here.

Next thing I know I am asking a guy next to me if he could get the bartender’s attention since he seemed to know him.

“OH sure. Are you here by yourself?” the young, tall guy asked.

“Yep, but I’m good at keeping myself company,” I responded feeling quite stupid.

Eventually he introduced me to his girlfriend and a few of his other buddies drinking next to him. One named Joel ended up befriending me. All of them were Venice locals. I figured Joel wouldn’t be such a threat when he informed me that he was a male nurse. By the end of the night, I was sure I was gona need someone to nurse my hangover anyway.

“Hey, why don’t you come over with us. We’re gona grab some beers and head on to our place. It’s not far. It’s just up Speedway. Don’t worry, the girls will be there too. You’re safe,” Joel suggested. Typical nurse, looking out for me, though fear was something that didn’t come to mind when I was juiced up. I thought it a great idea since I was starting to lose my buzz due to flapping my jaws too much with the male nurse.

Joel was right. He and his male roommate lived very near… on 18th and Speedway just down the alley. Walking up to their rented beach flat, my heart stopped just for a second in the same way Medusa probably could have turned me to stone. Directly across the street from Joel’s pad was Venice Beach’s famous mural of the Lizard King himself. What? Ok, I thought, Jim, this is getting quite eerie now, especially here late at night with that full moon above you. What was with your ghost following me?

Joel's place on 18th and Speedway. His is the dark brown roof with the light brown walls just across Mr. Mojo Risin.

Joel’s place on 18th and Speedway. His is the dark brown roof with the light brown walls just across Mr. Mojo Risin.

In a way, I knew it was impossible to escape the dead singer since this was the place he lived and strolled so often. But it was when Joel took me up to the roof of the flat to show me the strand of Venice’s beach at night with the flush-face of that pearly, white moon hanging like an empty plate overhead that I caught some wind of magic. Watching the silvery waves shimmer, feeling the breeze, and seeing how bright that distant celestial body was, I felt I got a glimpse of Jim Morrison’s inner and outer world. A mystical energy awoke something profound in me. I was in tune with the invisible forces around me. I realized at that moment how and where Jim got his inspiration for songs like “Moonlight Drive”. It was as though I could feel Jim there next to me. AND NO…despite it being Venice Beach…and a “party”…I don’t and didn’t do drugs. As you can probably tell, I’m wacky enough sober, thank you very much. It was such a magical experience, I kept it to myself to prevent it from being dismissed by cynics. But after hearing of Ray Manzarek’s death this week, I was moved to share it. It was Manzarek’s not Morrison’s idea to form the Doors. Jim just went along for the ride as he did with so many other things in those times.

By the end of the night, the couch that was nailed to Joel’s livingroom ceiling began to start tripping me out (yes, he had a couch nailed upside down from his ceiling). I walked back to my hostel just a bit down the way, still feeling a mystical presence looking just over my shoulder under the glow of the moon.

The Venice Bistro, once the Venice West Cafe where poets like Allen Ginsberg and Morrison himself frequented. Its my hungover cure-all. The Cadillac Hotel is pink highrise just behind it.

The Venice Bistro, once the Venice West Cafe where poets like Allen Ginsberg and Morrison himself frequented. Its my hung over cure-all. The Cadillac Hotel is pink highrise just behind it.

The next day, Sunday, I had breakfast at the Venice Bistro located just next to the Cadillac Hotel on the boardwalk. The Cadillac Hotel was  where I usually always stayed. I don’t recall why I had not that particular trip. Maybe my favorite room was booked. Anyhow, as I looked up at the board of musical events that were set to play at the Venice Bistro that night, I could see that strange door of perception open up again. Peace Frog was set to play, a local Doors tribute band. And as I was nursing my hangover with my glass of orange juice and open journal contemplating my next poem, it all made sense. It was just as Jim would have liked it.

R.I.P. Ray…

NOTE: All photographs are taken by yours truly (as if you couldn’t already tell by their illustrious framing). The one of Jim Morrison’s motel room graffiti was taken by someone on the internet whom I can’t name, so sue me. All photographs of people you see in  each shot were used without them knowing, so forget u saw them here. Amen

What’s in My Closet? Earth Day Addition

Hello fellow Earthlings. As a homage to the up and coming Earth Day, I thought it would be nice to try to inspire people NOT to do what I do, which is accumulate mounds of junk. Here is a new installment of “What’s in My Closet?”

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I know what you are thinking…. no I am not one of those vinyl record collecting fanatics. I only own records by: U2, Gershwin, Bo Diddley, Hank Williams, Led Zeppelin, Disney’s Mary Poppins, The Rolling Stones, Tony Bennet, George Jones, Peter Paul and Mary, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, The Bee Gees, Madonna, Richard Pryor, Strawberry Shortcake…Ok, maybe I do have a problem.But how could I pass up giving away this gem with songs like “Doing the Pigeon” and the “La La La” song?

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I honestly don’t remember where I got these shoes. I might have snagged them from a drunk girl who was passed out at a 1950’s Flashback Retro Party. I can tell you they are made in Germany by the tag on the soles and that drag queens constantly ask me where I bought them.

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Ok, so I’m as country western as a cup of noodles, so what…Taylor Swift gets away with this nonsense every day. She shouldn’t get to have all the fun. If it makes you feel better, I only wear these boots when I go out to eat at Denny’s where old people don’t give a damn.

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I bought this plush hanger as a set from a thrift store. I thought that it would make me feel as glamorous as Elizabeth Taylor or Zsa Zsa Gabor. Well folks, SURPRISE, it didn’t work. Now I know why they were in the thrift store in the first place. Goodwill my butt!

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A set of heart-shaped cookie cutters. I keep these suckers in my closet because you never know when you need a last-minute 99cent regift to someone you detest. Oh, and mom, if you are reading this, you shoulda known better to have bought these for me since you know I burn everything I bake.

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An etching based on Gerard Terborch‘s 1670 painting “The Music Lesson”. Probably worth some money cuz its a stamped etching not a print, but there it sits in my closet accumulating dust along with old issues of MAD Magazine. Well, at least I am exposing the arts to the otherwise ignored cockroach.

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Killer Dyke Hat. Although I have no interest in women below the waist, I admit I do wear hats that make me look like I do when I go jogging or when I just want to ooze man repellent. Usually, you can assume this is what happens after having kids and surviving years of monogamous marriage.

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Speaking of man hating, I worship my Makonde body mask. Technically, this mask is not in my closet. It hangs on a wall. I use this mask to test people who visit my home. If they show an interest in it or love it (asking me about the culture it came from), I usually will get along with that person splendidly. If they think that it’s a carved image of me pregnant, they are probably not too intelligent.  If they show indifference, they are probably lacking a soul or personality to have any opinion. If they show disgust, most likely it will be a man I end up foolishly getting romantically involved with. While my ex-husband suggested I hang it above the fireplace (he was hoping it would accidently fall into the fire), I now hang it proudly atop my love nest. Men come and go, but ART LIVES ON!

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Ann Taylor Unlucky Power Suit. This was the first suit I ever got “dismissed from a job position” in.  I kept it in case there is ever a job I WANT to get fired from.  NOTE: Blazer may appear larger and itcher than actual object.

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While it may be of no surpise to you that your’s truly would have a stash of beer cold and ready on days that need to be flushed down the toilet, I admit I am sometimes ashamed of stocking up on this form of redneck Viagra. The polar caps are melting, the Amazon is being cut down to accomodate Amazon.com books, and gorillas are still too nice to fight back poachers. Oh well, happy Earth Day. Drink up.

***For past installments of “What’s in My Closet?”, click on the side history bar.****

Wacky Occupations While Unemployed

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Anyone who has been unemployed knows that too much free time is actually silly putty in the devil’s hands. For the last two months that I, myself, have been seeking work,  I have been stretched and bent out of shape so much, I might as well have walked into a kiln to make a piece of pottery out of myself. If a Chinese emperor could make terracotta life-size figures, why can’t I? But now that I will be starting a new position on Monday, I have been wondering if there wasn’t a better way I could have used all that free time I had while looking for a work. The following are occupations I could have considered while I was professionally unemployed.

1) N.P.C.L. Coach:  Professional coach to senior citizens in the N.P.C.L. (National Power Chair League).  Now that power chairs has taken over the elderly world by storm, its time to take it to the next level with power chair racing. Like Nike says , “Just Do It.”

2) Dumpster Diving Consultant:  Give trash pickers and plastic bottle collectors insider tips on where to find the most plentiful dumpsters. Get free cigarettes, 7-11 coffee, or a swig off the old whisky bottle.

3) Buddhist Barber: Be one with the universe. Be the guru of buzz cuts. While mastering one haircut, you can’t go wrong.  Comes in styles: shaved, and extra shaven.

4) Pet P.I.: Wondering where Fifi goes in the middle of the day? Would you like to find out what  nasty cat got your Persian feline pregnant? Become a Pet Private Investigator. Dogs not apply.

5) Elderly Chauffeur: Take grandma on that outing she’s been dying to go to like Saks, 31 Flavors, or your friendly neighborhood strip club. Specializing in senior citizen accommodations such as gripe consulting, diabetes management, and retirement enhancement.

6) Guinness Book of World Record Breaker: Devote yourself to breaking records. Create the worlds largest wad of recycled gum. Or maybe graffiti the most wannabes taggers on the street in a day (yes, and I do mean graffiti the graffitists). Break the record for breaking the most records.

7) Craigslist Killer Hitman: Find the sickos on Craigslist that are killing and raping for sport. Do your community a favor by cleaning up our streets. Tell them that karma is bitch.

8) Taco Shop Salsa Critic: Taste test various free salsas handed out at the hundreds of taco shops around your city. Pitch your reviews of them to Food Network. Write a book about your ratings and opinions. Make sure to have TUMS handy and toilet readily available at all times.

9) Professional Pinterest Sabotager: Tired of seeing perfection? Why not pin postings of the sick and miserable on that beauty obsessed website? Start with a picture of your hairy armpit and work your way towards that maggot-laced roadkill you drove past earlier in the day. A perfectly PERFECT way to waste time.

10) Cheater Decoy: Are you suspecting that your boyfriend/girlfriend is a slut? Do you think he/she would sleep with any kind of person that would hit on him/her the moment you turn your back? Hire yourself out as a Cheater Decoy. Test out how far certain significant others would go if they had the opportunity to cheat. Intercourse compensation not included.

Ten Things I Excel At

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Dear Audience of Three (minus my cousin in Kansas and someone named Anonymous):

I know what you are thinking…”Amanda, where have you been?  The blogosphere isn’t the same without you.”  Ok, that’s not what you are really thinking. I just got needy a-la-Kardashian for a moment there. But like I told my mom after dismissing my cancer diagnosis a couple of years ago, “Don’t worry. Bad weeds never die.” I am still here …using my hiatus from this blog in the most productive ways possible:  driving around town to find a store that sells Twinkies, Googling words in Russian, selling jewelry I got for free…oh, and I am writing a book.

A book I have obviously overlooked.  (Free Advertising Space Courtesy Earwax Dissertation)

A book I have obviously overlooked. (Free Advertising Space Courtesy Earwax Dissertation)

Since the book is a memoir, I have had to figure out why I even warrant a 200 page plus book about my life. What have I accomplished? Ok, lets not go there. Rephrase: What am I good at? The following is a list of things I can honestly say will give me the audacity to push for a book all about me, me, and more me. Ugh, I already need a vacation from myself thinking about it.

1) The ability to wash one mug a day (hung over).

2) Unmaking my bed. (Too bad it’s never due to having intercourse).

3) Winking either eye while intoxicated (at police officers).

4) Finding the sun (at night).

5) Driving old people to hospitals. (Especially when they let me use their handicapped parking permit). WARNING: This does not include helping the elderly in and out of vehicle or otherwise.

6) Jogging with stinky clothes on (and running so fast past people they won’t get a chance to find out).

7) Memorizing stupid commercials (which means I am also good at forgetting awesome ones).

8) Plucking gray hairs off my head (Now that I’ve gone all gray, I can never lose).

9) Picnicking in my car solo (to avoid coworkers and work).

10) Ability to tell the difference between a dwarf and a midget (One had a Disney movie, duh.)

Fortune Cookie Fortunes that Should Exist

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For the last few weeks, I have done some soul searching…looking for my purpose in life, attempting to find out what legacy I may leave behind once I croak on my pop-up air mattress and Sponge Bob sheets. Who would have know it would be in the form of exposing the hidden, multi-million dollar industry surrounding poorly written fortune cookie fortunes. You know which ones I am talking about…ones like the monkey scratch I got last week at a Japanese restaurant with a phrase such as “Let reality be reality” and “Courage conquers all things; it even gives strength to the body.” Nevermind that the Japanese have as much business handing this stuff out at the end of my sushi meal as Roberto’s Taco Shop would, but I admit, I never passed up cracking open that wacky shell to see what one might say. I am sure Einstein did the same.

Doing a bit of research into who exactly writes these bits of slop (and, no its not me), who would have know, its not the Chinese…but underground cliques of WASPY American college students who intern in Chinese academic studies. Ok, so I made that up. Its possible these cheap fortunes are written by Bengali slave kids…. bored lesbian, one-armed Chinese housewives… or Costa Rican Satanists who wish me ill fortune. Who knows. Either way, I have come up with a few terrible fortunes of my own I would hope would be inspirational to the next sashimi-eating dork like myself.

1) You will meet a stranger that will hand you the keys to your future home.

2) Knowledge is better left to students.

3) Your destiny begins with a beer.

4) Love is alive this month in a french kiss.

5) Charity is coming your way, so shop til you drop.

6) Count your blessings, especially in Las Vegas.

7) Beauty rules when happiness fools.

8) Today, you will get to punch someone in the nose.

9) Program your future; reach for the T.V. remote.

10) Forget about tomorrow; it hates you anyway.

11) Take caution with a grain of salt; thats how master chefs are born.

12) Beware of the unknown; it may bring bad breath.

13) Smile, it’s the keyhole to your heart.

14) Lick a dog; it may inspire him.

15) Pray for your sins ‘cuz you know you’ll never be done outdoing them.

16) Try again.

17) Everyday is a new opportunity for oral sex.

18) Wisdom is better unthought.

19) Watch out for bad Mexican food this week.

20)Believe in miracles; get a life.

 

Art History for Smartasses: Looking Beyond Forms

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and ten minutes ago, I just created a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But this isn’t just any p.b. and j. …this has slices of fresh strawberries fit to snug in the middle like sweet little discoveries. It beats my brother’s sloppy peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich any day (a horrific creation that was probably mistakenly invented by a blind man). So what does any of this have to do with the grand pillars of art history? More than one could imagine.

What does peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich have to do with art  history?

What does peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich have to do with art history?

Why is there even a discipline called Art History? Why do people look at and study objects from so many different time spans and geographical regions? (Believe me, I asked the same thing after writing the millionth paper on some dead artist I will never meet). In this piece, I will attempt to partly answer (because someone will always think of some other point I didn’t mention) this question in a simplified manner. Simplifying may be considered “tricky” and “undisciplined” to “real” scholars. I know there will be people reading this that will want to make the point that the act of looking at art is an art form in itself (hello Professor Rigby, how’s the semester going?)…that its analysis of form and meaning are meant for the few. That you have to know and apply other disciplines like psychoanalysis, philosophy, semiotics, cosmetology (uh, well in rare cases if hair is involved), bowling (no, wait, sorry wrong article), and other far-reaching psycho-Babel.

Can you tell if this painting is a fake Vermeer? Answer: Si amigo!

Can you tell if this painting is a fake Vermeer? Answer: Si amigo!

That you have to wear a French beret and know how to pick out a fake Vermeer (Vermeer is the name of a dead Dutch painter, not the name of a major  Scandinavian appliance).  But screw that. You don’t have to be Einstein to talk about math…well, in my case, maybe you do…but you get my point. Art is of the people, by the people, and for the people …or was that something  we used to have called liberty?. Enough said.

Fooled again! As a kid, I thought all art historians lead the life of Indiana Jones.

Fooled again! As a kid, I thought all art historians lead the life of Indiana Jones.

So what propelled Art History from being just some curious knucklehead looking at an object to a whole field that involves experts and time lines and classifications (and dark lecture rooms where you can nap)? Back to my peanut butter and jelly sandwich example.  Just as my brother seems to enjoy one type of sandwich,  and I another, people study more than one type of object or one type of aesthetic because humans like having a variety of tastes to choose from.  It’s not that my brother only likes peanut butter and mayo. He would go for my p.b.and j. in a heartbeat (that and the rest of the fridge too). It’s not any one sandwich type itself. It is the fact that people like knowing there will always be something else we have yet to discover to sink our teeth (and eyes, and hands and..) into. Picture Indiana Jones looking for the Holy Grail just to find that he has to fight off Nazis for it. It’s that hunger, curiosity, and search for a new experience that drove Capitalist societies to thrive on this “consuming”. Thus, it makes sense that the art historical discipline and the art market was born in the Western World and grew bigger with the widening of education, tastes, nationalities,  and  cultural as well as economic backgrounds.

"Olympia" by Edouard Manet (1863)

“Olympia” by Edouard Manet (1863)

"Le dejeuner sur l'herbe" by Edouard Manet (1863)

“Le dejeuner sur l’herbe” by Edouard Manet (1863)

Still, that fails to answer the question “What the hell is the point of studying art?” Does art history serve any purpose other than requiring its students to memorize what Manet painted in 1863 (no, not Monet…Manet!) and how art patron Peggy Guggenheim wanted to lay some of the great artists she praised (Duchamp and Pollock to name a couple).  Believe me, there were days sitting in darken lecture rooms where my professor would go on for 20 minutes about the meaning behind the shape of a square when I wanted to quit art history and study nursing where I thought I could be of better service in this world. Thankfully for the sake of humanity,  I did not get an R.N. degree, otherwise I would just crawl in bed next to my patients hoping to get pampered too.

So here is my very simplified list. Leave a comment and add to it if you’d like.

WARNING! BIAS ALERT! BIAS ALERT! It’s crucial to consider from whose perspective all this art analysing stems from. Now dig in.

1) Studying art historical objects tells us about a certain time, place, and people (at least this is the aim).

How scary is this thought? When art historians in the year 3030 dig up Happy Meal toys, what will they think we were like? That we lived in a world of plastic? (well we kinda do)  That we were tiny people? (some of us are for a while anyway) That we must have carried them around as good luck charms? Oh no. Goes to prove, art historians aren’t always right.

Future art relics?

Future art relics?

2) Art history also widens our appreciation for differing forms, varying aesthetics, and sometimes the cultures that created them.

It’s nice to be able to appreciate graffiti, at least some of it. This wasn’t always the case. The same could be said of Islamic calligraphy which in some places many years ago was considered blasphemous, esp. to Catholic crusaders. Two totally differing manners of communication for totally differing purposes  (or not?). Art appreciation encourages tolerance. In some ways its been more successful in its aim in that category than some religious folk have, I am sorry to say.

A London work by graffiti artist Bansky

A London work by graffiti artist Bansky

3) Art historians attempt to give meaning to the meaningless. They attempt to decode what most people would overlook in a painting, an old piece of pottery, or a strange object that may not be easily classifiable or identifiable.

You could say this is a form of professional bullshitting. Like a good salesman, scholars are there. But then I think of a humbling image like Van Gogh’s painting “A Pair of Shoes”. At first, it is what it seems:  just a painting of a pair of beaten down, scruffy old boots in drab grays. As you might have guessed it, this painting never sold in the painter’s lifetime. No one would think to see something in such a mundane object at the time, except the visionary (Sir Vincent) himself. The work finally falls upon the luck of someone to decode it, to better promote what the image could be about. One doesn’t have to like the painting. The art historian’s main aim is to help others understand it, to better experience it.

"A Pair of Shoes" by Vincent Van Gogh (1886)

“A Pair of Shoes” by Vincent Van Gogh (1886)

4) Lastly, but what I think is the most important and empowering reason for engaging in the art historical discipline is its ability to cultivate one’s imagination (the crucial faculty to initiate manifestation).

It wasn’t til a couple of months after I graduated with my fu-fu (and career challenging) degree that I realized something (no, not my student debt). I started really looking at things differently…literally. A table wasnt just a table anymore. An otherwise disregarded piece of trash randomly laying on the street began to form itself into an abstract design in my head. It pleased me. It entertained me. Even looking at the shapes and lines in my hands held some sort of fascination (ok, lock her up now…we are losing her).  Years of looking at so much art trained my eye to see and analyze the world around me, to consider what shaped it, and how it is always in flux. It made me realize the power of the imagination and the incredible potential man has in creating something that at one point ceased to exist. This creative potential is something that can be applied beyond the plastic arts…into all areas and genres of life:  from the way we style our hair, to the way we design our blog, to the way we make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Art History forever gives you the permission to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX, THE CIRCLE, THE TRIANGLE, even beyond forms.

Just don’t ask me to sketch it out for you! I will leave that to the artists.

Slacker with a Camera: Beaufort, South Carolina

You’d think a bachelors degree in art history and a job working for the Museum of Photographic Arts of San Diego would have convinced me to get a camera that didn’t come out of a gumball machine. Truth be known, I’m not worthy of a decent camera.  I’m too lazy to put any work into taking photos. I snap my pics like I snap my fingers, uno…dos…tres…ok, lets move on. Basically, I just want a record of the essences of the places I visit. The following are images of Beaufort, South Carolina taken by yours truly. And don’t worry, I wont include any of the images I took of my thumb.

This house makes me want to test the paint for lead.

They don’t call it the land of ghostwood for nothing.

There were often dolphins swimming up the Beaufort River…that and uh…

Obviously, the pic above is a pub…hmmm

And you thought your bed was hard.

The best town to send your kid trick or treating at night.

The bank that mogul Ted Turner’s dad probably owned at some point. Last I heard, Ted owned an island all to himself somewhere outside Beaufort, S.C.

And last but not least, the shot that would make Alfred Stieglitz puke in his grave…the “slacker” ghost behind the camera. So much for truth in photography!

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